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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.

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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