School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Getting Ready for Middle School

getting ready for middle school flyer

Parenting Center PTA School School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Discussion With Nikole Hannah-Jones on Feb. 7

Nikole Hannah-Jones will be at South Orange Middle School on Feb. 7. Tickets are here, and you can learn more about her and see her work on

School School District Seth Boyden News

Beyond the Bell Registration

Beyond the Bell logoBeyond the Bell is an after-school program created by the South Orange Maplewood School District’s Parenting Center. Beyond the Bell is designed to help all students stretch and grow by coordinating, deepening and expanding after-school opportunities at the elementary level.

The winter session will begin in January 2018. Students will be introduced to a wide variety of subjects and activities, taught by enthusiastic and experienced instructors in a comfortable and familiar environment. Some of the instructors are SOMSD teachers and parents; others come to us from the wider community.

The registration packets were sent home via backpacks. An electronic copy is also available. Classes fill up quickly since most classes have 12 available spaces.

Online registration began Monday, Dec. 11, at 7am. The online registration process shows class availability and you will get confirmation of your class registration as soon as payment is finalized.

You can also send the paper registration form in through your child’s backpack beginning December 11th. Your child’s first choice class may no longer be available by the time paper registrations are received and processed, so it is important to indicate 2nd and 3rd choice options.

If you have any questions, please email Christina Waldon at [email protected]

We look forward to welcoming your children to our after school classes in January!

PTA School School District Seth Boyden News Volunteer Opportunities

Become a Tutor at Seth Boyden

Achieve Foundation newsThe Achieve Foundation is looking for volunteer tutors to work with Seth Boyden students during the day and after school.

More information about the program is available on the Achieve website, and you can volunteer by filling out this form for adults or this form for high school students.

Book Fair Events Fundraising PTA School School District Seth Boyden News Volunteer Opportunities

Come to the Fall Book Fair (and Volunteer)!

fall book fairOur Fall Book Fair is coming up Dec. 5-8 and WE NEED YOUR HELP!

We need volunteers to help set up the fair, to assist children in making their purchases, to fill orders and to pack up. Please find a time slot that fits into your schedule and sign up to volunteer by this Friday, Dec. 1.

We will be in contact with you soon after that to confirm your participation. Don’t worry if you can’t spend an entire time slot; any time you can spare helps.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, the fair will run from 9am-3:30pm. On Thursday, Dec. 7, it will run from 9am-4:30pm and Family Fun Night will be 6:30-8:30pm.

Online ordering will be available as well at Follow the shopping instructions so Seth Boyden gets credit for you purchase. During the week of the Book Fair, shipping is free, and all orders are delivered to the school. You can also preview the books on your child’s wish list by looking at them on the website.

Events PTA School School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Montclair State African Drumming Ensemble Performs at Seth Boyden

African Drumming AssemblyMontclair State University’s African Drumming Ensemble performed at a special assembly on Wednesday at Seth Boyden. The show marked the start of our district’s music partnership with the John J. Cali School of Music at Montclair State University.

“The Montclair State University African Drumming Ensemble provided our students with an amazing and interactive learning experience,” Principal Frye said. “Students and teachers were dancing, playing African percussion instruments, and singing along with the ensemble. We are truly looking forward to our continued relationship.” Read all about it on The Village Green

Events PTA School School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

#ChooseKind Week In SOMA

As part of #ChooseKind week, students in our district have a chance to buy discounted tickets to see the new movie “Wonder,” which was adapted from the popular children’s novel of the same name by R.J. Palacio.

The specially priced screenings at the Maplewood Theater are on Friday, Nov. 17, at 4, 5, 6 and 7pm, and on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 10am. Tickets are $7 or $11 (includes popcorn and drink) and will go on sale soon at and the theater box office.

Learn more about #ChooseKind week on The Village Green.

School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Board of Education Election Resources

Nine candidates are running for three open positions on the SOMSD Board of Education. We hope this list of resources, compiled by Seth Boyden parent Eric Paul, will help you learn about the candidates and their positions on the issues facing our district. The election is Nov. 7, so now is the time to start studying! You can find your polling place here.

Do you have something to add? Email [email protected]

News and Information

Candidate Statements

Links to Candidate Forum Videos

School District Seth Boyden News SOMA Special Needs

Special Services Department Back to School Night

The district’s Special Services Department is holding its Third Annual SOMA Back to School Night on Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 7-8:30 pm in the Columbia High School cafeteria.

You can hear from the district’s behavior analysts and meet the new Executive Director of Special Services and Youth Development, supervisors, case managers, speech and language therapists and leaders of various special education parent support groups.

