Westfield, New Jersey is a modern town rooted in a rich history dating back to 1720 when it was the West Fields of Elizabeth. The rail line into New York City ran through the center of town, replacing the Swift-Sure Stagecoach line. In 1892 the present railroad station opened. The community gradually took its own identity and in 1903 was incorporated as the town of Westfield. Reminders of the Colonial era include a dozen picturesque churches and the Revolutionary-era cemetery.
The early years of the 20th century saw the development of the town’s public infrastructure, as modern public services and amenities such as lakes, golf courses and public parks became increasingly important to Westfield residents. The Miller-Cory House, the Westfield Fire Headquarters #1, and the Stoneleigh Park Historic District are listed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The Union County Architectural Survey lists almost 100 historic properties in Westfield. The Westfield Historical Society runs the 1740 Miller-Cory House Museum where Westfield’s past comes alive.
Westfield, NJ is a wonderful, family community within an easy commute to New York City but with a small town feel. Emphasis is on family, community, education, sports and cultural activities. Neighborhoods form strong ties with block parties, progressive dinners, play groups and babysitting exchanges. Clubs and organizations, such as the Westfield Newcomers Club, the Rake and Hoe, the Chess Club, the Junior League, and the Amateur Astronomers provide an avenue for residents to meet people of similar interests. Westfield Adult School offers eight week courses in a variety of subjects. All ages and interests come together at the Westfield Y which offers everything from children’s swim lessons to teen nights to senior seminars, from spinning and yoga to book clubs and ballet.
Westfield currently has approximately 30,000 residents with an average family income of $112,145. It offers its residents the attractions of upscale suburban living with excellent schools and facilities, a vibrant downtown and a strong sense of community, yet is only 25 miles southwest of the resources of metropolitan New York. Excellent train and bus service into NYC, easy access to a world-class highway network, and proximity to Newark International Airport provide direct, fast and efficient transportation.
According to a 2003 community survey, 96% of residents rated the Westfield Public Schools favorably and families continue to move here because of the school district. Public support of the schools is evident each year as Westfield voters regularly approve school budgets. Recognizing the mission to instill a quest for knowledge and to prepare young people for positions of responsible leadership and citizenship, the Westfield schools seek to maximize the unique skills, learning styles, and cultural backgrounds of all members of the community. There are six neighborhood elementary schools, two middle schools and a single town-wide high school. An education foundation and several community groups complement the active parent/teacher/student organization that supports the Westfield public schools. Formal computer education begins in kindergarten. An elementary Foreign Language program is available to students beginning in the second grade. Dream Writers laptop computer devices are available at all elementary schools.
Westfield High School offers a comprehensive program of studies with a strong focus on college preparatory courses. The 2003-2004 Westfield High School expenditure per pupil is $10,288. More than 165 courses in college preparatory subjects, business, fine arts, music and practical arts programs are offered during the nine-period day. More than 75% of the students study one or more of the five foreign languages offered at the high school for three or more years. Academic programs are offered at multiple ability levels. There are 17 Advanced Placement courses as well as Honors courses offered in most of the disciplines. A total of 47% of Westfield High School students are taking Honors or Advanced Placement courses. The needs of other students are addressed by programs in business education, practical arts, computer science, performing and visual arts. Award-winning Project’79, an alternative approach to education, helps students reach their full potential. With 98% of seniors taking the SATs, the Westfield mean scores are significantly above the New Jersey and national averages (Westfield verbal mean score for 2003: 562, U.S. mean: 507; Westfield Math mean score: 588, U.S. mean: 519). Westfield is consistently recognized in the annual New Jersey Magazine’s top schools profile as one of the state’s best. 70% of the staff holds advanced degrees. Students compete in academic contests in science, mathematics, foreign languages, speech and creative writing.
Teachers, parents and administrators support each other in providing after-school activities for all grade levels. Football, softball, field hockey, the Student Government Association, Chess Club, and Pencils-Paperbacks-Pizza are examples of some of the activities offered to the Westfield middle schools students. Town-sponsored soccer, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, football and tennis programs are offered at a young age and traveling and club team opportunities expand the intensity for those seeking even greater levels of competition. A drive by the Westfield sports fields any afternoon or weekend will provide testimony to this town’s passion for sports at all ages.
More than 60 co-curricular activities are offered at Westfield High School and 80% of the students participate in these activities. Westfield students produce a yearbook; a weekly, nationally recognized newspaper; a monthly literary magazine; and original theatre scripts for tri-state competitions. High quality vocal and instrumental programs have enabled students to participate in all-state choirs, orchestras and international competitions. The major theatrical productions have received awards in statewide competitions. Major theatre productions are supplemented by showcase presentations and traveling groups. There are 26 varsity athletic teams, and numerous intramural programs which offer choices in a wide variety of faculty and student coordinated activities. The Student Council is made up of the students' executive leaders who advise and assist the administration in developing and providing a calendar as well as a board for participatory democracy. Model UN, Junior Statesman, Young Republicans and Young Democrats provide a voice for the politically active. Westfield High School TV channel 36, run by the students, provides round-the-clock programming on town sports, meetings, events and citizens. Close cooperation between the school and home is a hallmark of Westfield.
Westfield’s houses of worship provide the community with a diverse and active religious foundation and the congregations share a strong commitment to the community. A variety of ecumenical cooperative projects has proven beneficial to all faiths. Many of the religious groups offer special activities such as youth group programs, summer church schools, golden age clubs, pre-school classes and family counseling. The Inter-Faith Hospitality Network provides shelter for the less fortunate.
Westfield’s devotion to the arts and entertainment is very strong and diverse. The local arts community includes the Westfield Symphony, which is a highly acclaimed symphony orchestra; and the Westfield Community players, a local theater production company. Each summer the Westfield Summer Workshop for the Arts offers students a variety of classes from theater to twirling, from poetry to computer graphics. During the year the Westfield Bach Festival, Arbor Chamber Music, the Summer Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival, the Coffee with Conscience Concerts, and the weekly summer concerts under the stars in Mindowaskin Park add to the musical opportunities.
In celebration of the arts, Westfield, New Jersey hosts bi-annual “Art in Westfield” sidewalk shows and sales in conjunction with the Westfield Art Association. In December, the “Welcome Home to Westfield” celebration keeps the holiday spirit alive with the annual tree lighting, caroling and continual holiday events. Other events such as street fairs, sporting events and concerts are held throughout the year. The Rialto Theater, with its restored façade and Art Deco marquee, is a great place to see the latest movies. The Westfield Public Library hosts lectures and film festivals. Classic Thyme Cooking School offers classes on a variety of culinary specialties for all ages and abilities. Westfield is also known as the home of the popular TV series, “Ed.” Filming is often taking place in the downtown or in Mindowaskin Park and the show’s opening credits feature Westfield’s tree-lined, historic streets.
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