James Caldwell High School

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James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School is located in Essex County, New Jersey
James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School is located in New Jersey
James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School is located in the US
James Caldwell High School
James Caldwell High School
265 Westville Avenue
West Caldwell, NJ 07006

United States
Coordinates 40°50′25″N 74°17′50″W / 40.8402°N 74.297359°W / 40.8402; -74.297359Coordinates: 40°50′25″N 74°17′50″W / 40.8402°N 74.297359°W / 40.8402; -74.297359
Type Public high school
Motto "A Place of Possibilities"
School district Caldwell-West Caldwell Public Schools
Principal Jim Devlin
Vice principals John Bertollo
Jessica Valentine
Faculty 73.0 FTEs[1]
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 801 (as of 2015-16)[1]
Student to teacher ratio 11.0:1[1]
Color(s)      Blue and
Athletics conference Super Essex Conference
Team name Chiefs / Lady Chiefs[2]
Accreditation Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools[3]

James Caldwell High School is a four-year comprehensive public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades in West Caldwell, in Essex County, New Jersey, United States, operating as the lone secondary school of the Caldwell-West Caldwell Public Schools, which serves students from both Caldwell and West Caldwell.[4] The school is named after American Revolutionary War figure Reverend James Caldwell. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1928.[3]

As of the 2015-16 school year, the school had an enrollment of 801 students and 73.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.0:1. There were 31 students (3.9% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 9 (1.1% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.[1]

Awards and recognition[edit]

The school was the 52nd-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology.[5] The school had been ranked 46th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 45th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.[6] The magazine ranked the school 57th in 2008 out of 316 schools.[7] The school was ranked 43rd in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which included 316 schools across the state.[8] Schooldigger.com ranked the school tied for 124th out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (an increase of 26 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (86.6%) and language arts literacy (93.7%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).[9]


James Caldwell High School's teams, nicknamed the Chiefs and Lady Chiefs respectively,[2] compete in the Super Essex Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA).[10] With 604 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2015-16 school year as North II, Group II for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 508 to 770 students in that grade range.[11] James Caldwell had been part of the Northern Hills Conference prior to the 2010 realignment.[12] The school has had past successes in its football and baseball programs, but is a perennial contender in girls' volleyball and softball.

The school participates in a joint ice hockey program with West Essex High School as the host school / lead agency, under an agreement that expires at the end of the 2018-19 school year.[13]


The football team has won state sectional championships in North II Group III in 1981, and in North II Group II in 1991, 1997, 1998 and 2008.[14]

In 2008, the Caldwell Chiefs football team won the North II, Group II state sectional title with a 22-7 win over Governor Livingston at Giants Stadium, to earn the program's first state sectional title since 1998 and fifth overall.[15]

On October 11, 2006, James (Jamie) Bliss, a 16-year-old football player, died suddenly during a football practice.[16]


The girls' softball team has won the Group II state championships in 1983, 1992 and 2005.[17]

The softball team won the 2003 North II, Group II state sectional title with a 2-1 win against Pequannock Township High School.[18] The softball team repeated as sectional champs in 2004, shutting out Hoboken High School by a score of 10-0.[19] The team was a sectional winner for the third consecutive time in 2005 with a 2-0 win against Governor Livingston High School in the tournament final.[20] The team went on to win the 2005 Group II state championship with a 3-2 win against Audubon High School that came on a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.[21] The team won the 2007 North II, Group II state sectional championship with a 2-1 over West Essex High School.[22] The 2009 title came in a 4-3 win against Parsippany High School.[23][24] The softball team has won 11 sectional titles, including six between 2003 and 2011, winning the 2011 North II, Group II sectional with an 11-7 win against Rutherford High School.[25]


The James Caldwell girls' volleyball team has won six state titles under Jeff and Scott Stiefbold, winning Group II titles in 2000, 2002 and 2003 all against Union Catholic High School, in 2004 against Pascack Valley High School and in 2009 against Tenafly High School, and took the 2008 Group I championship with a win against Bogota High School. The team was the runner-up in the Tournament of Champions in 2003, with a loss to Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest, and again in 2008, after a loss in the finals to Immaculate Heart Academy.[26]

In 2008, the Lady Chiefs volleyball won the Group I state championship over defending champion Bogota High School, a County championship and a Conference championship, finishing the season with a record of 32-1 and ranked second in the state.[27]

Boys' tennis[edit]

The senior class of 2012, which featured a trio of four-year starters in Dylan Silver, Neil Shulman and Michael Melchione, became the most successful senior class in the history of Essex County tennis, posting an overall team record of 52-22 over the four-year span in which they played, including back-to-back berths in the state championship match (losing twice to Bernards). Individually, Neil Shulman finished with a personal record of 52-14, the most wins by a singles player in Essex County history. Michael Melchione was right behind him with a career record of 49-17 (singles and doubles) and Dylan Silver finished with a 43-21 record.[citation needed]

Boys' soccer[edit]

The boys' soccer team is led by head coach Alan Branigan and assistant John Inguagiato. In 2013, The boys' team experienced their most successful season, advancing to the North II Group II state sectional semi-finals before falling to eventual champion Harrison High School (New Jersey) 1-0. The team finished with a record of 13-5-4.

Girls' soccer[edit]

The girls' soccer team won the North II Group II sectional title in 2008 with a 2-1 win over Bernards High School on the strength of a 6-5 margin in penalty kicks.[28][29]


The wrestling program has won the North II Group II state sectional team championship five times, including 1983, 1985, 1986, 1990 and 2011.[30] Blake Maffai was the 1991 state champion at 112 lbs, and in 2004, Steve Martell won the state title at 152 lbs.[31]

Nickname controversy[edit]

James Caldwell's mascot, the Chief, places the school among those involved in the Native American mascot controversy, concurrent with a national trend of removing Native American nicknames from college sports teams. Support has been mounting in both Caldwell and West Caldwell in recent years to change a number of customs associated with the school's team nicknames, such as the war chant and the tomahawk chop, or to get rid of the Chief's nickname altogether.[32]

Extracurricular activities[edit]

In September 2005, six student editors and reporters of the high school's newspaper, The Caldron, reached a settlement with the Caldwell-West Caldwell School District, through the ACLU, forbidding most censorship by the high school principal and allowing an article about sexual mores to be published.[33]

In popular culture[edit]

Most scenes of Welcome to the Dollhouse were filmed at James Caldwell High School, including the cafeteria, hallways, classrooms, the bathroom, and the principal's office.[34]


Core members of the school's administration are:[35]

  • James Devlin, Principal
  • John Bertollo, Vice Principal
  • Jessica Valentine, Vice Principal of Students and Academic Affairs

