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The Trip That Almost Wasn't - Stokes Goes Off Without A Hitch Despite Months of Roadblocks

Trip would not have happened without the cooperation of the Central Regional school district, foundation president says


Gerry Morey swore several months ago that the Stokes State Forest trip would happen this year even if it ended up being "five kids in a mini-van."

He got more than that. This year 169 students made the trip, a 43-year-old tradition for the Berkeley Township school district.

But the almost didn't happen this year for a number of reasons, including the recalcitrance of , who seemed to stonewall efforts to raise money for the trip.

And as the day of the June 14 trip loomed, some Berkeley teachers and staff members who had volunteered to go began dropping out.

That meant a last minute scramble for chaperones.

- who took over as president of the non-profit Berkeley Township Environmental Education Program Foundation in February - came to the June 21 Central Regional Board of Education meeting to praise Central administrators and staff who stepped up at the last minute so the trip could go on.

"I want to thank Dr. P (Central Regional Superintendent Triantafillos Parlapanides) and the whole school board," Morey said. "Without you guys, we would not have had a trip. It was a team effort. I was grateful the kids got to go."

Melisa Whitworth, one of the two district coordinators for the trip, also praised Central Regional.

"Without the help of your administration and staff, there would have been no way students would have been able to attend," she told the board.

"You basically saved the program with the support you gave us," Morey said.

The list of 26 chaperones who made the trip read like a who's who of Berkeley Township - right down to 70-something Lillian Britton - a former Central Regional school bus driver and wife of Samuel Britton, Berkeley's first police chief.

Parlapanides went for the entire trip, as did Principal Douglas Corbett.  Berkeley Board of Education member Salvatore Ferlise bucked the district tide and stayed all three days at Stokes in Sussex County.

So did Berkeley Township police Capt. Christian Roth, Sgt. David Britton, Detective Will Cullen, and D.A.R.E. officer Scott Selby.

Two months after the foundation reorganized in February, the group had raised $7,000 for the trip. Fundraisers kicked off in April, when group members finally got the okay from the administration to advertise and hold the events.

They held car washes. They got businesses to donate a portion of their proceeds for the trip. They applied for grants from area businesses. Parents paid $150 for each child that went on the trip. The foundation set up an "Adopt-A-Kid" program and some in town paid for children to go. The senior communities stepped up and donated money.

And after all the hard work, one question remains. Why did some in the Berkeley school district seem hell-bent on doing as little as possible to support the trip?

"That's the question of the ages," Morey said after the meeting.

The Berkeley school board didn't approve the Stokes Trip until March. They passed two resolutions, one setting aside $5,000 to pay for the trip's two coordinators and another authorizing the Foundation to raise money for the trip.

Morey also brought up a June 7 e-mail apparently sent by Central Regional Education Association president Susan Hopson to Parlapanides and some members of the union.

She questioned the wisdom allowing Central Regional teachers to participate in the trip. Board attorney Thomas Gannon said the e-mail should not be read at a public meeting.

"I'd like to hear it," Central board member Michael Graichen said. "I'd like to hear the whole thing."

Morey showed the e-mail to Patch after the meeting.

"I cannot support the decision to have our union members volunteer as chaperones to Stokes," Hopson said in the e-mail.

She said two nurses, a "bus filled with medical supplies" and medical records of students were needed.

The Stokes trip has an "extensive curriculum," too much in the short time left to plan before the trip, Hopson said.

She also said there was too little "down time" planned for the trip, liability issues and student safety concerns.

"If the Berkeley school administrators and teachers are saying that the trip has too many issues and too many things that usually go wrong, who are we to argue with them?" the e-mail states. "There are no good reasons to put our staff and their licenses at risk. If the Berkeley Township Education Association is not supporting it, then neither can we at the Central Regional Education Association."

In the end, it rained a lot during the trip. But you wouldn't know it from the beaming faces of the kids in the pictures.

