Dear Vernon School Community,

We have so much to be thankful for as a school community! We have great Vernon Pride! Mr. Rogers, our Acting Superintendent, and I would like to honor and recognize some of the outstanding individuals in our district doing great things for our students, starting with our 2022-2023 NJ Governor’s Teacher of the Year and Educational Services Professional of the Year, NJ DoE Exemplary Educators, and the VTEA Educational Support Professional of the Year.


Congratulations to our district Teachers of the Year…


Those selected for this prestigious award have demonstrated the following qualities:


  • Serves as an exceptionally skilled and dedicated educator;
  • Inspires students of all backgrounds and abilities to learn;
  • Demonstrates leadership and innovation in and outside the classroom;
  • Has the respect and admiration of students, parents, administrators and colleagues; and
  • Plays an active role in the community as well as the school.


Drum Roll, Please…


Walnut Ridge School: Miss Allison Weber, Preschool Teacher

Cedar Mountain Primary School: Ms. Mary Ollert, Special Education Teacher

Rolling Hills Primary School: Mrs. Christina Weiss, Third Grade Teacher

Lounsberry Hollow School: Mrs. Cheryl Reed, Fourth Grade Teacher

Glen Meadow Middle School: Dr. Christopher Jensen, Eighth Grade Science Teacher

Vernon Township High School: Ms. Marianne Longchamp, English Teacher

Allison Weber

Mary Ollert

Christina Weiss

Cheryl Reed


Christopher Jensen

Marianne Longchamp


Congratulations to our district Educational Services Professionals of the Year…


Walnut Ridge School: Mr. Nik Lasso, Technology Coach

Cedar Mountain Primary School: Mrs. Sherry Polhemus, CST Social Worker

Rolling Hills Primary School: Mrs. Jennifer Gallant, School Nurse

Lounsberry Hollow School: Mrs. Debbie Lisa, School Nurse

Glen Meadow Middle School: Mrs. Carol Gonzalez, School Nurse

Vernon Township High School: Mr. Ray Loughren, School Counselor

Nik Lasso

Sherry Polhemus

Jennifer Gallant

Debbie Lisa

Carol Gonzalez

Ray Loughren



Congratulations to our NJ Department of Education Exemplary Elementary Educators…

Mrs. Lois Battista, Math Interventionist, and Mrs. Maureen Sweeney, kindergarten teacher, both Cedar Mountain teachers, were awarded the Exemplary Elementary Educator Award. Mrs. Battista and Mrs. Sweeney have been identified as educators who are valued by our school community and have exhibited strong knowledge and leadership skills, have an inspiring presence and have a clear vision for quality teaching. Mrs. Battista and Mrs. Sweeney have been vetted in a rigorous process to earn this prestigious NJ Department of Education recognition.




Congratulations to Ms. Lisa Hirkaler Award Recipient: Ms. Lisa Hirkaler, art teacher at Glen Meadow Middle School, has been awarded the prestigious 2022-2023 NJEA Frederick L Hipp Foundation for Excellence in Education for her project, Social Justice Art and Book Club.  Ms. Hirkaler, a fierce advocate for all students, inspires her burgeoning artists through the art curriculum using the Principles of Art and Design as they express themselves in many art forms.




Congratulations to the Vernon Township School District Educational Support Professional of the Year! Mrs. Diane Alfonso, the Administrative Assistant to the Principal at Rolling Hills Primary School, was selected by her peers from the Vernon Township Education Association for this distinguished honor. Mrs. Alfonso is one of the first people they see when entering Rolling Hills; Mrs. Alfonso is a kind and helpful person who represents the building so proudly. Mrs. Alfonso is hard-working, dedicated, and the Office Manager of the Rolling Hills Main Office. Mrs. Alfonso never fails to greet everyone with a cheery smile or a “Good morning, sunshine!” She will help anyone, no matter how long her to-do list is and immediately makes newcomers feel welcome to the school.

Diane Alfonso





Speaking of the Vernon Township Education Association, this educational organization brings thousands of dollars to our district through a Pride Grant from the NJEA. Thank you to Mrs. Lesley Lombardi, Chair of the Pride Committee, for working with fellow VTEA members to write grants that secure funds for many school programs that build community support and involvement bringing families into our schools. So far this year, the following programs have been funded:


  • Cedar Mountain Fall Harvest Open House
  • Walnut Ridge Preschool Back to School Night-art activities provided to students during the program
  • Vernon Pump Track Grand Opening- provided refreshments for this community event
  • Cedar Mountain and Vernon Township High School International Nights
  • Cedar Mountain Math Night
  • Vernon Turkey Trot- provided water to participants
  • Glen Meadow TREP$ Night- providing bags to all patrons
  • Rolling Hills and Cedar Mountain Literacy Nights
  • Vernon High School STEM Night
  • Vernon Tree lighting