Events School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Board of Education Candidates’ Forum

The Schools Committee of the South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race is hosting its 12th Annual Forum for candidates for the Board of Education on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 PM at Marshall Elementary School in South Orange. The committee will present a series of questions to the candidates that challenge them to consider the relationship between Board actions and racial integration and true inclusion in both schools and classrooms.

community coalition on race candidates' forum

School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

District Survey on Course Selection and Academic Supports

SOMSD NewsThe School District of South Orange and Maplewood is seeking parental input on the course selection process and available academic supports. This survey is for parents/guardians of students attending any of these schools:

  • Maplewood Middle School
  • South Orange Middle School
  • Columbia High School

Please provide your thoughts and suggestions by filling out this survey by Friday, Oct. 27.

Thank you!

School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Board of Education Candidate Debate on Tuesday Night

All the Board of Education candidates will be in the Little Theater at South Orange Middle School for a debate at 7pm on Tuesday night. The eight candidates, who are running for three open positions, are listed below.

  • Elizabeth Baker
  • Robin Baker
  • Shannon Cuttle
  • Felisha George
  • Avery Julien
  • Anthony Mazzocchi
  • Sheila Shindia
  • Donna Smith

The debates are sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Maplewood & South Orange and the Presidents’ Council, which is made up of each school’s PTA/HSA Presidents/CoPresidents and an Executive Board of former Presidents.

Download the flyer.

School District Seth Boyden News

2017-18 Parenting Center Groups and Speaker Series

Parenting CenterInformation on 2017-18 Parenting Center Groups is here, and the lineup for this year’s speaker series is here. You can attend one or all of the meetings of any group. All groups are free and meet at the Board of Education Building.

School District Seth Boyden News Special Needs

Special Education PTO and SEPAC 2017-2018 Meeting Calendar

SOMA Special Edspecial services logoHere is the latest from Ann Leeb ([email protected]) and the Special Education PTO. For more information on Special Education services in our district, check out this page:

“New this year… SPED PTO and SEPAC will be working together more closely

Special Education PTO provides parents with tools and information to work collaboratively with the school district, and to be more effective advocates for their children with special educational needs. We generally dedicate the first 45-60 minutes of our monthly meetings to the featured conversation and then open the floor for attendees to ask individual questions, get support, share resources and connect with other members of the special education community. We are a Parenting Center sponsored group.

Each featured topic is our attempt to get those with similar concerns in the same room at the same time but all are always welcome! A representative of SOMA SEPAC (Special Education Parent Advisory Committee) will give a brief update of their organization’s advocacy efforts at each meeting and we will conduct joint SPED PTO/SEPAC meetings at year’s beginning and end.

Questions? Email: Ann Leeb, [email protected]
Please let us know in advance if you need childcare in order to attend our meetings.

Meetings are on Tuesday evenings (except Monday, November 13th) 7:30-9 PM, District Office, 525 Academy, Maplewood

  • September 26 – Joint general meeting SPED PTO and SEPAC
  • October 24 – 3rd Annual Special Education Back-School-Night, hosted by the Special Services Department (Location TBA)
  • November 13 – Special Services overview with Administrators and Board of Ed members
  • January 23 – Pre K & Elementary families
  • February 27 – Secondary families
  • March 27 – Out of District families
  • April 24 – IEP workshop
  • May 22 – Taking Care of Yourself as a Parent, followed by joint general meeting SPED PTO and SEPAC

Join us on Facebook at SOMA Special Education Community!”

School School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

District Meeting on Lead in Water

district meeting on lead in water

The school district held a meeting in the Seth Boyden auditorium on Saturday to address the nine water outlets throughout the district that were recently found to have high levels of lead in their water.

Superintendent John Ramos led the meeting, which included members of the board of education, health officials from South Orange and Maplewood, building maintenance staff from the district, and a representative from the LEW Corporation, which did the testing.

In a long and sometimes contentious meeting, many questions were asked and many concerns were voiced by parents from Seth Boyden and around the district. You can watch a Facebook video of the entire meeting if you join the South Orange-Maplewood Cares About Schools Facebook group. A list of every test result for 2016 and 2017 is available on the district site, as are links to more information on lead in water.

Some of the major takeaways from the meeting:

  • All 9 water sources are being retested. New samples have been taken, and the district is waiting on results.
  • The district is going to replace all nine affected outlets, and will be installing lead filters on every water fountain in the district. The district will also be including long-term water system solutions as part of its larger building maintenance and capital improvement plans.
  • District officials said they were looking into options for testing students for elevated lead levels. Board of Education President Elizabeth Baker said that setting up testing for all students in the district was proving to be more complicated than they had anticipated, but that they were working on a plan that could include testing by a lab provider or community-based health provider. Maplewood Health Officer Robert Roe said any family without access to medical care would be able to get tested for free, and that they would have a plan for that “in a couple of weeks.” (More on that here.) Seth Boyden teacher Sheila Murphy spoke strongly of her opinion that free, in-school testing was needed for all students immediately.
  • The elevated levels found in the test results came from a “first draw” test, which means the taps were off for 8 to 48 hours before the samples were taken. These samples are designed to produce the highest lead levels, as the water is sitting in place for a long period before it’s drawn. The representative from the LEW Corporation said that we are still waiting on “second draw” test results, in which the samples are taken after running the tap for a set period of time.
  • The representative from the LEW Corporation also said that water testing shows a high level of variability. In other words, the numbers are often different form test to test, from “first draw” to “second draw,” etc.
  • The representative from the LEW Corporation said that they’ve tested about two dozen districts since testing became required by law in New Jersey, and that an average of a little less than 10 percent of outlets came back with elevated lead levels. Our district, with 9 of 223 outlets, was about 4 percent.


