Principal's Corner

Travis Smith

24 January 2018

Dear Ramapo Community, 

The last several months have been busy with a spectacular performance by two Gold Masque casts in the play Sylvia, the Holiday Festival with a wonderful visit from the students and staff of Roberto Clemente School, and an amazing Holiday Concert that concluded with the Alumni Band performing “Sleigh Ride” under the guest-direction of Mr. Tom Basili.  

We also had great fall athletic season with the Boys’ Soccer Team earning their fourth straight Bergen County Championship and the Girls’ Tennis Team earning the NJSIAA Group 2, Section 1 Champions.  

The winter season is well underway and there is always an exciting game or match happening at Ramapo.  Take a look at what’s happening on the Athletics page:

Rehearsals for Sister Act have begun and we look forward to the April production.  You can follow Gold Masque on their Twitter page: 

I am also excited to share the Raider Genius Bar Twitter Page, as students will be able to get Tech Help during their lunch periods after quarterlies: 

In January, Mr. Michael Marder visited our school for the second year in a row.  His story is one of faith, hope, humanity, and inspiration as he detailed his experiences growing up in Poland with a family whose humor and love for each other, laid the foundation for a profound faith that enabled a gentle and kind man to survive nine different stays in seven different concentration camps during the Holocaust. 

The simple tales of his childhood had an endearing familiarity, but as he grew older, and Europe changed, the endearing familiarity became a series of unimaginable horrors.  He had a simple explanation for why he was compelled to tell his story, and a simple message to the students:  We cannot forget—we cannot forget because we cannot let this happen again.

But his story was striking for another reason.  His stories of selection and escape were riveting, but when he recalled looking over the ledge of a mine, the temptation, after surviving several stays in a number of different work camps, was strong—how one step could bring a quick end to it all.  And then he felt faith.  His faith, and how his belief in the future prevented him from taking that step. 

How he pressed on in the face of unimaginable odds and horrors are beyond my comprehension.  But, it is here that his story inspires.  It is here where he unflinchingly, and without judgment, reminds us to be strong, even in our darkest and most vulnerable moments.  

So, thank you Mr. Marder, for sharing your story with us.  We cannot, and will not forget the horrors and atrocities of the past, and we shall not remain silent in the face of a mass atrocity in the future.    Your faith reminds us how to be strong.

I wish everyone a great close to the first semester, and looking ahead, enough strength to move you beyond times of doubt. 

Warmest regards,

Travis Smith

3 November 2017

Dear Ramapo Community:

I can’t believe we’re at the end of the first marking period, and there’s no signs of slowing down.  Most of the clubs are meeting regularly, the Holiday Festival is actively planning for this year’s event, the marching band, cheerleaders, and athletics have had a great Fall.  Rehearsals for Sylvia, are well underway, and I can’t wait to see the two casts perform! (There will be four performances over November 16, 17, 18.)

It’s an exciting time of year in education.  We’ve all settled into the rhythm of school, but had some great events to get as going such as Back to School Night where parents were able to get a glimpse of their child’s day, a spirited pep rally led by our passionate student council who introduced the fall athletic teams, cheerleaders and marching band (whose Guillotine Squad is terrifyingly engaging), and a dynamic speaker named Gian Paul Gonzalez, who addressed our ninth and tenth grade students about being All In.  (If you’d like to know more about him, click on the above link for more information about his inspirational message, or talk to one of our students who saw him!)  The juniors and seniors had a chance to hear from accomplished photojournalist Jay Blakesberg who spoke about taking advantage of opportunity, pushing boundaries, and pursuing interests with passion.

The Guidance Department has hosted a number of informative events such as the District College Night and College Fair, and the Community Service Fair among others, and if you click on the above link, you’ll find a brief summary of past and future events. 

The APTS is actively meeting and as a school community, we are so thankful for all of their support!  Please check out the link to their Website for some great information about upcoming events and meetings.  Their next meeting is on November 16 at 9:00 A.M. in the Little Theater, and I hope to see you there!

As we move into the second marking period, I want encourage you to deepen your connection to the school through clubs, athletics, events, activities or school-based organizations.  Ramapo is an amazing place to grow and learn because of your commitment to the school community.

7 September 2017

Dear Parents and Students:

I write this letter with profound appreciation and enthusiasm: appreciation for the opportunity to serve the Ramapo High School learning community, and enthusiasm for becoming a part of the great tradition here. I eagerly look forward to working with all of you.

Ramapo’s rich tradition of excellence in co-curricular clubs, arts, athletics, and academics stands as a testament to the talented student body in attendance. To create the best possible learning environment for its students Ramapo has a dedicated staff, supportive community, and committed board who work in concert to make Ramapo a great place to learn new skills, explore new subjects and activities, and develop interests and strengths that will serve as the foundation for future growth. When students graduate, they thrive in all areas, and pursue the most competitive colleges and careers.

As we begin the 2017-2018 school year, I want to share some key points from an article in The Washington Post on April 18, titled “Here Are the Five Critical Skills Every New College Graduate Should Have”:

  • Be digitally aware. A passive relationship with technology is no longer sufficient. Students need an elementary understanding of the programming language behind the apps they use.
  • Be able to navigate life without a syllabus. The future belongs to those who act with purpose and determination.
  • Learn voraciously. Students need the ability to create answers for problems not yet imagined.
  • Understand how to use what you have learned. Students need to be able to generalize core principles and apply them in novel ways.
  • Be humble. Be patient and realistic.

(Selingo 2016)

It is with the above article in mind that I encourage students to embrace the opportunities afforded to them here, ask the community for open dialogue and feedback on our progress, and look forward to the year ahead.

Very kind regards,

Travis Smith


Article Cited:
Selingo, Jeffrey J. “Here Are the Five Critical Skills Every New College Graduate Should Have.” The Washington Post, N.p., 18 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.