Cedar Mountain Celebrates Vets on Veteran’s Day- Thank you to the Vernon Township High School Marching Band under the direction of Mrs. Jody Young, Mr. Max Taylor, and Mr. Casey Dziuba, for bringing the award-winning VTHS Marching Band to Cedar Mountain for its annual Veteran’s Day Parade. The parade helped celebrate patriotism and honored the Veterans of the families of Cedar Mountain students. The VTHS matching band escorted the veterans through the schoolyard and played the Armed Forces Medley; each guest was recognized as his or her branch was played. The program concluded with first-grade students conducting a performance for the honored guests.



VTHS Baseball Team Cleans Up Vernon Yards: As part of the VTHS Baseball Team’s annual service learning project, the team raked… and raked… and raked… and raked leaves throughout our town to assist families who needed help with this daunting task. Thank you to all the team members that selflessly came to the need of others. The VTHS Baseball Team coaches, Stephen Myhren, Stephen Down, and Steve Fitzsimmons, were on hand to lend a hand, too.



5th Grade Mayflower STEM Challenge: Students in Mr. Wilson and Ms. Leitner’s classes were tasked with the challenge: “How can I create a boat out of foil that will hold the most “pilgrims” possible and get them to the new world the fastest?”. Students then researched different types of boat designs; students planned, sketched, and labeled their designs, and then they built their boats! Students tested their boats, and here are the results…

The AM class winner is Nickolas Willey in both capacity and speed!

The PM class winner is Gabby Musto, Kaylee Murphy, and Jenna Hopping in both capacity and speed!



Meet the Board of Education Student Representative, Colin Geisen: Colin is a senior at Vernon Township High School and was elected by his peers to serve as this year’s Board of Education representative. Colin likes to be busy and is involved throughout Vernon Township High School. Colin is the President of the Key Club, the Historian of the Student Council, the Social Media Manager of my senior class, and the Historian of HOSA. Colin is also the Secretary of the Marching Band and the Drill Section Leader of the Saxophones. Colin is in Mock Trial and Model UN. Through all of Colin’s activities, he also works at Dunkin’ Donuts! Colin thoroughly enjoys all of his classes this year, but his favorites two classes are AP Statistics and AP Government and Politics. Colin is looking at various schools to apply to, including Rutgers, University of Washington, Georgetown, University of California Los Angeles, and Columbia. Colin’s goal is to major in something Political Science oriented, possibly Political Science Statistics, or Economic Political Science. Golin’s goal is to follow a Pre-Law path, and he plans to attend law school after college. Colin is very grateful for the amazing opportunity to be the Student Representative for the Board of Education and hopes to leave a legacy for many representatives in the future

His duties include:

  • Attending all board meetings
  • Representing all high school students within the district and presenting student proposals and concerns to the board for its consideration; and
  • Keeping high school students informed of the business of the board by providing a monthly report to the student council concerning the activities of the board.


Walnut Ridge Students Launch Pumpkins: Thank you to Mr. Matthew Behre, Career and Technical Education Teacher (CTE) of the Construction and Facilities Management courses (CFM) at the high school, who built two Trebuchets with his students, aka “pumpkin launchers”, and demonstrated the science and physics behind using the Trebuchet using leftover Halloween pumpkins. Students cheered with glee as pumpkins were launched far and wide across the blacktop at Walnut Ridge. Check out the pictures from this fun cross-grade activity.




Congratulations to our winners of the Center for Prevention and Counseling, “What’s Your Anti-Drug?” and “What Makes You Happy” Contest:  This year’s “What’s Your Anti-Drug?” contest had nearly 500 entries representing 28 schools in Sussex County. All the entries were wonderful, and the judges at the Center for Prevention and Counseling had the tough job of selecting 65 winning entries across the county. Winning entries will be featured in the Sunday, December 4, 2022, edition of the New Jersey Herald in the “What’s your anti-drug?” section. This year, for the second year, the Center for Prevention and Counseling included “What Makes You Happy?” For students in K-3rd grade. Congratulations to…

Lounsberry Hollow School:

Alana Bessette

Ellie Harmon

Jacen Dearolf

Delilah Taylor


Glen Meadow Middle School Students:

Arianna Johnson

Adriana Bonilla

Joseph Heintz


Cedar Mountain Primary School:

Emily Musco



Meet Granger and Faith, the Therapy Dogs: Granger and Faith have visited various VTSD schools to say hello. This is part of our Social Emotional Learning program; students enjoy connecting with the visiting therapy dogs while taking a short break from learning. Thank you to Mrs. Gudenkauf for organizing this program for our district.



