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District Wide Activities Draw in Voters While Bringing Families Together

From a talk with a popular coach to ice cream there was something for everyone on Wednesday night

On a night where the school , several schools around the district held a variety events to bring the community together.

And while the turnout of voters varied by the polling place, there were many people at all the events who supported the schools hosting them. Julie Cangialosi said she voted in favor of the budget because she supported the schools that her children go to. "I just want to make sure that the right people are working for the board of education and that we have a balanced budget," she said. 

Cangialosi was voting at the Ramtown School where they held a pasta dinner to raise money for the Howell Food Pantry. Keri Wright, a special education teacher at the school, was one of the people who put the event together. Wright said the dinner was especially effective because of the contributions from restaurants and other shops around the area for the preparation. 

The dinner is also a special night because it is the members of the staff who serve the food to those in attendance. Because of that, Wright said the community comes together even more than they normally would. "It's a way for the staff to unite and show support for the Howell Food Pantry, she said. 

The Lambertson family said they were at the pasta dinner to vote but also to see people in the community for a night of family fun. "It brings the families together," Keith Lambertson said. "We get to meet families of our daughter's classmates and neighbors. It's a good reason to get everybody together."

In addition to the money raised for the food pantry, the night also served as the culmination of the school's fundraiser. For just a dollar, a paper meatball could be purchased with the proceeds benefiting a local family of a former Ramtown student.

Another parent at the dinner was Barbara Springer who said she supported the proposed budget and the school district as a whole. "That's how we educate the future of the United States," she said. "I think everybody should vote yes, not because I have school aged children, but because that is our future long term and it's a small raise in taxes." 

The Newbury School had two events on the night, starting with a Zumbathon that gave locals a three hour chance to do the popular exercise class. The school also got a visit from Rutgers University wrestling coach Scott Goodale. 

Having formerly taught at Jackson Memorial before taking over the Scarlet Knights, Goodale was able to talk about not only what it takes to succeed on and off the mats, but also the importance of community support for a program and a budget. 

With the passage of the budget, the pay to play structure that had been in place in the middle schools this year will be eliminated making participation easier for students. "For us, when we were at Jackson we were really good and it was all about the feeder program," Goodale said. "There's no reason for teachers to be cut, coaches to be cut. It's all about the kids and the opportunities. You get into teaching and coaching for kids and the fact that it's just so easy to cut a budget is disappointing."

While Goodale was meeting with a handful of middle school and high school students in the cafeteria, in the gym close to 40 residents cycled in and out to take part in the Zumbathon. Shelby Pagnotta, a teacher at the school said it was a good opportunity to raise money for Autism Speaks. "We're doing it for autism awareness," she said.

Pagnotta said they raised close to $450 which was a success for helping that organization. "A lot of times we just try to do more in school things to raise awareness like puzzle pieces," she added. "We also do wear blue day. That money went to POAC (Parents of Autistic Children.)"

Jim Quinn, the principal of the school said he was glad to be able to offer diverse programs on an important night in the district. And having known Coach Goodale for most of his life, he was glad to be able to bring such a well respected person to talk to the students. "He has a lot to offer and a lot to tell these kids about life."

A little further up north at the Land O'Pines school, there was a vendor fair as a fundraiser, in addition to the voting . Terry Cerami was not only a vendor at the fair, but also one of the coordinators. "We're trying to promote to get the vote out. So we decided to do a vendor fair and invite our families from all over to come and shop," she said. 

After a warm spring day, residents near the Griebling school got the chance to go there and not only vote, but also spend time with their family at an ice cream social. With chocolate and vanilla ice cream and a wide variety of toppings, young people and those young at heart could come out and have a good time in the school's cafeteria. 

Mary Beth Goodman of the PTA said that this was one of the family fun nights that the school holds over the course of the year. "We're encouraging people to register to vote and then with the incentive that you come come vote and bring your family out for ice cream," she said. 

She said the fact that it was nicer out also helped to bring more people to the event. "It does help that it's a hot day. And we do a lot of push for it with encouraging people to come out and vote and get some ice cream on your way," she noted. "We're very lucky that many of the families in our school vote here also. It's not like they have to go to a separate polling location and then drive here."

The other coordinator of the event is Julie Ann Willoughby, who said this is a tradition the school has had for several years, and one people definitely seem to enjoy. "Really our goal is to get as many families out so they can vote," she said. 

Other events held during the course of the day was a student art show at Adelphia School, a parent workshop at Land O'Pines and a poetry night at Middle School South.

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