Vineland Public Schools hosted their fourth Community Action Partnership Committee meeting on Wednesday, part of an initiative spearheaded by Superintendent Alfonso Llano.
Over fifty city and county organizations, city officials, district staff and administrators, and representatives from school Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) were invited to participate in the meeting to share information on programs that support, build, and strengthen our school community.
The committee meets monthly with a rotating group of highlight speakers. Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting were Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci; Matt Milam, Executive Director for Spirit & Truth Ministries Vineland Soup Kitchen; and a presentation highlighting Vineland High School from VHS principal Suzette DeMarchi.
Following a welcome from Llano and breakfast served by Sodexo, the meeting was kicked off by Deana Ridolfo, Supervisor for Pupil Services. Ridolfo asked the attendees to break into four groups and review the responses from an exercise conducted at the December meeting. The groups were asked to answer different questions about community impact, including positive aspects, problems, courses of action to alleviate concerns, and potential roadblocks.
Mayor Anthony Fanucci followed, emphasizing the importance of effective communication between the city, schools, and community. He also described the challenges in changing the perception of public education while describing the efforts the city has engaged in to bolster its image. Finally, Fanucci pledged the continued cooperation between the city and school district to help all facets of Vineland shine.
Milam spoke next, describing the history of Spirit & Truth Ministries and the origin of the soup kitchen. Located at the First United Methodist Church on 7th Street and Landis Avenue, the soup kitchen serves approximately 150 meals per day, five days a week. Milam explained how essential the soup kitchen is for those in crisis in our community. Spirit & Truth Ministries will be hosting a fundraising dinner on Saturday, March 26, at 6 pm at Merighi’s Savoy Inn. The event will feature dinner and a performance from the Sensational Soul Cruisers. All funds raised will benefit the soup kitchen. Tickets can be purchased at http://vineland-soup-kitchen.ticketleap.com or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a check made payable to Vineland Soup Kitchen to Vineland Soup Kitchen, PO Box 89, Vineland, NJ 08362.
Llano then began the professional development portion of the meeting, the second part of a workshop centered on the middle school experience. At December’s meeting, committee members were asked to work in groups and discuss how the VPS community can support a holistic approach to address violence, social media issues, disrespect, and more at the middle school level. Attendees generated explanations for why the problems are occurring and discussed their root causes. These explanations were shared with the committee today, with the groups highlighting the most important takeaway from their discussion. Many groups highlighted the need for more peer role models and leadership, help socially integrate back into the school community following remote learning, and more resources for parents to help their children at home.
DeMarchi rounded out the presentations by highlighting some of the many wonderful things that help VHS stand out, including the numerous clubs and activities, the wide range of advanced and dual credit classes, and the ever-growing selection of Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses, among others. Last year, the CTE department introduced an agriculture track and will begin a construction trades program next school year. DeMarchi also emphasized the service-learning requirement that all students must fulfill before graduation and encouraged the groups in attendance to reach out with any opportunities for the students. A video showcasing many events of the last year was also shown and can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/3GZgWiC
Wrapping up the meeting was Dr. Danielle Sneathen, Assistant Superintendent for Administration, who thanked everyone for attending. This month, attendees were asked to participate in the Betty White challenge and bring a donation of pet supplies to the meeting. In addition to the store-bought items, members of the Boys and Girls Club of Vineland hand-made toys for the animals out of socks. All donations will be given to South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.
Click the following link for select photos from the meeting: https://bit.ly/3oX1jlx