February 8, 2023

School Matters 2/8/23

Updated Demographic Report for PPS

Five-year projections for Princeton Public Schools (PPS) predict the schools’ enrollment will increase from its current level of 3,721 to a peak of 4,154 by the 2027-28 school year, according to a February 8 PPS press release.

The data, which was to be presented at the Tuesday, February 7 Board of Education (BOE) meeting, which took place after press time, noted that total PPS enrollment has increased by 324 students, or 9.5 percent, over the past 10 years. The most recent enrollment peak of 3,855 students was in the 2019-20 school year, followed by two years of declining enrollment during the pandemic.

The projected enrollment numbers for the next five years reflect a continued expansion of the PPS pre-K program, but do not include children who attend pre-K off-site at partner provider locations.

The report, which projects the anticipated impact on enrollment of new housing in the community, was to be presented to the BOE by Michael Zuba, a certified professional planner and the director of public education master planning for SLAM, a national multi-disciplinary firm that offers public master planning services for educational entities.

His report was expected to include information about housing projects that are planned or in progress. The largest of these is Avalon Princeton Circle, which will consist of 221 apartments and townhouses. Zuba’s data is consistent with the two most recent demographic studies in 2020 and 2021, the PPS press release noted.

BOE President Dafna Kendal pointed out the value of the updated demographics report as the BOE plans for the future. “The accomplishments of our students and the excellence of our educators at Princeton Public Schools continue to attract more families with school-aged children to our district,” she said in the press release. She added that the BOE will discuss the information from the demographic report at the next meeting of the Board on February 21.

In seeking to maximize the capacity of existing schools the district has implemented schedule changes, facilities upgrades, and the addition of classrooms at Princeton High School and Princeton Middle School over the past three years.

New Head of French American School

Dominique Velociter, who joined the school in June 2021 as interim head, has been appointed as permanent head of school for the French American School of Princeton (FASP).

“We are impressed with Ms. Velociter’s enthusiasm, commitment, and passion for the school and are excited about the numerous initiatives she and her team have implemented,” said FASP Board of Trustees Chair Mark Solomon. “We unanimously believe that Ms. Velociter is the right leader for FASP at this important time.”

FASP, located on the St. Joseph’s Seminary campus and offering a bilingual learning experience for children in preschool to grade 8, has grown from five students to 150 since its beginning in 2000. Velociter succeeded the FASP founder and initial head, Corinne Gungor.

“The past year has confirmed what I had envisioned a year ago,” said Velociter. “The school is a perfect fit: an active learning community with remarkable teachers, talented staff, dedicated parents, and, most importantly, brilliant young minds eager to develop bilingually and engage and achieve success in the world.”

Before going to FASP, Velociter served in a range of head of school roles in independent schools around the world. She was the founder and head of school at the French American School of Rhode Island for more than 20 years. She served in head of school positions in New York, California, Bulgaria, and most recently as the superintendent of Dar Jana International School, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Velociter earned a master’s degree in teaching and learning from the University of Paris Creteil, France, and is a Chevalier in the French Order of the Legion of Honor, Order of Merit, and of the Academic Palms.

PHS Holds First Career Day

Princeton High School’s first Career Day was on January 23, with more than 70 professionals and hundreds of students participating in panels, question-and-answer sessions, and informal career discussions, according to a PHS website news bulletin.

Students were able to attend up to six different workshops where panelists presented a short overview of their field and personal career path followed by student questions and then an opportunity to speak informally in breakout groups.

The many fields represented included cyber security, global marketing, nonprofits, construction, banking, fitness, pharmaceuticals, and many more, according to the website.

Students quoted indicated that the event was a great success. “I am definitely more inclined to go into health care now,” said one. “It made me understand that it’s okay to change major or career paths,” said another. And a third observed, “A lot of people said they didn’t know what they were going to do when they were my age, which makes me feel better about how I don’t know what I want to do either.”

“As a parent leader at the high school PTO, I have seen first-hand the teamwork, intelligence, and love for the students that made this first school-wide career event so successful,” said Sasha Weinstein, co-president of the PHS PTO, which collaborated with the Board of Education and the PHS administration to organize the event.

“Our students seeing all these different post-secondary options will help them to be more intentional about their scheduling and planning with their post-secondary life,” said PHS Principal Frank Chmiel. “One of the greatest messages shared that day is that the path to success is not often a linear one. Our career presenters showed that one can find happiness and fulfillment along a winding journey of opportunities to land in just the right place today.”

French Language Immersion

The French American School of Princeton (FASP) has announced that it is accepting applications for its new accelerated French language immersion program for grades 1-3 for the 2023-24 school year. No prior knowledge of French is required.

On Wednesday, February 15 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 4 at 9 a.m. information sessions will be held at the School at 75 Mapleton Road on the site of the former St. Joseph’s Seminary. For further information about the program and the school call (609) 430-3001 or email admissions@ecoleprinceton.org or visit the school’s website at ecoleprinceton.org.

FASP Head of School Dominique Velociter emphasized the advantages of dual-language immersion. “The ideal time to learn a language is in childhood,” she said in a FASP press release. “We are delighted to welcome older students into our school to offer them not only the ability to learn another language, but also to benefit from the many advantages of a bilingual and multicultural educational setting.”

She continued, “Acquiring, learning, and living a second — or third in many of our students’ families — language gives students a distinct advantage over monolingual programs for intellectually curious students.”

The new accelerated French language immersion program for grades 1-3 is intended to be conducted 30 percent in English and 70 percent in French. “We have designed our new program to appeal to motivated students and families who wish to learn the French language and are looking for a rigorous educational experience,” said Velociter. “To succeed in our program, students must have a solid academic background, especially in English, and be dedicated to meeting high academic expectations.”