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Special Needs Program Resumes As Town Agrees to Pick Up Cost of Bus
By KIM KINTER
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — Westfield’s Recreation Department has reversed its planned changes to Westfield’s free, seven-week summer recreation program for children with special needs, following dissatisfaction recently voiced by parents.
With the start of this year’s program on Monday, June 28, children will continue to be bussed to the program, a service the Recreation Department had proposed eliminating. The 20-year-old program will continue to operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
The Town of Westfield will absorb the increase in costs associated with busing the students, which could total $5,000, Town Administrator Edward A. Gottko said.
It is still being explored whether the children can go to the Westfield Memorial Pool an additional day during the week. The children are now scheduled to go to the pool two times a week. In previous years, children participating in the program went to the pool three days a week.
For the parents of the approximately 15 children who attend the program, reinstating the offerings is a relief.
District Pays Tribute to Retirees, Quarter Century Staffers at Gala By MICHELLE H. LePOIDEVIN
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — The 12th Annual End-of-the-Year Gala, which honors retirees and 25-year employees in the Westfield School District, was held recently at the Westwood in Garwood.
“It’s very flattering to be honored by your peers and the board for your years of service,” stated Michael Barba, who is retiring after 38 years as a teacher in Westfield.
Mr. Barba, who taught math at Roosevelt Intermediate School, also matriculated for three years in Ohio.
The retiree, who received a stipend toward the purchase of a gift of his choice, as did other retirees, cited the “cooperation of administration, support of parents and kids who want to learn” as aspects which make Westfield a unique district.
Gaile Boothe, retiree and former algebra and geometry instructor at Westfield High School (WHS), noted that Westfield’s “overriding interest in the academics” is a boon to the district.
Mrs. Boothe, who has chaired groups including the Young Republicans Club and the Junior Friends of the Symphony, taught for 30 years and holds previous experience in Silver Springs, Maryland and Newton, Massachusetts.
Fellow retiree, Anthony Libretti, who has taught Latin and Exploring World Languages at the intermediate schools, spent 14 years in Westfield. A teacher for 27 years, Mr. Libretti stated that he is impressed with how quickly students “think on their feet” and “rise to the occasion.”
“I had a very supportive group of people with whom to work and had six very rewarding years,” stated Connie Odell, retiring principal of Washington Elementary School.
A 29-year veteran educator, Ms. Odell has taught in Vermont, Illinois and New Jersey. She was also employed by the New Jersey State Department of Education for eight years.
Above all things, Ms. Odell said she will remember her students the most.
“They are the reason I’ve been doing this (teaching) all of these years,” she concluded.
WHS English teacher and Chairwoman of the English Department, Paula Roy, revealed that she admires the “opportunity to engage students in thoughtful, reflective ideas and issues through the lens of literature” which is provided by the staff and curriculum in her department.
Ms. Roy noted that she has mixed feelings about retiring, but will now
be pursuing a year of writing. She noted that she is especially proud of having established the Westfield Writing Project in the mid-1980s for faculty who teach kindergarten to grade 12 and for instituting classes for women’s studies.
Art teacher and retiree at WHS, Arthur Silveira, has taught at the school since 1981. He stated that he is proud to have fostered creativity in the lives of his students.
Commenting on his retirement, Mr. Silveira, who taught in the Irvington public schools from 1966 to 1968, said, “It’s a strange time in your life. I have mixed emotions. There is a certain sadness and interest in what lies ahead for you.”
Mr. Silveira will work on restoring old boats, canoes and trucks in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, his new residence. He has commuted from Bucks County to educate his students.
Gregory Bremus stated that he will keep his silver, miniature punchbowl which he and fellow members of the 1998-1999 Quarter Century Club received for their service of 25 years in the district, by his collection of lighthouses.
Mr. Bremus, who has taught environmental science for 25˝ years was attending graduate school when he became employed by the district for a new science course.
He noted that one of his former students, the mayor of a town in Indiana, has credited Mr. Bremus with the decisions he has made as mayor. Some students have returned to thank him for the extra time he took with instruction.
Shaun Cherewich, an English teacher at WHS, was honored that the district “recognizes longevity” in its employees. A 32-year veteran teacher, Mr. Cherewich has also taught in the Hackensack school system and in a school outside of Peekskill, New York.
