Perfection is a rarity in our world, its pursuit often devolving into a destructive obsession with the impossible.
Yet, in its September 18 meeting, North Warren Regional High School’s Board of Education enjoyed the rare opportunity to celebrate perfection, as far as a standardized test can measure it.
The meeting opened with a presentation by Principal Carie Norcross-Murphy. She stepped forward to honor the achievement of two North Warren seniors, Richard Pilny and Geoffrey Tillisch. Pilny and Tillisch had achieved perfect math scores on their SATs.
Principal Murphy had previously taught both students. “Usually we see students who are exceptionally gifted and talented in either the math and science field or in the humanities field,” she said. “I can say with certainty, having had both of them in class, that they are very well-rounded individuals.”
Board President John Nause extended congratulations on behalf of the board.
“This is what we dream of every year, that we get students to perform this well,” he said. “And we look forward to seeing future successes from both.”
Each student received a Certificate of Achievement commemorating their accomplishment, with their parents on hand to celebrate the occasion.
After the presentation, Geoffrey Tillisch’s father, David Tillisch, stood up to say a few words. He explained that his work as a pastor has shown him the extent of the mental health crisis affecting youth, especially when they experience crushing academic pressure.
Tillisch’s experience speaks to a growing awareness of youth mental health struggles statewide. In a June 2023 report by the New Jersey State Policy Lab at Rutgers University, researchers found that between a quarter and one half of New Jersey youth struggle with “emotional or depressive problems, sadness, or hopelessness for extended periods of time.”
“I just want to thank you for creating a community here where you’re not only raising up the best and brightest,” Tillisch said, “but just good kids who will have fun together and can exist in a community that cares for their mental health as much as you care for their educational health.”
Following this triumphant start, the board had more good news to share. Business Administrator Jennifer Kerr reported that several facility improvements were on the way, including new boilers, roof repairs for the middle school, and an updated long-range facility plan. Some projects will receive significant funding from grants– about 40% of the total cost for the roof repairs. More grant applications are underway which, if rewarded, will fund security upgrades, HVAC repairs, and other expenses.
North Warren students may have already noticed another significant change in the morning. The cafeteria is now offering breakfast options again from 7 to 7:30 A.M. Current options include bagels and breakfast sandwiches and may expand into a package similar to a bento box, which would include several items together. School staff plan to reach out to students in order to find out what kinds of options students would prefer and stock their breakfast offerings accordingly.
“I think this is going to be a good way for our students to start off their day,” said Principal Murphy.
If all goes well, the board plans to expand cafeteria options at the end of the day as well by offering to-go items after school. For students attending after school extracurriculars or student athletes who go from school directly into practice or an away game, having access to a filling, nutritious option could be a gamechanger.
“We’re not quite there yet,” Principal Murphy said. “We’re working on that next step.”
The meeting drew to a close with a reminder of Spirit Week.
The annual PTO bonfire kicked it off on Monday, September 25.
The festivities will continue with the Homecoming Dance on Wednesday, September 27 and peak on Friday, September 29 with the Homecoming Game.
Chip O'Chang, Contributing Writer
Chip O'Chang is an educator, fiction writer, and lifelong resident of New Jersey. He has also written for My Life Publications and NJ Indy. He lives in the NJ Skylands with his partner, two cats, and and a bearded dragon.