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Commencement Ceremonies Going Virtual

As high schools and universities across the country grapple with what to do about commencement ceremonies amid the pandemic this spring, one New Jersey company, Perlow Productions in Marlton, is offering a viable solution to give seniors their moment in the sun: virtual graduation ceremonies.

A safe alternative to walking with classmates in crowded arenas or football stadiums, virtual graduations provide a fun, streaming celebration replete with photos or even videos of each student, commencement speeches by administrators and valedictorians, and even caps tossed in the air – and the benefit of downloading the entire ceremony for posterity.

The desire to offer a semblance of a traditional commencement runs deep. Many schools have announced plans for drive-through ceremonies with Pomp and Circumstance and speeches played over PA systems, and drive-in ceremonies in old drive-in theaters, with families safely ensconced in their cars and audio broadcast on local public access radio stations.

Virtual ceremonies, including polished multimedia elements, are yet another way to deliver students a sense of closure and families an avenue to feel the pride they’ve imagined for years.

“This is the time of year when caps and gowns are being ordered, when diplomas are being printed, when hotel rooms are being booked. The sudden cancellation of in-person ceremonies is heartbreaking for students and parents alike, but we live in a time when we can substitute online experiences to allay that disappointment a little bit,” said Mike Perlow, founder and president of Perlow Productions. “Is it the same? No, but it can be rewarding and morale-boosting in its own way, and shareable in a way live ceremonies typically aren’t. And many schools will do virtual now, with live ceremonies planned later when it’s safe to do so.”  

Perlow, a former Boston TV sportscaster, said he has fielded inquires from multiple schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, California, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington, and even China. “COVID-19 has impacted virtually everywhere, and schools everywhere want to recognize their graduates during this season – it’s universal. Right now, the need to stay safe and adhere to social distancing is the priority, and that means getting creative in terms of all kinds of activities.”

Perlow Productions, whose typical focus is corporate video production, animation and augmented reality, pivoted when everything started to shut down and stay-at-home orders swept the country. Seeing the quandary schools were facing, Perlow saw a way to help fill a void using the company’s creative skills and technical know-how.

The company began offering three turn-key packages this month, with pricing based on a graduating class of 500 students. All include at least one address by a school official and the pronouncement of each graduate by name along with their photo on-screen. Additional options include a “procession” accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance and candid photos of the graduates, additional speeches and presentations, integration of video clips, and secure streaming online and on social media pages of the full virtual graduation production. Traditional moments, including the shifting of tassels and tossing of caps, can be added via video as well.

Perlow will work with schools to further customize the commencement experience based on their individual needs or wishes and larger or smaller class sizes. “Almost nothing is out of the realm of possibility,” he said.

Perlow Productions is a corporate video production, animation and augmented reality company based in Marlton, N.J. It creates highly strategized, branded video content for a wide array of industries and organizations. It also produces interactive videos, event live-streams, and one-of-a-kind aerial video tours.

For more information, visit www.perlowproductions.com.

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Check Out These Free Virtual Learning Opportunities for Children of All Ages

Organizations throughout New Jersey are providing virtual learning opportunities for kids and families stuck inside during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

These fantastic online-based experiences are intended to provide children with a safe, fun learning experience while maintaining appropriate social distance.

“Just because you have to stay home, does not mean you have to stop learning, or stop enjoying some of the incredible educational offerings throughout the state,” said Freeholder Jonathan Young. “We all need an outlet during this unusual period, especially our children who are eager to get outside and enjoy the spring weather. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about our environment and the many natural wonders of our ecosystem while following all the guidelines meant to keep your family safe.”

Below is a list of opportunities for children and families, as well as the organizations supplying them:

The Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE) features a Remote Learning EE Hub featuring lessons and activities for all ages. Click here.

The Cape May County Park and Zoo offers “Virtual Zoo School” that features tours of the zoo and daily challenges that kids can do at home. Click here.

Duke Farms offers a Distance Learning Portal offering activities, lessons, and inspiration while at home. Click here.

 The Raritan Headwaters Association’s Resource Hub offers lessons in nature, backyard “how to’s” & “let’s explore together” opportunities for all ages. Click here.

The North American Lake Management Society offers at-home activities for students and Lakes Appreciation student poster contest. Click here.

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Beginning April 6, Garden State Teachers to Give Lessons on New Jersey Public Television

Starting Monday, April 6, children throughout New Jersey will be able to tune into NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, for NJTV Learning Live, a program featuring lessons taught by New Jersey teachers.

The initiative, designed to advance learning during the statewide school closures caused by the COVID19 pandemic, was created through a partnership between NJTV, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). “This is a great example of how New Jerseyans are coming together, from educators to broadcasters, to help improve student learning throughout the state,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “This partnership demonstrates the kind of commitment and idealism that epitomizes throughout New Jersey’s school community.”

Each weekday, NJTV Learning Live will offer four programs for grades 3 to 6. Third-grade instruction begins at 9 a.m.; fourth-grade programming is at 10 a.m.; fifth grade is 11 a.m.; and sixth-grade instruction begins at noon.

