“East…Always Moving Towards Excellence!”

Our mission is to work with the school community to provide a safe educational environment where students are stimulated to become lifelong learners, equipped with the knowledge and analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills to meet the demands of college and/or careers as informed citizens in a globally competitive market.

Greetings Raider parents, guardians, and friends,

District News!

The march is on! We are hoping to recruit over a 1000 staff, students, and parents to represent TRRSD's voice demanding the restoration of our $85 million in state funding.  We are looking to make quite an impact leading up to Governor Murphy’s 2 PM budget address.  Neighboring impacted school districts will also be attending as part of our Support Our Students/Save Our Schools (SOS) coalition.  Buses will be departing at 12 noon and will return back by 5 pm.  We would like to get approximately 250 students, staff, and parents from our East community to attend the event.  If able, please sign up at:

I will be attending to stand for my school.  I hope you will be able to attend as well in support and to let those who make the decisions know that we are a proud community deserving of more respect.  I hope to see you on the bus!  

Week in Review

Mrs. Casey Daniel and her wonderful Journalism Staff are thrilled to venture in the social media world updating parents on East daily activities.  Please check us out on Instagram (Tretoday_TheRaiderWay), Facebook (Tretoday_TheRaiderWay), Twitter (Tretoday_TheRaiderWay) and Website (Tretoday_Theraiderway.wordpress.com).  Emails to Mrs. Daniel can be sent to Tretodaytheraiderway@gmail.com).  Our daily Bulletin will be posted on our school website each day.

Congratulations to Caroline Avallone, Timothy Rider, and Kasey Boag for winning our monthly Perfect Attendance drawing!  All three students demonstrated their commitment to their educational outcomes by prioritizing coming to school every day!  This is something I recognize as a positive character trait!  I would also like to acknowledge Brian McDonough for winning the Perfect Attendance (so far) award for the 2018-2019 school year.  Brian is an exemplary student at East and I am very proud of him!  Great job to all of our attendance winners – enjoy those gift cards!

Our Peer Leaders held our first student workshop session on Tuesday.  The workshop supported organizational tips from several of our highly qualified students.  The workshops were well attended during period 5 and 6 lunches.  Great job to our attendees for demonstrating pride and commitment to their educational outcomes.  Also, great job to our Peer Leaders who volunteered their time to support our 9th and 10th graders.  Of course, great job to Mrs. Rachel Hay and Mrs. Stacey Nadeau for all of their hard work coordinating the success of the workshops.  Our PTO meeting was cancelled Tuesday evening due to poor weather.

We offered a professional development session all day in our Jersey Mike’s PD Room on Wednesday for interested staff.  I provided segments of the book, Teach Like a Pirate, on strategies staff could use in support of our second Bring Your ‘A’ Game activity (courtesy of Mrs. Lucia Doulong).  The objective was to engage in collegial discussions on what activity you were going to do and how that activity supports student engagement through 'emotional' connections.  Thank you to all of our staff who attended the PLC.  Data Science speakers provided insight into careers in the field.  Students from our STEAM Academies attended the talks and gained valuable insight into potential jobs in their field of interest.

We began our Hoops for Heart fundraiser on Thursday.  Mr. Ed Goodman spearheaded the initiative to raise awareness for heart disease.  Mr. Goodman indicated that we raised more than $1,000 through student donations!  Great job!  More than 50 staff members participated in our Bring Your ‘A’ Game activity Thursday.  Staff were encouraged to create a fun lesson to support engagement.  Our goal is to conduct these types of activities/lessons on poorly attended days of school to boost our overall student attendance.  Congratulations to Mrs. Marybeth Kretz, Mr. Dennis Weidenbush, Mrs. Kaitlin Mahony, and Mrs. Michele Carter for winning our participation prizes!  We held an impromptu assembly in support of Mr. Vern Rutter, our long-serving assistant principal who is transitioning over to High School North next week.  I spoke to the kids how much Mr. Rutter has meant to me as a friend and valued administrator at East over the past 20 years.  Mr. Rutter said a few words and was presented with a gift from the faculty.  Our students signed cards and wished him well.  

I held our monthly faculty meeting in our Jersey Mike’s PD Room all day on Friday.  I discussed staff updates, acknowledged efforts of various staff members, provided details on our March on Trenton, and discussed our school’s vision/mission/core value statements.  I discussed the importance of an aligned direction and commitment to common goals.  We discussed broadening our value statement.  Staff discussed values they believe best represent who we are as a school, essentially, our defining characteristics in our search for excellence.  We are looking to identify approximately 4-6, which I will share out with you.  I also welcomed our new assistant principal, Mr. Tom Regan, to the staff during our meeting.  We wish Mr. Regan the best as I know he will add his value to our wonderful school.

