Students in grades K–12 attend the schools of the Somerset Hills Regional School District, a regional school district serving students from Bernardsville, Far Hills, and Peapack-Gladstone, along with those from Bedminster Township who attend the district’s high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship.
The three schools in the district are Bedwell Elementary School (K-4, 692 students), Bernardsville Middle School (5-8, 554 students) and Bernards High School (9-12, 759 students), and are all located in Bernardsville. Many of the high school students travel to school using the train that links the towns together.
Bedwell Elementary School (Pre K-4) – Bedwell Elementary School, located at 141 Seney Drive in Bernardsville is a child-centered school that includes a total of approximately 692 students from Bernardsville, Far Hills and Peapack-Gladstone.
The Bedwell staff provides students with a life-long love of learning and a challenging educational program that develops skills and knowledge necessary to lead successful, meaningful lives. In order to accomplish these goals, our highly qualified educators employ a variety of strategies and techniques: hands-on activities, learning centers, workshop formats, cooperative learning, small group, and direct instruction to meet the individual needs of learners.
Following New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards, Bedwell offers a balanced literacy program that integrates reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing across the curriculum. Guided reading, shared reading and writing, reading aloud, interactive writing experiences, independent reading and writing, spelling, phonics instruction, and academic vocabulary development are all valued components of the balanced literacy approach at Bedwell. The Harcourt Mathematics program serves as the basis for our mathematics instruction in grades 1-4. The Everyday Mathematics program is used in Kindergarten and supplements mathematics instruction in Grade 1. Teacher study groups have developed an array of supplemental resources such as Exemplars to enhance the program and differentiate for student ability. Additional components of our core curriculum include GEMS and FOSS Science, Social Studies, Health, and a full complement of Related Arts: Art, Music, Physical Education, Computer Technology and Library Media. All kindergarten through fourth grade students participate in bi-monthly, in-class enrichment opportunities offered by a certified enrichment specialist. Additional enrichment experiences in the form of Renzulli Level Three research projects are offered to identified students in grades three and four. Students at these grade levels may also take part in before-school enrichment classes for Continental Math League and Wordmasters.
Students’ needs are also met through the services of three Reading Specialists, one of whom is a Reading Recovery® trained teacher, two Mathematics support teachers, and several Speech and English as a Second Language teachers. Third and fourth grade students also have opportunities to participate in Band, Chorus, and Orchestra. As part of their music program, the entire school participated in “Golden Guest Day” by putting on a concert. Students, under the direction of the Art Teacher and the Related Arts Teachers recreated plants and animals in an undersea world exhibit title Dive into the Ocean. Prior to creating the animal and plant life in Art class, students in Technology and Library classes researched the animals, plants and features of an ocean habitat. In music class, they studied the sounds of waves, birds and whales and in Spanish class they created labels for the ocean habitat. In Physical Education classes, the students navigated ocean themed obstacle courses. The display was open to all during an evening event and during Golden Guest Day. Fourth grade students auditioned and participated in the Fourth Grade Talent Show. Fourth graders also wrote their own “Moving Up” song and performed it at their “Moving Up” program.
Maintaining a strong home/school partnership enhances Bedwell students’ attitudes toward school and learning. Therefore, parent involvement is a fundamental component of Bedwell School. Parent volunteers routinely read to and with students, provide extra hands at center time and help organize and support special projects. The Bedwell Home and School Association (H.S.A.) provides substantial support for both classroom teachers, special programs and projects that could not otherwise be achieved. In 2009-2010, the Bedwell H.S.A. once again donated money to further the development of our bookroom for leveled readers to support our guided reading program. The H.S.A. also purchased interactive whiteboard set ups, classroom sound systems and classroom grants related to health and wellness, The Underground Railroad, an artist/poet in residence and an in class fish tank habitat. The H.S.A. continued to bring exciting and educational assemblies to Bedwell. They brought back author, Suzy Kline to discuss her books and the craft of writing as well as assemblies related to character education, music, history and cultural experiences. Another group that supports all of the Somerset Hills schools is the Somerset Hills Education Foundation (SHEF). This year SHEF funded a rainforest assembly, a yoga assembly, a traveling art exhibit, environmental art education materials, character education props/video camera for filming model student behavior and interactive whiteboard setups.
