Hillside Elementary School

Empowering all to learn, create, contribute and grow.

School News

Principal's Messages

  • September 15, 2019

    Posted by Carlos Gramata on 9/15/2019 3:15:00 PM
    Hello, Hillside Families!
    I hope this email finds you enjoying this beautiful day with your loved ones! 
    We have had an amazingly positive start to the school year.  Staff and students have spent the last eight school days settling into routines, getting to know one another and having some fun!  I have been so impressed with how returning students have welcomed our new ones, showing that Hillside really does have heart!  We look forward to a happy and learning-filled school year with your children!
    Thanks to the many families who turned out for both Tuesday night's PTA meeting and Friday's Outdoor Movie Night!  It was great seeing so many of you there and I continue to encourage everyone's involvement in the PTA and its many events throughout the year!
    Hillside's Back to School Night is this Thursday from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m.  Please click here for a copy of the letter that went home last week with information about the event.  Look forward to see you there!
    Picture Day is Thursday, September 26.  Information will go home with students this week.  
    On Friday, October 4, Hillside will participate in its Sixth Annual Back-to-School Pep Rally!  Grade levels have been assigned a pillar of character and have been tasked with creating a song, chant, and/or dance, that highlights the core value.  The rally will also include our first Student Council Assembly of the year, where our executive board members will introduce third, fourth and fifth grade class representatives and highlight the pillar of "respect", among other things.  Our summer readers will also be celebrated at the rally.  We will culminate with our whole-school picture (it's a surprise, so stay tuned!).  For pep rally day, families are asked to ensure that children wear a color shirt that matches their assigned pillar of character as follows:
    • Kindergarten – Trustworthiness (Blue)
    • 1st Grade – Respect (Yellow)
    • 2nd grade – Responsibility (Green)
    • 3rd Grade – Fairness (Orange)
    • 4th Grade – Caring (Red)
    • 5th Grade – Citizenship (Purple)
    Thank you, in advance, for your anticipated support! 😊
    Please see below for the upcoming calendar of activities and events.  Note that all of my messages are also posted on the school's site under "Principal's Messages" for future reference.
    Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the day and the week ahead!
    Warm regards,
    Mr. Gramata
    Upcoming Calendar of Events and Activities
    Week of September 16, 2019
    Thursday, 9-19:  Back to School Night, 6:45 – 8:45 p.m.
    Friday, 9-20:      Fifth Grade Trip
                             PTA After School Bake Sale
    Week of September 23, 2019—“Start With Hello” Week
    Monday, 9-23:    BOE Voting Meeting, 7:00 p.m., BOE                                   Large Conference Room
    Thursday, 9-26:  Picture Day
    Friday, 9-27:      World Character Day
                             Fifth Grade Trip
                             PTA After School Bake Sale
    Week of September 30, 2019—NJDOE’s “Week of Respect”
    Monday, 9-30: Rosh Hashanah, Schools Closed
    Tuesday, 10-1: Rosh Hashanah, Schools Closed
    Friday, 10-4:    Sixth Annual Back to School Pep Rally!,                                9:00 a.m., Upper Gym
                           New Student (Grades 1-5) Scavenger                                   Hunt and Social, 1:30 p.m., Upper Gym
                           PTA After School Bake Sale
    Week of October 7, 2019
    Monday, 10-7:    BOE Workshop Meeting, 7:00 p.m., BOE                             Large Conference Room
    Wednesday, 10-9: Yom Kippur, Schools Closed
    Thursday, 10-10:  Kindergarten Trip
    Friday, 10-11:      Back  to School Pep Rally Rain Date
                               PTA After School Bake Sale
    Week of October 14, 2019—NJDOE’s “School Violence Awareness Week”
    Monday, 10-14:    Columbus Day, Schools Closed for                                      Students/Staff In-Service
                               BOE Voting Meeting, 7:00 p.m., BOE                                     Large Conference Room
    Tuesday, 10-15:     PTA Meeting, 7:00 p.m., Media Center
    Wednesday, 10-16: PTA Fun Run Pep Rally, 1:45 p.m.,                                      Upper Gym
    Thursday, 10-17:    Fun Run Lesson 1
    Friday, 10-18:        Fun Run Lesson 2
                                 PTA After School Bake Sale
    Week of October 21, 2019—“National Red Ribbon Week”
    Tuesday, 10-22:     Fun Run Lesson 3
    Wednesday, 10-23: Fun Run Lesson 4
    Thursday, 10-24:    Fun Run Lesson 5
    Friday, 10-25:        Author Visit, Cynthia Lord 
                                 Fun Run Lesson 6 (Final)
    Week of October 28, 2019
    Wednesday, 10-30: PTA Fun Run Event
    Thursday, 10-31:    Halloween Parade and Class Parties to                                  Follow, 1:15 p.m.
    Friday, 11-1:          Third Grade Trip
                                 PTA After School Bake Sale
    Comments (-1)
  • First Day of School! Go, Huskies!

