My name is Tessie Thomas and I am the President of the Montclair Council of PTAs (PTAC), an elected body that represents and supports the whole community.
As always, there is a lot going on this month. PTAC and PTA volunteers have been working hard in an eventful month. As you are aware, the in-person school tours are ongoing and each school PTA has stepped up to conduct these. 6 school tours have already been completed and 4 more are planned for after Spring Break.
We also have the PTAC MPS 101 Transition to Elementary School scheduled for May 3. Additionally, we are honoring all the Reflections participants in a celebration on May 5.
Last night at the PTAC meeting, we elected 2 new Board members – Vice President and Secretary for the upcoming school years.
Yvette Frazier was elected Vice President. Yvette has 2 children, a tenth grader at MHS and a 5th grader at Hillside Elementary. She is an uber volunteer who has led numerous PTA activities and initiatives over the years at Nishuane, Hillside and Glenfield. Many remember her from the massive Hillside talent night that was led by Yvette. Most recently she was on the Nominating Committee for the MHS PTA and currently is the PTA Co-President at Hillside.
Gretchen Devinsky was elected Secretary. Gretchen’s son is a 7th grader at Renaissance and she moved to Montclair just as the Pandemic started. She has been a part-time Director of Communications for a nonprofit educational advocacy organization, focused on Waldorf early childhood education. Prior to that, she did project management for a financial software firm and research & analysis for several investment banks in San Francisco. Most importantly for PTAC – she is familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order and retains the ability to take notes very quickly.
Both start their 2year term on July 1st. We are really excited to have them on board. Thank you, Yvette and Gretchen, for your commitment to the community. We look forward to doing great things together and welcome the new ideas, perspectives, and energy that you bring to the team. Onwards and upwards….
In PTAC related news, BOE candidate Holly Shaw decided to join PTAC and will chair PTAC’s Health, Wellness, and Safety committee. She has some amazing ideas and we look forward to the “concrete deliverables” from that committee.
As I mentioned, the PTAs have been swamped. They are conducting school tours, running ASE, and the list of initiatives and programs is long but I will cover some highlights here –
Bradford PTA just welcomed Kindergarten and 1st grade parents to a bedtime and books event. Their fundraising events continue and they have planned virtual family events on important topics, assembly for AAPI heritage month, events for health and wellness week, running club, bingo night, and more.
Charles H Bullock PTA also has fun events planned including – ice skating fundraiser, family fun, outdoor movie night, annual eco fair, Bingo night for parents, book fair and gardening workshops. They are also making plans for a big splash during teacher appreciation week.
Edgemont PTA held their backyard cleanup day of service, their inaugural STEAM Pop Expo that includes Liberty Science Center, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Learning Center and School of Rock. A science fair follows the expo. Debate against Lacordaire is on May 24 and they are launching their newspaper.
Hillside held it’s Science Day 5.0. Science Kits were sent home to all 450 students. PTA volunteers cleaned out the Lost and Found bins. Hillside organized a Kids Edition virtual panel discussion for 5th graders. Middle School students from Glenfield, Buzz and Renaissance came to Hillside and answered questions from 5th graders. Hillside has a few planned upcoming events – cyber workshop, Skate Night and their joint fundraiser with Nishuane -FIREBALL.
Nishuane held its health and wellness fair and is planning their pancake breakfast, and Mayfair. The PTA also made donations for specific infrastructure improvement projects.
Northeast had the Soccerthon fundraiser in March and Geography Bee in April. Planned events include Northeast Talent Show, the biannual fundraiser “Glo-ball”, and the Square One art fundraiser.
Over 250 Watchung parents and children came out to the Family Skating Afternoon. They also held a grand opening playground party. The PTA is now funding buses for class field trips.
Buzz concluded their 21-Day Racial Equity program. Planned events include community garage sale at Buzz with the proceeds funding future graduation activities.
Glenfield PTA held a skating night fundraiser and a Book Fair. Planned events include – 8th grade stepping up activities and gifts, and movie nights. They are also working to support the SATp in their preparations to celebrate Glenfield’s 125th Anniversary.
Beyond the school tours, Renaissance PTA is planning a Family Science Festival. Renaissance is also experimenting to find some new concepts for events that will engage both students and parents in the current context.
In March, MHS ran their second Fun Friday with a DJ and hot chocolate and launched a Community Conversation series. Planned activities include another Fun Friday and more community conversations. They are also kicking off fundraising for a Freshman/Sophomore dance that is in the works for May.
Also, PTAC’s DEI committee is bringing in an Amistad speaker on May 26.
The activities I just went through make us all want to attend all of them – don’t they?
Participating in these activities serves as an important reminder that we are all part of the same community. These events, as you know, come about only with volunteering long hours. Thank you to the amazing group of PTA volunteers at each school that work behind the scenes mostly and make these events happen.