The Bedwell School’s Character Education program remains an integral part of the school community. At Bedwell, KICK continued to promote the six pillars of character: respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, caring, fairness and citizenship. All students participated in the “Kids Inventing Character Building Kreations” program. KICK was a school-wide initiative designed to give every student an opportunity to create an original work of art or invention that celebrated individuals who changed the world for good. In Phase 2, students worked individually or in groups to develop a work of art or invention. Phase 3 culminated with a school-wide KICK EXPO designed to showcase the students’ work. Character Education traits were emphasized and reinforced daily through age-appropriate activities. Positive student behaviors were recognized with a house on Bedwell’s Caring Community Road, a fantastic floor-to-ceiling mural painted voluntarily by Bernards High School students on the district’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Students who receive houses on the “Road” also receive certificates and a call home as a part of the reward. In addition, the Character Education Committee continued with School Spirit Week and monthly School Spirit Days. Different members of the committee take responsibility for planning these special days which integrate school spirit and character education.
Bedwell students continued to participate in community service projects such as a coat drive, pet food drive, mitten tree, Thanksgiving food drive, Haiti disaster relief and eyeglass collection. Bedwell School students and staff members also celebrated Earth Week with activities infused into instructional activities, assemblies and morning announcements related to environmental awareness and responsibility.
Bernardsville Middle School (5-8) – Bernardsville Middle School, located at 141 Seney Drive in Bernardsville with approximately 554 students from Bernardsville, Far Hills and Peapack-Gladstone encompasses many of the characteristics of exemplary middle school programs such as, interdisciplinary teams, exploratory courses with PE/Health, computer literacy, fine and practical arts, and extra-curricular activities. BMS provides a supportive network to enable students to build relationships, grow, explore, and develop self-confidence. Combined with a solid challenging curriculum and co-curricular activities, BMS students become well-rounded, active learners who are prepared for the transition to high school.
Students at the Bernardsville Middle School continue to receive recognition in the areas of academics, athletics and community service. BMS was the only middle school in the state to have a team compete in the New Jersey Science League, a statewide, high school competition. Our 8th grade team finished second, and three students individually placed first, tenth and thirteenth. In the music department, two BMS students were chosen to participate in the Central New Jersey Region II Orchestra. Also in the music department, the Senior Select Chorus received a Superior Rating in the High Note Music Festival, and the Jazz Band and 8th grade concert band also earned a Superior Rating. On the National Latin Exam, 13 out of 26 students were awarded at or above the distinction level. One 7th grade student won the VFW Patriot’s Pen contest, based on a persuasive essay.
All Bernardsville Middle School students are required to participate in community service projects. School wide projects include recycling, Thanksgiving food donations culminated with a collection of 62 turkeys and over 500 non-perishable food items, Hunger Walk to benefit the Morristown Soup Kitchen, Shoes for Haiti in response to the hurricane crisis, Read Across America book drive, Toys for Tots, library summer reading volunteers, Love Letters writing project, which sent notes, cards and letters to terminally ill children in local area hospitals, as well as used clothes collections. Almost all of our students completed a minimum of five hours of community service; followed by a reflection piece.
Our Home and School Association continues to sponsor numerous cultural arts programs, trips and services that enhance our programs. This year, the H.S.A. presented middle school students with a cart of 24 netbooks, as well as a netbook for each teacher. The Youth Services Commission and the Somerset Hills Municipal Alliance are strong financial supporters for our character education, peer tutoring, Girls on Track, DARE, and peer-to-peer activities. These combined efforts continue to foster a positive connection between school and community.
Bernards High School (9-12) – Bernards High School, located at 25 Olcott Avenue in Bernardsville with approximately 759 students continues its tradition of academic excellence. BHS students received numerous honors. Eleven students were named as National Merit Commended students. Thirteen students were named as Edward J. Bloustein Distinguished Scholars. (Awarded by the state, these scholarships are based on a formula that includes SAT scores, class rank and size of class). Forty three seniors qualified for the President’s Award for Educational Excellence. The criteria included GPA, class rank, SAT scores, standardized testing and significant achievement in a subject area. Thirty five seniors and recent graduates were named AP Scholars, fifteen students qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award, five qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award, and three students qualified for the AP National Scholar Award. Also, one student was a National Merit Semi-Finalist, and one student was named a National Merit Finalist.
