HomeSicklerville NewsStudents protest ban on outside dates for prom

Students protest ban on outside dates for prom

Black Horse Pike district cites COVID capacity limits, health protocols


With COVID cases on the decline and the relaxing of state restrictions, high schools are again readying for proms they couldn’t have last year.

At the Black Horse Pike Regional School District Board of Education meeting on May 6, Triton High School senior Noel Friedlander and a group of her friends protested a restriction that limits prom-goers to pupils within the district.

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EMILY LIU/The Sun: Noel Friedlander, a senior at Triton, hopes she and her significant other Noah Vinci-Smith, a student at Deptford High School, will be able to attend prom together. At the May 6 board of education meeting, Friedlander, her boyfriend and other students from Triton High School, ask the board to reconsider the ban on bringing outside dates to prom. From left to right, Kenneth Kush, Mark Kochmansky, Noah Vinci-Smith, Noel Friedlander, Jimmy Burleigh, Logan Rode (Triton alumni.) Not pictured: Kara Cristinzio.

She had previously emailed Superintendent Dr. Brian Repici and was turned down “due to capacity limits” at the venue and because “the health history of those other students, the health protocols of the schools they come from, and the parents of the students” were unknown.”

Friedlander refuted each of those points, explaining that Gov. Phil Murphy has increased capacity limits for outdoor gatherings effective May 19 (Triton’s senior prom is to be held on June 10), and that the venue could accommodate up to 150 people.

“All of our schools have sports that play other teams without masks on,” Friedlander argued in response to the question of health histories.

Following the public hearing, board members entered an executive session and came out with a statement.

“We will do everything in our power to ensure that our students can bring outside guests to prom,” read Board President Michael Eckmeyer. “However, this will involve further collaboration and discussion with the respective venues and relevant stakeholders. This process will begin immediately tomorrow, and all future communication will come from the administration themselves.”

Any decision the board makes would be district wide, but because each high school’s prom is on a different date, it’s hard to judge the impact it will have. Timber Creek’s prom is less than two weeks away on May 21, and a headcount was due Friday. Highland’s prom is June 4 and Triton’s June 10.

The board meeting was also the public hearing for the 2021-2022 budget. During the first half, Business Administrator Frank Rizzo said there will be no increase in taxes this year, and that the budget tax levy will remain the same as last year, at $34,734,474. Although the tax rate will remain the same, residents in Bellmawr and Runnemede are expected to see an increase of $33 and $13, respectively,  because the value of homes in those towns has gone up since last year and the amount of tax levied is partly based on that. Residents in Gloucester Township can expect to see a decrease of $10 in the annual property tax.

Because of COVID, several of last year’s projects were put on hold. Rizzo shared that they will resume this year, with the addition of several new ventures. They include locker-room renovations, additional A/C to classrooms and the addition of fire doors at Triton Regional High School; lockers replacement in some hallways;  renovation of the band room; and added microphones in the auditorium at Highland Regional; and a partial roof coating, gym bleacher repair and upgraded  HVAC at Timber Creek Regional High School.

During the public hearing on the budget, parents asked about the summer-school program presentation. Previously, students from all three schools would attend the program at Highland, but this year, they can go to any of the three schools. There is a fee to attend that is reduced for students who qualify for reduced or free lunch.

This year, there will also be a new Summer Bridge program to prepare eighth graders who fell behind in English 1 and Algebra 1. In response to resident and teacher Chip Pildis, Technical Director Matthew Szuchy clarified that there is no Summer Bridge program to fill learning gaps for students in ninth, 10th or 11th grade who are falling behind. Other board members recommended taking advantage of math tutors, reading specialists and the literary cafe if students need additional help.

In other news:

  • Ten Highland students were awarded 12 Seals of Biliteracy in Spanish, French and Italian. They include Carlos Molina, Todd Mahler, Juan Herrera, Breanna Jules, Hailey DelPercio, Anthony Digneo, Joshua Franco, Henry Hernandez, Antonia Venuto-Gabriella and Jazmin Torres.
  • The following students were recognized for Best of the Class for Camden County: Connor Evangelisto, Community Service Award; Michael D’Amico, Leadership Award; Jeniyah Eure, Most Improved Student; Erica Simmons, Best Overall; Bless Sub-Nebah, Most Courageous; Emily Hickens, Performing Arts’ and Mykkhe Martinez, School Spirit.
  • Cafeteria Staff members recognized for their work over the past year are  Eileen “Spunky” Haines, Christine Spencer, Theresa Fortuna, Thom Palumbo, Marion Gilson and Gabby Alexander.
EMILY LIU/The Sun: Students at Highland Regional High School were honored with Best of the Class awards by Camden County. From left to right, Connor Evangelisto, Michael D’Amico,Erica Simmons, Bless Suh-Neba, Emily Hicken, Mykhe Martinez, and Jeniyah Eure,
EMILY LIU/The Sun: During the May 6 Black Horse Pike Regional School District’s board of education meeting, the board honored its cafeteria staff for their hard work throughout the school year. Acting principal Ron Strauss also gave a shout out to Theresa Fortuna, as she will be retiring at the end of the year. Pictured from left to right, Eileen “Spunky” Haines, Christine Spencer, Theresa Fortuna. Not pictured: Thom Palumbo, Marion Gilson, Gabby Alexander.

The next board of education meeting will be held on Thursday, May 13, at Timber Creek Regional High School immediately following the executive session that starts at 6 p.m.



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