On Saturday, we held our annual Winter Formal Dance in the cafeteria.  There were approximately 500 students in attendance.  I was happy to have that many students at the Dance.  The kids looked great and seemed to be having a good time dancing and interacting with their friends.  I am not much for the type of music they play, as I cannot relate to it.  But, I guess that is a product of my advanced age.  I’m an 80’s/MTV guy…and proud of it!

I wanted to give a great big ‘Shout Out’ to our students and staff that attended the Poetry Festival at High School North on Thursday.  Mrs. Michelle Schindler and Mrs. Stacey Nadeau informed me how well behaved and respectful they were.  I always love hearing that type of information and like to credit the kids and staff for being model citizens!

I would like to acknowledge a very well respected member of the East community, Vincent Rotondo for receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award.  This award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.  Great job Vincent!

I would like to commend Mrs. Christie Maguire for being named our Mentor of the Month!  Mrs. Maguire is a mentor who continually supports and motivates her mentee’s.  Her mentee’s say that her ability to be open-minded and simply listen when needed are what make her so great!  Thank you Mrs. Maguire for being a positive reflection of our school community!

We are collecting food and toiletry items to send to our troops overseas in support of our Big Read novel, The Things They Carried.  We are collecting items through March 29th, Vietnam Veterans Day.

We will be hosting a College and Career Day event on the 4th and 5th of April.  I will provide further details in our upcoming newsletters!

Congratulations to Mia Vogt and Sean McCullough for being named our Character Counts Students of the Month.  Mia was selected for being committed to her academics, social well-being, and overall attitude.  She brings an incredibly positive attitude commitment to excellence to school each day.  Sean is described as a very humble person.  He is a leader and always seeks to help others in need.  He is self-motivated and dedicated to his individual success.  Thank you Mia and Sean for being such positive reflections of our school community!

Congratulations to Mrs. Melissa Friedman for being recognized as our Employee of the Week.  Mrs. Friedman was selected by Mr. Rutter as being a value-added employee.  Mrs. Friedman was Mr. Rutter’s secretary.  He acknowledged her work ethic, positive mindset and organizational skills as keys to her success.  Mrs. Friedman will be our Yearbook Co-Advisor next fall.  Thank you Mrs. Friedman for all you do!

I would like to acknowledge Mr. Ed Goodman as part of our 180 Days of Excellence for all his efforts for our Hoops for Heart school fundraiser.  Mr. Goodman is an empathetic teacher who always looks for ways to help others.  Thank you Mr. Goodman.  I would also like to acknowledge Ms. Jamie Blondina for organizing our staff farewell event for Mr. Rutter last week.  We have a caring school community at East and am proud of all of our wonderful staff who go above and beyond.  

Congratulations to East wrestlers Michael Conklin, Joe McCullough, Eddie Totten, and Zander Gorlin for their performances at Districts last week.  Michael won his second straight title and Outstanding Wrestler Award.  Joe earned his 1st District title while Eddie took 2nd and Zander took 3rd!  Very proud of the boys and Coach Reid!  Good luck at Regionals!

Did You Know?

Students who are entitled to free lunch are also entitled to free breakfast too!

Take a look at the following article, you may find this one interesting!

The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today’s Students


Even the 4- and 5-year-olds in Marty Davis’ Utah kindergarten classroom get anxious. “We expect so much from them, and they feel the pressure,” she said. “They’re like ‘I can’t!’ And I’m like [the Little Engine That Could, who says], ‘I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!’”

By high school and college, many students have run out of steam. Anxiety—the mental-health tsunami of their generation—has caught up with them. Today’s teens and young adults are the most anxious ever, according to mental health surveys.

“Honestly, I’ve had more students this year hospitalized for anxiety, depression, and other mental-health issues than ever,” said Kathy Reamy, school counselor at La Plata High School in southern Maryland and chair of the NEA School Counselor Caucus. “There’s just so much going on in this day and age, the pressures to fit in, the pressure to achieve, the pressure of social media. And then you couple that with the fact that kids can’t even feel safe in their schools—they worry genuinely about getting shot—and it all makes it so much harder to be a teenager.”

In 2016, nearly two-thirds of college students reported “overwhelming anxiety,” up from 50 percent just five years earlier, according to the National College Health Assessment. For seven straight years it has been the top complaint among college students seeking mental-health services, notes the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Nearly a quarter say their anxiety affects their academic performance. Common symptoms include persistent feelings of dread and jumpiness, frequent panic attacks, as well as headaches, stomach problems, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

Reamy does all that she can to talk to students about deep breathing exercises, the power of positive self-talk, healthy nutrition, yoga, sleep, and more. She hands out stress balls, and encourages therapy. Together, she and her anxious students sit and unravel the things that are making them anxious. They talk about ways to cope in the short term and to resolve the issue in the long term. She points out that their typical tactics—teens “tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol”—only make things worse.

But, with more than 325 students in her charge and acres of paperwork to complete each week, Reamy has limited time. Most of her peers have even less time. Even as the mental health issues worsen each year, the national average is 491 students per counselor. Only three states in the nation meet the overall recommended ratio of 250-to-1 for students-to-school-counselor.

Have Smartphones Made Student Anxiety Worse?

Experts point to a number of reasons that anxiety has blossomed among today’s students. “I see two major issues,” says Rob Benner, a Bridgeport, Conn., school psychologist with nearly 30 years’ experience. “One is testing anxiety, and the other is anxiety over social media.”

Today’s teenagers grew up in classrooms governed by No Child Left Behind, the federal law that introduced high-stakes standardized testing to every public school in America. In kindergarten, instead of making art and new friends, they learned to write full-on sentences in timed tests. Hours spent in art, music, physical education and recess were limited, or eliminated. For fun, these students attended pep rallies to pump them up for state testing.

By high school, high-achieving students face overwhelming pressure to succeed—and their parents aren’t always helpful. “They have start taking the SATs in eighth grade,” says Reamy. “It’s so hard for the kids who are already maybe perfectionists, and they’re getting the first B in their lives and they’re fearful it’s going to prevent them going to college, any college, never mind their dream college. And they don’t want to disappoint their parents.”

The other issue is social media. A study published in Clinical Psychological Science points to the development of something very troubling in the lives of U.S. teens between 2010 and 2015. During those five years, the number of teens who felt “useless and joyless” surged 33 percent. The number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

“What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide?” wrote one of the study’s authors, San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge, in a Washington Post column“After scouring several large surveys for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.”

Teens who spend five or more hours online a day were 71 percent more likely than those who spent only one hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor, Twenge’s research found.

“I have one student who is completely addicted to social media and her phone,” said Reamy. “It was honestly preventing her from doing what she needed to do at school. So, now she leaves her phone in my office. She still comes between classes to check some things, and she’s got it for a solid hour at lunchtime. For her, it’s like an appendage, like her right arm!”

Students are incredibly mean to each other on social media. They say things to a screen that they would never say face to face, things like “you should kill yourself.” And many studies have found that increased social media use actually makes people feel more socially isolated. It also disrupts sleep, which is related to mental health.

Schools can create policies around phone use during school hours, but ultimately “parents need to manage the time that students are on their phone, and I think students need to earn that time,” said Brenner.

Solutions are complex, advocates say. Reamy often suggests therapy to students and parents, but many are resistant. School psychologists and counselors need more time to spend with one-on-one with students, but that’s difficult to find in these days of austerity. Many school districts, alarmed by rising suicide rates, are hosting community-wide conversations, involving students, parents, and educators, about the academic and social pressures placed on kids.

“Despite the fact I go to high school every day, I often say, ‘I would not want to go back to high school,’” said Reamy. “People don’t understand how hard it is to be a kid today.”


Freshman Academy/STEAM

I will report out more in our next newsletter.

Attendance Matters

Chronic Absenteeism Can Devastate K-12 Learning

By Hedy Chang, John Gomperts, & Leslie Boissiere, October 7, 2014

(continued from last week’s newsletter)

So what can be done?

A recent report, "Absences Add Up," also from Attendance Works, documents what many know from common sense: At every age, in every demographic, and in every state and city tested, students with poor attendance scored significantly lower on standardized tests. In our schools, this translates into weaker reading skills, failing grades, and higher dropout rates. Rather than looking at attendance as an administrative chore, schools can use the same data as a warning sign to change the trajectory.

Poor attendance can be turned around if schools and community partners work together with families to monitor who is at risk for poor attendance, nurture a habit of regular attendance, and identify and address the challenges that prevent students from getting to school. The key is using data to identify and intervene early, before students have missed so much school they can't catch up.

That's what happened when New York City put its Success Mentors in 100 schools. Students who were chronically absent in the prior year were assigned mentors, drawn from the school staff, student leaders, or national service programs such as City Year and Experience Corps.

The mentors had several simple but straightforward responsibilities. They greeted the students every day to let them know they were glad to see them at school. They called home if students were sick to find out what was happening. They connected the students and their families to resources to help address attendance barriers. Mentors participated in school-based teams that analyzed data and shared insights about students. And they also supported schoolwide activities, including assemblies, incentives, and contests, to encourage better attendance for all students.

