Cedar Mountain open house celebrates home-to-school connection

Vernon. “We have all been through trauma, one way or another,” said Principal Rosemary Gebhardt. “We are here to help those families through that.”

Vernon /
| 19 Sep 2021 | 10:48

Students and families toured classrooms, played games in the gym, did crafts, made music in a drum circle, and ate healthy food at the Sept. 18 Cedar Mountain School Fall Harvest Open House.

Sodexo food services served up pulled barbecue apple pork sliders, mini-bagels, yogurt parfait, blueberry muffins, pretzel stick/cheese sauce, apples with caramel dip, apple cider donuts, water, juice, and milk.

The Glen Meadow National Junior Honor Society and High School Key Club volunteered to help. The head custodian, Diane Joyce, and her staff decorated the whole front of the school with flowers and arranged the tables. All the food, crafts, and games were provided through a Pride Grant from the New Jersey Education Association, which was written by Lesley Lombardi.

Principal Rosemary Gebhardt said everyone was very exited to really be back on campus. Cedar Mountain has children who “literally run into the building every day” and “only slowly walk out,” she said. “They just love being here.”

They’re taking it slow, getting used to their routines and rituals, Gebhardt said. Students are wearing masks, she said, and get lots of mask breaks and fresh air outside. They don’t wear masks when outside for gym and their nice long recess.

There are nine new teachers in the school, where a large team of teachers helped her find many talented teachers for kindergarten and first grade. She said some of their teachers came from student teaching, working in other schools, or with dual certificates that give them “an extra row or two in their educational tool box.”

Principal Gebhardt said Cedar Mountain is like a brand-new school again. They partner with families by bringing them into the building and promoting the home-to-school connection.

“We have all been through trauma, one way or another,” she said. “We are here to help those families through that.”

Gebhardt said other Pride programs through the New Jersey Educational Association are coming up, including a Reading Night and Math Night for the entire family. Children come with their parents, who then learn how to help their children more at home.

Gebhardt held her Principal Forum last Wednesday night with all the school specialists to help parents understand the learning process and child development, and how to help their children with speech, language, literacy, and math.

“The teachers are wonderful,” Gebhardt said. “They can’t work hard enough.”

Scouting: Cub Scout Pack 183: Leader Melissa Cole talked about the new Lion program for kindergarten and first grade at Cedar Mountain. The Lion Program is the earliest a child can begin scouting and goes to fifth grade. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts offered information about activities.
Vernon Coalition: Coordinator Lisa DeRitter said the coalition’s mission is to strengthen community collaboration to reduce substance use in Vernon.
Vernon Police Action League: Parents and students learned about extra activities to be involved in.
Vernon Valley Karate Academy Rangers: Owner and Sensei Tom Shull said, “Don’t go anywhere, kids, because you are about to hit stuff,” then led the students, around ages four to six, through the Rangers’ “Student Creed” and the “Bully Kata.” The Rangers enthusiastically punched and kicked pads held by Sensei Monica and Sensei Cody.
Vernon Fire, Ambulance, and Police: The kids enjoyed “Touch a Truck” outside.
Project Self-Sufficiency: Haley McCracken, Sussex County Council for Young Children coordinator, said families can receive employment help and training through the agency. Their RV, called Journey, comes to Vernon and provides food, resources, and referrals.