Piscataway Township High School
|Piscataway Township High School|
School as seen from Route 18
|100 Behmer Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854
|Type||Public high school|
|School district||Piscataway Township Schools|
|Asst. principals||Jonathan Bizzell
Joi R. Fisher
|Enrollment||2,173 (as of 2015-16)|
|Student to teacher ratio||13.5:1|
|Athletics conference||Greater Middlesex Conference|
|Accreditation||Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools|
|Website||Piscataway High School|
Piscataway Township High School is a four-year comprehensive community public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades from Piscataway Township in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States, operating as the lone secondary school of the Piscataway Township Schools. The school is accredited by the New Jersey Department of Education and has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Secondary Schools since 1963. Piscataway Township High School is known for its football program; three former players were drafted in the first round of the National Football League draft in two years, the first time in history that such an event has occurred.
As of the 2015-16 school year, the school had an enrollment of 2,173 students and 161.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.5:1. There were 546 students (25.1% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 195 (9.0% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
Awards, recognition and honors
The school has received the following notable awards and recognitions.
- Governor's School of Excellence, November 21, 2003
- Best Practice Award, 2002-03 for Comfort Zone
- Best Practice Award, 2004-05 for Life Skills and Beyond
- Golden Achievement Award, 2004
- Best Practice Award, 2005-06 for Senior Citizens Outreach Program & Exchange (SCOPE)
- Coalition of Essential Schools, 2005. First school in the state to be granted full membership.
- National AVID School Certified School, 2006
- Amistad Fellow, 2006
Piscataway High School received an "A" and was ranked "above average to excellent" in a recent issue of Inside Jersey Magazine, a publication of the Star Ledger. The article, entitled "New Jersey's Top Performing Public High Schools," rated schools throughout the state based on academic achievement and test score growth over a four-year period. Piscataway High School was one of only nine schools out of twenty-seven in Middlesex County to be given an "A" rating. The school was the 144th-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. The school had been ranked 217th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 140th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The magazine ranked the school 146th in 2008 out of 316 schools. The school was ranked 177th in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which surveyed 316 schools across the state. Schooldigger.com ranked the school tied for 151st out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (a decrease of 15 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (84.0%) and language arts literacy (93.0%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are offered in AP English Language and Composition, AP French Language, AP Statistics, AP Spanish Language, AP Calculus, AP Computer Science, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP United States History, AP World History, AP Psychology and AP Studio Art.
Its radio station is WVPH, also known as 90.3, "The Pulse of Piscataway", with students broadcasting for an hour in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, while students from Rutgers University broadcast on the station during the other hours.
Notable legal cases
Two notable legal cases have originated at Piscataway High School.
New Jersey v. T. L. O.
In 1984, the school was involved in a case that made it to the Supreme Court of the United States.
A 14-year-old freshman, known only by the initials T. L. O., was caught by a teacher smoking in a bathroom with another girl at the high school. The teacher took both students to the Principal's Office where they met with Assistant Vice Principal Theodore Choplick. In a search of T. L. O.'s purse, Choplick observed a pack of cigarettes, and while removing the cigarettes he noticed a package of rolling papers, often closely tied to the use of marijuana. Choplick then began a more thorough search for the evidence of drugs, which revealed a small amount of marijuana, a pipe, empty plastic bags, a large quantity of money in $1 bills, an index card that appeared to list students who owed T. L. O. money, and two letters that implicated T. L. O. in being a drug dealer.
Choplick then notified T. L. O.'s mother and the police, to whom he turned over the evidence of drug dealing. The police requested the mother to take her daughter to police headquarters, where T. L. O. confessed to selling marijuana at the high school. Using the confession and the evidence obtained by Choplick's search, the State brought delinquency charges against T. L. O. in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of Middlesex County.
