A majority of students in the eighth-grade graduating class at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County have been accepted at prestigious high schools with rigorous entrance requirements.
“We have an outstanding record of acceptance to these highly coveted schools,” said assistant head of school Lucy Klinek. “There have been some years when 100 percent of our students have been accepted into these schools.”
She attributed the success to the teaching staff and curriculum at the Marlboro school. Unlike some private and parochial schools, Klinek said, Schechter requires all teachers be state-certified and have a master’s degree.
She herself spent decades teaching at Wall High School and teaches her Schechter Spanish classes at a high school level.
Klinek said that at Schechter she sought to remedy academic deficiencies she had seen among incoming ninth-graders.
“Many ninth-graders didn’t know geography or how to write properly so I made sure every student here takes a geography course,” said Klinek. “We had one sixth-grader last year get to the state championship in geography.”
She added, “We emphasize writing skills. I really think our kids do so well because we offer a high school curriculum in middle school. We keep raising the bar, and our kids keep reaching it.”
Head of school Yoti Yarhi said, “We pride ourselves in preparing each student for academic success and to develop individual passions. Some students will develop an interest in science, or math, or the performing arts. Others may desire a broader curriculum, while still others will want to further their Jewish education through high school.”
In some years, she said, there are graduates who do go on to Jewish high schools, but in “every year we look forward to tapping into what makes each student unique and to guiding them along their chosen path.”
Also, she said, there are plans to be able to offer high school at the Marlboro Schechter.
Seven graduates interviewed by NJJN were on last year’s winning team in the Monmouth University Stars Science Competition for middle school students.
Two of those students, Benjamin Weiss and Emily Schwadron, both 14 and from Ocean, have been accepted to The Academy of Allied Health and Science, a specialized school in the Monmouth County Vocational School District. It is ranked sixth by U.S. News and World Report’s listing of the state’s best high schools.
“The school limits acceptances to two per town, so we were thrilled both Emily and Ben got in,” said Klinek.
Emily said that although her career goal is medicine, her favorite subject is English, in which she is “able to express my emotions and feelings in a subject where I can completely be myself.”
Her years at Schechter also helped her define her career goals.
“The atmosphere and people you see on a weekly basis are always very supportive,” said Emily. “It’s nice to know no matter what, you have someone to talk to whenever you need them to be supportive.”
Ben, who plans to be a neurosurgeon, is currently studying algebra II and geometry, subjects normally taken in high school.
“The school trained me very well, not only in science and math, but also language, including Hebrew,” he said.
Elana Bohm, 14, of Colts Neck was accepted into the Fine and Performing Arts Academy in Howell, part of the Freehold Regional School District.
“I hope to be a Broadway actress,” said Elana, who takes voice, dance, music, and acting lessons and has appeared in school plays.
“My classmates are very supportive and come and cheer me on,” she said. “I feel like we are one big, happy family. My teachers only wanted me to be happy in whatever I decided to do.”
Student council president Kylie Heering of Millstone Township was accepted at three schools, the health and science academy, Princeton Day School, and Peddie School in Hightstown.
Kylie said she chose Peddie because “it seemed like its academics were stellar” and because of its extensive array of extracurricular and athletic activities.
“My favorite subject is science and I hope to be an oncologist or something along those lines,” she said, adding the Schechter community helped to formulate those goals by being “nurturing” and having teachers and staff “who care about you and help you find out who you want to be.”
Casey Grafstein, 14, of Marlboro was accepted into the Global Studies Learning Center in Freehold, also part of the Freehold Regional School District. It offers an “intensive” and “accelerated” curriculum in world regions and in international challenges, cultures, governments, and economies.
Although not sure of her career goals, Casey said she believes the school will help her in whatever she chooses to pursue. “They only accept 30 kids a year in the program,” she said.
Casey said math is her favorite subject at Schechter, where, she added, “the environment is so special, and it’s a really beautiful place to learn.”
Hannah Reznik, 13, of Marlboro has been accepted into the honors program at Marlboro High School.
“I hope to go into the medical field when I grow up because I think it’s interesting to learn how the body works,” said Hannah, whose favorite subject is science.
“I’m very close to all my teachers and classmates here,” she said. “They care and only want the best for you. The math program is very advanced and we do a lot of difficult things, but the teachers make it interesting to learn.”
Aaron Lombardi, 14, of Forked River was accepted into the specialized, competitive Central Regional High School in Bayville, which is part of the Central Regional School District.
Aaron, who plans to be an architect, said because he was given comprehensive instruction in Hebrew and Spanish at Schechter he feels he is equipped to easily learn other languages. He also praised the school’s math, arts, and social studies programs.