Events Fundraising Outdoor Learning Center Press PTA School District SOMA

Sold-Out Crowd for Ira Glass Event

Sunday’s event was a hit with the audience, and raised more than $30,000 to expand Seth Boyden’s outdoor learning center.

  • By Warren Westura and Mary Mann from Maplewood Patch

Seth Boyden’s “A Conversation with Culture” series got off to a roaring start on Sunday night as Ira Glass and his “This American Life” staff regaled a sold-out audience from the stage of Columbia High School.

“It was not only a sold-out crowd, but it was a sold-out crowd of excited, enthusiastic, energetic ‘This American Life’ groupies,” said Seth Boyden PTA President Susie Adamson.

“It was a terrific program, both insightful and full of the incredible wit and humor Ira Glass brings to This American Life,” said Seth Boyden parent Amie Herman. “A delight to have Ira and his talented team come share with us!!”

The event raised $31,500 for Seth Boyden Demonstration School’s Outdoor Learning Center. “Thanks to last night, we will be installing another piece of playground equipment before the end of this school year!” said Adamson.

Glass and upcoming speaker Tim Gunn were attracted to the event by Seth Boyden parents Peri Smilow, Budd Mishkin and Julie Snyder. Snyder is a senior producer on “This American Life.” Mishkin has interviewed Gunn numerous times. And Smilow is the force behind organizing the entire series.

Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” fame will be coming to CHS on Sunday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for general seating, $50 for premium seating, and $40 for tickets purchased at the show (general seating). The performance will be sign language interpreted. Tickets can be purchased here:

“This is a pretty exciting time to be a family at Seth Boyden!” said Adamson.

Events Garden Outdoor Learning Center Press PTA School

Strawberry Fields Celebrates ‘Farm to School’ Week

Seth Boyden students enjoyed demonstrations of locally grown foods as well as a lesson in civics on Sept. 25 when Assemblyman John F. McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey came to Strawberry Fields to celebrate “Farm to School Week.”

McKeon is the sponsor of a measure that designated the last week of September as “Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week.” He and Jasey picked Seth Boyden to celebrate the designation because Strawberry Fields, Seth Boyden’s working garden, is among the top 20 finalists of the inaugural ‘School Garden of the Year’ award from the New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible New Jersey.

McKeon and Jasey were joined at the event by Beth Feehan, director of the New Jersey Farm to School Network; Lorraine Gibbons, one of the founders of Strawberry Fields; and Seth Boyden Principal Mark Quiles.

Before the speech making began, students visited tables staffed by PTA members where they sampled foods which were either donated by “Jersey Fresh” local farmers markets or grown in Strawberry Fields by the students.

Students tasted yellow squash, green cauliflower, yellow and red bell peppers, broccoli, cucumbers and more. (Said one 5th grader, “I didn’t know broccoli could taste this good!”) They sniffed and identified herbs. They made rubbings of leaves. Notably, they lined up in droves to taste some swiss chard sauted in a pan with garlic by Virginia Lamb Falconer.

“They were chowing down on it!” said Falconer. “They like food that they grow.”

Moments later, McKeon had a group of 5th grade students cheering for New Jersey as he named the fruits and vegetables for which the Garden State is one of the top producers (agriculture, noted McKeon, is New Jersey’s third largest economic sector after pharma and tourism). After McKeon asked questions such as “Who’s third in blueberry production?,” students shouted, “New Jersey!”

Jasey called it the “best speech” ever given by McKeon.

Afterward, Jasey presented a proclamation from the State Assembly. Jasey wisely chose not to read the proclamation to the well-behaved but fidgety fifth graders. The proclamation read in part that Seth Boyden “stands as a beacon to the heights to which education can aspire” — particularly in reference to the multiple uses of the Strawberry Fields garden in educating students about biology, agriculture, nutrition and other sciences.

McKeon also received a special recognition from the New Jersey Farm to School Network’s Feehan for sponsoring the legislation.