Natty Bumppo June 23, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I have to seriously ask what the heck is going on here? The trip was under scrutiny for it's past poor perfomances and now there seems to be a cover up of incidents which may or may not have gone on. Then I look and see a "pile on" of comments from people directly connected with the school system as well as the trip trying to promote it as a good thing. One person brings something to everyones attention then then they are chastized for speaking out? What is going on here? Is this a public relations page for the trip? Let's be honest and stop the nonsense people, we can see what you are tryng to do here and it's being exposed.
Betsy Huhn June 23, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Steve... Not trying to be funny at all. But as someone who went on the trip and loved it... This is all very sad!!!!!!
Steve Vision June 23, 2012 at 02:36 PM
This whole started because the reporter said the trip went off "without a hitch." I wonder if the reporter was at Ford's Theatre 150 years ago, would they write a review of the play and fail to mentioning the shooting of President Lincoln? If the trip was such a success and then were a few minor incidents, let the public decide that. The very definition of a reporter is to report and not editorialize. My post was responded to 6 minutes after I wrote it. The reporter chose not to include the facts. That is all!
Josephine Manfre June 23, 2012 at 02:50 PM
Well folks as usual, a COWARD hiding behind a screen name comes forth to bash the program. "Steve Vision" you must be one of the 4 people that were so vehemently against this program and it must burn you up that it went through in spite of you. What I do know is that none of you come out in the daylight to spew your venom or are man enough to face the foundation or the community with your questions or concerns, but you hide behind screen names and undermine all the good that has been done. Your Sandusky remark just goes to show how sick and twisted you are and the lengths you will go to to tarnish an incredible learning experience. Oh yes, of course you would say the reporter omitted facts, do you have any idea how long this article would have been had she put all the facts about everything the kids did up there that was good and educational. Should she have listed 178 childrens names and the # of times they smiled or said "that's cool"? Get a grip! Also, they call it an "Emergency Room" because "I have a concern over this minor injury/situation, but my doctor's office isn't open right now, or I am too far from home", WON'T fit on the sign. And face it, if they hadn't taken him to the medical facility you would have been screaming that they were negligent. All the chaperones chose to "err on the side of caution", who better than to take your child to an ER than a marine, EMT, former Bayville First Aid Squad member, and Berkeley Township Police Officer all rolled into one?
Steve Vision June 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Idiom Definitions for 'Without a hitch' If something happens without a hitch, nothing at all goes wrong.
Josephine Manfre June 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
You are misinformed. The program was never under scrutiny for poor performance. Outsiders who came to town to collect their paychecks and had no working knowledge of the program chose to try and give it the axe. The integrity of the program was never questioned, just the cost. Yeah big cover-up, are you for real? Ironic that you chose that screen name. Mr. Cooper is rolling over in his grave right now. You don't appear to be in favor of this Environmental Program, I bet the real character Natty Bumppo not only would have chaperoned but he would have sponsored a child.
Steve Vision June 23, 2012 at 03:05 PM
You might want to switch to Decaf.
Josephine Manfre June 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
President of the United States the greatest country in the world gets assassinated! Student on trip gets a scratch! Hmm, I can see the reporters conflict. What a great analogy. (sarcasm) Pat Miller, I just broke a nail typing this, where's my by line?
Natty Bumppo June 23, 2012 at 03:31 PM
We live in the Pine Barrens, right in our own back yard, a wonder of nature and still many areas are untouched by civiliation. We are proud of our township and surrounding areas, yet we send the kids off to another part of the state, spending thousands of dollars (in the past taxpayers' dollars) and speak about the progress made by such a program. Why couldn't this prgram, in some sort of manner, be done in our own backyard to teach the students the natural wonders in their own backyard? In politics they call that a junket.
Natty Bumppo June 23, 2012 at 04:43 PM
I am betting you or your family members are associated with the BOE and/or on the BOE payroll by your silly one sided comments. How does Stokes related to anything in the current curriculum? I defy you to answer that. I just wish we saw the same passion and energy when two Spanish teachers were let go and then our children were handed the Rosetta Stone computer program to learn the same course. Where are your priorites? Where were you then?
