Cast members of the Shrek musical were recently honored by the Secaucus Board of Education. See briefs for more information.

Shrek musical performers honored

As part of the “Showcase of Success” at the Secaucus Board of Education Meeting of May 11, the board recognized and honored the cast, crew, musicians, and staff members of the extremely well received musical performance of “Shrek” performed this past April 6, 7, and 8 in the Performing Arts Center.

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Due to the number of students honored and the need for a stage for the cast to perform two musical selections from “Shrek,” the meeting was moved to the Huber Street School gymnasium.  The Showcase commenced with Interim Superintendent Kenneth Knops sharing that he had attended high school musicals since the time he was 6 because his father was a high school assistant principal.

Knops stated that the performance of “Shrek” was the finest high school musical production he had ever had the pleasure of viewing over the past half century.  He commended the crew, musicians, staff, and cast for their outstanding and memorable performance; stating that the same high energy and “feel good” atmosphere that prevailed in the Performing Arts Center on April 7 were present this evening as well. He then commended Director Maleesa Lamatina for the wonderful job she did in directing the performance.

Knops was followed by Secaucus Middle School Principal Robert Valente and High School Principal Dr. Robert Berckes, both of whom were effusive in their praise of the students who comprised the cast, crew, and musicians, and Director Lamatina.  Both principals commented on the tremendous amount of talent that was in the room that evening.

After the two principals had spoken, Director Maleesa Lamatina came up to the podium to enthusiastic applause from board members, administrators, cast and crew members, and parents.  In her heartfelt remarks, Mrs. Lamatina praised her young charges and shared with them how proud she was to be their director.

After thanking the board members, interim superintendent, principals, parents and staff; Lamatina shared with all those in attendance that the production of “Shrek” was entered into the Papermill Playhouse’s Rising Star Awards. 

The program is essentially like the Tony Awards for high schools across New Jersey, and each year over 90 schools participate.

Four anonymous judges attended the show, scored everything from lighting to costumes to performers, and they provided critiques and feedback. The overall production score was very respectable, and “Shrek” displayed improvement from last year’s well received production, as it received a higher rating. In addition, student musician Drew Fournier received an official nomination from the Rising Star Awards.

After Director Lamatina’s inspiring words, the cast of “Shrek” took to the stage and performed rousing performances of the final two musical selections from “Shrek,” the songs “Finale” and “I’m a Believer,” to the delight of all in attendance.

After the performance, each crew member, musician, cast member, and staff member were presented Certificates of Commendation by Board of Education President Jack McStowe.  During comments by board members at the conclusion of the meeting, the cast, crew, musicians, and staff of “Shrek” were lauded for their talent and outstanding performances by each board member.

Secaucus kids learn about letter ‘U’

Students in Mrs. Manal Abuhouran’s kindergarten class at Clarendon Elementary School celebrated the Letter “U” Week by bringing in unique umbrellas. Students learned that an umbrella is a collapsible canopy to protect people from the sun and rain. When used for sun protection it is also called a parasol.

Mrs. Abuhouran facilitated a discussion during whole group time about umbrella descriptions such as patterns, colors, sizes, and styles. The students sang songs such as “I’m Singing in the Rain,” danced with a partner, and drew pictures of umbrellas using paint. As a culmination to the mini–lesson the whole class was able to fit underneath an umbrella that one of the kindergarten students bought in.

First graders celebrate ‘Mother’s Day’

In celebration of Mother’s Day, students in Mrs. Kristen Knapp’s first grade class at Clarendon Elementary School treated their mothers through giving them special gifts. During science class, the students learned about the life cycle of a plant. Students learned about the parts of a plant and danced along to a song titled “Flower, Leaves, Stem and Roots” (similar to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes). Finally, the students planted their own garden. They enjoyed watering and measuring their plants every day and recording observations in their plant journals. As a culminating activity, the students created a heartfelt, hand-made terracotta pot to brighten their Mother’s Day. The students are excited to bring home their flowers and terracotta pot to show their love and appreciation for their Mothers.