    Posted by Carlos Gramata on 9/3/2019 1:30:00 PM
    Hello, Hillside Families!
    Tomorrow is the big day and we are very excited to welcome your children to what promises to be an amazing year at Hillside School! 
    It was such a pleasure meeting many of Hillside's new families last week and I thank everyone who attended for taking the time to join me for the "New Family Meet and Greet" and building tour.  We also held our seventh annual "Kindergarten Play Date" on the school's playground and it was so nice to see our youngest students building friendships and having fun.  We took a really cute first group picture and it was relatively easy, too!
    I know you have received a lot of information over the last couple of weeks and I just wanted to provide you with some friendly reminders regarding the first day of school and beyond.
    • The school opens for students at 7:35 a.m.  Students must not arrive before that time, but must arrive by 8:05 a.m. to not be considered tardy.
    • Only two doors are open during arrival time--Door #5 by the playground and near the path that comes up from South Ashby Avenue and Door #9 by the front loop.  Children of any grade can enter through either door, although Kindergarten parents are encouraged to send children in through door #9 as it is closer, with a more direct path to the upper gym where the children will assemble starting on the second day of school.  Adults are not permitted to enter the building through these doors.  If a visit to the office is necessary, adults must go to the main entrance door adjacent to the staff parking lot and ring the bell.
    • Hillside does NOT have a car line morning drop-off on school property.  Parents must either park on the street and walk children to either door or children can be let out of cars curbside near the crosswalks on Hillside Avenue, Belmont Drive, and South Ashby Avenue (please look for the crossing guards).  Parents must not park in the parking lot during arrival time, unless they plan on coming into the building through the main entrance.  We do have six visitor spots and a 15-minute parking spot for visits after the start of the school day.  The visitors spots are unmarked.  All numbers/marked spots are for staff only.
    • All children in grades 1 - 5 will enter the building for arrival starting on the first day of school.  Students in grades 1-2 will gather in the upper gym to await their teachers and students in grades 3-5 will do so in the lower gym.
    • For the first day of school only (looks like the weather is going to cooperate!), Kindergarteners will gather on the upper blacktop and line up behind their respective section numbers (K-1, K-2, or K-3 painted in yellow on the ground near the staircase down from front loop).  Starting on Thursday, September 5th, Kindergarteners will enter upon arrival and gather in the upper gym with first and second graders.  Parents will not be permitted in the building.  Staff and student helpers will be available to help guide our little ones to the gym.
    • Dismissal time is 2:40 p.m. (2:35 for Kindergarteners).  We use three doors for the dismissal of students.  Kindergarteners and first graders dismiss from Door # 9 (Kindergarten Door).  Second and third graders dismiss from Door# 7 (near Media Center steps on upper blacktop).  Fourth and fifth graders dismiss from Door #6 (new addition door on upper blacktop).  They are all in the same general vicinity so that older children can pick up younger siblings at other doors, if necessary.  There will be no exceptions to these procedures and students must exit from their grade-specific doors. 
      • In addition, please note that any child marked as "Walker-Picked up by adult" in the Parent Portal will not be released without an adult.  If you have not had a chance to update/input dismissal procedures in the portal, please do so as soon as possible.
    • Children who are signed up for aftercare through the YMCA will report to the upper gym (K-2) or lower gym (3-5) upon dismissal where they will be greeted by YMCA staff.  Kindergarteners will be escorted to the upper gym by the Kindergarten Aide.
    • Children who are signed up for aftercare through the JCC will report to the upper gym to await their bus.  A staff member will be present daily to take attendance and escort children to the bus.  Kindergarteners will be escorted to the gym by the Kindergarten aide.
    • Children who take a district school bus will also report to the upper gym to await their bus.  A staff member will be present daily to take attendance and escort children to the bus.  Kindergarteners will be escorted to the gym by the Kindergarten aide.
    • Lunch will be served on the first day of school (children can also bring lunch from home, of course!).  We ask that you please practice with your children their six-digit identification numbers that can be found in the Genesis Parent Portal.  We have made temporary lunch cards that children can carry with them until their ID numbers are memorized.  Kindergarten children have been encouraged to pack a lunch for the first day, but the purchasing of lunch is still an option.  We will make sure that all children who are purchasing lunch will have a chance to do so. 
    • Parents should create an account with myschoolbucks.com.  Funds can be added to lunch accounts directly or children can come with money (please place in an envelope and mark with child's name and teacher).  The account will permit parents to track purchases even if funds are not added via a credit card.
    • Children will also have recess starting on the first day of school.  Kindergarteners typically take a little longer than the other students to eat lunch during the first few weeks of school, but we do get them out to play for, at least, a portion of recess time.  Students have 25 minutes of recess daily.
    • All special classes that take place during the school day will start on the first day of school (i.e. Physical Education, Art, Library Media, Music, World Language).  As a reminder, students must wear sneakers to participate in Physical Education classes.  The following classes will have P.E. on the first day of school:  K-1 (Richmond), 1-1 (Pacheco), 2-1 (DePalo), 3-1 (Gursky), 4-1 (George) and 5-1 (Marshall). 
    • The Six Day Rotation Schedule can be found on the school's site. 
    Attendance Reporting
    • When children are absent for any reason, a call to the school's safety line must be made at 973-535-8000, ext. 7104, by 8:00 a.m. of that morning.  Emails to teachers are not acceptable substitutes for making calls. 
    Thank you for reading, and we look forward to a very happy first day of school and wonderful school year!
    Warm regards,
    Mr. Gramata 
    Upcoming Calendar of Events
    First Day of School for Students (FULL day of school):  Wednesday, September 4th