Anthony DiFino June 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
It seems like all the comments that are positive are from people employed by the school. A google search proves that. Why are they so angry? Someone pointed out that a child was hurt on the trip. If nothing bad happened, then what is the big deal discussing this? If you care about the children let all the information be out there. No reason to hide anything.
Anthony DiFino June 23, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Josephine, It's spelled "byline" not "by line." I hope you aren't teaching children.
Peggy Crawford June 24, 2012 at 04:09 AM
I honestly believe that if all interested parties would sit down and discuss this program, as well as many others, our children would surely benefit. Many programs, including foreign language and computer technology have been negatively impacted by the current economic climate. So, we should allow environmental ed. to join these ranks? It's very easy to hide behind a screen name, to type comments without eye contact. Step out in public and voice your opinion - but please check your facts first. Education is becoming a business. The only problem is - our "products" can not be returned or discarded. It's up to us to give them every tool, skill, and advantage. We're fighting for our students, they deserve it. In answer to some comments - transparency is a wonderful thing. "12 year old rushed to the hospital" Rushed?? "babysit" - have you seen the program? Why has no one asked how many similar injuries happen every day at school, at home, at the park, on the ballfield, etc.? Girls caught at 3am w/out chaperones? Where?? What garbage? "e" as in emergency room - did you ask what preceded that visit? did you ask iwhat happened, what treatment? Sandusky jokes - are you serious? I HAVE seen the joy on those faces - catching a first fish, reading animal signs, seeing live animals, up close and personal, working as a team to complete a challenge, canoe across the lake, spy a deer grazing for food, I can go on forever.
Peggy Crawford June 24, 2012 at 04:12 AM
I have had the pleasure of many a conversation with alumni who recall Stokes with fond memories. Some quite far in the distant past, others most recentwho want to go again. Ask questions, by all means. Get the facts. And support the students, they are the future...
Natty Bumppo June 24, 2012 at 04:44 AM
I remember when teachers taught, not replaced for a cheaper computer program to teach languages. Stokes is a junket, not even close to what it used to be and sadly a far cry. Those fond memories are gone.
Mike Daly June 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Gerry Morey and everyone who worked so hard to make this trip a reality for these kids are to be commended. Thank you. So many in this town are far too selfish, negative, look for any excuse not to do something, and rarely lift a finger do to anything for anyone else. Here's to an even better trip next year! Next, fix the Berkeley School Board situation?
Natty Bumppo June 24, 2012 at 01:22 PM
tnk, so are you saying that the mayor "authorized 4 police officers to go" at taxpayer expense, as in highly priced chaperones on the townships dime? Even if not so, were the officers compensated with days off or by some other means not seen on paper? I'm still baffled at how people don't get this is NOT the same program from years ago, especially when the curriculum no longer is taught as we also get rid of teachers for cheap computer programs telling everyone there is no money in the bdget only to fill political patronage jobs. Let's pretend that didn't happen and talk about what a fun time the kids had at a useless junket program which is no longer reenforced by academic courses. Where is the outrage? Close your eyes: Go to the Happy Place, Go to the Happy Place! Ahhhh.. that's better people. YOU ALL BETTER GET REAL.
Pat Nardone June 24, 2012 at 01:29 PM
It was my child in the ER. The hospital bill I received tells me otherwise.
Smitherin' June 25, 2012 at 03:11 AM
As a parent of a student who went on the trip this year, I am extremely grateful that they did get to go. As his older brother went 2 years ago, it was important for him to have the experience too. Yes there was some differences to the trip, although they did not seem to matter to my son. He had an awesome time, and wants to go back. I applaud the people from Central Regional that stepped up and went on the trip even if it was last minute. I am glad to say at least Central is still in it for the kids. I was extremely disappointed in the staff from Berkeley boycotting the trip. Yes we have lots to do in our own backyard, but for many of these kids it will be the only time they get to go camping or even to go away with out their parents. I thank Mrs. Whitford, Mr. Morey, Mrs. Crawford and the others who went above and beyond to make this trip happen. Although I was willing and did pay for my son to go, had the board approved the trip in Sept., I believe the foundation would have been able to raise enough funds for the trip and no one would have had to pay. I think the board and administrators have lost touch with the meaning of education.