The results were significant. Students with mentors gained nine school days—almost two weeks—during the year. They were more likely to remain in school and maintain their grade point averages than similar students without mentors. The program worked at every K-12 level: elementary, middle, and high school, with the greatest impact on students struggling with poverty and homelessness.

In a smaller city, New Britain, Conn., administrators focused on kindergarten, which had one of the highest absenteeism rates in the community. Elementary schools set up attendance teams to identify and monitor the students with the worst attendance. Part-time social workers, hired with philanthropic and state dollars, connected with families. Principals and teachers promoted attendance at back-to-school nights, at parent-teacher conferences, and through regular calls home. This work led to a significant drop in absenteeism in all elementary grades, particularly in kindergarten. The percentage of chronically absent kindergartners fell from 30 percent in the 2011-12 school year to 13 percent in 2013-14. And reading scores began to climb.

It's clear that we can improve attendance and, with it, achievement—if we pay attention to who is missing too much school for any reason and use the data to take positive, supportive action. Now, still early in the school year, is the time to start.

(I will include the final portion of this article in next week’s newsletter)


Character Counts


Empathy for others doesn’t necessarily lead them to change their behavior, but it does help you better navigate difficult situations.

By Elena Aguilar, February 6, 2018

Often discussed as something that we might do (or perhaps should do) to be a good person, feeling empathetic helps us make connections with others and understand them better. It’s different from having sympathy for someone, which means to look at their suffering from the outside and feel sorry or sad for them. Empathy is feeling someone else’s pain or seeing through their eyes. It’s also a precursor to compassion, which is empathy in action—a commitment to doing something that relieves someone else’s suffering.

But here’s another reason to foster empathy for others: Experiencing empathy can make your own life better. Empathy can open your heart, letting in more feelings, but also softening some of the tough experiences. As we build empathy for others, we understand them more and can connect with them differently, which boosts our resilience—the ability to bounce back after challenges.

Here’s what happened with T. I asked students to do a quick write-in response to this prompt: “If a genie could grant you one wish, what would it be?” T. wrote about a genie who would buy her new clothes. She wrote about how she was growing out of her clothes, and her family didn’t have money, and she was ashamed to come to school every day in pants that she knew didn’t fit and bursting out of her shirts. She’d had a major growth spurt, she wrote, and all she wanted were clothes that fit.

“What must that be like,” I thought, “for a 13-year-old-girl?” I remembered my own early adolescence. I imagined myself in her clothes. I felt some of what I imagined she might feel. 

I wrote back a short message communicating empathy. She responded and told me about her sick grandma and her mother who was developmentally disabled. I wrote back. She responded and shared more. She still came into class with a temper, but it dissipated much quicker. And I noticed that her temper didn’t trigger me as much, that I actually smiled genuinely at her, and that I could authentically say, “It’s nice to see you today.”

Empathy for others doesn’t always lead them to change their behaviors—and we can’t expect it to. We can only hope that in exploring the rough terrain of empathy within ourselves, we can learn more about others and ourselves.


There are many ways we can cultivate empathy for others. Here’s one activity to try: Identify someone who bothers you, who you are having a difficult time with. This could be a student, a colleague, or a boss. Discreetly attempt to take a photo with your phone of the person’s shoes. If you can’t do this, then pay attention to their shoes and make a mental note of them, or even create a sketch.

Throughout the course of the day, imagine being in this person’s shoes. Use whatever knowledge you have about them to imagine them putting on their shoes in the morning, getting to school, going through their day, leaving school at the end of the day, going home, and so on. At the end of the day, record your reflections. What was the experience like? How did you feel? How did your thoughts and feelings about the other person shift?

Empathy is about opening your heart. I know that this can feel difficult, but I also know that our hearts can hold a lot. Teachers have many opportunities to do this, and developing empathy as a practice can actually make our work as educators easier.

Tips to Improve School Outcomes

I am going spend the next few weeks highlighting the characteristics of a Growth Mindset in this section.  I will provide links to articles and videos describing how to promote in the home.

Activity: Practicing process praise

Below are some statements you might use when speaking to your child. Which ones that convey a growth mindset?


  1.  "It looks like that was too easy. Let's give you something a bit more challenging."
  2. "That isn't the right answer. You don't understand it yet."
  3. "You are so smart."
  4. "I know it was hard, but look how your effort paid off."
  5. "You’re really talented in math- you should definitely focus on it next year."
  6. "She’ll get it. She’s working on it and making progress."
  7. "You did so well! Keep working hard and you will do great again next year."


