If you've seen the commercial, the father is dancing and smiling while pushing the shopping cart, flinging all types of supplies into the cart. In the background, the familiar voice of Andy Williams is singing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year," pinching the traditional Christmas holiday tune just a bit.
"When we were shopping, I was practically singing, going up and down the aisles," Aviles said. "For me, it is a wonderful time. They're going back to school."
Although 10-year-old Manny was reluctant to talk about the sad day that takes place for all of Weehawken's students Wednesday morning, 8-year-old Eduardo was more than happy to speak on the source of his mother's joy.
"I'm actually happy to be going back to school," Eduardo Aviles said. "Just don't tell my mom. I really like going to school."
It's not readily known whether young Eduardo's sentiments can speak for the rest of the township's approximately 1,500 students. But one thing's for certain. Summer will indeed be over for them Wednesday, when the first bell rings around 8:30 a.m., beginning yet another school year in Weehawken.
It will begin Kevin McLellan's seventh year as the superintendent of schools in Weehawken. A product of the Weehawken school system, McLellan has been at the head of perhaps the most transitional period in the school district's history, especially with the addition of the district-wide technology program, which brought the Internet into every Weehawken school and installed classroom labs that instructed students how to use computer technology for research purposes.
"I definitely feel it's the start of another great year for us," McLellan said. "We're going to open with a blast and hope to move forward once again academically. We've come a long way in recent years and we feel that we're going to continue to move forward this year, with some positive additions to the curriculum and to the staff."
McLellan said that eight new teachers have been added to the Board of Education's staff this year.
McLellan said that probably the biggest addition to the schools will be the implementation of a new pilot program at Webster School, which houses the students from pre-kindergarten through third grade.
The program is called "Character Education," and it will teach the students about values in their daily lives.
"Each day, the teachers will focus on a particular value, like honesty, responsibility, being trustworthy and respectful," McLellan said. "The state has mandated that we offer this program to our younger students. The mandate doesn't take effect until two years from now, but we're starting it this year, as a pilot program."
Added McLellan, "Some of the concepts have already been taught in the classrooms, but others will be featured into the curriculum this year. Since we have our grades districted [for example, all of the township's first graders go to Webster School], then it makes for a perfect environment to offer this program."
McLellan said that the district's curriculum director, Joseph Little, has been actively working with the respective teachers on a lesson plan that will integrate values throughout the course of the school day.
At Roosevelt School, which the township's students attend from fourth through sixth grades, the school's already flourishing technology lab will become even stronger, with the addition of a new Internet service called EBSCO, providing the students with research materials through the Internet.
"We've never had this service before," McLellan said. "It's been used in libraries, but we're going to see if we can orientate it into the classrooms. It will help when students are writing research papers and will enhance their ability to research so much new material and different topics. We're very excited to have EBSCO in Roosevelt School."
At the high school, juniors will be given the opportunity to take the Princeton Review course at no cost, in preparation to take the Scholastic Aptitude Tests.
The Princeton Review program was introduced to students at Weehawken last year for the first time.
"We've received feedback from students who said that it was a big help in preparing for the SATs," McLellan said. "Many of the students who took it last year said that they couldn't have afforded to take the course any other way."
The Weehawken Princeton Review course, which is taught by the faculty of the school after school and on Saturdays, will begin next month for any interested high school juniors.
The high school will also see its college visitation program continue. Last year, under the guidance of Principal Dr. Peter Olivieri, approximately 15 students went on trips to visit college campuses throughout Pennsylvania, to help the students with their college selections.
"We're going to expand it a little this year and go to other states that have a few colleges, like Massachusetts and Maryland, so students can see the colleges first hand," McLellan said. "This way, they're able to talk to advisors, get a feel of what the school is like, get acquainted with college life. It really goes a long way in helping the students decide which college they want to go to."
McLellan said that the high school will also expand their debating team and their Mock Trial programs, perhaps entering more competition to feature both programs. For the first time, a music history course, taught by the school's music and band director, Steve Spinosa, will be offered.
Among the faculty, a professional development class will be offered.
"Teachers always need to be refreshed on the topics of the day," McLellan said. "There are different strategies and approaches that can be learned by the teachers. They are offered in mini-courses that we will send our teachers to. It's all part of the constant process our teachers need to keep up with the times."
The school year begins Tuesday for the teachers' orientation and Wednesday is the first day of classes. School will only be in half-day sessions on Wednesday through Friday. Full day sessions begin in earnest next Monday, Sept. 10.
It's a day that neither Eduardo nor Maria Aviles can wait for.
"I'm really excited about going back to school," Eduardo said.
"So am I, honey," his mother interjected. "So am I."