McKeon also invoked the name of Seth Boyden during his comments, noting that the inventor owned the original property on which the school is built and cultivated the modern strawberry. After retirement, Boyden spent his time hybridizing strawberries and, in fact, many strawberries today originate from the seeds of his garden.

Quiles thanked Gibbons and other PTA members for transforming the former “dust bowl” that was the garden area into a rich and vital part of the Seth Boyden educational experience today.

Click here for Patch coverage.

Click here to see photos of the day’s action.

Community Building Events Files Fundraising General Holidays Outdoor Learning Center PTA School School District

2012-2013 PTA Calendar

For those of you who like to plan ahead, here is the PTA calendar for next year’s events.

PTA calendar 2012-2013 (pdf)

PTA calendar 2012-2013 (word)

Of course, dates may change between now and the fall (and beyond), so always check the calendar on this site for the latest information.


Community Building Fundraising Outdoor Learning Center PTA School

Outdoor Learning Center (aka the SB backyard) Update

Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) Update

Exciting things are happening in our Seth Boyden backyard!

What’s happened since June 2011…

  • Our Partners at The National Learning Institute completed the final plan for our Outdoor Learning Center (OLC) and playground. With input from teachers, parents, and students, our OLC Plan is a beautiful expression of the values and educational philosophy of our school. The OLC Plan includes a state-of-the-art playground, a new amphitheater, a gazebo, winding paths and grass mazes, project areas, a multi-purpose sports field, a welcoming new entrance, and an outdoor classroom. We invite you to take time to view the plan in the 1st floor hallway of our school.
  •  In preparation for, and in accordance with, the Plan:
    • Drainage improvements were made the grounds
    • The old stage was removed to make room for the new play equipment. A new amphitheather will be built, and the old benches may be repurposed and placed around the yard
    • The picnic benches were rearranged and the music garden moved
  • The OLC Steering Committee met with three playground equipment companies. After careful consideration of their proposals and designs, we selected a playground company called GameTime.Following the Plan, GameTime proposed three separate play structures for the designated playground area (where the stage used to be). These structures will be installed in phases, with Phase I scheduled for this Fall:
    • Phase I: A “Hexamid” – a hexagon-shaped, roped climbing structure, to be installed in November. Funding for equipment has already been raised. We are working on raising additional funds to add some landscaping and to repaint the basketball pole/backstop and the funnel ball equipment.
    • Phase II: Two large (synthetic) climbing boulders and landscaping.
    • Phase III: Large Play Structure, with multiple overheads, loops, bridges and slides, that offers “a tree house-like experience.”
  •  We’ve strengthened ties with the local Hilton Neighborhood Association (HNA). HNA leaders attended the first PTA meeting to discuss ways in which our school can work with the surrounding community to fulfill the vision of the OLC, as well as to develop a Seth Boyden Alumni Network to be involved in projects like the OLC.
  •  We are working with the NJ Tree Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to reforesting NJ’s most urban cities. Through tree planting, volunteerism and partnerships, they assist numerous communities in improving their environment and quality of life. The NJTF has agreed to work with our community in buying and planting low-cost trees and shrubbery and will advise us as we move through the process of transforming our backyard into a true outdoor learning center.

Moving forward…

  • The OLC Fundraising subcommittee is working on identifying funding opportunities, including corporate and foundation grants, local businesses support and donations from individuals, to fund Phases II and III.
  • Seth Boyden community members can help by learning whether they or their spouse’s employers, offer matching grants.  If so – please let us know so that we can maximize our community support.
  • The OLC Committee will be organizing a community fundraiser for Spring 2012 to coincide with the PTA annual 5K run.
  • Join us! The OLC Committee is planning a volunteer gathering to kick off the new school year, in mid-October. If you would like to be more involved and to help bring the dream of a first-class playground and extraordinary Outdoor Learning Center to Seth Boyden, please contact PERI SMILOW at [email protected]. No previous experience necessary!