    PTA Meeting:  Tuesday, September 10th, 7:00 p.m.

    Summer Reading Logs Due:  Friday, September 13th (see school webpage for information)

    PTA’s Outdoor Movie Night:  Friday, September 13th, 7:00 p.m.

    Back to School Night:  Thursday, September 19th, 6:45 p.m.

    Fifth Grade Trip:  Friday, September 20th

    PTA’s Outdoor Movie Night Rain Date:  Friday, September 20th, 7:00 p.m.

    Picture Day:  Thursday, September 26th

    World Character Day:  Friday, September 27th

    Schools Closed for Rosh Hashanah:  Monday, September 30th & Tuesday, October 1st
    Comments (-1)
  • Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year!

    Posted by Carlos Gramata on 8/27/2019 1:30:00 PM
    Hello, Hillside families, and welcome to the 2019 - 20 school year!
    I hope you've enjoyed the summer with your children.  All of us at Hillside are very excited for the new school year and look forward to seeing our students very soon! 
    Please see attached for my "Back to School" letter and accompanying parent guidelines along with other attachments, including:
    Thank you, in advance, for taking the time to read through the attached documents.  You will hear from your children's teachers by the end of the week. 
    Enjoy the remaining days of summer!
    Best regards,
    Mr. Gramata
    Comments (-1)
  • 2019-20 Staffing and Class Placements

    Posted by Carlos Gramata on 8/20/2019 9:15:00 PM
    Hello, Hillside Families!

    I hope this email finds you well and that you have enjoyed the summer!  We are all excited for the start of the school year and hope your children are, too!    

