For families with school age children, living in a community with an excellent school system is crucial. The community's expectation of an excellent education is accompanied by strong support for the school system and its high standards. The School District of the Chathams was established on June 1, 1988, incorporating the previously separate Chatham Borough and Chatham Township School Districts. The district ranks high in achievement by all standardized measures and in comparison with comparable districts across the nation. Creative and talented teachers at Chatham High School challenge students with a rich and demanding curriculum. Students armed with a strong work ethic and an excellent elementary education, as well as encouragement from home, excel at local requirements and standardized measurements that compare these students with their counterparts across the country. Not only do almost all the students graduate from high school, well over 90% continue their education, with a majority attending four-year colleges.

The district is comprised of three K-3 schools: Milton Avenue, Southern Boulevard, and Washington Avenue; a 4 - 5 grade school, Lafayette; Chatham Middle School for grades 6 - 8, and Chatham High School for grades 9 - 12. All schools strive to meet the social, academic and developmentally appropriate needs of students in the community. The curriculum is under ongoing review by the professionals in the district, and a Parent Curriculum Advisory Committee offers parents the opportunity to have input as well. In a continuing effort to make sure that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential, the district is engaged in training teachers in strategies associated with differentiated instruction.

The district believes that it has an obligation to students and the community to provide opportunities in academics, athletics, and the arts. The balanced curriculum in the district offers significant opportunities in each of these areas both in class and as part of the extra-curricular program. Students learn to appreciate the significance of their individual as well as the collective society's impact on the environment through the study of science, social studies and world languages. Character education is an integral part of the K-12 program in the School District of the Chathams. Students are taught age-appropriate values in the areas of responsibility and respect for self and others, as well as the importance of learning. In an effort to provide for the needs of students and families, there is an After School Enrichment Program in the elementary schools, as well as a Work/Family Connection Program that provides care for students when there is no adult at home. All Grade 4 and 5 students are housed at the Lafayette School, which opened its doors to serve this population in 1995.

graphicThis grade configuration has allowed the district to provide extra- curricular opportunities that are age-appropriate and an enrichment program that targets the unique needs of students in this age group. The school's motto, "When you enter these doors, you are loved first and taught second," is symbolic of the school's effort to teach the whole child and help students be well prepared for the Middle School. The district believes that since all students in grades four and five are housed in the same facility, we have minimized some of the transition problems that students encounter in middle school when they enter from a variety of elementary schools. Chatham Middle School has successfully balanced the necessity to deal with the academic needs of students in Grades 6, 7 and 8, while teaching social skills and enabling students to explore a variety of extracurricular activities that are personally positive and that expand students' horizons. Chatham High School regularly ranks as one of the top public high schools in New Jersey. The curriculum is rich and diversified. Students have the opportunity to pursue those subjects that they are interested in, as well as those that will best prepare them for college. Enrollment in Advanced Placement courses is high, and student achievement on AP and Achievement Tests is something that is a point of pride for both the schools and the community. Technology has become one of the indispensable tools that teachers use, and students apply those skills as they progress through the school system.

Both the arts and athletics are important programs that are an integral part of the district. The arts are encouraged at all grade levels. Drama, dance, and the visual arts play an active role in the regular curriculum and also in extracurricular areas. The Music program consists of general music classes, chorus, band, and orchestra. The high school features four bands, four choral ensembles, and a Pops String ensemble. The music program at the upper levels is also highlighted by trips out of the area and performances at special places including Disney World. During the 2001/2002 school year, the students at the Lafayette school won the New Jersey Oscar Mayer Award, which amounted to a grand total of $10,000. Chatham was listed in both 2000 and 2001 as one of the 100 best communities for music education in the nation. Chatham athletes have distinguished themselves in many sports. Chatham High School boasts 18 varsity sports and over 50 teams altogether.

The value of sports and the integrity of the program are validated by the high number of participants. Close to two-thirds of Chatham High School students participate in the athletic program. In recent years, the Chatham High School Boys Soccer Team has won two State Championships. Many teams have qualified for the County Tournament, the softball team won the sectional championship, and over 50% of the teams qualified for State Tournament play. The Board of Education and the Administration believe that one of their prime responsibilities is to keep parents involved in their student's education and provide them with opportunities to comment on the strengths of the district and also to make suggestions for its ongoing improvement. School and district newsletters are mailed to the parents and members of the community on a regular basis throughout the year. The Chatham Education Foundation is an organization of volunteers from the parent community and the community at large. These dedicated citizens give of their time and energy to supplement the educational program through mini-grants and creative awards to the district throughout the year. Chatham is strategically located so that students and parents are often able to take advantage of educational and cultural activities offered by institutions of higher learning, which include Drew University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the College of St. Elizabeth, in addition to the County College of Morris.

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