PTA School District Seth Boyden News

BOE Approves School Choice Measure for Seth Boyden-Zoned Families

Many Seth Boyden parents attended the Board of Education meeting on Thursday night. As outgoing Superintendent Dr. Ramos promised at his earlier meeting with our school community, he gave the Board of Education (BOE) information regarding equal school choice for Seth Boyden-zoned families.

Board members drafted a policy that provides for Seth Boyden-zoned families to have equal choice of schools, just as families in other zones have. The BOE voted in favor of this recommendation 8-1, and now Seth Boyden-zoned families will have the opportunity to choose between attending Seth Boyden or Marshall for K-2 and Jefferson for 3-5 for the school year beginning in September 2017. More details are available in this article on The Village Green.

We want to thank all of you who turned in a survey and attended or watched the Board of Education meeting. The results of the survey showed us what our community wants. We will continue advocating for our school and our students next year, and we hope to see every single student (except the current 5th graders!) back next year. We hope everyone has a safe and relaxing summer and we look forward to seeing everyone in September.

Good luck, 5th grade students! We know you will do great in middle school!

School District Seth Boyden News

Board of Ed Meeting on Thursday

SOMSD NewsThe Seth Boyden Choice Option, one of the items your PTA raised at our meeting with district administration, is on the agenda for the Board of Education meeting this Thursday, June 15th, at 7:30pm.

See the full agenda here.

PTA School District Seth Boyden News

Survey Results and Meeting with Dr. Ramos

As you know, your PTA has been working to keep you informed of developments in our school district and to advocate for Seth Boyden students at the district level. To that end, we conducted a survey, asking for your feedback about Seth Boyden. The survey results were so interesting and you can find them here.

We also attended the April BOE meeting, where Dr. Ross Haber, the consultant hired by the South Orange/Maplewood School District to report on building use and demographics, gave his report, which is now online here.

On the evening of May 22, PTA Board members from this year and next year met with Dr. John Ramos, District superintendent, and some Board of Education members to share results from the survey and to advocate for Seth Boyden.

Here are the demands we made based on the survey results and discussion with Mr. Frye.

True equality and equity in our district starts at Seth Boyden.


  • Zoned families should have the same rights as their SOMA neighbors to choose a school.

Equity in Registration

  • SB Kindergarten registration numbers are low.
  • Have pre-registration at SB for families to check their documents to ensure they have filled everything out correctly before they take time off of work to register.
  • Add late evening, early morning, weekend registration times and publicize these new hours to the community in a way that will actually reach our community.


  • SB needs a Community Engagement Specialist

Our community needs more individualized communication from school than current staff can handle. This position will have a direct impact on student success in terms of parental involvement, teacher communication, arrival at school on time and on-time pick-up, access to services, etc.

SB would also benefit from enrichment that addresses the “whole child.” Mr. Frye has specifically requested a part-time Environmental Science teacher and a Performance Arts teacher. We recognize that these positions were not originally requested in the budget.

Here were the conclusions of the discussion:

  • By June 1st, Dr. Ramos will provide the BOE with a report on practical ways SB zoned families could have a real choice of schools including transportation.
  • By July 15th, Dr. Ramos will report to the BOE regarding expanding registration times and accessibility.
  • Susan Grierson will use Title 1 money for a Community Engagement Specialist if the final Title 1 funding amount allows.

Your PTA will be attending the BOE meeting on June 15th at 7:30 at the CHS Library to follow up. Please join us if you can.

Thank you to those who completed the surveys; they were very helpful!

Events PTA School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Board of Education Meeting on Monday Night

Thanks for everyone who came to Saturday morning’s PTA meeting. We had another productive conversation about the various issues facing Seth Boyden and our district. We hope that our school community will continue to stay informed and take an active role in making our voices heard with the Board of Education.

On Monday (4/24) night at 7:30, a consultant to the district will present possible options for addressing issues of racial imbalance, socioeconomic imbalance, and overcrowding in the South Orange Maplewood School District. The meeting in the Columbia High School library is open to the public, so we encourage you to attend.

We will also share the presentation on and social media when the district makes it available.

Community Building Events Fundraising PTA School District Seth Boyden News SOMA

Old School Hip Hop Party This Saturday!

For more information, contact Sandra Sampayo at [email protected]

Old School Hip Hop Party