District gears up for midsummer migration

posted by Ramapo Central   [ updated ]

[July 28, 2015] Starting August 7 at 5pm, all Ramapo Central School District Microsoft Outlook accounts will be migrated to Gmail. The automated migration process is expected to take 4-6 weeks and will include staff email, contacts and calendars. Staff may not have access to this information during this time. However, Gmail access will be available throughout the migration process.

This migration is part of the District’s overall Google migration. “Going Google” will reduce technology costs while providing Ramapo Central staff and students with anytime/anywhere access to email, files and tools and unlimited mailbox size.

Need to reach a District staff member? As of August 7, all emails to District personnel should be sent to @ramapocentral.net. Emails sent to .org will still reach the intended recipient; however, .net will be the primary email domain. Please note that staff will be able to access new email throughout the migration process.

Camp College opens the door to higher ed for first-generation students

posted Jul 17, 2015, 10:43 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jul 17, 2015, 10:44 AM ]

[July 17, 2015] Seven Suffern High School juniors and seniors attended Camp College, an all-expenses paid weekend program hosted by Siena College and the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling on July 10-12. Transportation to and from the event was funded through a grant from Capital One.

Camp College participation is a component of the broader collaboration among Suffern High School guidance, ESL and AVID faculty members to prepare low income and first generation students for college success.

To be eligible for consideration, students are required to submit an essay and interview with Suffern High School ESL teacher and ASPIRA advisor Rob Mariani, guidance counselor Marissa Guijarro and science and AVID teacher Colleen Stritmater. Participants were selected based on grade point average, leadership potential and first generation status (i.e., the first in their family to go to college).

Stritmater led this year's Suffern High School delegation.

"Volunteering my time over the summer to mentor these students is as much of a learning experience for me as it is them. In 48 hours, our students have the opportunity to meet new people, experience dorm life, attend college classes and go to workshops on topics such as Finding the Right Fit, Financial Aid and Essay Writing. Finally, they attend a college fair where many of the college admission counselors serve as camp mentors. How many other students have this opportunity?" she said. "For me, I get to network with professionals in the college admissions field, which opens doors for all of my Suffern High School students, not just the ones attending camp. The mentor family extends across the state, and together we are opening the doors to the youth of New York State."

Photo caption: A group of students from Suffern High School toured the Siena College campus as part of the 2015 Camp College, co-hosted by Siena and NYSACAC.

Fall sports recertifications and physicals start August 11

posted Jul 17, 2015, 10:07 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jul 17, 2015, 10:07 AM ]

[July 17, 2015] Sports physicals and recertifications for fall high school sports will be given at Suffern High School, starting Tuesday, August 11. All athletes must report to the Suffern High School Nurses’ Office with BOTH a completed emergency card and a completed pre-participation form. 

As a reminder, high school fall sports begin August 17; middle school sports begin September 9.


In order to recertify, athletes must have had a physical within the past year that was certified by the school medical professional. If your physical is not current, you must get one. High school athletes must report to the Suffern High School Nurses’ Office during their sports’ designated recertification session.

Tuesday, August 11

8am-9am: Boys & Girls Cross Country

9am-11am: Boys & Girls Soccer

11am-12pm: Boys & Girls Volleyball

12pm-2pm: Football & Cheerleading

Wednesday, August 12

11am-12pm: Field Hockey

12pm-1pm: Girls Tennis

1pm-2pm: Girls Swim/Dive

Monday, August 17

8am-10am: Open recertifications for all athletes

Tuesday, August 18

8am-10am: Open recertifications for all athletes

NOTE: Fall athletes unable to recertify in person may fax (845-369-5609) or email completed forms to vchillino@ramapocentral.org or jwinkelhoff@ramapocentral.org starting Tuesday, August 11 until NOON on Friday, August 14. Only recertification forms received during this period will be accepted.



High school athletes in need of a physical must report to the Suffern High School Nurses’ Office at 7:30am on either Thursday, August 13 or Thursday, August 20. Don’t be late: The medical professional will arrive promptly and will remain on-site for a very short time.


Recertifications for middle school sports will be done during the first week of school. Those in need can receive a physical on either Thursday, September 3 or Thursday, September 10.

All middle school athletes must submit a completed and signed pre-participation form to the Suffern Middle School Nurse’s Office.

#RCSDMountiePride: Moving up and moving on!

posted Jun 26, 2015, 10:28 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 26, 2015, 10:37 AM by Ramapo Central ]

[June 26, 2015]  
From fifth-grade moving up celebrations to the eighth-grade advancement ceremony to Suffern High School’s graduation, hundreds of Ramapo Central students marked the beginning of the next step in their academic careers over the past week.

View photos from the ceremonies on the District home page slideshow.

Congratulations to all!

Personal portfolios promote reflective learners

posted Jun 24, 2015, 1:45 PM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 24, 2015, 1:45 PM ]

[June 24, 2015] In September, Viola students in grades three, four and five embarked on a yearlong portfolio project designed to help them become more reflective learners and take greater ownership of their work. Each grade level took a different approach to organizing their portfolio.

