New Parents

We at Montclair High School are proud of our rich history of educational excellence dating back to the early 1800s. The Montclair community embraces the philosophy of diversity by providing programs that foster an appreciation for the individual's uniqueness and worth. The school encourages students to grow and develop through academic, social, civic, athletic, and fine arts programs. Our graduates are attractive to the most prestigious colleges in the country because of their solid preparation for intellectual challenge.

Montclair High School is engaged in a whole school reform initiative, Design for the 21st Century, to ensure that MHS can offer a rigorous learning environment in which all students learn more, to which all students feel connected, and in which all students are invested.

MHS offers small learning communities, many diverse extracurricular activities, enhanced professional development, and opportunities for increased parent involvement. The Small Learning Communities include Medical Biology, the Ninth Grade Academy, and the recently added S.T.E.M. Academy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) honoring alumnus Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut, MHS Class of 1947. They comprise interdisciplinary blocks of courses, some of which are multi-year. They involve the community, parents, and other stakeholders in extension activities. Montclair High School has a Ninth Grade Academy, which provides a bridge to a successful high school experience.

MHS is actively involved in the National Minority Student Achievement Network, where it is among 14 schools and school districts across the nation sharing practices that are promising to reduce the achievement gap.

As a result of the shared vision of a generous benefactor, Montclair State University and Montclair High School has created the Weston Science Scholars Program, which provides a unique opportunity for students to work side-by-side with college professors, engage in significant research, and attend college lectures to extend their learning about the sciences.

MHS participates in the "Mini-Medical School" program at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, which gives college credits to our students for their course work. A new working dental lab has been installed through the support of Delta Dental and local dentists where students gain experience through hands-on training. With support from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and engineers from the community and other benefactors, we participate in local, state, and national robotics competitions and exhibitions. These are only a few of the many partnerships that enhance our students' learning. MHS has become a WeatherBug location, home of live weather streaming and an opportunity for S.T.E.M. students to be involved in hands-on research.

Our academic programs have maintained a standard of excellence necessary to continue high levels of student achievement as National Merit Scholars and National Achievement Scholars for outstanding African-American and Hispanic students. Over a five-year period, many students have attended various Governors' Schools. Our students have placed first in the nation in the Federal Reserve Bank's "Fed Challenge," first in the Model United Nations Competition at Yale University, and second in a National Mock Trial Competition. More than 30 athletic programs and 85 extracurricular clubs and organizations are available as evidence of the opportunities for all our students.

from NJ School Report Card, NJDOE. See also full report.

Find out more about Montclair High School

Part 1: A Day at MHS (27 minutes)
Part 2: Navigating MHS (28 minutes)
Part 3: What Does the MHS Experience Offer? (30 minutes)

About the video, "Inside Montclair High"

Funded in partnership with the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE), what began as a project to depict a few brief snippets of all the positive things about Montclair High School turned into a full-fledged, three-part film. While the motivation remained the same, what filmmaker Masiel Rodriguez-Vars with the assistance of MHS students created was a deeper examination of the world inside Montclair High.

"The original concept was that it was meant to fill some of the gaps of what you don't hear or read in the news; to see the other side of MHS," said Rodriguez-Vars. "What we came out with was totally different than what we intended. It took shape once the kids got involved."

Rodriguez-Vars enlisted the help of students and following a series of production meetings where they discussed everything from the student population to academics to after-school activities, filmed the daily lives of a diverse group over the course of the 2009-2010 school year.

Trying to be as unobtrusive as possible, Rodriguez-Vars took to the hallways, camera in hand. "After a while they forgot about the cameras," she admitted. "It wasn't scripted and they weren't trying to 'sell' the school. They were just relaxed and open about people seeing what their lives are like. We had a wide-range represented and the students were very frank."

The result, she says, is a film that portrays the many facets of Montclair High. But don't call it a documentary. "It was not meant to be a tell-all. It was intentional to highlight the positive."

That doesn't mean, according to Rodriguez-Vars, that it is any less authentic. "Just because it's positive doesn't make it any less real," she added. The pieces themselves were meant to balance out the negative in the media. Montclair High is certainly not perfect and we know there are challenges. This is to remind us of the positives, and as a viewer, you should take both sides to get a full picture of MHS."

Although she tried to remain objective, Rodriguez-Vars did have a personal interest in finding out what happens in the halls. "I filmed the year before my son entered MHS. I couldn't help but bring myself to the experience. Every new parent has perceptions, concerns and anxieties," she said. "But I walked away feeling so confirmed that MHS is already great but absolutely needs more support to make it even better. It does work for a lot of kids."

Initially, said Rodriguez-Vars, the intention of the film was to enlighten the community. She wasn't thinking about how the film could potentially be useful to incoming ninth graders until the students said they wished they'd had it available to them before they entered MHS. Eighth-grade students and their families will now have the opportunity to view the film and will have a chance to see what life will be like for them in the near future.

In addition, viewers also have the opportunity to get to know some of Montclair High Schools' teachers. "The teachers we filmed are shockingly committed," added Rodriguez-Vars. "We had a good mix of teachers, not all teaching high-level courses. You can see how much they are genuinely interested in the students and their success."

But at the heart of the film are the students. "When you 'meet' these kids and get to know them, you see how committed they are," said Rodriguez-Vars. "And they're not necessarily the students you expect. Hopefully, it will inspire the community and remind people why these programs are so important and why it is critical to support the schools now more than ever."

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