Subjects will include English language arts, math, science, social studies, and a “special” such as art, music or physical education. Each hour-long segment features a lesson recorded by a teacher from his or her home.

The NJEA is working with the NJDOE to invite teachers to participate in the broadcasts, with the initial outreach attracting more than 200 educators who volunteered to provide instruction. “Nothing is better than face-to-face instruction given by a teacher in the classroom, but while we are all doing our part to flatten the curve, NJEA members are also looking for every opportunity to help students keep learning,” said NJEA President Marie Blistan. “These lessons will provide valuable enrichment and supplement what students are already getting from their own teachers. They will also showcase the amazing work that our educators continue to do every day, even in the middle of a pandemic.”

The NJDOE reviews and selects the teachers, and NJTV will provide its services to produce and broadcast the programs (locate your local channel on NJTV’s “Where to Watch” webpage).

“At this most unique time in our state’s and our country’s history, public media is poised to help more than ever before,” said NJTV General Manager John Servidio. “NJTV Learning Live perfectly aligns with NJTV’s mission to serve our community, and only our unique broadcast reach, which reaches into all 21 counties of the state, makes this possible. We can extend lessons from teachers’ homes to students across the Garden State.”

New Jersey’s 2019-2020 State Teacher of the Year Kimberly Dickstein Hughes will serve as host and provide the intro and outro to each segment. “I am truly inspired by collaborating with such extraordinary educators, who are not only meeting the needs of their own their students and families, but are going above and beyond to reach all students during this unprecedented time for our schools,” said Kimberly, who will go by the name “Miss D” on the program.

NJTV Learning Live is scheduled to run until May and can continue into mid-June if needed. The on-air classroom lessons will be livestreamed and archived on the network’s website, NJTVonline.org

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Bellmawr Education Feature Stories News Recent News

Search for Bellmawr School District Superintendent Underway

The search process is underway for a new superintendent for the Bellmawr School District. The current superintendent of schools, Annette Castiglione, will retire in June, 2020.

Ms. Castiglione has been the district’s superintendent since 2007 and was named Camden County Superintendent of the Year in 2018.

In June, 2017, the Early Childhood Center was dedicated and named the Annette Castiglione Early Childhood Center.

Annette Castiglione Early Childhood Center
Annette Castiglione at the dedication of the Annette Castiglione Early Childhood Center on June 8, 2017. (SJO Photo)

According to a recently published notice, the Bellmawr Board of Education is seeking an exceptional leader with excellent collaborative skills and a proven track record of being able to partner openly and effectively with other school administrators, staff, parents, and the community. The ideal candidate must be able to lead effectively within a collaborative, inclusive, multicultural school and community environment, and be dedicated to continuing progressive growth of the District.

Experience as a Superintendent is strongly preferred, but more essential is the candidate’s track record of being a leader who is a visible presence in the schools and partners well with staff, school administrators, and the Board of Education. He or she must also have a passion for demonstrating the ability to nurture productive relationships with all stakeholder groups and the community as a whole.

Qualifications NJ School Administrative Certification or Certification foolability Minimum of 5 years combined experience as a Superintendent and/or Building Principal, preferred Classroom teaching experience An earned doctorate is desirable Salary commensurate with education and experience, subject to New Jersey state regulations.

Bellmawr is a small and increasingly diverse borough located in Camden County, New Jersey, just across the river from Philadelphia, with a population of more than 11,000 residents.

The Borough is about 3 square miles and the school district is comprised of three schools. Ethel M. Burke Elementary is on the eastern side of the Borough and houses grades K-4 for residents in its vicinity. Bellmawr Park Elementary is on the western side of the Borough and houses grades K-4 for residents in its vicinity; it also houses the Early Childhood Center, which serves three and four year old students for the entire Borough. Bell Oaks Middle is centrally located and houses grades 5-8 for all residents of Bellmawr.

After eighth grade, Bellmawr residents attend Triton High School, part of the Black Horse Pike Regional School District.

The District’s enrollment is relatively consistent around 1,200 students from Pre-K through Eighth grade.

The position has a start date of July 1, 2020. Application deadline: January 31, 2020.

Submit application materials electronically to edlawgroup@sciarrillolaw.com.

Please include “Attn.: Anthony P. Sciarrillo Bellmawr Search” on the subject line.

Alternately, hardcopies may be submitted to Anthony P. Sciarrillo, Esq., Sciarrillo, Cornell, Merlino, McKeever & Osborne, LLC, 238 St. Paul Street, Westfield, NJ 07090.

Please mark submissions “Bellmawr Search.”

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Registration for Poetry Out Loud Region 2 Competition Closes November 29, 2019

Appel Farm is proud to host the New Jersey Region 2 Competition of Poetry Out Loud on Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 10:00 AM.

The event is free and open to the public. Contestants will present their poetry in the intimate Clare Rostan Appel Theatre, 457 Shirley Road, Elmer, NJ 08318.

We are pleased to be the New Jersey Poetry Out Loud Region 2 partner serving schools in Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May counties.

To register, click here.

A Teacher or administrator at a New Jersey public, charter, parochial school or home school organization serving grades 9-12, or the age/grade equivalent, can register for the program.

Registration closes Friday, November 29, 2019.