T. L. O. claimed the assistant principal's search violated the Fourth Amendment. She moved to suppress the evidence found in her purse as well as her confession, arguing, the evidence was "fruit of the poisonous tree." The Juvenile Court denied the motion to suppress. Although the court concluded that the Fourth Amendment did apply to searches carried out by school officials, it held:
- "a school official may properly conduct a search of a student's person if the official has a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is in the process of being committed, or reasonable cause to believe that the search is necessary to maintain school discipline or enforce school policies." Id., at 341, 428 A. 2d, at 1333 (emphasis in original).
The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the search and seizure by school officials without a warrant was constitutional, as long as the search is deemed reasonable. This overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling.
Piscataway Board of Education v. Sharon Taxman
Piscataway Board of Education v. Taxman, 91 F.3d 1547 (3d Cir. 1996) was a racial discrimination case begun in 1989. The school board of Piscataway, New Jersey needed to eliminate a teaching position from the high school Business Education department. Under New Jersey state law, tenured teachers have to be laid off in reverse order of seniority. The newest tenured teachers, Sharon Taxman and Debra Williams, white and African-American respectively, had started working at the school on the same day. In the interest of maintaining racial diversity (Williams was the only black teacher in the department, and 50% of the students were minorities), the school board voted to lay off Taxman, even though she had a master's degree and Williams only had a bachelor's degree. Taxman complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying that the board had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Taxman. The school board appealed to the United States Supreme Court and a hearing was scheduled for January 1998, but an agreement was reached to pay Taxman a $435,000 settlement before the case could be heard by the court, with a majority of the money coming from civil rights organizations that feared that the Supreme Court could use the case as a justification to eliminate the practice of affirmative action.
Taxman was subsequently rehired. Both teachers returned to teaching in Piscataway. Williams went back to the high school, while Taxman was reassigned to Conackamack Middle School.
The Piscataway High School teams are known as the Chiefs and wear the school colors of black and gold. The school is primarily known for football, basketball, and volleyball. The Chiefs compete in the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC), which is made up of private and public high schools located in the greater Middlesex County area and operates under the supervision of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). With 1,598 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2015-16 school year as North II, Group IV for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 1,114 to 4,800 students in that grade range.
The football team has won the Central Jersey Group IV titles in 1974, 1981 and 2002, and won the North II Group IV state sectional championships in 2003, 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011. Piscataway football won the 2010 North II Group IV state sectional title 34-6 over Hunterdon Central. This continues a hot rivalry between the two schools. Two years ago they defeated the same Hunterdon Central squad for the 2008 North II Group IV state sectional title 38-0 after losing to them in 2007. The Chiefs finished the season undefeated at 12-0 marking the third time the team has gone undefeated in school history. In 2011, Piscataway beat Elizabeth High School 41-34 with :17 seconds left to earn the North II Group IV title for the Chiefs. 2011 marked the 15th year in a row Piscataway had made the playoffs. In 2016, the team won the Central Jersey Group V title with a 34-13 win against Manalapan High School in the tournament final.
Piscataway's football prowess both against other high school teams and in putting players into the NFL has led to the school's colloquial title, "NFL High School." During the 2004-05 academic year, seven future NFL players played for Piscataway at the same time. In a two-year span, three Piscataway players were drafted in the first round of the NFL draft- the first high school in history with such a record.
The boys' basketball team won the Group IV state title in 1994, defeating Teaneck High School in the finals of the tournament. The girls' basketball team won the 1997 Group IV state championship with a win against Elizabeth High School in the tournament final.
The girls' track team won the Group IV indoor relay championship in 2006.
Piscataway High School has produced many notable athletes in various sports including:
- Mike Alexander (born 1965), former wide receiver, Los Angeles Raiders, Buffalo Bills.
- Marvin Booker (born 1990), player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Anthony Davis (born 1989), offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers.
- Dwayne Gratz (born 1989), cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars of the National Football League.
- J. D. Griggs (born 1990), defensive end for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
- Malcolm Jenkins (born 1987), current free safety for the Philadelphia Eagles and a Super Bowl XLIV champion.
- Tajae Sharpe (born 1994), wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans.
- Kyle Wilson (born 1987), cornerback who has played for the New York Jets.
- Mark Ciardi (born 1961), class of 1979, film producer and former Major League Baseball pitcher.
- Corey Smith, a member of the San Diego Padres baseball program of Major League Baseball; he was Cleveland Indians first round draft pick in 2000.
- Eric Young Jr. (born 1985), infielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball.
- Justin Bailey (born 1977), former professional basketball player who played collegiately for Hartford before playing overseas for 13 years as a professional in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Russia.
- John Celestand (born 1977), basketball player who played collegiately for Villanova, second-round selection of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999 NBA Draft.
- Asjha Jones (born 1980), WNBA basketball player for the Connecticut Sun.
The Superchief Marching Band
PHS is home to the Piscataway Superchiefs, a marching band with a very rich history. The band has achieved much through its years, including numerous USSBA Championships. The band began as a small group in the 1950s and existed with little or no fanfare. Starting in 1971 led by Band Directors R. Bruce Bradshaw and Joseph T. Mundi it quickly grew from 44 members to 204 members and consistently represents nearly 10% of the entire school's student body, year after year. The Superchiefs have recorded music for CBS, The Walt Disney Company, and were in the 2002 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Famed percussion instructor Dennis DeLucia previously wrote and arranged the percussion music for the drumline, but has since parted ways with the band.
Over the years the Superchiefs have been featured in several TV shows, including American Oompah and The Superchiefs Go To Ireland for PBS, Mario And The Magic Movie Machine for CBS, and Today in New York for NBC. The band has performed at numerous halftimes for the New York Giants, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, and Buffalo Bills, as well as pre—game ceremonies for the New York Mets. The band has also worked for the Walt Disney Company at the Radio City Music Hall premier of Pete's Dragon and Mickey's 50th Birthday Whistlestop tour at Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.
In the 1980s, the band garnered international acclaim, touring Ireland in 1981 and 1985 and capturing first place in the Dublin and Limerick St. Patrick's Day Parades on each trip. The band continued its success on a national level as well, taking first place at the World of Music Festival in San Diego, California in 1983 and 1987, and at the Festivals of Music in Orlando, Florida in 1989. They also won consecutive New York City St. Patrick's Day Parades early in the decade, and they continued to be locally successful, placing first in numerous shows around the slate. They won the first-over Tropicana Bowl Mid-Atlantic Championship at Rutgers Stadium in 1983. and the first-ever CMBC (USSBA) competition at Giants Stadium in 1988, featuring top-level bands from the Tri-State Region.
During the 1990s the Superchiefs have focused on the CMBC (USSBA) circuit that features some of the finest bands in the Eastern United States. The band has won live consecutive Group V Open Championships, from 1990 through 1994. and again in 1996. In addition, the band has placed in five Bands of America Eastern Regional Finals Championships in 1996. 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2003 and won the Yamaha Corporation's Yamaha Cup Preview of Champions in 2001 & 2002. In 2002, the Superchiefs also look first place in the USSBA New Jersey state championships. This was the first-ever 'State Champions' title awarded to the band.
Another first in the history of the Superchiefs, the band was invited to perform in the 2002 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which aired on NBC on November 28, 2002. Since then, the band has continued its successes and its quest for excellence which has been upheld by "excellent" ratings at the New Jersey State Band Festivals, 3rd-place finish at the USSBA Championships in 2004, and special recognition award by the New Jersey State Board of Education. Additionally, the township was declared one of the "Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America 2005" by the American Music Conference. In 2007, the Superchiefs went to Orlando, Florida to participate in the Walt Disney World parade.
Today the Piscataway Superchief Marching Band is a USBands Group IV Open band co-directed by Ken Zampella and Superchief alumnus Dr. Christopher Sumner. Group V Open requires that the band have in excess of 100 members.
Core members of the school's administration are:
- Jason Lester, Principal
- Jonathan Bizzell, Assistant Principal - Grade 9
- Joi R. Fisher, Assistant Principal - Grades 10 & 11
- Dr. Matthew Ritchie, Assistant Principal - Grade 12
- School data for Piscataway Township High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed February 12, 2018.
- Piscataway High School, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 24, 2015.
- Piscataway Township High School, Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools. Accessed February 8, 2018.
- Jackson, Dallas. "Piscataway (N.J.) turning into NFL High", Rivals.com, April 22, 2010. Accessed August 10, 2014. "Piscataway football coach Dan Higgins knows he's had plenty of talent in his 20 years at the New Jersey school. His handful of state championships trophies, dozens of college recruits and a few alums in the NFL tell him that.But when he found out his program was just the fourth high school to have two former players selected in the first round of the same NFL Draft, even he was stunned.... It's enough to make Piscataway, a public school in Central Jersey with roughly 2,000 students, be known as NFL High."
- Awards, Piscataway Township High School. Accessed November 8, 2009.
- McGreevey Celebrates Schools that are "Getting it Right": Schools of Excellence Winners Demonstrate Effectiveness of Governor's Education Priorities Archived 2012-10-18 at the Wayback Machine., New Jersey Department of Education press release dated November 211, 2003. Accessed December 15, 2009.
- Indide Jersey: New Jersey's top performing High Schools, www.nj.com. Accessed July 13, 2015.
- Staff. "Top Schools Alphabetical List 2014", New Jersey Monthly, September 2, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
- Staff. "The Top New Jersey High Schools: Alphabetical", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2012.
- Staff. "2010 Top High Schools", New Jersey Monthly, August 16, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011.
- "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008: By Rank", New Jersey Monthly, September 2008, posted August 7, 2008. Accessed August 19, 2008.
- New Jersey High School Rankings: 11th Grade HSPA Language Arts Literacy & HSPA Math 2010-2011, Schooldigger.com. Accessed March 5, 2012.
- WVPH 90.3 FM, Piscataway Township Schools. Accessed December 31, 2011. "During the school year, student broadcasters are on the air Monday through Friday from 6:30am to 7:15am and 1pm to 4pm on WVPH 90.3FM."
- Piscataway Township Board of Education v. Taxman - Significance, Taxman Fights Dismissal On Racial Grounds, Court Of Appeals Ruling, Dissent And Aftermath, JRank Law Library - American Law and Legal Information. Accessed December 31, 2011.
- Goodnough, Abby. "Financial Details Are Revealed In Affirmative Action Settlement", The New York Times, December 6, 1997. Accessed December 31, 2011. "The lawyer, David B. Rubin, said he had asked the coalition of civil rights groups, known as the Black Leadership Forum, to send its portion of the settlement -- $300,000 -- in advance as a guarantee.... The coalition, in a highly unusual move, offered last month to pay most of the $433,500 settlement to Sharon Taxman, a white teacher at Piscataway High School whom the board had dismissed in a 1989 budget reduction to preserve a black teacher's job.... Civil rights leaders offered to help finance the settlement because they feared the Supreme Court would use the case to strike down almost all affirmative action programs."
- League & Conference Affiliations 2016-2017, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 10, 2017.
- General Public School Classifications 2015-2016, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, as of December 15, 2015. Accessed December 12, 2016.
- Goldberg, Jeff. NJSIAA Football Playoff Champions, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 19, 2015.
- Behre, Bob. "Piscataway (41) at Elizabeth (34), NJSIAA Tournament, Final Round, North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 - Football", The Star-Ledger, December 3, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2011. "Successfully defending a sectional championship is never easy, but what Piscataway had to survive in the NJSIAA/Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 playoff field could only be described as a gauntlet.That may explain tailback Tevin Shaw's immediate reaction after he scored the game-winning touchdown with 17 seconds remaining to provide a 41-34 victory by Piscataway, No. 10 in The Star-Ledger Top 20, over No. 18 Elizabeth..."
- Perez, Braulio. "Piscataway avenges loss to Manalapan to capture the CJ5 title at Rutgers", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, December 3, 2016. Accessed December 9, 2016. "On Saturday morning, led by the strong running of Elijah Barnwell, No. 19 Piscataway took down No. 9 Manalapan 34-13 to capture the Central Jersey, Group 5 championship."
- NJSIAA Group Basketball Past Champions, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed November 24, 2015.
- History of the NJSIAA Indoor Relay Championships, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed January 18, 2017.
- 2008 Boys Basketball - North II, Group IV, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. Accessed March 12, 2008.
- Mike Alexander profile Archived 2007-04-11 at the Wayback Machine., accessed May 7, 2007.
- Anthony Davis, NFL.com. Accessed August 10, 2014.
- Dwayne Gratz, Jacksonville Jaguars. Accessed November 24, 2015.
- Staff. "Jaguars sign RB De'Leon Eskridge and DE J.D. Griggs", Jacksonville Jaguars, May 6, 2013. Accessed November 24, 2015. "Griggs, 6-5, 244, was a two-year letterman at Akron after transferring from Nassau (N.Y.) Community College.... He was a teammate of the Jaguars' 2013 third-round pick Dwayne Gratz at Piscataway High School in New Jersey, where the duo led the team to a 11-1 record and second in the state in their final season."
- Vrentas, Jenny. "For Piscataway grad and Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, the next step is the first round", The Star-Ledger, April 22, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2011. "Before Jenkins was the 2008 winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back, a four-year starter at powerhouse Ohio State, and a three-time state champion at Piscataway High, he was a kid who never saw a football future past the fifth grade."
- Tajae Sharpe, NFL.com. Accessed October 4, 2016.
- Gagne, Matt. "New York Jets select cornerback Kyle Wilson, Piscataway High School grad from Boise State", Daily News (New York), April 22, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2011. "At Piscataway High School, Wilson led the Chiefs to three consecutive state championships and was named the title-game MVP as a junior and senior."
- O'Donnell, Chuck. "Mark Ciardi: A life worthy of a Hollywood script", Courier News, July 22, 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. "Mark Ciardi pitching for Piscataway High School. After graduating in 1979, he went on to pitch at the University of Maryland.... Ciardi, who turns 55 in August, grew up on Mitchell Avenue in Piscataway."
- Frezza Jr., Harry. "Piscataway's Smith taken by Indians", Courier News, June 9, 2004. Accessed February 6, 2012. "Corey Smith, the former Piscataway High School standout infielder, now with the Cleveland Indians' Double-A team in Akron, Ohio, soon might have some family in the organization."
- Eric Young Stats, Bio, Photos, Highlights
- Wentworth, Bridget. "Piscataway native Eric Young Jr., following in father's footsteps with Colorado Rockies", The Star-Ledger, September 3, 2009. Accessed December 6, 2011. "After graduating from Piscataway High School in 2003, Young was drafted by the Rockies in the 30th round."
- Davis, Ken. "Signing Period Ends, Recruiting Continues", Hartford Courant, November 17, 1994. Accessed January 2, 2015. "Hartford landed its third recruit of the early signing period when 6-1 guard Justin Bailey of Piscataway, N.J., signed a letter of intent. Bailey, described as a versatile guard by his coach, Paul Schoeb, helped Piscataway High School to a 23-2 record and a Group Four championship last season."
- Gottlieb, Tom. "High school state champions bring RU neighborhood flavor" Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Targum, October 17, 2003. Accessed May 7, 2007. "It is fairly easy to consider Piscataway a sporting hotbed. After all, it's the only town in America known to be the hometown of players in three professional sports leagues - Eric Young of the MLB, James Lewis of the NFL, and John Celestand of the NBA."
- Asjha Jones profile Archived 2012-02-10 at WebCite, Women's National Basketball Association. Accessed September 6, 2007. "A Parade, USA Today and Street & Smith First Team All-American at Piscataway High School, averaging 22.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.5 blocks and 2.9 steals…Scored a school career-record 2,266 points and had 1,256 rebounds."
- Best 100 Communities for Music Education in America 2005, American Music Conference. Accessed September 22, 2007.
- Administration, Piscataway Township High School. Accessed March 14, 2018.
- Office of the President: Richard Levis McCormick, Rutgers University. Accessed December 6, 2011. "Piscataway Township High School, Piscataway, NJ, 1965"