Smitherin' June 25, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Do I think we should get rid of teachers for computers or Rosetta Stone programs, no, but I didn't think my child was learning a lot of Spanish when they only had the class 2 times a month. The next to go would be the music program, they now have the same teacher teaching music and the band so my son only had band practice about once every 3rd week. They had 6 practice then a concert. Can you imagine what the concert sounded like.
Anne Newman June 25, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Smitgerin' I don't understand where you are coming from by saying " but for many of these kids it will be the only time they get to go camping or even to go away with out their parents." It's not like these students are under privileged children. In fact two children in my son's class took time off this year to spend school days in Disney. I'd be willing to wager that most of these children are going home to a nice air conditioned home with cable tv. Let's not try and pretend they are inner city fresh air children who never saw a tree before. I didn't know that the music program was being cut back. Thank you for that information. The United States ranks 10th in the world's literacy rate. If someone who posted on here said it gives a child a chance to touch a snake for the first time. Go in the backyard or a petstore and do that. Use that money raised for better ways to help them learn and make it in the real world.
Elizabeth McLain June 25, 2012 at 05:34 PM
As a parent of a child who enjoyed a trip to Stokes in 5th grade and knowing the circumstances around this trip, I am disgusted by the attitudes of those who have anything negative to say about the teachers and administrators who made this trip a reality on their own time and their own dime. I am disgusted that there's money for other programs, usually sports, but not for a program that teaches our kids lessons about our state, our environment and the value of teamwork and determination. Thanks to those unselfish teachers and administrators who made this possible for the kids of Berkeley and shame on those who spew their politically charged and negative attitudes. Way to go to those who made Stokes 2012 happen - thanks for giving these lucky kids a memory that will last a lifetime and the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate our beautiful state.
Natty Bumppo June 25, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Anne, you are so right. I wonder where some peoples' priorities are for the children/students or what exactly are their agendas. Reading their comments, it makes you wonder how involved some parents are in their child's life as they would rather see class trips over curriculum. The Stokes Junket provides no value, as it is not backed up with any classroom work but does provide, at best, a free night for the parents not to watch their children, Stokes Junket has become a babysitting service which provides no real eduction, or follow up teaching, for these students.
Peggy Crawford June 25, 2012 at 07:50 PM
The Berkeley Township School District's mission is to encourage students to become life-long learners by developing intellectual curiousity and a desire for discovery and knowledge.Experiential education is a process through which a learner constructs knowledge, skill, and value from direct experiences. I can't see where this program does not fit. After all is said and done, what is the issue? If it is a concern about what the science curriculum contains, encourage the district to enhance it, If the concern is tax dollars, that has already been addressed. We are not going to resolve the issue going back and forth online. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If you are that adverse to the program, don't send your children or grandchildren. But don't limit the experiences that we can provide our students. All children learn differently and if we can offer the possibility of "differential" learning, what's the problem?
karma June 26, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Not for nothing but i was one of those parents that PAYED for my son to go. He got in trouble at school on the wednesday before the trip. Just joking around and was repremanded at home and at school. Mrs Whitworth called to tell me that she would not bring my son who had no serious problems at school and was not a trouble maker he could not go on the trip because she did not want to be responsiable for him!! If you cant take responsibility for a child who has no serious problems in school how are you going to care for 169 other kids who you know nothing about?? I am still waiting for my money back from this wonderful township!! She had no right to single my son out.. when if fact other kids did get in trouble on the trip. I want it so that if any child gets in trouble though out the school year they should not be alowed to go on the trip at all... It should of been left up to the principal who said he could go then wanted nothing to do with an argument. Now I know why he wanted nothing to do the decision because he was running for super... hahaha what a joke. I am not that really involved but i will be from here on out!!
