New schedule at Glenfield Middle School

My name is Olivia Beck, and I am a seventh grader at Glenfield Middle School. I am writing to you concerning the new schedule at Glenfield that will be going into place at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year. I am aware that you must be getting many letters regarding this topic, but please take this one into consideration.

I have lived in Montclair my whole life. One of the big reasons why my parents chose to raise my sister and me in Montclair was because of Montclair’s unique magnet schools. Before I came to Glenfield, I attended Nishuane and Hillside. I loved these schools because of the unique arts programs that were offered. Through these programs, I became very involved in both visual and performing arts. In both fourth and fifth grade, I performed for the Montclair Board of Education members in Traveling Troupe. I was also a member of the Hillside Creative Intellect (CI) art program. Being able to express myself through the arts gave me confidence and creativity.

When I came to Glenfield, I continued my path in the arts. This year, I was honored with an art award presented to me and three other Glenfield students by Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, which showcased our artwork of Syrian refugee portraits that we painted and sent to the refugees. My Syrian refugee is 9 years old and her name is Salam, which means “peace” in Arabic. Not only did this portrait make me feel proud to represent Glenfield, it also sent a message to Salam, showing her that we care and we want to help her with everything she must be going through at nine years of age. This new schedule would ruin all of this. With only one aesthetic offered, excluding gym, instead of the current five aesthetics that we have, excluding gym, how will I be able to express myself when our school is being turned into a plain, normal school?

The new schedule would also do nothing for us in terms of learning. We would be getting the same amount of minutes in our basic classes that we currently do, just without the performing arts, which our school is all about. Also, in the letter that was sent to our parents regarding the schedule change, it was mentioned that the teachers were involved in the schedule process. This however is entirely incorrect. To my understanding, my teachers were not included at all in the schedule process, nor where the students who this directly affects. I am also a straight A, high honor roll, and National Junior Honor Society member. I am not nearly close to being the only one in my school that shares this status.

There is no reason why we need more math and English classes than what we currently get if we are not doing poorly in school.

If you choose not to keep the current schedule, please at least give us air conditioning and an exterminator to get rid of the mice in our school. This way, we can at least be equal to Buzz Aldrin. I strongly urge that you take these points into consideration.



This was originally written as a letter to the Montclair Board of Education.


A tribute to Vincent Tango

For quite some time, and I speak for many Montclairians, we have eagerly anticipated, and enjoyed sharing, bantering, touting and reading Vincent Tango's contributions to the Montclair Local.

We, at First Montclair House, are planning a tribute to one of our neighbors who is no longer with us. I speak to you about my life long buddy and very, very proud Montclair High School graduate and super, and rare, “Mountie.”

One of the nicest gifts I have ever received from anyone was a gift from Vinnie. As a proud Montclairian whose grandfather lived at 198 Walnut St., proudly played football without a helmet and graduated in the MHS Class of 1901; graduated from Wesleyan and then lived for 12 years as the recreation director for the YMCA while the Panama Canal was built; I always was fascinated that the grandfather I never knew lived right up the street from where I live at First Montclair House and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” six months before I was born.

Upon Vinnie finishing the creation of Montclair football history I bought a copy. As I began to peruse the thick and informative book I could not believe my eyes. Thanks to Vincent Tango, there on the page of the 1900 football team was Robert Gray Goodman without a helmet! Vinnie gave me the gift of my grandfather, making my heart soar and swing high into the silence, hovering there as a treasured gift.

After graduation we all set forth for college and ports unknown, and so did “Vinnie” but, even though he left for California, he never left us. Ever. Amazingly, in his art he took us all with him and we took him to places with his little postcards of our dear Montclair, N. J. 07042. When he captured Edgemont Park, Bonds Ice Cream Parlor or the Marlboro Inn we climbed sun ward, back in time, somehow tumbling into yesterday because his creativity captured Montclair and our beginning. We chased the sun-split clouds of yesterday treasuring time spent with our families and loved ones now long gone with his popular mementos. While we were on a quest for tomorrow his eager easy grace wheeled yesterdays through the hallowed halls of wind-swept simple moments.

We have lost a treasure. The week Vinnie passed he had written a letter to the Montclair Local, telling me, as he usually did, “Peg (that's my nickname), I got a letter in this week, let me know when you get your copy and we'll talk.”

I never saw my MHS Mountie again. He's somewhere dancing the skies on laughter-silvered wings, still dreaming of things to share for all of us. We wait. But in the meantime, my friends Artie Lee, Peter Guiffera, Esther Tubello and First Montclair House are planning a special tribute to one of Montclair's finests. This letter is for you Vincent Tango. RIP.




Essex County Freeholders, Montclair Town Council

This is about our relationship with the Essex County Freeholders, the money we send them and what they do with the money. It’s about the immigration detention facility that the county maintains in Newark.

Problem: hardly anyone knows who their freeholder is and even fewer people know what the freeholders do. For example, when we talk with people about how terrible the ICE contract and the ICE jail are, most people don’t even know that there is an ICE contract or an ICE jail. Or that this is what our county does (as in, how do we get the money for our beautiful parks?). Joe DiVincenzo’s title is county executive. The freeholders are like the county legislature. At this point they mostly approve contracts (roads, buildings, etc.) and go along with anything Joe DiVincenzo asks for. In theory they have the power to veto his decisions but that never happens. Even though the freeholders are elected by the voters of their districts, their main constituent is Joe DiVincenzo. And they are all Democrats.

Essex County has a contract with ICE which pays the county a per diem for each detainee housed at the jail. In return, the county is supposed to maintain the physical plant, provide food, recreation, medical care, etc. The county nets millions of dollars a year for this ‘service’. The Democrats, years ago, used to be the party of immigrants. Now, the Democrats in Essex County (and in Hudson and Bergen) lock them up. For the crime of wanting a better life. For the crime of being undocumented. These are not Trump’s mythological “rapists and killers”; many of the detainees have never been charged with any crime. Others have lived here for years and were snatched from their families because of a ten year old conviction on a marijuana possession charge or driving without a license. And in return for our collaboration with President Trump and ICE, the county provides us with fabulous parks courtesy of Joe DiVincenzo.

ICE and the Customs and Border Patrol put children in cages or lose them entirely, destroy families and lock up people who leave water in the desert for immigrants trying to cross. And locally we collaborate by accepting ICE money and acquiescing in the detention of immigrants. Two years ago the Montclair town council passed a welcoming resolution for immigrants. We spend a lot of time in Montclair talking about how progressive we are, how much we care, how much we value diversity. Locking up innocent people hardly seems welcoming; the resolution is rendered meaningless. We can ask the council to put together a resolution that demands that the freeholders end the contract with ICE. Mildred Crump, president of the Newark City Council called recently for the ICE contract to be voided.

Please call or write your council person or come to a council meeting and speak to them directly. If we’re afraid to do something we know we should do, because we’re worried that Joe DiVincenzo will retaliate by denying services, that’s corruption, on his part and ours.