Changes for the new school year

Patriots ‘armed and ready’ for September

Academics, athletics, and aesthetics: Those three areas are the building blocks that will help Secaucus High School prosper over the next 10 months, according to Principal Dr. Bob Berckes.
“We begin this year with our focus on improving in the areas,” he said. “These three components are necessary to build upon our success for this coming year.”
The new school year begins on Thursday, Sept. 5 for students.


Academic improvements were made over the summer while teachers updated the curriculum to meet the new Common Core State Standards.
Secaucus’s educators are pleased with the most recent New Jersey Monthly biannual rankings of the state’s high schools, as Secaucus High School went from 108 to 107 to 102, and now, down into double digits.
“Last year we broke the top 100 high schools in the state of New Jersey out of 327 high schools,” Dr. Berckes said, “and recent reports show that our academic growth has risen, and in some cases, dramatically.”

“Recent reports show that our academic growth has risen, and in some cases, dramatically.” – Dr. Bob Berckes
This is evidenced in the students’ continual rise in High School Proficiency Assessment scores and Advanced Placement scores, the principal said.


The biggest change this year may be aesthetics.
“We also just completed the renovation project to the library/media center with new flooring, paint job, and added a new area of computers for instruction and research,” Dr. Berckes said. “Everything in there was carefully and strategically planned to become more functional and effective for the entire school community’s needs.”
After an early January meeting with the middle school head, the principal and his staff came up with the necessary adjustments needed for the adjoining schools.
“Mrs. Val Giambona, librarian, worked very hard with the custodians and myself to put it all together this summer and it looks awesome,” Dr. Berckes said. “The only ones missing now are the teachers, staff, and students to make it complete.”
The major renovations included the removal of the doors from the athletic lobby that leads into the school and gym, making it a grand reception area for entrance and exiting to the schools’ sports games, as well as easing and speeding the flow of classroom traffic.
New flooring tiles were added as well, and walls were painted.
“I applaud Coach Charlie Voorhees for all his input, along with building and ground supervisor Sal Cioffi, who thought of this enhancement,” Dr. Berckes said. “The area looks wonderful.”
The gym also received a facelift in the bleachers area. No longer are they the wooden, slab-bench, hard type, and instead were updated to a plastic, textured, more comfortable model, and in red, white, and blue, the colors of the Secaucus High Patriots.
In addition, all sidewalks are now fixed and are Americans with Disability Act compliant.
“This will help everyone in accommodating safety and travel,” the principal said.

Seven fresh faces

The new school year will start out with some fresh faces. New educators have been hired in the areas of math, social studies, basic skills English and math, and physical education.
“We welcome seven new teachers to our school family,” Dr. Berckes said. “They will bring a wealth of diversified knowledge, excitement, and challenge to our school family and add to our rigorous curriculum.”
“Our teachers and staff are all set to continue to work with our parents in bringing excellent instruction to our students,” Dr. Berckes said. “I also cannot thank the parents enough for their continuous support, concern, and assistance in working with us to provide the very best for our students.”

Memories to be made

“This will make their high school journey a memorable and productive one,” he said. “I cannot stress enough that we must all be mindful to work collaboratively with each other, in doing what is best for all our students.”

Joseph Passantino may be reached at

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