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Teaneck High School Reaches Out to Local Jewish Community

Open house planned for Thursday at 7 p.m.

will hold an information session Thursday for the Jewish community in hopes of encouraging more families to take a deeper look at what the school has to offer.

School officials will host an open house that will include teachers, administrators, students and parents, all of whom will be on hand to answer questions, share their experiences, and provide a tour of the building. 

Interim Principal Dennis Heck said he believes this is the first time the high school hosted an open house specifically for the Jewish community.

“We’ve gone to homes and done things off-site, but I wanted to do it in our building because I want people to come to our building,” Heck said. “If people really want to see what’s going on at Teaneck High School, instead of having a conversation at someone’s home, I’d rather have that conversation take place in my building.”

The event is open to anyone in the community, but Heck said programs specific to the Jewish community will include:  

  • Holocaust Center and programming
  • Accommodations provided, supported, and available to the Jewish Community in all aspects of student life (kosher hot-lunch programs, accommodations for all Jewish holidays and Sabbath Observant Students)
  • Israel Club and other after-school learning clubs available to all students

Besides attending the open house, Heck said students of all backgrounds can find out more about THS through its shadowing program. Students in middle school or those who are new to town can contact THS’s guidance department to request to spend a day with a THS student.

“I believe that the people coming to shadow – the kids and their parents – they like what they see here; they’re enthusiastic about it,” Heck said. “Our guidance department does an awesome job with setting the kids up. They try to match up students who share similar interests.”

Thursday's open house takes place in the high school's Media Center and starts at 7 p.m., Heck said. Kosher refreshments will be served, and topics to be discussed will include:

  • Academic offerings, including the Advanced Placement and Honors Programs and courses
  • Educational support services and college-planning services
  • Technology usages in all subject areas and Language Arts and Social Studies course offerings

Heck said THS has a diverse student body, and he’d like to see it continue to reflect that of the township.

“THS is a unique building, and all of our students are special here,” he said. “I hope families that come to the event can see that THS offers an educational setting that would make any family feel comfortable in sending their child here. I think we offer an outstanding education. We have an open-door policy here. Anyone at anytime – whether they give us a call or stop by – can take a tour of our building."

Mordechai Luchins January 11, 2012 at 10:04 PM
As someone I suspect you might consider an "Orthodox Jewish zealot", I'd like to say I see incredible value in our nation's public school system. Sending one's children to private school does not mean you hate public school. It doesn't have to be us vs them. Everyone should be free to make a choice. Personally, I think day School + Public school was good enough for my folks (same generation as you, sir), and the Orthodox community should focus on that as an option instead of assuming every kid should be in a Private school environment. If anything, the slow collapse of the yeshiva school model shows that that's the system that needs an overhaul.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 10:15 PM
During the 50's and 60's more Phd's came out of THS than any other high school in the country. Teaneck High at that time was one of the finest high schools in the entire country. At that time Teaneck was designated as a model community. The Teaneck I see now is unfortunately not the town in which grew up. The lack of support on the part of the newer residents (late 60's until present day) has been destructive to what was once an incredible town.
Dee Are January 11, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Mr. Friedman -- I don;t know you. I'm sure you have every reason to be proud of your education and your heritage and you feel comfortable expressing that pride in some way. But you don't know me, and your blanket statement about Jewish zealots is ridiculous. You don't know my educational background or my reasoning for eschewing the public school system. By lumping all sorts of people together in order to lambaste a large group you make a huge error because you don't allow anyone else an individual voice or opinion. We all must not value something because that's the motive you impute. If it makes you feel better to malign others and say that those who choose private school have ruined a school system, then that is your right. I learned about your right to hold unpopular and incorrect opinions in my private school classroom.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Dee Are...please spare me the bs. If you cannot see has become of what was once a model school system and a model community it is not my job to enlighten you. My statement about zealots is far from ridiculous.You know exactly what I am talking about. Don't play dumb.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 10:22 PM
PS. You might also wish to use your real name.
Dee Are January 11, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I might and then again, I might not. Your blanket statements are an embarrassment to you and, I would assume, to anyone who lives in Teaneck and takes pride in the city for what it is now and the model community it is and can continue to be. You feel comfortable attacking, calling names, and telling others what they think and how it should fit in to what you have decided they must think. You happen to be wrong, and not very nice. The community has only sunk because of exactly the attitudes you espouse. But, that's your choice and you live in the future you have created.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Dee Are You are naive and clueless. You apparently know nothing of what Teaneck once was. A lot of us are cringing with what we read and see. Have the guts to at least identify yourself and not hide behind an alias.
Dee Are January 11, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Mr. Friedman -- you are cynical and hate filled. You apparently know nothing of what Teaneck is and has the potential to become and do nothing to help improve anything you see as wrong because you wallow in your hatred and imagined days of glory. A lot of us cringe when we see and hear people who say what you do and yet identify themselves as members of a community which does not in the slightest represent (or feel represented by) your statements. I use an alias because I know that often, people make comments aimed at the individual and not at the content, just as you are doing when you label Orthodox Jews when you have no clue as to what we truly believe and say. Thank you for validating my decision.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Oh of course I am hate filled. You are typical of the mindset which thinks that others know nothing and that you have all the answers which you of course find in your antiquated and outmoded beliefs. Live and be well your self delusion. I am far from alone in my sentiments. מעל הפרשנות של התלמוד יכול לבלבל גלויות
Karin Kiesow-Irvine January 11, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Mr. Friedman...I speak and read English, German and Latin, reading Hebrew is not one of my skills. Can you please translate that last sentence for us non-hebrew reading folk. Thank you.
Dee Are January 11, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Thank you for clarifying your position on religion so as to explain the hate you have for anyone who has moved in over the last 40 years, anyone who has a belief system which you don't value or who makes decisions that you can't understand. I am far from alone in my sentiments and that's what irks you. You are more and more alone in yours and that makes you feel marginalized and devalued. Without knowing me, my gender, my age, my knowledge base or my thought process you have created a vision which you can then assign all sorts of motives and behaviors so that you can feel warm when you take shots at it. Hope you have fun with that. And, yes, I could quote something in Hebrew if I wanted, but what would that prove. What about Spanish? I could do that as well. Or Latin. Would that make my case any stronger? You want Russian? German? What do you think you gained by posting Hebrew?
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 11:43 PM
You just want the last word....Nothing I say will change you and you are not going to change me. Events in the future will show which one of us has it right. Get some balls and use your real name. Don't be a coward.
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Karin, It means too much study of the Talmud can befuddle one's mind...
Robert L. Friedman January 11, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Former Mayor Matthew Feldman would turn over in his grave if he knew what was going in his beloved Teaneck.
Karin Kiesow-Irvine January 11, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Thank you.
Adyna Brown Rosen January 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM
The THS staff were not trying to recruit Jewish children. This open house was organized due to a request by a Jewish parent who wanted more info on the school. THS has very few Jewish students and the idea of sending your child to the high school made some parents nervous because they didnt have all the information they needed to make an informed decision. Mr. Heck organized a very nice evening program when all parents could attend. The program was open to all not just Jewish families. If we want our public school to become a reflection of Teaneck then more open houses like this one should be organized!!
Karin Kiesow-Irvine January 12, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I wonder if Mr. Heck in setting up this Jewish Open House for tonight realized that tonight is a Council Meeting on the municipal budget.
Mordechai Luchins January 12, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Adyna Brown Rosen - thank you for that information.
zizi January 12, 2012 at 07:33 PM
I care about the amount of money I have to pay to the town each month........ I see a lot of waste in the system...... And that is my concern..... Besides why would a public school system spend money to recruit anyone? A good performing school system should not need open houses... I think... There would be long lines any way... A good product don't need great marketing....... or any marketing..... specially when it is free......
Jason Flynn January 13, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Was at the THS open house. What a great group of faculty and students there tonight presenting I thought a few people would show - many did. The quality and variety of their programs discussed were very impressive. THS is a very solid program, with more to offer than most / all options in the area. People that knock this school are ignorant and do not have a true understanding of the school. The diversity that exists in our community and our TPS is just an asset.
zizi January 13, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Jason: Please stop and think before you type. I see THS as a school that spends more dollars per student than any school in the area and gets the worst results........ That is a fact........ If you call me ignorant than I can tell you that I have nothing but sympathy towards you and the people who think like you......... Go live in the fantasy world you live in...... supported by our tax money spending money like there is no tomorrow. The sorry part is that the very people who should be concerned about this school are the ones who show least concern....... The parents and kids that go to this school should ask..... why THS results are so bad compared to other schools in the area when we spend more money per student than most....... food for thought for those who have a working brain.