Viola’s fourth grade team—teachers Christine Kear, Kate Kratchman, Julie Lent and Rosan Shedler—had students include a number of components in their personal portfolios, including:  individual goal setting plans, baseline writing pieces, exit tickets, Expeditionary Learning module sample work, unit exams, Achieve thought questions, NWEA results, Read 180 results, report cards, reflective writing pieces, trimester reflections, letters to future 5th grade teachers, and a overall portfolio reflection. 

Last week, the fourth-graders shared their comprehensive portfolios with third-graders and discussed what they’d learned over the year. Here are just a few of the comments overheard by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Lisa Weber:

“Starts out as a bumpy road, but then it gets smoother.”

“Goals are important so you get an idea of what you want to work on.”

“I had a goal of reading for longer periods of time. I read longer, got smarter and started enjoying reading.”

Weber—and the teachers—were impressed.

“Our fourth grade team portfolio reflection was very positive. We believe our students know themselves very well as learners and saw many of their goals come to life this year due to their portfolios. Their hard work and dedication paid off for them and they were very excited to have tangible evidence of this process,” the teaching team noted. “Many students felt much more confident in their ability to set and reach goals. For our team to witness this during the Portfolio Share with the incoming 4th graders was a beautiful feeling. We all felt very successful seeing our students beaming about their work!”

Stay tuned:  Viola plans to continue portfolios next year…and maybe even include a few more initiatives in the mix!

Click to read the Tweet.

Viola artists unveil “Go Green”mural

posted Jun 23, 2015, 9:01 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 24, 2015, 5:55 AM ]

[June 23, 2015] Last Friday morning, Viola Elementary School’s Fifth Grade Class and visiting artist Betsy Feeney Franco unveiled a mural created as a legacy gift for the school.

Over the past month, students worked with Franco during their art classes on the design, themed “Go Green.” Eighteen fifth-graders were randomly selected to transfer students’ art work onto the mural canvas; all students had the opportunity to paint a portion of the mural during their June art classes.

Display boards bearing student designs are showcased in the school lobby; designs will also be compiled into a book by Instructional Facilitator Lynda Hammond.

“With our location at the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains, the ‘Going Green’ sense of purpose in our school seems fitting,” Hammond explained. “Cool air from the mountains, the abundance of wildlife that children watch from their classroom windows—red-tailed hawks, blue herons, groundhogs, deer, red foxes, crows, black-capped chickadees and wild turkeys—and the trees and plant life in the Nature Center give all a sense of how we, as humans, are an important part of our world's cycle of life and interdependence. A child's sense of wonder and curiosity is heightened in Viola school's setting. What better way to learn how we all fit into the big picture and the sense of our responsibilities on this planet?”

The mural was sponsored by Viola’s Fifth Grade Class and the PTA.

Photo captionViola students viewing their school's beautiful new mural, paying tribute to the importance of our environment.

SMS Green Team wins 2015 Rockland Recycles Award

posted Jun 22, 2015, 12:12 PM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 22, 2015, 12:12 PM ]

[June 22, 2015] Suffern Middle School's Green Team was presented with a 2015 Rockland Recycles Award by the Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority at the county's 6th Annual Environmental Day celebration on June 7.

The Rockland Recycles Award recognizes excellence in recycling and/or waste prevention/reduction programs and highlight their success as models for other institutions. This is the second award for the Green Team, which was first recognized in 2011.

The Green Team is comprised of more than two dozen students who collect bottles and cans from the cafeteria, classrooms and outdoors during their lunch period and after school on Wednesday afternoons. In addition to this recycling effort, the Green Team also manages an on-site composting and gardening program, with support from faculty advisors Faith Braut, Elio Ficarella and Karen Mena.

Photo caption: Earlier this year, the Green Team struck a pose near the SMS student garden.

Connor fifth-graders ponder “What makes a good friend?”

posted Jun 19, 2015, 9:09 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 19, 2015, 9:10 AM ]

[June 19, 2015] Each week, Instructional Facilitator Dawn Bean hosts RP Connor’s Philosophy club, a Socratic-style, fifth-grade discussion group led by Suffern High School junior and Connor alumna You Jeen Ha.

“We start with a big question, then people start thinking about their opinion,” explained Joseph.

Will added, “There’s no right answer to any of these questions, though.”

Each session begins with Ha presenting a question for the enrichment group students to mull over and debate. The June 11 discussion focused on the characteristics of a good friend and why friendship is valued in our world.

Common interests, a sense of humor and trustworthiness were among the qualities named by the young philosophers.

“Someone who continues to act like a friend even when you’re not at your best moment,” offered Sophia.

Ha says that the idea is to encourage younger students to think more deeply about what they believe and why.

“I like how we can openly share our thoughts without anyone judging,” Nick reflected.

Philosophizing also aligns with curriculum.

“The benefits of this club is that it allows kids a forum to openly discuss pre-selected topics, formulate opinions and then, consequently, create arguments that support their point of view,” said Bean. “This correlates beautifully to our New York State Social Studies Frameworks which have students engaging in discussions/inquiries and then as a result of those things, being able to formulate arguments.”

A founder of Veritas, Suffern High School’s philosophy club, Ha was inspired to start the elementary school group based on her tutoring experience and some homework of her own. 

“As I researched how to improve the philosophy club in the high school, I came across information that said that engaging in philosophical discussions from a young age has been proven beneficial and intellectually stimulating—and all-around “plus” for students—so this type of research encouraged to me to really push for a program in the elementary school,” she explained. “The students at Connor are very bright and I wanted to give back to my elementary school.”

With the support of RP Connor Principal Mary DiPersio, the club launched in late February. 

“Listening to the students explore the concept of ‘truth’ and whether something is true because many people claim it to be was very interesting. As students shared their thoughts, they clearly demonstrated their ability to engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on each other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly,” DiPersio noted. “It’s wonderful to have You Jeen back at Connor, even for just a few days to facilitate various talking points.”

For Ha, the most important purpose of the club is to provide students with an open space to think deeply.

“Through guiding questions, they reach their own conclusions and learn how to think for them which, I believe, is critical for students who will be responsible for asking and addressing tough questions later in life, not just in school,” Ha said. “More than anything, I learned even to a greater degree that the means by which youth are educated is particularly important, especially in an age when tests and assessments are increasingly dominating young students’ lives. Time for discussions is crucial, and tests aren't everything in educating students.”

RP Connor rising fifth-graders, stay tuned: Ha hopes to continue Philosophy Club next year.

Photo caption: Suffern High School junior You Jeen Ha facilitated a Philosophy Club discussion on friendship with RP Connor fifth-graders on June 11.

Connor alums awarded Morahan Simmons Memorial Scholarships

posted Jun 18, 2015, 2:34 PM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 19, 2015, 5:59 AM by Ramapo Central ]

[June 18, 2015] Ten RP Connor Elementary School alumni—and soon-to-be Suffern High School grads—received a special gift from the family of their first grade teacher, Theresa Morahan Simmons. Simmons passed away 11 years ago; the seniors were members of her last first grade class. In her memory, the family awarded each member of Simmons’ 2003-04 class with a $1,000 scholarship. 

As first-graders, Simmons’ students wrote or drew a message for her family expressing what she had meant to them. Now seniors, these students wrote a second letter, reflecting on their past how the love of learning Simmons instilled in them remains alive. The new letters were added to the 11-year-old scrapbook.

Of Simmons’ original class of sixteen students, ten remain in the District. Among these are three college-recruited athletes, a Certified Nurse Assistant, an Eagle Scout, a Girl Scout and several aspiring entrepreneurs. All are college-bound.

In her remarks at an afternoon ceremony on June 16 at RP Connor, Simmons’ sister Joan Silvestri noted that Simmons was an average student in high school, but found her passion in college.

“If you remember, my sister would start each day saying ‘Good morning and I love you,’” and she meant it. She loved you all and wanted all of you to be successful,” Silvestri said. “Find and embrace your passion, laugh and share your gifts.”

Congratulations to the Theresa Morahan Simmons Foundation 2015 Memorial Scholarship recipients:

Rebeca Campos

Claire Clifford

Vincent Rino

Christopher Gonzalez

Joseph Libertelli

Wendy Piedra

Daiton Powell

Stephanie Quichiz

Emily Quiros

Luke Shedler

The Morahan family would like to extend the scholarship offer to the six students who no longer attend Ramapo Central schools: Caleb George, Kevin Orantes, Devon Marino, Grace Garcia, Harvey Guzman and Taylor Lloyd. Those with contact information for any of these former RP Connor students are asked to email Suffern High School Director of Guidance, Sarah Kern.

Photo caption: Ten Suffern High School students were presented with Theresa Morahan Simmons Foundation 2015 Memorial Scholarships by the Morahan and Simmons families on June 16.

Other photos: Suffern High School seniors pored over a scrapbook they’d created as first-graders in Theresa Morahan Simmons’ class at RP Connor Elementary School.

Hands-on history intrigues at Suffern Middle School

posted Jun 16, 2015, 8:16 AM by Ramapo Central   [ updated Jun 16, 2015, 8:16 AM ]

[June 16, 2015] Last week, the Suffern Middle School auditorium was transformed into a museum by Civil War historian and collector Richard Ricca. The traveling museum and interactive presentation coincided with the culmination of a Grade 7 unit on the social, strategic and economic factors that contributed to the Civil War.

Seventh-graders donned soldiers’ caps, read personal letters and handled an array of artifacts as part of what has become a much anticipated, annual event.

“Playing with the stereoscope helped my students experience entertainment of the 1860s and touching the heavy dresses, shoes and uniforms made us understand how tiring it must have been for women and soldiers to wear,” noted ESL teacher Michele McElhatton.

This academic enrichment program was made possible through the generosity of the Suffern Middle School PTA.

"The Civil War Living Museum is a unique opportunity for our seventh-graders to bring their learning to life by providing a hands-on exhibit of authentic Civil War artifacts,” said social studies teacher KC Davan. “This event has become a wonderful tradition here at Suffern Middle School and I hope we are able to continue it for many years to come.”

Photo caption: Seventh-graders were transported to the mid-1800s through hands-on exploration of with Civil War-era Americans through artifacts June 11-12.

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