Glen Meadow Middle School Art Students Win Poster Contest: Congratulations to 6th-Grade Glen Meadow Middle School art students Alison Getz and Carmen Olsen for winning the West Milford Lions Club’s “Lead with Compassion” Peace Poster art contest. Alison Getz received first place, and Carmen Olsen received second place. Students participating in this program are under the direction of art teacher Mrs. Hirkaler.



Thank you to all of our School and Community Associations! Each building’s SCAs do so much for our schools by volunteering and bringing in special programs to our schools to enhance our curriculum; they donate hundreds of hours to make our schools great. Check the picture of the Cedar Mountain SCA Father/Special Person-Daughter Dance. The SCA will be very busy this week at Cedar Mountain, as they will be assisting with Grandparent’s Day and the Book Fair.



Thanksgiving Came Early at VTHS: Thank you to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers of the Culinary Arts Program, Ms. Jennifer Ryder, Ms. June Jalbert, and Mr. Mike Rizzo, for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner with their students for the faculty and staff of the high school. Students learned how to prepare seasonal foods for a large number of people turning the event into a time for “Friendsgiving”!




Rolling Hills Students Become 1:1 with Chromebooks: As technology becomes more and more integral to all students’ learning, Rolling Hills students were recently issued their own Chromebooks to use at school and at home. It is the goal of Dr. Anderson, Principal of Rolling Hills, for students to become proficient using various online applications. One online tool that Dr. Anderson and the teachers are looking forward to having students use at home is our new reading diagnostic tool called Amira. Amira uses artificial intelligence to listen to students read and analyzes any miscues the students may have, giving teachers a reading level for the student. Students can use this tool in school and now at home to practice their reading skills. A shout-out to Mr. Anthony Vitrano, a valued member of the VTSD IT staff, who worked long hours to get the new 2nd-grade Chromebooks up and running for the students. 182 students received a new Chromebook to use at school and home. While this would normally be a summer project, the Vernon Township High School “Chromebusters” helped Mr. Vitrano get the Chromebooks set up for Rolling Hills. Check out the box truck full of Chromebooks that were processed and distributed!




Preschool through Grade 5 Mind Traveler’s Program: CLICK HERE for information on the Mind Traveler’s Reading Program that has been a tradition in Vernon for almost 20 years! Students in preschool through 5th grade are encouraged to participate. Two students per grade will be selected to win a book to recognize their reading achievement. Students will be honored at the January Public Board of Education meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at Lounsberry Hollow School.



Shout out to the GM eSports Club and Kristin Petrucci – the picture below shows students playing both Nintendo Switch Sports and Occulus Quest Virtual Reality. Every week 15-20 students participate in gaming together!




“It’s Not Pestering, It’s Parenting” Tips for Parents: Thank you to Lisa DeRitter, the Vernon Coalition Coordinator, for sharing THIS PARENT HANDOUT that gives families practical tips to stay connected to your children and ways to say no to activities that are unsafe or can lead children not to make good choices. We thank the Vernon Coalition for the activities they bring to our schools with engaging after-school and in-school programming that develop leadership skills and help students with making healthy choices in their lives.


PAL Quiet Time with Santa Program: Please click HERE to read more on the flyer below to learn how you can arrange for a child in Vernon to have a special visit from Santa that needs a quiet environment. We thank the Vernon PAL for providing this wonderful program to our families.


Mark your calendar for a few reminders to all of our VTSD families…


  • We will have an Early Dismissal on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. Check out each building’s website for the specific early release times.
  • Now that winter will be setting in; you are reminded to update your contact information in Genesis. You should also make sure that you have all checked the boxes for the phones you want to receive school information. You can receive emails in addition to phone calls. Parents and guardians can always update their own contact info on the Genesis Parent Portal. In addition, you can always choose your own notification preferences in School Messenger directly at; this will take you to the Contact Preferences Page. Please call your children’s schools if you need any assistance; we’d be happy to help you!
  • We will have an Early Dismissal on Thursday, December 22, 2022, to begin our Winter Break. School will resume on Tuesday, January 3, 2023.
  • There will be a Board of Education Reorganization Meeting on Wednesday, January 4, 2023, at 7:00 pm, at Lounsberry Hollow School. The snow date will be on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 7;00 pm.
  • We will have upcoming Early Dismissal Days on Wellness Wednesdays throughout the winter as follows
    • January 25, 2023
    • February 15, 2023
    • March 29, 2023
  • HERE is the 2022-2023 School Calendar

We wish you a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving with your family. Thank you for sharing your children with us! We appreciate our partnership with you!



Mr. Russell Rogers, Acting Superintendent

Mrs. Rosemary Gebhardt, Acting Assistant Superintendent