As we prepare for 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year in our schools, in the community and in the borough.
Another year is coming to a close, and Berlin Borough residents have plenty to look back on from the municipal and school levels, as well as community events. New and continuing trends in local schools, as well as the evolving downtown area, dominated the headlines in 2018.
Let’s take a look back at some of the top moments from this past year:
Marie Fleche Memorial Library receives grant
The Marie Fleche Memorial Library was awarded a $10,000 grant award in October by the Literacy Access Fund, a relatively new organization aimed at making literacy possible for kids across the country.
The grant allowed the library to purchase and establish two new workstations for children who come to the library. The workstations are designed for children in second through eighth grades, making the stations complete with color-coded keyboards, educational games and activities to facilitate learning, headphones for the stations, as well as a tablet for children to use.
Christine Flynn, director of the Marie Fleche Memorial Library’s board of trustees, said the importance of such resources in libraries cannot be overstated, and these workstations can help jump-start children’s education and learning processes earlier in their life and more easily.
“We’re letting these kids, who maybe don’t have access to this type of technology at home, to come to the library and they can learn,” said Flynn. “They’re not going to be an outlier.”
In a press release from the Literacy Access Fund, the organization states its mission is to “provide financial support to underfunded public libraries,” with a goal centered around helping “provide equal access to quality resources for young learners, regardless of economic factors.”
Having started in 2016, the Literacy Access Fund had recently been looking to expand into Camden County with its grant awards and labeled the Marie Fleche Memorial Library as a potential recipient. After making contact with Flynn, the hope of awarding financial assistance to the library became a reality.
“In today’s era, children are growing up with technology … whether at home or in school,” Duke Doblick, director of fundraising, said. “We thought why should a child in an underserved community have less access to quality resources, through the library, than a child in an affluent neighborhood? We want to make an impact on helping balance that out and getting equal access.”
Berlin Community School hosts fun run
Berlin Community School had plenty to celebrate this past October, when all grade levels through the school had the opportunity to participate in its first-ever Boosterthon Fun Run fundraiser.
Behind the school were two circles of either red or blue cones, creating a track for the children to walk, run or skip laps around to help celebrate having reached their fundraising goal in just two weeks.
The Berlin Community Home and School Association started the fundraiser after Boosterthon reached out about being able to assist in any fundraising efforts. Previously, the BCSHA had been thinking of ways to raise money for a specific area of the school that was looking for newer supplies and technology, opening up the connection for these two groups to work together.
“Last year, our technology teachers had asked for some bigger ticket items that weren’t in our home and school budget,” said Lil Graham, president of the BCHSA. “So we thought of ways that we could possibly raise some additional funds to get the extra supplies they needed.”
Fundraising started Monday, Oct. 8, with a goal of $10,000 to be able to purchase the supplies and equipment requested for STEAM and the technology department.
Donations and fundraising were done online, gathering the support of the entire community to come together to support the cause for the school. Thanks to overwhelming support, the fundraising period raised more than $18,000 from Oct. 8 to the date of the fun run.
Berlin Community School launches app
In what is becoming an increasingly more advanced world driven by technology, Berlin Community School launched a new app to connect parents with their children’s education.
After beginning its development in late June this past summer, the app went live at the end of September. The app was created, in part, due to responses from parents through surveys given each fall and spring.
“We wanted to increase communication with our families,” Martello said. “And we find that at this point, everybody has their phones; it seems to be the №1 tool that everybody is using.”
Previously, the №1 way the district would communicate with families was through email. However, after updating the website this past summer, the new website opened up the perfect opportunity to make the technological jump.
“As we researched the different platforms, we found that our current website was able to link and we could do this app,” Martello said. “And so we spent the entire summer working on this project and cleaning it up.”
Berlin First wins uncontested elections
In the uncontested race for the two spots available on the Berlin Borough Council in the 2018 election, Ron Rocco and Mike Buchanan were both reelected.
Both are members of the Berlin First affiliation. According to unofficial results provided by the Camden County Board of Elections at the time of print, Rocco received 49.19 percent of the vote while Buchanan received 48.73 percent. Only 2.08 percent of the vote went to write-in candidates, as no Democrats or Republicans ran in the election.
For the three seats available for the Berlin Borough School District Board of Education, the three vote leaders currently stand as Brandy Titus with 22.79 percent of the vote, incumbent Jenine Del Palazzo with 22.27 percent and Jeffrey M. Greenberg with 21. 38 percent.
Reorganization meetings are in the beginning of January.