Jason Flynn January 13, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Good points ZIZI: There were 7 or 8 current students and many of their parents who were on hand to present about their expereinces at THS. The student panel was not ALL JEWISH - but from various ethnic and racial groups. Each had very glowing reports. The resources and programs available at the school were clearly presented last night to the many in attendance both with the oral presentation followed by the tours of the building. Are there some students who attend THS and do NOT take advantage of their programs, take their academics seriously or struggle, despite trying their hardest - absolutely...but to make a general claim that the THS is a poor program is not fair or accurate.
Barbara Ostroth January 13, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Thank you Mr. Flynn for making that important distinction. The obligation of the school system, especially the high school, is to provide educational opportunities in the classroom, plus instructional support and extracurricular programs (athletic, academic clubs, community service requirements, tutoring support) for our teenagers as they prepare for college and adult life. By showing what is possible to interested and engaged parents through open houses and opportunities for prospective students to visit classes during the school day, we can only improve the home-school connection which will help build student achievement at THS. I applaud those who went to the open house to hear and see for themselves that rumor and innuendo are not the ways to judge a school system. Of course test scores can be improved, but the good news is that the instructional staff is constantly looking for different ways to do that, and always encourage families to stay actively involved in their children's educational efforts. Test scores, of course, are not the only way to judge the successes of our socio-economically diverse students. I applaud all those who choose to continue their education beyond THS no matter where they go -- a 4-year college is not for everyone. Our world needs all kinds of people with all kinds of skills. At least those who came to the open house had their minds open to considering these public opportunities for their children's education.
Jason Flynn January 13, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Ms. Ostroth: Thanks for your great comment. Some things to note for those that were not there: 1. Jews and Non-Jews were in attendance. 2. I met Jews that identified with or are members of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox community within Teaneck. 3. The faculty presented many different tracks from: a. IEP b. Joint program with tech / trade institutions c. Regular d. Honors e. Advance with college credits, etc. There is something for everyone, if you are engaged and open to the idea of a diverse, rich culture and strong faculty institution. If your child is good at ping pong - that club exists. How about: Improv. Israel Culture Club. Christian Club. Music. Theater. Website design. AP courses. Fencing. Joint classes / programs with BCC / FDU. Want to be a journalist? Engineer? You name it - there is a program available for you at THS for academics and extras...if you want it. Perhaps the most interesting point of the presentation was a description of a shadow program Your child or you [as a parent] can come and see a student in motion throughout the day at THS. This is available for current TPS MS student OR those not even registered within the school district. Please shadow for a day or two before you post negative comments.
Dee Are January 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Why does a public school recruit? If it is to encourage students not to go to private schools then it has to confront the issue of what those schools have to offer.THS has much to offer many students, but is not for everyone; what it doesn't have may not be addressable .Many are simply looking for a different (not better or worse) experience for their children. To spend money on an Open House which is aimed at pulling people away from this different experience seems wasteful simply because it can't address the reasons that other options exist. However, that having been said, if the school establishes Open Houses for everyone and touts its own strengths (as any product in a crowded market has to), then that's great.The article seems to say that this Open House was not for all (regardless of who ended up being there). Was the article wrong or was it THS's intent to persuade students not that THS is good at being THS, but that it is a viable alternative to a religious education? Was the Open House simply trying to point out how THS is a diverse community and embraces students of all groups? If so, why aren't other THS Open House notices written about on the Patch? Or was it trying to bring in a under represented group for some other demographic reason? It just seems strange to me. Attract me with your product and then show me how I can be comfortable there instead of luring me with the notion that I can be comfortable and then reminding me that you have a quality product.
Jason Flynn January 13, 2012 at 04:34 PM
DEE: My understanding was that a parent or two inquired about THS as an option for their children. Others started to have similar inquiries, so the school put together a presentation for those interested. I am not sure what your point is at this point- are you saying TPS should not have any marketing of their strenghts and programs? Should state universities not market - only private ones? Parents have a choice where to send their child - it may include a charter, traditional public, homeschool, parochial or private...can't a parent check them all out and make the best decision that is suitable for their family or that particular child? The power point was one that Mr. Heck stated he has already used at several open houses. The students volunteered on their own to attend and speak about THS - they were not paid and there were perhaps $10 bucks of DD munchkins on a table with some bottles of water. The building was open with 4-5 other activites going on simultaneously, including a THS Ladies BB game, adult education classes, a film crew producing a movie, the dance troop practicing, etc. So, it is not like the building was "opened up" just due to the crowd coming for the open house. I think if people are not interested in looking into THS as an option, regardless of race, religion, etc. - don't come. If you are, and want to make an informed decision, go and have your child shadow for a day or two.
zizi January 13, 2012 at 04:48 PM
A 4-year college is not for everyone...... Test scores, of course, are not the only way to judge the successes of our socio-economically diverse students. Pretty good way to look down upon kids that fail THS. I see a lot of hidden meanings in these two sentences....... Why a public school is wasting our tax money in having open houses?..... how does this open house help improve the academic standards...... why should tax payers pay for such an activity is beyond me......
Dee Are January 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM
"are you saying TPS should not have any marketing of their strenghts and programs" absolutely not. I'm saying that a public school should be marketing to everyone on the basis of what it is and can present in terms of co/extra and curricular programming. To isolate a religious group and try to attract that group opens the dor to a valid concern. Do they hold separate Open Houses for athletes, Buddhists or math students? Why not just have real Open Houses for all, every time?
zizi January 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM
"I think if people are not interested in looking into THS as an option, regardless of race, religion, etc. - don't come. If you are, and want to make an informed decision, go and have your child shadow for a day or two." I just think that tax payers should not pay for such adventure of Mr. Heck. This is not a mandated activity and should not be paid for by the tax payers. Let Mr. Heck rent the school building and pay for all the costs from his pocket or get some financial help from all those nice people who think it is a good idea
Barbara Ostroth January 14, 2012 at 07:01 AM
Mr.Flynn... it's obvious that this argument has gone on long enough, these two (especially "zizi") are "glass half empty kind of folks who just refuse to look at the positives. He didn't even read your message about the actual costs of running this open house, which were just a few refreshments -- no extra costs were involved in opening up the building or paying any salaries. Those staff members who were there volunteered their own time. And yes, other open houses are held through out the year, including a highly publicized one each year in late October for both public and private school 7th and 8th grade families. Enough said.

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