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d School data for James Caldwell High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed February 12, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c James Caldwell High School, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed October 19, 2015.
  3. ^ a b James Caldwell High School, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Accessed February 8, 2018.
  4. ^ James Caldwell High School 2015 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed May 27, 2016. "James Caldwell High School is fortunate to be located in a community with heart-felt traditions. As such, it is our responsibility to prepare our students for this unfolding century, while we stand on the foundations of the traditional values that continue to be embraced by the communities of Caldwell and West Caldwell."
  5. ^ Staff. "Top Schools Alphabetical List 2014", New Jersey Monthly, September 2, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Staff. "The Top New Jersey High Schools: Alphabetical", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2012. Accessed November 30, 2012.
  7. ^ Staff. "2010 Top High Schools", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2010. Accessed March 5, 2011.
  8. ^ "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008: By Rank", New Jersey Monthly, September 2008, posted August 7, 2008. Accessed August 19, 2008.
  9. ^ New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010-2011, Schooldigger.com. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  10. ^ League Memberships – 2016-2017, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 10, 2017.
  11. ^ General Public School Classifications 2015-2016, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of December 15, 2015. Accessed December 12, 2016.
  12. ^ Home Page, Northern Hills Conference, backed up by the Internet Archive, as of August 31, 2009. Accessed November 19, 2014.
  13. ^ NJSIAA 2017 - 2019 Co-Operative Sports Programs, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed February 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Goldberg, Jeff. NJSIAA Football Playoff Champions, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 19, 2015.
  15. ^ Staff. "Caldwell 22, Gov. Livingston 7 (High school Football scores & results)", The Star-Ledger, December 6, 2008. Accessed August 23, 2011. "Caldwell's performance in the NJSIAA/Gatorade North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 championship game mirrored its season: a slow start followed by one heck of a finish. Caldwell spotted Gov. Livingston an early touchdown, then reeled off three unanswered scores of its own to forge a 22-7 victory last night at Giants Stadium and claim its fifth title and first since 1998."
  16. ^ Caldwell High football player dies on field, The Star-Ledger, October 11, 2006.
  17. ^ History of the NJSIAA Softball Championships, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 28, 2015. Accessed October 19, 2015.
  18. ^ 2003 Softball Tournament - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 23, 2011.
  19. ^ 2004 Softball - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 23, 2011.
  20. ^ 2005 Softball - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 23, 2011.
  21. ^ via Associated Press. "High School Softball Roundup", The Press of Atlantic City, June 12, 2005. Accessed August 23, 2011. "Gina Capardi's one-out solo home run in the bottom of the seventh gave Caldwell a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Audubon in the NJSIAA Group 2 championship."
  22. ^ 2007 Softball - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed June 8, 2007.
  23. ^ 2009 Softball Tournament - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed August 23, 2011.
  24. ^ Staff. "Caldwell 4, Parsippany 3 (High school Softball scores and results)", The Star-Ledger, May 28, 2009. Accessed August 23, 2011. "Paige Johnson hit a two-out double to the gap in right-center field to score Gina Graziosa with the go-ahead run in the fifth inning when Caldwell defeated Parsippany, 4-3, for the championship of the NJSIAA/Blue Ribbon Awards North Jersey, Section 2, Group 2 Tournament yesterday in Caldwell. Caldwell (20-7) won its 10th sectional title, fifth since 2003 and its second in the past three years."
  25. ^ Allen, Bill Jr. "Section title suits Caldwell High Softball Lady Chiefs", NewJerseyHills.com, June 10, 2011. Accessed August 23, 2011. "When it comes to softball in North Jersey Section 2, Group 2, clearly, there is no place like the Caldwells. For the eighth time in nine years, the state section title has been won by a team from the Caldwells. Eighth-seeded James Caldwell High upended Rutherford, the third seed, 11-7, in sectional final Thursday, June 2, in Bergen County. The victory gave the Lady Chiefs their sixth state section championship in the past nine years. The Chiefs also won the title in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2009."
  26. ^ NJSIAA GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL GROUP CHAMPIONS, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed October 19, 2015.
  27. ^ Barton, Rich. "Caldwell's perfect season continues at Bogota's expense", NorthJerseySports.com, November 16, 2008. Accessed May 6, 2012. "Caldwell celebrated its 32nd straight win of the season, a three-set victory over defending champion Bogota in the Group 1 state final."
  28. ^ 2008 Girls' Soccer - North II, Group II, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed March 4, 2012.
  29. ^ Dunleavy, Ryan. "Girls' Soccer: Bernards falls to Caldwell on penalty kicks", Home News Tribune, November 14, 2008. Accessed March 4, 2012. "...the well-struck ball sailed just underneath the crossbar to lift second-seeded Caldwell to the NJSIAA North 2 Group II title with a 2-1 victory on the strength of a 6-5 edge in penalty kicks."
  30. ^ History of the NJSIAA Team Championships, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed December 4, 2015.
  31. ^ New Jersey Wrestling State Champions, Shore Conference. Accessed August 23, 2011.
  32. ^ Moore, Elizabeth. "Caldwell `chief' symbol under attack: School board hears complaints, support for mascot, chants", The Star-Ledger, February 15, 2006. Accessed August 6, 2007. "Members of the New Jersey State Commission on American Indian Affairs came to the Caldwell/West Caldwell School Board Monday night to object to the district's continued use of Native American mascots, chants and cheers in its athletic programs... The school board banned the use of one cheer, but allowed the chop and the Florida State Seminoles theme song to continue, after a public meeting last fall where several parents objected to banning the practices, saying they were part of the school's tradition. The suggested new nickname is the Caldwell Chefs."
  33. ^ Censorship of sex article overturned after students fight decision, Student Press Law Center, September 21, 2005.
  34. ^ Levy, Emanuel. "review: 'Welcome to the Dollhouse'", Variety (magazine), September 18, 1995. Accessed October 26, 2013.
  35. ^ Administrative Team, James Caldwell High School. Accessed March 11, 2018.
  36. ^ Staff. "James Caldwell alumni hold multi-class reunion", Lifestyles. Accessed October 25, 2015. "Some of those in attendance were Caldwell Police Lt. Marc Driggs, Class of '86; Tommy Page, Class of '85 who is a pop state in the Music Industry with a former No. 1 hit, 'I'll be your everything,' as well as acting credits on shows including Full House;

External links[edit]