Bernards High School has been regularly recognized by both national and state publications. Most recently, BHS was ranked within the top 2% of high schools nationwide in Newsweek. Additionally, New Jersey Monthly consistently places BHS on its prestigious top 75 list. Although BHS is considered a small high school, the school environment, student performance and student outcomes are exceptional.
As a National-Service Learning Leader School, Bernards High School continues to receive recognition at the county, state, and national level for its commitment to inculcate the value of service in the school. Eighty students were inducted into the Community Service Century Club for completing over 100 hours of service. Twenty six students were inducted into the Platinum Club for over 200 hours of service and one student received the Special Recognition for completing over 450 hours of community service.
New Jersey Science League teams faired well with Biology I finishing 53rd out of 158 teams, Biology II finishing 69th out of 144 teams, Chemistry I finishing 19th out of 162 teams, Physics C finishing 28th out of 66 teams, and Physics I finishing 42nd out of 146 teams. Physics classes participated in the nationwide program “Adopt-A-Physicist” which allowed students the opportunity to interact with physicists through a variety of means in an effort to both further their understanding of physics and to gain an appreciation for the work of theoretical and applied physicists.
Seventy two percent of the BHS student body participated in one or more sports. The following teams won championships for the 2009/2010 school year: Girls Cross Country – Conference Division; Boys Fencing – District; Girls Fencing – Conference & District; Field Hockey – Conference Division; Girls Lacrosse – Conference Division; Boys Soccer – Conference Division; Girls Soccer – State Sectional Group; Boys Tennis – Conference Division; Boys Spring Track and Field – Conference Division; Girls Spring Track and Field – Conference Division & State Sectional Group; Girls Winter Track and Field – State Sectional Group and State Group.
The 2009-2010 BHS marching band won 1st Place at the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional Championships, 3rd Place at the Yamaha Cup at Giants Stadium, 2nd Place at the Roxbury High School Competition and won best overall effect at the Hillsborough High School Competition. The BHS jazz ensemble received an outstanding rating at the annual Warren Hills High School Jazz Band Festival. In the fall the ensemble performed with celebrity, Joe Piscopo. The BHS concert band, jazz ensemble, and marching band performed throughout the parks at Disneyland in Anaheim, California during the spring of 2010. Last year the art and photography students participated in a student gallery show at Burnt Mills Galleries in Bernardsville. The event was such a success, the owners of the gallery have opened the event to an annual high school art and photography show.
The Math League placed 2nd in Somerset County and was ranked in the top 5% of schools in the state. Math League students also collected 8 boxes filled with math related materials that were sent to a school in need located the South Bronx, NY; conducted a math contest for an accelerated 3rd grade math class at the district’s elementary school and marked their inaugural participation in Moody’s Mega Math competition which is a 14-hour competition where students are given a real world problem to research, analyze and propose a solution. AP and IB math students took a field trip to see Eureka! – a theatrical performance featuring mathematicians as characters. All AP Calculus BC students who took the AP exam earned a 3, 4, or 5; half of these students received a 5. The class of 2010 had the second highest average SAT math scores in the school’s history. Two students earned perfect 300 scores on the math HSPA exam.
One student received an award for the National French Exam. Twenty seven French students visited from Rambouillet, France as part of the Louis Bascan/BHS exchange program. One World Language student won an award in the William Paterson University World Language Poetry Recitation Contest, placing second in the ESL Intermediate Division. Twenty-one out of fifty-eight students who sat for the National Latin Exam received awards.
It is important to note that the inclusive atmosphere at Bernards High extends from the classrooms to the co-curricular activities. In recent years, students with special needs have been involved in activities such as student government, school publications, auditioned performing arts ensembles, Peer Leadership, and National Honor Society. Moreover, they are often leaders in community service, and student involvement on the playing fields has extended to every sport offered at the school. Students have attended field trips to the Federal Court House, Raritan Valley Community College, Kean College, William Paterson University and the School of Visual Arts. In the Life & Transition Skills program, students benefited from hearing guest speakers from technical institutions, the police department, and the Army National Guard. Every year students in the special education program attend the Dare to Dream Conference sponsored by the NJ Department of Education, and in fact, several students have been presenters at this event. A majority of graduating seniors continue their education either in two or four year college placements.
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