    As you know, class placements become available to parents in the Genesis Parent Portal on Thursday, August 22nd, after 3:00 p.m.  I am writing to you, in advance, to make you aware of the personnel assignments for this upcoming school year.  First, let me share with you that we have a number of changes that were the result of varying circumstances, including the shifting of section numbers, maternity leaves, and resignations or reassignment of staff.  We also welcome a couple of new faculty members and are very happy to have them as part of the Hillside School community.  

    Notable changes in the faculty lineup include the following:

    • Nurse Pao Tseng was recruited by the district to fill a newly-created nurse floater position she once occupied years ago.  Given her expertise and knowledge of the district's schools, there was no better choice!  We thank Nurse Tseng for her last five years of service to Hillside School and wish her success in her new role!
    • Replacing Nurse Tseng is Ms. Lisa Garamella, who brings with her a wealth of experience both in schools and in the medical field.  "Nurse Lisa" is going to make a great addition to the Hillside faculty and is enthusiastic about her new position and meeting your children.  Welcome, Nurse Lisa!
    • Mrs. Laura Dugan replaces newly retired Mrs. Meglio in the role of Mathematics Basic Skills Instructor for grades 3-5 and Mrs. Dana Wallock replaces newly retired Mrs. LeDonne as Mathematics Basic Skills Instructor for grades K-2.  They are very excited about their new positions and will undoubtedly serve our young mathematicians well!  Congratulations to both!
    • After a short stint in fifth grade upon her return from maternity leave late last school year, Mrs. Kristen Murray returns to the first grade as a fourth section where she spent many successful years prior to her leave.  Welcome back, Mrs. Murray!
    • Both Mrs. Melissa Serrani and Mrs. Amanda King return to the third grade.  Note that longtime instructional aide and certified teacher, Mr. Eric Hazelcorn, will fill in for Mrs. King until her return in November.  Mr. Hazelcorn has earned this opportunity and will undoubtedly have great success to start the year!
    • After five years in fourth grade, Miss Kristen Trebbe moves up to teach the fifth grade.  Trust me--Miss Trebbe is smarter than a fifth grader! 😊  Best wishes, Miss Trebbe!
    • After a brief hiatus, Mrs. Lauren Castoro, who taught the second and fifth grades at Hillside over eight years, returns to Hillside to start, again, where she left off teaching the fifth grade with Mrs. Price.  Welcome back, Mrs. Castoro!
    • We welcome our new Physical Education teacher, Miss Jackie Gronek, who will work in tandem with Mr. Schinelli in our physical education department. 
    • Finally, while we had the Reading Specialist position filled until this past Friday, it is currently vacant and we are actively searching for the best candidate to fill in until Mrs. Lauren Szaro's anticipated return later this year.  I will keep you posted!

     The following list summarizes the changes above and our current faculty lineup:

    • Kindergarten:
      • K-1:  Mrs. Pam Richmond
      • K-2:  Mrs. Caroline Dugan
      • K-3:  Mrs. Carmela Damante
    • First grade:
      • 1-1:  Mrs. Sarah Pacheco
      • 1-2:  Mr. Kevin Sinsimer
      • 1-3:  Miss Katelyn Viverito
      • 1-4:  Mrs. Kristen Murray
    • Second Grade:
      • 2-1:  Miss Janene DePalo
      • 2-2:  Mrs. Chani Levine
      • 2-3:  Mr. Justin Grossman 
    • Third Grade:
      • 3-1:  Mrs. Lindsey Gursky
      • 3-2:  Mrs. Melissa Serrani
      • 3-3:  Mrs. Amanda King/Mr. Eric Hazelcorn (Mr. Hazelcorn is filling in for Mrs. King while on maternity leave through November 25th)
    • Fourth Grade:
      • 4-1:  Miss Jade George
      • 4-2:  Mrs. Amy Hinds
    • Fifth Grade:
      • 5-1:  Mrs. Bridget Marshall 
      • 5-2:  Mr. Chris Ebneth
      • 5-3:  Mrs. Lauren Castoro & Mrs. Patricia Price
        5-4:  Miss Kristen Trebbe
    • Special Education:
      • Mrs. Erika Yersak 
      • Ms. Marisa Gengaro
      • Mrs. Patricia Price
      • Mrs. Nicole Hanna
    • Specialists:
      • Mr. Matthew Schinelli (Physical Education and Adaptive PE)
      • Miss Jackie Gronek (Physical Education and Before-school Developmental PE)
      • Mr. Richard Battista (General Music, GT Music and Chorus)
      • Mrs. Michele Matten (General Music)
      • Mrs. Barbara Levy (Art)
      • Miss Melissa Mondanaro (Art)
      • Mrs. Rosa Ramirez (World Language-Spanish)
      • Mrs. Sofia Fernandez (World Language-Spanish)
      • Mrs. Colleen Donnelly (Library-Media)
      • Mr. Jim Hegedus (Band)
      • Mrs. Etleva Vatoci (Strings)
    • Support Specialists:
      • Mrs. Pia Bauer (Reading Interventionist)
      • TBD:  (Reading Specialist)
      • Mrs. Laura Dugan (Mathematics Basic Skills Instructor, Grades 3-5)
      • Mrs. Dana Wallock (Mathematics Basic Skills Instructor, Grades K-2)
      • Dr. Carla Flynn (Occupational Therapist)
      • Mrs. Jaime Brodsky (Speech and Language Therapist) 
        Mrs. Kristina Dugan (ESL)
      • Miss Michelle Kim (ESL)
      • Mrs. Michelle Bodow (Gifted and Talented)
      • Mrs. Lisa Bowe (Guidance Counselor)
    • Child Study Team:
      • Mrs. Danusia Rampolla (Learning Disabilities Teacher-Consultant)
      • Mr. Dean Smith (Social Worker/Behaviorist)
      • Mr. Tom Zampano (School Psychologist)
    • Nurse:
      • Ms. Lisa Garamella 

    A note about class placements:  

    I respectfully advise parents that all class placements are final.  The formation of each class has been carefully considered over the last few months, taking into account individual student needs, strengths, and personalities, student programming and behavioral needs, as well as teacher input.  We have an amazingly talented staff who are all well-suited to teach your children and, so, I thank you, in advance, for your understanding, cooperation, and trust, and look forward to what promises to be yet another wonderful year at Hillside School! 

    I will be in touch with you, again, early next week with all of the typical beginning-of-year housekeeping items.  You should also expect to hear from your children's teachers late next week.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the last of these summer days with your children.  Thank you and I look forward to seeing everyone soon!

    Warm regards,
    Mr. Gramata

    P.S.  Please see the calendar below for upcoming events/activities. 

    P.P.S.  If needed, the school supply lists can be found on the school's homepage.

    Upcoming Events/Dates to Remember:

    • New Family "Meet and Greet" and Building Tour with Mr. Gramata:  Thursday, August 29th, 3:30 p.m., Meet in the Hillside School Lobby
    • "Kindergarten Play Date" on the Hillside playground (pending weather):  Thursday, August 29th, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. (don't forget the kids' "Class of 2032" T-shirts for a cute first group picture!)
    • Medication Drop-off at Nurse's Office:  Tuesday, September 3rd, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
    • First Day of School for Students:  Wednesday, September 4th (full day of school)
    • PTA Meeting:  Tuesday, September 10th, 7:00 p.m., Hillside Media Center
    • Summer Reading Logs Due:  Friday, September 13th (see school webpage for information)
    • PTA's Outdoor Movie Night:  Friday, September 13th, 7:00 p.m.
    • Back to School Night:  Thursday, September 19th
    • PTA's Outdoor Movie Night Rain Date:  Friday, September 20th
    • Picture Day:  Thursday, September 26th
    • Character Day:  Friday, September 27th
    • Schools Closed for Rosh Hashanah:  Friday, September 30th
    Comments (-1)

Upcoming Events

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Call for Safety

  • Call for Safety In order to ensure the safety of our students, parents should use the Call For Safety phone line and report the student’s name, day or dates the student is absent or tardy, and the reason for the absence or tardy.

    973-535-8000, x7104

  • Hillside Character Education