New science class for freshman, turf fields highlight newest changes at Cherry Hill Public Schools…

New science class for freshman, turf fields highlight newest changes at Cherry Hill Public Schools this year

The new school year for students in Cherry Hill Public Schools begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

For the last couple months, school classrooms in Cherry Hill sat empty, void of students and teachers as they enjoyed their summer breaks.

However, summer is coming to a close and another new school year is right around the corner. Staff members will return to schools in Cherry Hill on Sept. 1 and students will return to the classroom on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Superintendent Joe Meloche spoke excitedly about having the schools fill with students and staff for the upcoming 2016–17 school year.

“I’m really excited for the kids to come back,” he said. “The lifeblood of the schools are our kids, the staff and the community.”

There will be some changes the school community will notice this school year. The biggest curriculum change comes with science, where the district will implement Next Generation Science Standards along with all other districts in New Jersey.

The most visible change in Cherry Hill will be with freshmen science. High school freshmen will take biology for the first time this year.

Meloche described the change as a multi-year process where the district invested lots of time and energy to make the transition.

“We invested a major financial investment in the spring and summer on equipment and technology,” Meloche said.

Meloche added there will continue to be labs at the high schools as per state requirements. When science changes were being discussed last school year, some residents were concerned the district was planning to eliminate labs.

“There will always be lab activities, they’re an essential piece of our science curriculum,” Meloche said.

Character education will continue to be a major part of Cherry Hill Public Schools this year. The district is planning to apply for a District of Character Award through Character.org’s Schools of Character program. The district has had multiple schools named State School of Character and National School of Character in recent years.

On the athletic fields, work is continuing on the installation of turf fields at Cherry Hill High School East and Cherry Hill High School West. The turf at Cherry Hill West has been installed, and work is scheduled for completion in the coming weeks on the field at Cherry Hill East.

“We expect that we’re still on track for the fields to be used for competition for the fall season,” Meloche said.

The installation of new turf fields at Cherry Hill East and West is just one of a number of projects the school district and township has partnered on this summer. Over the summer, improvements were made at a number of tennis courts in the district. This includes the painting of the already repaved tennis courts at Cherry Hill West.

“They are in the process of finalizing the tennis courts at Beck,” Meloche added. “The tennis courts have been finished at Cherry Hill East and Stockton.”

Other construction projects, including the installation of new HVAC units in the administrative wing at Cherry Hill East, are scheduled to be completed before the start of the school year.

There will also be a lot of new faces on Cherry Hill Public Schools’ staff this year. In addition to new teachers, the district hired a number of new administrators. Former Cherry Hill High School East Principal Lawyer Chapman is now principal at the Cherry Hill alternative High School. Dennis Perry, formerly principal at Beck Middle School, will now be principal at Cherry Hill East. There is also a new assistant principal at Cherry Hill East, as the district hired Matthew LaGrou over the summer. Finally, Sidney Dawson was hired as the new principal at Beck Middle School.

At the administration building, the district will welcome a new assistant superintendent in October. Joseph Campisi was recently hired to be assistant superintendent K-12 for the district. In July, another assistant superintendent, Lynn Shugars, began working in the district. Shugars is the district’s new assistant superintendent for business and board secretary. Other new faces in administration include Scott Goldthorp, a former teacher who is now working in the curriculum office, and Linda King, the district’s new transportation supervisor.

Meloche emphasized the importance of community in the school district and hopes all Cherry Hill residents support the schools this year.

“I encourage folks to come out to our athletic events, come out to the concerts and come out to the shows,” Meloche said.