  1.  Yes - This indicates that learning and being challenged is more important than getting the right answer quickly.
  2. Yes - "Yet" indicates your child will succeed if they keep working.
  3. No - This sends the message that innate "smartness" is what leads to success, rather than effort and growth.
  4. Yes - This specifies that your child’s efforts led to success.
  5. No - This emphasizes the importance of talent rather than learning and growth.
  6. Yes - This acknowledges that the child is able to succeed, and just needs more time to do so.
  7. Yes - This says that continued effort will lead to continued success.


College and Career

Important new developments on raising money to pay for college expenses!  Your child can earn micro-scholarships from colleges for your achievements as early as 9th grade.  Please go to the following website for further details:

What are Colleges Looking for?


Parents, please monitor your child’s behavior prior to their attendance at a school evening event.  Know that as a school we can never condone the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, etc.  Although the behavior may be deemed appropriate in your home, it is not on school property.  Please respect our commitment to keep our students safe.

This Week at East

We are holding our district professional development day on Monday.  Various presenters will be providing talks on developing the whole child.  I will be speaking about how to create a classroom culture of excellence.  We are recognizing our TOY and EPOY at the Board meeting Wednesday evening. Christian Kane will be speaking to our juniors and seniors on the Field of Dreams project in an assembly Thursday morning.  We will continue our weekly PD training in our Jersey Mike’s PD Room.


On Wednesday, May 1st we will be taking seniors to OCC for Registration Day. This will allow seniors to go through the registration and orientation process. The buses will leave HSE at 7:30am and return to HSE at approx. 1:15pm. See you counselor for more information.  Students who are interested in attending vocational school next year should speak to their guidance counselor about visiting a vocational school program to gain first hand knowledge about the program. Student visitation week is March 12th - March 15th.  Juniors and Seniors interested in taking the Accuplacer on February 25th must sign up in Guidance.  The registration deadline for the April 13th ACT is 3/8/19. Register at www.actstudent.org.  Volunteer hours need to be submitted every month.  Please drop off your community service card in Guidance.  New scholarships are available on the HSE Guidance website. Check out the multitude of new scholarships recently added!

In support of our Big Read, The Things They Carried, Vietnam Veterans will be speaking to interested students in March.

We are holding our second student workshop on the 26th of February, the topic will be Time Management.  If you have a 9th or 10th grader who would benefit from the tips supporting Time Management, please inform them to go to the Media Center during their lunch period on the 26th.  


Join the PTO Remind - text @ah89ee to 81010.  We will use remind for event and meeting reminders.  Our email address is trhsepto@gmail.com, Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/trhsepto and find us on instagram @ tomsriverhse.pto.  


I would like to thank The Olive Garden for their continued support of High School East.  We have received several lunches in recognition of the efforts our staff make to support student achievement.  Thank you Olive Garden, we appreciate you!

I would like to thank Douglas and Mary Fantuzzi for their generous donation to our Robotics Club – Short Circuits.  Our Robotics Club growth is dependent upon the acquisition of funds from various community sponsors.  On behalf of Mrs. Suzanne Signorelli and Mr. Walt Patelunas, I would like to personally thank you for your support of our program.  

I would like to thank CBJ Farms for donating the shrubs/plants for the front entrance of our building for our beautification project.  CBJ Farms is located on 36 Newbold Lane in Chesterfield, New Jersey.  The phone number is (609) 291-9292.  

I would like to thank Chris Rampone for his continued support of our school’s educational incentives to improve school achievement.  Mr. Rampone has generously donated thousands of dollars in coupons to his Jersey Mike’s Subs establishments in Toms River.  Chris is committed to supporting our initiative to improve school achievement through positive school behavior and attendance.  Thank you Chris for all you are doing for East and our community!  

I would like to thank Morano Tours for donating $300 to our school account in support of our attendance and character initiatives.  Thank you Bill Morano your generosity.  The funds will be used to purchase certificates, shirts, and other gifts during our monthly student drawings.  Check out his website, Moranotours.net or call to make a reservation at (732) 237-9977.  Bill was a former teacher at East and is personally connected to our community.

I would also like to thank our wonderful partner, Thompson Health Care, for providing the staff with breakfast on our first day of school.  Thompson Health Care has volunteered to provide food, speakers, and other school-related services in support of our school vision and mission.  Thompson Health Care provides chiropractic, sports rehabilitation, acupuncture, physical therapy, medical pain management and medical weight loss to their patients.


Mr. Thomas, Principal

We at High School East


Anchored in Integrity,

Devoted to Excellence,


Focused on results:

well educated and highly ethical graduates.