Caldwell School Plans Tribute For Principal Who Died Of COVID | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools


CALDWELL, NJ — There was one thing that James Brown not only believed, but lived every day: People should want to make a difference for others.

On Thursday, April 1, that inspirational message will be a shining tribute to the former principal of Grover Cleveland Middle School, who died from coronavirus complications in April 2020 at the age of 48.

Recently, Brown’s successor, John Bertollo, announced that the school community will be hosting a tribute in his honor that they’re calling “Make A Difference Day.”

According to Bertollo:

“In April 2020, the community lost a respected leader, Mr. James Brown. While the loss has been devastating, we at Grover Cleveland Middle school endeavor to honor Mr. Brown’s legacy and mission. He believed that everyone should look to be of service to others. He lived this mission by his example as a husband, father, son, brother, coach and principal. For the students at GCMS, he created an annual day of service to highlight those members of the community who are making a difference to others.

“On April 1, 2021, the day of service, now entitled ‘Make A Difference Day” to honor Mr. Brown, will be a ‘live’ virtual event to continue honoring Mr. Brown’s vision and show our students the importance of making a difference.

“Speakers will include U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, local elected officials and community members, LGBTQ+ activist Rebekah Bruesehoff, as well as organizations like Wounded Warrior, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. The event will also feature a special keynote address by Rutgers football star, Eric LeGrand. And of course, throughout the event, we will also honor Mr. Brown with memories and stories from those who knew him well.

“While GCMS will be 100% virtual on April 1, everyone will follow this schedule:

  • 8:30 a.m.: Students will report to their advisory group via Zoom for an introduction
  • 8:45 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.: Make A Difference Day
  • 12:10 p.m.: Students will report to their advisory group via Zoom for a discussion
  • 12:30 p.m.: Virtual Dismissal

“The video will be livestreamed through YouTube Live beginning at 8:45 a.m. and will run approximately 3.5 hours. For families with a smart TV or a streaming device like a Roku or a Fire Stick, the event can be broadcasted on the TV. Otherwise, the event can be viewed on YouTube through a web browser. Following the livestream, it will be archived on YouTube for future viewing.

“Attendance will be taken during each advisory session. Due to the length of the program, there will be two brief ‘intermissions’ built into the program. Students will also need to briefly check in with their advisory group during the intermission times for attendance purposes. After checking in, students will have a chance to stretch and get away from the screen for a moment.

“While ideally this event would have been held in person, I am excited by the opportunity to still have the event and welcome in some new speakers that may not have been able to participate had it been an in-person event.

“Once the video link is available, an email will be sent out.

“Together, we will make this a great day, continue with Mr. Brown’s vision, and celebrate those who Make A Difference.”

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