Assembly speaker says he may have been wrong in supporting legal notices bill

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto recently said that his sponsorship of a bill to cut down legal notices in newspapers in December may have been a mistake.
Some scratched their heads when the Democrat backed an effort by Gov. Chris Christie to change state law so that numerous types of government and other legal notices — such as those letting neighbors know before a public hearing on a new project — did not have to appear in newspapers. In fact, not all of those ads are funded by taxpayers, and many are actually funded by developers and attorneys who pay the town back for placing them.

Yet, the Republicans floated numbers claiming governments were paying $80 million annually to newspapers.

Because many newspapers receive a considerable amount of revenue from legal ads, and many outlets had critical coverage of Gov. Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal last year, some observers referred to the matter as Christie’s “Newspaper Revenge Bill,” designed in their eyes to take away revenues from the state’s already dwindling newspapers.

The measure was up for a vote at one of the last legislative sessions of last year, along with one that would have allowed Christie to sell his memoir while in office.

While Prieto and others supported the measure and said the tens of millions were too high, their offices received phone calls, as well as more accurate numbers from the New Jersey Press Association.

The measure failed at the last minute.

The New Jersey Press Association’s data showed that from the state’s more than 550 municipalities, taxpayers only funded $7.3 million in legal ads, which came out to an average of less than $15,000 per town. When asked individually, the town of Secaucus, which Prieto represents, said it spent about $100,000 to publish the notices last year.

Speaking at a fundraiser for the Team Guttenberg slate in West New York last month, Prieto said of his support for the bill in December, “Since then, the Press Association has gotten engaged, and has actually come back to us. They gave us some numbers now that are not what we were being told. So I guess we’re looking at it, and I am working with the Press Association to see what we should be doing, and working collaboratively together.”

The Press Association said they could work out compromises if such an issue arose again.

If it did, it “would be something of a different bill than what you would’ve seen in December,” Prieto said. “I haven’t seen all the numbers yet. We’re not trying to hurt that industry; we just wanted to find cost-savings. So we will work together to get it right.”

In January, the state Republicans fired off a Tweet saying, “Legislature should be offended they were lied to by newspaper publishers. Time to end the mandated printing of taxpayer-funded legal notices.” But when the Reporter Tweeted back to ask whether the GOP was including government ads reimbursed by private developers and attorneys, the GOP failed to respond.

Hudson County CASA is seeking volunteers

Learn how to become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer and help foster children find safe and permanent homes. The next information session will be at Little City Books at 100 Bloomfield St., Hoboken, on Wednesday, May 24 at 7 p.m.

Hudson County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes. Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in foster children’s lives.

They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being. CASA volunteers get to know their assigned child and his or her circumstances and provide valuable information to the court. Judges rely on the volunteers’ recommendations to make the best decisions about the children’s futures.

For further information, visit

NJSEA announces 2017 Pontoon Boat Cruise and Canoe Trips

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority’s (NJSEA) 2017 guided pontoon boat and canoe tours of the Hackensack River are set to launch on Tuesday, June 6, and run through Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The season includes 37 trips that provide visitors an opportunity to see the Meadowlands up-close while learning about the storied history of the river and the area’s remarkable environmental renaissance over the past few decades.

“Our pontoon boat and canoe tours are a spectacular way to experience and gain a new appreciation for the amazing natural beauty and wildlife in the Meadowlands,” said Wayne Hasenbalg, President and CEO of the NJSEA.

“Those who have glimpsed the Meadowlands only from surrounding highways or the window of a commuter train are truly in for a treat.

“The leisurely, two-hour boat tours and three-hour canoe outings reveal an entirely new perspective of the region that includes acres of preserved wetlands and a thriving ecosystem, all framed by a spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline.

An NJSEA guide will narrate the tours, point out wildlife and discuss the Meadowlands’ natural and man-made history along the way. More than 285 bird species have been documented in the Meadowlands, including 34 on New Jersey’s threatened, endangered and species of special concern lists.

Canoe excursions focus on the river’s wetlands, taking participants on a journey through a diverse array of vegetation and wildlife. Paddlers learn the basics of salt marsh ecology and enjoy the magnificent scenery while rowing down creeks.

Registration sheets are also available at the NJSEA administrative offices and the Meadowlands Environment Center, both located in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst.