Education Feature Stories Mt. Ephraim News Recent News

Mt. Ephraim School District Announces Dec. & Jan. Students of the Month

The Mt. Ephraim School District announced its December and January Students of the Month.

The students in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade were honored by the Mt. Ephraim Board of Education (BOE) at recent meetings. The students were presented with certificates that acknowledged their hard work and accomplishments.

Mt. Ephraim School District Student of the Month
December’s students of the month are pictured from the January 9, 2017 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, Back Row from left: Angelina Zappile, Abigail Russel, Madelin Carter, Phaedra Rabeau, and Principal Michael Hunter (Photo provided) Front row from left: Brady Beebe, Jimmy Holt, Brianna Cavallaro, Breakhna Begum, Alexa Canuso (Photo provided)
Mount Ephraim School District Students of the Month
January’s Students of the Month are recognized at the February 13, 2017 BOE meeting. Back left: Sean Taylor, Kylie Hillman, Natalie Snyder, Gabbriella Roberson. Front right: Anna Green, Brendon LaBar, Isabella Owings, and Joseph Wolfe. (Not pictured: Zachary Villardo) (Photo provided)



*(Disclosure:  Anne Forline, the editor/publisher of South Jersey Observer, is also the Lead Teacher of the district’s Shining Stars Program.)

Bellmawr Education News Recent News

Bellmawr School Board OK’s Interim Business Admin Contract 

The Bellmawr School Board approved the contract for interim business administrator, Mark Ritter, at its January 25 meeting. Ritter replaces Amy Capriotti, who left to pursue an opportunity in another district.


The contract is effective January 30, 2017 and runs “through a date which will be on or before June 30, 2017.” There is an option to extend the contract based on the Board’s needs and mutual agreement of the parties. Compensation will be $500.00 per day. In addition, a fee of $80.00 per hour for evening meetings other than regular Board of Education (BOE) meetings and monthly Facilities or Finance committee meetings may be charged.

Bellmawr News Bellmawr Board of Education Mark Ritter Interim Business Administrator

Emergent Projects at E.M. Burke & Bellmawr Park

During the meeting, the BOE also voted to approve all other items on its agenda, including a withdrawal of funds from capital reserve to fund emergent projects at E.M. Burke and Bellmawr Park.

As for E.M. Burke, electrical upgrades were approved in the amount of $58,300 and have been completed, School Superintendent, Annette Castiglione confirmed via email.

Bellmawr News Bellmawr Park

Another emergent project was the replacement of HVAC units and boilers in the amount of $217,314.56 at E.M. Burke and Bellmawr Park.

Bellmawr News E.M. Burke School

The meeting agenda provided additional information: “The district has been exploring cost effective ways to continually improve the infrastructure in the district facilities. The New Jersey Clean Energy Program allows local government entities (like schools) to participate in cost effective direct equipment replacement. The attached reflects our desire to partner with the New Jersey State pre-qualified company (Hutchinson) to replace the lighting, boilers, and Multi-Purpose Room HVAC units in E.M. Burke and Bellmawr Schools for a fraction of the actual cost.”

Superintendent, Annette Castiglione, provided this additional comment via email: “The second emergent project is a 70/30 grant for new lighting, boilers and roof top units at both elementary schools. We pay 30% [and] Hutchinson Electric pays 70%.  It is a great deal for us. This money was in capital reserve and had to be moved out in order to begin the work.”

Board Approves Agenda Items

The BOE voted to approve the bill list in the amount of $1,838,710.69 and the submission of Sustainable New Jersey Grants in the amount of $10,000.

Other approvals included:

Shared Services Agreement with the Borough of Bellmawr

This Shared Services Agreement relates to the purchase of equipment/materials for the maintenance of school parking lots during inclement weather for a term of January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2022.

Bellmawr News Borough of Bellmawr Bellmawr Board of Education

Professional Development

  • Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds, Glenn Cook, will attend NJSBGA Expo 2017 from March 13-15, 2017 at Harrah’s Atlantic City at a cost of $200.00 for registration plus travel.
  • Cindy MacAdams, Sue Hubbard and Ashley DeMarco will attend “Fundations Level 2 Training” on February 9, 2017 at a cost of $350.00 each for registration plus travel.
  • Annette Castiglione, Beth Calabria, Roseanne Yezzo and Gina Heller will attend “Model Schools Conference” in Nashville, Tennessee from June 24-28, 2017 at a cost of $7,990.00. The funding source is the (Early Childhood Center) ECC grant.

Acceptance of Donations

Rebecca Miller’s Special Education class at E.M. Burke School received the following donations through and First Book:

From Donors Choose: Two Dream chairs; Two packs of cozy shades (eight total); one  box of Cando exercise bands; 25 writing CLAWs; one box of flip crayons; and six lamps and bulbs to create a calm classroom environment.

From First Book:  44 Magic Tree House Books

Executive Session

The BOE also went into Executive Session and the superintendent confirmed that a motion was made when the Board re-convened.

“We placed an employee on administrative leave and the motion carried,” Castiglione wrote via email.

The BOE will meet next on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 in the Bell Oaks Media Center. Workshop Session begins at 5:00 p.m. and the Regular meeting follows at 6:00 p.m.

Bellmawr Education Feature Stories Gloucester Mt. Ephraim News Recent News Runnemede

SJO’s Year in Review: People Who Made a Difference in 2016


What a difference a year makes. As 2016 draws to a close, SJO takes a look back at the stories that featured organizations or people who are making a difference in our communities.

In this post, SJO highlights some of those people – from students spearheading a homeless project, to police and fire personnel outreaching to the community, to residents who created a Free Little Library for their town.

Presented in round-up style and in no particular order, here are 23 organizations or people who were featured on SJO as having made a difference in 2016:

1. Girl Scout Troops #30215 & #30082

Girl Scout Troops #30215 and #30082 hosted an appreciation luncheon for Bellmawr Police, Fire & EMS in July. In November, they held an internet safety event that was open to the public.

Bellmawr Girl Scout Troop 30215
Bellmawr Girl Scout Troops #30215 & #30082 at July’s Police, Fire & EMS Appreciation Luncheon. (All Photos by SJO)

2. Bellmawr Baseball’s John Smith

Bellmawr Baseball honored long-time volunteer/treasurer, John Smith, for 50 years of dedicated service before the 10U All Star game on July 5.

Bellmawr Baseball
(Photo by SJO) John Smith was honored for his service to the organization by Councilman Steve Hagerty and Bellmawr Baseball President, Rick Dougherty. Smith said: “I can’t believe it’s been 50 years. When I started, I was 6’3″ with black hair!”

3-4. Bellmawr Teachers, Sue DiPrinzio & Gina Heller

Two Bellmawr teachers, Sue DiPrinzio and Gina Heller, were named 2016 New Jersey Exemplary Educators.

Bellmawr Schools Gina Heller Exemplary Educator of the Year
Gina Heller said: “I love Bellmawr. I grew up here. All of my school age children are [school] choice students and come to Bellmawr Schools. I am grateful to the administration and the staff for all of the things that are happening, not only for myself, but for my kids as well.”
Bellmawr Schools Sue DiPrinzio New Jersey Exemplary Educator
Sue DiPrinzio (center) is honored by School Superintendent, Annette Castiglione (left) and Bellmawr Park /Early Childhood Center Principal, Elizabeth Calabria. The superintendent said that DiPrinzio goes over and above and that she loves to learn. DiPrinzio said that she has worked with every single teacher in Bellmawr Park and believes they have made her a better teacher.

5. Bellmawr Hockey Hosts National Tournament

Bellmawr Hockey hosted the national tournament and will host it again in 2017.

Bellmawr Hockey
During the May, 2016 council meeting (above) members of Bellmawr Hockey thanked Mayor Frank Filipek & Council for their support. Below, Councilman Jim D’Angelo accepts a plaque of appreciation  from Bellmawr Hockey.

6. Camden County Historical Society’s Chris Perks & Rev. Vince Kovlak

Chris Perks of the Camden County Historical Society and Rev. Vince Kovlak of Bellmawr Baptist Church remain steadfast in their efforts to save the historic Hugg-Harrison Glover House.

7. New Covenant Ministries & Its Christmas Eve Outreach

New Covenant Ministries has been bringing Christmas Eve joy to Camden residents for the past 30 years.

8. Msgr. William Hodge of St. Mary’s Gloucester City

St. Mary’s Church Msgr. William Hodge organized Gloucester City’s first St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Gloucester City St. Patrick's Day Parade
Msgr. William Hodge (left) & Grand Marshal Bishop Dennis Sullivan (right) at Gloucester City’s first St. Patrick’s Day Parade. (Photo by SJO)

9. Mt. Ephraim Teachers Raise Money

Mt. Ephraim’s teachers hosted a “picnic” to raise money for the Mt. Ephraim Education Foundation.

(Photo provided)

10. Jade Gasper, Alisha Simons & Little Free Library

Residents, Jade Gasper and Alisha Simons, brought a Little Free Library to Mt. Ephraim.

Mt. Ephraim Little Free Library
(Photo by SJO) Mt. Ephraim’s Little Free Library

11. Bruce Parry & the Annual Gloucester City Girls Softball Tournament

Bruce Parry and his army of volunteers make sure the annual Gloucester City Girls Softball Tournament happens each July.

Gloucester City Girls Softball Tournament
Photo by SJO. Bruce Parry and volunteers work to get a field ready for another softball game. during the Annual Gloucester City Annual Girls Softball Tournament.

12. Bell Oaks Students Help Distribute 2,000 Flags

Bell Oaks students helped to place 2,000 flags on veterans’ graves at New St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Photo Provided – Bell Oaks Students helped to place flags on the graves at St. Mary’s Cemetery

13. Bellmawr’s Nesenur Ozturk, Maddie Groves, and Jennifer Macao-Cedilla Help the Homeless

Bell Oaks students, Nesenur Ozturk, Maddie Groves, and Jennifer Macao-Cedilla spearheaded a collection drive to help the homeless.

Bellmawr Schools
Nesenur Ozturk, Maddie Groves, and Jennifer Macao-Cedilla address the Bellmawr School Board speak about their “Helping the Homeless” Project. Maddie said: “Our job as a community is to help. We believe that everyone deserves a second chance.” (Photo by SJO)

14.  Kyle Wright Organizes Annual Ryan Coyle Softball Tournament

Kyle Wright organizes an annual softball tournament in memory of his best friend, Ryan Coyle. The proceeds from the tournament benefit a scholarship fund for baseball players.

Ryan Coyle Softball Tournament
Kyle Wright addresses the crowd before the start of the games. This year’s tournament raised $7,000 for scholarships for baseball players. (Photo by SJO)

15. Bellmawr Fire Dept. Volunteers Help Out

Bellmawr Fire Department volunteers brought Santa Claus to visit with the Larc School students and also helped with the Bellmawr Learning Community PTO’s first Color Run.

Bellmawr Fire Department
(Above) Santa is escorted by volunteers from the Bellmawr Fire Dept. to visit Larc School and (below) volunteers help douse the runners during the Bellmawr Learning Community’s first color run. (Photos by SJO)

16. Bellmawr PD/Local PBA 375 Outreach to the Community

Bellmawr Police Department/Local PBA 375 outreached to the community with Water Ice with a Cop and a Magic Show.

Bellmawr Police Water Ice With a Cop
Ptlm. Jared Walton, Brian Ertl & Lt. Mike Draham with Evan Carlino at the Bellmawr PBA 375 Magic Show & Water Ice with a Cop (Photo by SJO)

17. Runnemede Police Officers Apprehend Human Trafficking Suspect

Three Runnemede Police Department officers: Ptlm. William Ortiz, Ptlm. Robert Alexander, and Sgt. William Sampolski, received recognition for apprehending a human trafficking suspect.

Runnemede Police Department
Ptlm. William Ortiz, Ptlm. Robert Alexander, and Sgt. William Sampolski are honored by Runnemede Mayor Nick Kappatos & Council for outstanding police work. (Photo by SJO)

18. Bellmawr PD’s Sgt. Chris Cummings Awarded Medal of Valor

Bellmawr PD’s Sgt. Chris Cummings was honored with a Medal of Valor, along with a Proclamation, in recognition of his heroic actions stemming from an incident that took place at the Tanger Outlets (The Walk) in Atlantic City on September 1.

Sgt. Chris Cummings of the Bellmawr Police Department was awarded a Medal of Valor, along with a Proclamation, in recognition of his heroic actions stemming from an incident that took place at the Tanger Outlets (The Walk) in Atlantic City on September 1

19. Bellmawr PD’s Jared Walton’s Actions Saved a Couple from Suicide

Bellmawr PD’s Ptlm. Jared Walton was honored with a Proclamation for saving a couple from suicide.

Bellmawr Police Department
Ptlm. Jared Walton receives a Proclamation from Bellmawr Police Chief William Walsh. Also pictured are Capt. Scott Parker & Lt. Mike Draham (Photo by SJO)

20. Runnmede-Bellmawr-Glendora Rotary Dedicated a Pavilion

Runnmede-Bellmawr-Glendora Rotary dedicated a pavilion at Green Acres Park in honor of Bartilo “Bud” Palmieri.

Bartilo Bud Palmieri Runnemede Bellmawr Glendora Rotary
The pavilion at Green Acres Park was dedicated in late November in honor of Bartilo “Bud” Palmieri. (Photo by SJO)

21. Summer Rec Program Keeps Kids Busy

Under the direction of Dawn Gillis and Kelly Cook, Bellmawr’s Summer Rec program provides fun activities for the town’s kids. It also employs teens to work as camp counselors.

This year as part of the Summer Rec program, some teens worked under the direction of Mike “Juice” Williams to paint fences around town.


22. Don & Bobbie Riebel Spread Awareness About Drug Addiction

Don & Bobbie Riebel
Don & Bobbie Riebel at Bellmawr’s Octoberfest. They lost their son 22-year old son, Colin, to an overdose. The Riebels use their voices to help spread awareness about drug addiction.

23. Deborah Magnin Started a Peaceful Protest

(This post reached over 109,000 people and had 62,000 views on Facebook.)

A nurse, Deborah Magnin, started the peaceful protests at Johnnie’s Liquors to bring increased awareness to the drug epidemic.
Bellmawr Education News Recent News

Bellmawr School District’s Business Administrator Resigns

Bellmawr School District’s Business Administrator/Board Secretary,  Amy Capriotti, tendered her resignation effective January 16, 2017.

At the December 21 meeting, the Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) “reluctantly” voted to accept it. Capriotti is leaving the district after four years to take a position with Gloucester County Special Services/GCIT (Gloucester County Institute of Technology).

Since Capriotti has been the Business Administrator, the district’s past two audits have yielded no corrective actions or findings.

Interim Business Administrator

As for Capriotti’s replacement, the BOE is looking to hire Mark Ritter as the district’s interim Business Administrator.

During the workshop session last week, Ritter said that he was a teacher for 15 years at Collingswood High School and also coached basketball and soccer. He took a “strange career path” by coming out of the biology classroom and into school business administration. In addition to spending “a lot of time” in Atlantic County districts, he has also spent 15 years in Haddon Township, four years in Haddon Heights, and 16 months in Barrington.

Ritter said he hopes to bring “stability” to the district. He estimated that this will be his twelfth interim placement and that he “will not just go anywhere.” He also said that he is not “not worried at all” about coming on board during budget time.

School superintendent, Annette Castiglione, said that she is waiting for the Camden County Superintendent’s office to approve Ritter’s contract.

Gina Heller Recognized as 2016 NJ Exemplary Educator

In other matters, E.M. Burke teacher, Gina Heller, was recognized as 2016 Exemplary Educator.

Gina Heller New Jersey Exemplary Educator
E.M. Burke’s Gina Heller is recognized as 2016 New Jersey Exemplary Educator. Pictured with Heller are two of her four children, Giovanna and Grayson. Also pictured are E.M. Burke principal, Frank Jankowski and School Superintendent, Annette Castiglione. (Photos by SJO)

E.M. Burke principal, Frank Jankowski read from the nomination form that he submitted to the State and said that Heller has “exceptional educational talent.” Based on Link It data, all third graders in Heller’s classroom showed significant growth, he said. “This is the result of increased rigor and high expectations.”

Outside of the classroom, Heller continues to stay abreast of educational strategies, techniques, and programs.

Of being recognized as 2016 Exemplary Teacher, Heller said: “I love Bellmawr. I grew up here. All of my school age children are [school] choice students and come to Bellmawr Schools. I am grateful to the administration and the staff for all of the things that are happening, not only for myself, but for my kids as well.”

In addition to Heller being named 2016 New Jersey Exemplary Educator, Bellmawr Park teacher, Sue DiPrinzio, also earned this distinction. DiPrinzio was recognized during the November BOE meeting.

2016 New Jersey Exemplary Educator
At its November meeting, Bellmawr Park teacher, Sue DiPrinzio, was honored as 2016 New Jersey Exemplary Educator

Heather Dunham Staff Member of the Month

During the regular meeting, The BOE also recognized teacher Heather Dunham as staff member of the month.

Heather Dunham Bellmawr Schools
Teacher Heather Dunham (center) is recognized as Staff Member of the month by Principal, Anthony Farinelli (left) and School Superintendent, Annette Castiglione (right.) (Photo by SJO)

BOE Approves Agenda Items

On the business side, among the agenda items the BOE voted to approve were:

Additionally, the BOE voted to accept the following donations:

  • HP Windows XP desktop computer with mouse, keyboard and 17 inch display from Helen Radecke of Bellmawr.
  • 12 meditation cushions and baskets from Donors Choose for students to use for independent reading and centers in Mrs. Friend’s classroom at E.M. Burke School.

Next BOE Meeting

The BOE will meet next on Wednesday, January 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm in the Bell Oaks Media Center for its reorganization meeting. As per the published noticed, the purpose of the meeting is to swear in Eric Hoban and Patrick Murrary as Board members, to approve the list of meetings for 2017, and also to discuss and act upon any miscellaneous items of business brought before the Board. Formal action will occur at this meeting.

Bellmawr Education News Recent News

Bellmawr BOE Approves $315,500 Capital Reserve Transfer for Emergent Projects

At its November 21 Special Meeting, the Bellmawr Board of Education (BOE) approved the withdrawal of funds from its capital reserve account in the total amount of $315,500 to fund emergent projects for Bellmawr Park School and Ethel Burke School.

When reached by telephone, Board Secretary/Business Administrator, Amy Capriotti, confirmed that BOE approved the Resolution authorizing the transfer.

The emergent projects have been identified as follows:
  • $80,000 for electrical upgrades at E.M. Burke School
  • $90,000 for rooftop HVAC unit replacements at E.M. Burke School and Bellmawr Park School
  • $145,500 for boiler replacements at E.M. Burke School and Bellmawr Park School

At last week’s regular BOE meeting, Capriotti said that the district had been holding back on spending until the audit was completed. The district had approximately $320,000 earmarked to transfer from capital reserve for emergent projects, she said.

Providing further clarification about the projects, Capriotti said last week that the electrical system at E.M. Burke is old, needs to be re-done, and is beyond what can be done to fix it.

School Superintendent,  Annette Castiglione, also provided further comment last week by saying that E.M. Burke is hard to heat and cool and is an archaic building with small rooms.