Principal's Corner

Travis SmithSeptember 2018 

Dear Ramapo Community, 

I cannot even begin to express how excited I am for the building to be full again! Though I had a wonderful summer and I enjoyed the time I was able to spend with family and friends, I always look forward to the start of the school year because it’s a time of hope and optimism for everyone in the building, and that collective excitement is a powerful force.  

And though occasional nostalgia for funnel cakes and saltwater taffy can be a happy distraction, it’s important to understand what drives the enthusiasm we experience in September if we’re to maintain it through the year.  

At the beginning of the school year we often feel as if we will have control over most of the outcomes and say to ourselves: It’s a new year; I’m in control of my year; my choices and effort determine my success; I’m going to better manage my time so I can fit in the things I enjoy and get my work done...hope and optimism flourish. In the middle of the school year, that sense of control may diminish because an unlucky break or two, or some of the outcomes of our decisions didn’t propel us in the direction we had hoped...and the seeds of doubt are sowed.  By the close of the school year, we often long for the funnel cakes and saltwater taffy, and tell ourselves that the difficulties we experienced were out of our control, but we responded to them the best we could.

There may be a lot that happens in a year that is out of our control, but we can always control how we respond to any given event or situation, and that is powerful.  And if we remember that we can always harness that power, to choose how we respond, we can sustain that sense of optimism and hope throughout the year, and use that collective excitement to propel us forward.  

So as we begin the 2018-2019 school year, with hope and optimism clearly in focus, I want to ask for your help in sustaining that September Enthusiasm, and offer some of author Jon Gordon’s wisdom for support:  Be purpose driven rather than results driven, and achievement will follow; learn to talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself; and finally, instead of considering what you have todo, acknowledge what you get todo.

Good luck everyone, and let's have a great year!  Go Po!

Warmest regards,

Travis Smith

May 2018

Hello Ramapo Community!

With the arrival of May, we hope for April’s promised flowers and a comfortable and temperate Spring!  There are a lot of exciting things happening in the school community from athletic events to awards ceremonies.  This month also brings the conclusion of PARCC testing, AP administration, and NJSLA-S Science Exam, so it’s a pretty busy month as well.

May is also the National Mental Health Awareness Month, and below, are a few resources that I hope you find informative.  The resources discuss the importance of eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health issues, raise awareness about mental health concerns, and discuss the importance of getting assistance for those in need, and the appropriate supports for success:

The Spring Season is well underway.  The Boys’ Lacrosse team is in the county tournament finals Saturday, May 5th at Mahwah as is the Girls’ softball team.  The Boys Baseball team takes on Pascack Hills in the second round of the country tournament at Pascack, Saturday, May 5.  The Boys’ and Girls’ Track Teams had a great turnout at Penn Relays and Boys’ Golf and Tennis Teams are both having competitive seasons.  Girls’ Golf, in its second year, is having an outstanding season, as is the Boys’ Volleyball team who advanced to the second round of the county tournament. The State Tournaments begin in the third week of May so you can expect an exciting month!  You can follow their schedules and updates from the following link: 

Gold Masque’s presentation of Sister Act was amazing!  The cast and crew worked incredibly hard to deliver a lively and engaging performance!  I hope that you had an opportunity to see the show, and congratulations to all the seniors on an amazingly fun show for all of us to see!  You can follow Gold Masque on their Twitter page:

From April 20-25, our largest group of contestants ever competed at the DECA Nationals in Atlanta, and Ramapo sophomores Jonathan Grossman and Jack Gifford finished as Top 20 Finalists in the Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making event.  Congratulations Jonathan and Jack, and to all of our DECA competitors!

The RHS Raider Genius Bar is planning their second visit to Tice’s Corner Apple Store where they’ll work with and learn from Apple Geniuses on supporting our students in areas of Tech Support and Creative Project development.  It’s a great opportunity for these students to learn from some of the best, and in turn, be able to help our students at the RGB.  Don’t forget tech help is available at The RHS Genius Raider Bar in the media center after school on Wednesdays, Fridays during all lunches, and by appointment:

I wish all of you a wonderful Spring!  

Warmest regards,

Travis Smith

March 2018

Hello Ramapo Community,

After a few Nor’easters, a couple of feet of snow, and some unexpected days off, it seems Spring has finally arrived.  I’m looking forward to the snowmelt, warmer weather, and longer days! 

We had a great winter athletic season as well, and in indoor track in particular, with two sixth-place finishes at The New Balance Indoor Nationals:  Grace O’Shea in the 60M hurdles, and the Boys’ 4x400 Relay Team of Alex Miras, Timmy Suchora, Patrick Jackson, and Michael Petrazzuolo. 

The Spring Season is underway, and thankfully, the track and fields are free of snow (though we still need some warmer weather and wind to dry them).  We look forward to seeing you out in the nicer weather cheering on our teams.  Take a look at the Athletics page for current schedules:

On March 15th, the World Languages National Honor Society inducted 76 new members in a wonderful ceremony organized and emceed by Ms. Rodriguez, with contributions from Ms. Liu, Ms. Lions, Ms. McCartan, and Mr. Castano. 

The Music Department hosted their Annual Cabaret Night on March 16th, featuring a number of student performances to a packed cafeteria, and Mr. Albanese’s Force of Habit and MC^2 closed the show with a Wild Cherry favorite that featured Mr. Hogan on Keys, Mr. Hudak on bass and vocals, Ms. Angerson on Vocals, Mr. Russell on woodwinds, and guest performances by Ms. Sarraco and Mr. Friedman on alto saxophone, and Mr. Petherbridge and several students on brass.  It was a great night!  Jazz Night is April 4th at 7:30 in the Ramapo Auditorium.  You can follow the Ramapo band on Twitter:

On Sunday, March 25th, Ramapo Athletic Hall of Fame inducted its tenth class.  The ceremony included team inductions for the 1969 Cross Country Team, 1977 Girls’ Tennis Team, and 1985 Girls’ Soccer team.  Individual inductees included Greg Joachim (’79) Soccer; Becky Dalton (’94) Soccer; Tom Grohs (’02) Football and Baseball; Bill Verigan (‘02) Fencing; Kyle Roeder (’04) Football and Basketball; Kesley Ramsey (’07) Cross Country, Winter and Spring Track; Brittney Steinbruch (’07) Soccer; Sam Depken (’07) Soccer, Basketball, Softball; Brittany Baiunco (’08) Basketball and Softball; and our very own Leslie Stephen (’78) Coach—Soccer, Volleyball , Basketball, Golf, and Softball.  Congratulations, and thank you to all the inductees for your contributions to the Ramapo High School Community. 

Rehearsals for Sister Act are in full swing and we look forward to the April 26-28 production.  You can follow Gold Masque on their Twitter page: 

From April 20-25, our largest group of contestants ever will be competing at the DECA Nationals in Atlanta—Congratulations to the following Ramapo Students:  Jonathan Grossman, Jack Gifford, Mitchell Tesser, Grant Reed, Alex Webb, Stephanie Goodrich, Jamie Murtha, Aisha Ali, Emma Kinney, Isabelle Boomhower, Rhea Tandon, Omer Abedel-Wahab, and Vanessa Even-Chen!

Also, don’t forget tech help is available at The RHS Raider Bar in the media center after school on Wednesdays, Fridays during all lunches, and by appointment:

I wish all of you a wonderful Spring!  

Warmest regards, 

Travis Smith

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

November 2017

Dear Ramapo Community:

I can’t believe we’re at the end of the first marking period, and there are 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 to 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.

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.