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The “From the Desk Of” series is my regular email to the Valley Torah High School community.


Schools do not celebrate their students enough. It is as simple as that. Students sent to the Principal’s office are generally asked to go for disciplinary reasons. Phone calls home are hardly ever to say your child did something great today. Even grades are less than celebratory as 60% of our primary grading system (A-F) is a failing grade. It is frustrating and needs to be dealt with because I have to tell you, where I work there are amazing students!

I recently asked my teachers to stop sending students to me only when they may have made a mistake, but to send me students when they have shined. It is not hard because our students shine quite often. So, with that said, I will be adding a new section to our weekly school newsletter titled “Celebrating Our Students” which will highlight student accomplishments. It won’t be easy to choose each week, but I will try my best. For the first week I have chosen Mr. Benji Halpern.

I called Mr. Halpern over today and told him about my plan to celebrate a student each week. He humbly asked why I chose him. That was one reason. However, Mr. Halpern is an individual I see day in and day out acting as a role model for our student body in his demeanor, care and respect for others and his leadership skills. He is our Gabbai Sheni, Co-Captain for our debate team, center on our JV basketball team, a counselor at Etta (serves people with developmental disabilities and their families) in the summers and each week I see him lead the teen minyan at Shaarey Zedek. He makes us proud at Valley Torah as he represents us and the Jewish people well.

This Jones Soda is for you Benji Halpern!

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