After calling the WHS English Department “outstanding,” Mr. Cherewich noted that he has also coached football and lacrosse and helped to write the course of study for a sophomore British Literature class.
Karen Goller, another English teacher at WHS and Quarter Century Club member, revealed that she is proud that she has made an investment in the future by becoming a teacher.
She credited the unique Westfield Writing Project for keeping teachers committed to excellence in teaching and refining their skills. She stated
that she enjoys seeing her students “learn the value of their voice in writing – especially their poetic voice.”
Robert Brewster, who was also honored for 25 years of teaching in Westfield, taught for two years at Rumson Fairhaven High School. A graduate of Montclair State University, he came to the district through the Alternate Route plan which allows a teacher to instruct a class before obtaining a formal teaching certificate. He acquired the certificate soon after beginning his new position.
A teacher of science and biology, Mr. Brewster noted that he is proud to be a part of a district that is composed of teachers who are genuinely concerned and “will go the extra yard and give more in-depth material” to their students.
Karin Ninesling, an English teacher at WHS who was also honored for 25 years of service, also taught at Roosevelt.
“I look back on my 25 years with fondness. I appreciate the board for recognizing my accomplishments,” she noted.
Bette Tuthill, a fourth grade teacher at McKinley Elementary School, stated, “I have only had wonderful experiences in Westfield.”
“Everyone is very interested in what they’re doing and very mindful of each other,” stated Ms. Tuthill regarding her colleagues in the district.
Next year, she will teach reading, writing and math as part of the Achievement Program at Franklin Elementary School.
Elsa Hahn, Franklin School; Donna Hornish, WHS; and Linda Pastir, WHS, were also honored as Quarter Century Club members.
Arlene Borges, Jefferson Elementary School; Joseph Francaviglia, Maintenance; Janet Gibson, Franklin Elementary School; Eileen Kirschner, Substitute; Beverly Landon, Human Resources; John Oshust, WHS; Blanche Perlman, Special Services; John Scafaria, WHS; Walter Buda, Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools and Grace Salomon, McKinley School, were honored as retirees.
Jeanette Brannan, WHS; Janet Buda, Instruction; Jorge Concepcion, Wilson; Salvatore DeSimone, Tamaques Elementary School, and Margaret Longo, Edison School were honored for their 10 years of service to the schools upon their resignations earlier in the year.
It was just in April that parents of children in the program received a letter from Glenn Burrell, Director of Recreation, informing them of some changes in the program, including the elimination of busing and a requirement that parents pick up their children for lunch from noon to 1 p.m.
Eileen Mitchell of Hort Street has a daughter who has attended the program for the last five years.
“Kids with special needs have a great difficulty moving,” she said. “If you take away the transportation,
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D.O.T. Officials Say T-Shaped Intersection Would Replace Circle
By PAUL J. PEYTON
Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times
WESTFIELD — New Jersey Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) officials told the Westfield Town Council last week that the department’s proposal for a T-shaped intersection is the best means of improving traffic flow and safety at the existing South Avenue traffic circle.
D.O.T. officials, however, said they intend to keep meeting with town officials regarding the matter. The project was first unveiled to the council in 1996. That governing body supported the plan through a resolution.
While the current council has yet to take a formal stand on the project, a letter from Mayor Thomas C. Jardim published in the June 10 issue of The
Westfield Leader indicated that he wants to preserve the circle.
“A redesign of the intersection, keeping the circle intact, is a much less expensive proposition,” he stated.
Mayor Jardim said in his letter that the D.O.T. should have been given the opportunity to look at alternatives rather than simply eliminating the circle. He said due to the cost, the project has yet to be included in state budgets.
The proposed D.O.T. project has met with opposition from both state and local historic preservation groups.
The project calls for replacement of the circle with a T-shaped intersection controlled by signalization. All existing signals on State Route 28, known locally as South Avenue,
will be modified, along with pedestrian crossings.
In March, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office (NJHPO) said the project, as currently proposed, would have an “adverse effect on historic architectural properties” within the area of the circle, including the United Methodist Church and Monument to World War I Veterans, both of which are eligible to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places along with the Northside Train Station.
The Westfield Fire Department Headquarters has been on the national list since December 8, 1980.
Following the issuance of that report, the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission (WHPC) is now