Voorhees students have plenty of resources coming in the New Year

Eastern Regional has plenty of goals circled to work on for the New Year, while the Voorhees Township School District searches for a new Superintendent and prepares to apply for Silver Level status as a Future Ready School

As the New Year begins, here is a look at some of the new or existing programs available to Voorhees students this upcoming year.

Eastern Regional High School is searching for better ways to reach and help students affected by anxiety or stress. Whether the problems are caused from the school, such as classwork, tests or other students, or from home or the community, Eastern administration has identified this as a major problem for students.

The Sun previously reported Superintendent Harold Melleby stated administration was focused on the issue and wanted to make available better resources for students dealing with anxiety or stress.

“There’s a growing number of students that are suffering from anxiety and depression,” Melleby said. “We want to better service these students.”

Melleby said that although Eastern has a student assistance counselor and specific assistance groups at the school with the ability for therapists to be involved, the number of students going through these programs has continued to grow in recent years, signaling the need for additional help.

“I think it’s incumbent on us and that we have a responsibility,” Melleby said. “I view one of our primary responsibilities to be looking out for the welfare, health and safety of students.”

Melleby said three school administrators visited Ocean City High School, which recently created a program to better assist students, to learn more about how Eastern can go the extra mile to better reach out to students.

Additionally, the Camden County Education Services Commission, according to Melleby, is working on a way to connect with area hospitals and hopes to have something concrete in the fall to better assist students as well.

Overall, Eastern is looking to get ahead of the problem before it becomes more serious.

“What we’re looking to do is maybe make the services that we’re offering a little more therapeutic,” Melleby said. “By that I mean maybe having outside help come in … and maybe expanding our resources, as far as some of our support groups that we’re offering.”

Melleby said it’s all in the name of better assisting students.

Additional Eastern projects moving forward into the New Year that Melleby also spoke about include the continued development of a five-year Strategic Plan.

According to the district’s website, the Strategic Plan will be the centerpiece of Eastern Regional’s application toward its Future Ready School Silver Medal certification. Eastern received its bronze-level certification this past year.

More goals include improving the participation rate to 95 percent for the PARCC for students, to decrease the overall student lateness to school by 10 percent from 2015–2016 levels and to reduce freshman course failures by 50 percent from the 2015–2016 levels.

As for the Voorhees Township School District, 2019 will see both a new superintendent and business administrator for the district. Helen Haley will start as the new assistant superintendent for business and board secretary, effective Jan. 2 after the retirement of Frank DeBerardinis.

Meanwhile, Barry Gallaso will fill in as the interim superintendent, according to Director of Special Projects Susan Donnelly.

Lastly, after having received its bronze-level certification for being named a Future Ready School this past year, the Voorhees Township School District is preparing its application for its silver-level certification.

“Right now we’re doing a GAP analysis, taking a look at where we had some shortfalls and trying to improve with professional development and other things to move us forward,” Director of Technology Bruce Taylor said.

Taylor said the only qualification the district didn’t have to be awarded silver level, when it first applied, was being named bronze level, which is a prerequisite, so the district looks to apply as soon as possible to obtain the next level.