Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ
Do you have questions about South Orange and Maplewood Schools? Maplewood and S. Orange, NJ are two separate municipalities that share one school district- a very unique arrangement but one that has been working successfully for decades. The name of our local school district is “The South Orange and Maplewood School District” or “SOMSD” for short. The communities’ school are a big component of what makes Maplewood and S. Orange the best NJ towns to live in. There is a lot of information available about the district itself on its website: http://www.somsd.k12.nj.us/site/default.aspx?PageID=1
All students from S. Orange and Maplewood attend one high school, Columbia High School (CHS), which is centrally located between the towns on Parker Ave. at the corner of Valley Street.
CHS’s website is: http://www.somsd.k12.nj.us/Page/423
The Home and School Association website is: http://www.columbiahsa.org/
The school’s new principal, Elizabeth Aaron, began her tenure in 2014. She was a long-time history teacher in other school districts and an Assistant Principal at CHS prior to her promotion to Principal. She is a graduate of Boston College and an adjunct professor and PhD candidate at Rutgers. Having seen her speak on several occasions I am always impressed by her intelligence and vision. Aaron is clearly focused on making the high school a place of high achievement for all students.
The high school has a wide range of AP courses and extra curricular activities for its 1800 or so students to choose from. Some standouts are the fencing team (often state champs), special dance program, award winning student newspaper, ultimate frisbee team (the sport was invented in the towns!) and theater productions and TV production studio. Classes at CHS are leveled by student achievement and this has been a source of some controversy. For up to date information on test scores and school performance please visit: http://www.nj.gov/education/pr/1314/reports/13/134900030.html.
S. Orange Middle School
There are two middle schools in the district– S. Orange Middle (SOMS) and Maplewood Middle (MMS). Both schools are located near the downtown and park of each respective town so you will often see groups of middle schoolers grabbing a snack and socializing in town after school. It’s a nice way for them to have a bit of indepenece. Generally speaking, students from South Mountain, Clinton Schools and the Marshall School area go to SOMS. Students from the Tuscan School and Jefferson School area and most Seth Boyden kids attend MMS. AS the parent of a middle schooler I can attest that the kids are excited to meet children from other schools and expand their social circle in middle school. Middle school math is “leveled” by ability. Levels are determined by a test given to fifth graders before entering middle school. Students enjoy access to many after school clubs and the ability to participate in school musicals– opportunities that aren’t available to younger elementary students.
The SOMS website is: http://www.somsd.k12.nj.us/soms
The SOMS PTA website is: http://somshsa.com/
The MMS website is: http://www.somsd.k12.nj.us/mms
The MMS HSA website is: http://www.mmshsa.org/
There are 5 elementary schools in the district: Clinton, Marshall/Jefferson, Seth Boyden, South Mountain and Tuscan. Four school buildings are in Maplewood: Clinton, Tuscan, Seth Boyden and Jefferson. Three buildings are in South Orange: South Mountain, South Mountain Annex, Marhsall.
The towns are divided into geographic school zones. All school zoning information should be confirmed with the district registrar as things can change slightly from year to year. Students attend the school that they are zoned for. Clinton, Tuscan and S. Mountain are neighborhood schools so most kids walk to school or get dropped off by their parents. Tuscan school has been a bit overcrowded recently so kindergarteners who were zoned for this elementary school may not be able to attend based on enrollment.
Marshall and Jefferson are “paired” schools meaning that students who live around Marhsall (grades K-2) in the Montrose Section of S. Orange are bussed to Jefferson (grades 3-5) in the Jefferson Section of Maplewood and vice versa. If you live close by one of the two schools most kids walk.
Seth Boyden, although it has a geographic zone, is also a district wide magnet school. Any student from within the district who is not zoned for Seth Boyden can opt-in to Seth Boyden and will receive bus service to and from school.
Seth Boyden is a “demonstration school”. The school’s philosophy supports the belief that each child has his or her own talents and strengths that need to be developed to attain educational and personal excellence. The school draws many strong teachers and has a very active PTA.
Here are the elementary school websites and PTA sites:
There are a number of private pre-school and day care options in the towns. In addition, the school district recently upgraded the Montrose Early Education School as a district pre-school for 3 and 4 year olds with special needs and typical students by lottery.
As a parent in the district for 15 years now I have to say things have been on an upswing in Maplewood/S. Orange schools. I see families flocking to our towns because of our schools and the diversity of our towns rather than expressing concerns about them. I see schools that previously were “out of favor” being in high demand.
Achieve Foundation Logo
One factor in this is the Achieve Foundation. Achieve is a non-profit that raises private funds for public education. They provide tutoring programs for kids in the district and fund special programs and teacher grants to enrich the student experience. One of Achieve’s main fundraisers each year is Night of 100 Dinners– a wonderful evening where local families host all manner of dinner parties in their homes- some fancy, some super casual, and guests “pay” to attend by donating to Achieve. I am proud to be the top sponsor of the Achieve Foundation’s Night of 100 Dinners this year. For more information please visit: http://achievefoundation.org/
If you have any questions about the schools in S. Orange and Maplewood please connect with me. If I can’t answer your questions I know someone who can.