Allison Burke Maloney RN June 28, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Hey Steve, Were you there ? Get your facts straight before you pass on your negativity about the trip. I was there, a volunteer and chaperone and the field nurse.I don't even have any children in BTES either, my children are in HM Potter. I was asked because there was a dire need for chaperones and to assist the camp nurse that already works there. Free of my time ,free of my professional services.
Allison Burke Maloney RN June 28, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Steve, here is the rest of my addendum, because my initial comment was too long! The child went to the emergency room because he was injured jumping off the rocks and not staying on the paths I examined him.The location and depth of the injury needed stitches or staple closure. One of our volunteer policemen ( my apologies I can't remember the name) took the child to the emergency room. Your comment about the student with the ankle injury , again where you there ? Did you volunteer ? NO YOU DID NOT ! I also took care of this student, along with another officer. The student herself stated she had injured this ankle numerous times. The student had an ace wrap and ice treatment. Each parent was given a list of what to pack, correct foot wear and clothing was on them. We chaperones can not enforce what parents neglected to do by not reading the appropriate directions & literature given to them. BTW Steve, the child who needed stitch closure refused that care in the ER and had a "Butter Fly " closure of adhesive approximating strips.(That same child had to be told and by me 3 times the next day to stop standing and jumping off the boulders.) So stop spreading your negativity, the children experienced nature and life building skills thru an educational environment w/o the use of brain sucking electronic devices to entertain them. P.S the garbage pails were inside the cabins & no food was allowed in the cabins. We chaperones all checked. your "Mole " of information was incorrect.
Allison Burke Maloney RN June 28, 2012 at 02:00 PM
After reading your relentless comments of negativity, give it a break ! Oxygen is needed so the rest of us can breathe air !
Allison Burke Maloney RN June 28, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Yes Pat it was your child. I examined your child. Upon my arrival driving up the road to the to Stokes, I was summoned while still in my car... Mrs Maloney, Mrs. Maloney ,we have an injured student for you to check out. Regardless of the bill, which is covered under the school insurance as the primary & your own insurance covers expenses secondarily . If you have any questions about your son's injury feel free to contact me personally.What would your comment or reaction of been if nothing was done ? BTW the very next day I had to tell your son not once; but 3 times to stop standing, playing and jumping off the boulders.
Jim Colvin March 05, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Dear readers, I was a member of the 6th grade Class of 1970, Bayville Elementary School, on Route 9. . I remember my parents saving the money for me to go on the trip to Stoke's State Forest. The chaperone that I remember most was my teacher that year, Mr. George Meyes ( do not know correct spelling, pronouced: Mize). It was the a great trip, especially as Mr. Meyes loved nature and had a vast knowledge on the topic. Most memorable for me were the hikes in the mountains, the waterfalls and streams were bubbling with the melt-off of that winter's snows. I still have all of the pictures from the trip, and enjoy and cherish those memories.For me, as well as others of that age groug, it was the 1st time to venture far from home without being "under the eye of family supervision", a stepping-stone to adulthood. It was a very safe and well supervised event. The Park also had guides and or chaperones assigned to each school's participants, no strangers were allowed near the student's cabins or recreation areas. I do not remember anyone getting hurt, and I especially do not remember a bus filled with medical supplies staffed with any nurses. If someone had gotten hurt there, it would have been due to not listening to Mr. Meyes, he STRESSED SAFETY. But then we did not have ADT and all of that non-sense back then. Do not let this tradition fall to the wayside of "progress", due to the population explosion experienced by the town of Bayville. Signed, Jim Colvin, CRHS Class of '76


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