Back to School August 29th, 2018

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BACK TO SCHOOL Back to School Personal Health Check List Is Important as Kids Start the New School Year


s those long seductive summer days wind down, a new school year is fast approaching. Kids not only have to get ready for new classes, new teachers, and new adventures, they also face important health check-ups. Many schools require medical examinations and vaccinations

before students begin classes. As part of the “head-to-toe” check-up, eye and dental exams are very important, and should not be postponed. Annual vision examinations can provide early indications of possible problems that could become serious later. Some studies have shown that

simple screenings may miss up to 60 percent of vision conditions, including some that indicate a child needs glasses. It is certainly best to correct any problems early, so that the student can focus on schoolwork. Literally! “It is prudent for children and teens to have a compre-

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hensive eye examination and tear film evaluation before school begins, especially given the amount of time students spend on digital devices in and out of the classroom,” says Dr. Mary Boname, optometric physician and CEO of Montgomery Eye in Montgomery Township. Eye Exams As an optometric physician, Dr. Boname can diagnose, treat, and manage eye disease, including performing comprehensive eye exams, prescribing topical and oral medications, and providing prescriptions for corrective eye glasses and fitting contact lenses. Optometric physicians can perform most of the same services as ophthalmologists, with the exception of surgical procedures such as cataract extraction, glaucoma procedures, LASIK, and blepharoplasties. In her practice, Dr. Boname sees patients from 2 years old to 102! Regarding her younger patients, she notes that common conditions that would require a child to wear glasses are near-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness, astigmatism, and accommodative (focusing) difficulties. Not only is it important for students to have check-ups before school begins, but she Continued on Next Page

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Health Check List Continued from Preceding Page

emphasizes that their first exam should start in their earliest years. “Children should have their first eye exam at 6 months of age, then again at 3, and every year beginning at age 5. If a child has a family history of strabismus (an eye turn), amblyopia (a ‘lazy’ eye), or a history of premature birth, they are most at risk for reduced best-corrected visual acuity, and the possible need for corrective lenses, patching therapy, and more frequent eye evaluations.” “School-age children should have an annual eye examination and a six-month follow-up to guard against the need for an Rx change, which can happen more frequently in schoolage children,” she continues.

“In my 24 years of private optometric practice, I have written more eyeglass prescriptions for younger patients, primarily those who show difficulty changing focus from distance to near and vice versa (accommodative and binocular vision problems). Vision Risks “There is a definite connection to the use of Chromebooks in the class room and the majority of reference materials and reading assignments being online. In the absence of eye diseases like glaucoma and macular degeneration and no history of diabetes or hypertension, the greatest threat to the health of your eyes and your vision is chronic exposure to blue radiation from indoor lights and digital electronic devices like laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones. I prescribe — and wear —

BluTech lenses. They block 100 percent of blue radiation.” Dr. Boname also points out possible vision risks for student-athletes. “Most student-athletes are required at a minimum to have a visual acuity and color vision assessment. The leading cause of permanent vision loss in children under the age of 17 is sports-related injuries. Therefore, I consider it imperative for children to wear protective glasses that won’t bend, break, or shatter.” Also, she continues, “Concussions among my patients who are student-athletes are on the rise. Post-concussive syndrome can have a tremendous impact on a child’s ability to read, track, and visually process information, especially from an electronic device.” Regarding the popularity of Continued on Next Page

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contact lenses, Dr. Boname remarks that children at the age of 12 are typical candidates. “I would say sixth grade is a good time to fit a child with contact lenses, but if a child exhibits the maturity and responsibility to manage the proper care and handling of contact lenses, I would make an exception for a younger child.” Whatever the kids are hoping for — fun, good-looking eyeglass frames and the latest styles, or contacts, the underlying reason for a visit to the eye doctor must always be paramount. Evaluation and care. The continuing health of one’s vision cannot be overestimated. A Great Smile Going to the dentist is never No. 1 on the list of fun “To Do”

lists — especially for children. In fact, dental-phobia (for adults too) is often so prevalent that some dentists have introduced fish tanks and aquariums into their office waiting rooms in an effort to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. For kids, a visit to an orthodontist is an increasing occurrence. More children seem to wear braces than ever before. As orthodontist Dr. Karen DeSimone of DeSimone Orthodontics in Pennington, observes, “There are more children in orthodontic treatment, by percentage, than in years and decades past. There are a myriad of reasons to which we might attribute this occurrence, the most likely of which are access and affordability. “As recently as 30 years ago, there were 60 percent fewer orthodontists than there are

now. And treatment today is one-half the cost that it was in the 1980s when adjusted for inflation. Not to mention that we now offer interestfree payment plans, whereas decades ago, it was a ‘pay-infull’ dental option. So while there isn’t any evidence that more children today have bite and/or dentition issues than at times in the past, we have just become a society wherein the beauty, confidence, and joy of a great smile is vastly more accessible.” Dr. DeSimone points out that orthodontics is significantly more than strengthening crooked teeth — although that is certainly an important aspect. “It is also about engineering functional, health bites that will yield a lifetime of great oral/dental health. Continued on Next Page

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Straight teeth are only part of having and enjoying a great smile.” The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children see an orthodontist at age 7, she adds. “The reason for such an early first visit is because we determine whether interceptive early treatment is advisable both to reduce treatment time and maximize comfort.” Common Problems “For example,” she said, “many children are born with narrow bites, where their upper bridge has a very narrow arch. When this happens, and if caught before the bones in the hard palette fuse, the fix is a simple orthodontic device that we give the child to wear for a period of time. If, however, the parent waits until the bones in the palette fuse together around age 10, the fix may require surgery and more complex treatment. Because timing is so important in orthodontics, we provide this ‘pre-treatment’ evaluation and monitoring as a free service.” Common problems that patients exhibit are crowding of teeth, crooked teeth, spaces between teeth, overbites, underbites, and crossbites, reports Dr. DeSimone. The time frame for completion of

the procedure varies depending on the condition. “Most children/teens for whom full orthodontic treatment is recommended are finished with treatment within 18 to 24 months. That variance is based on the complexity of the issue we are correcting. “Most of our patients have appointments every 10 to 12 weeks during the course of treatment. We have to make certain the teeth/bite are moving exactly as planned, and then we make adjustments to ensure that everything is comfortable, and that we finish on time.” The good news is that braces today are a far cry from those clunky metal things that kids in years past were forced to wear. Some are clear and hardly

even show, as Dr. DeSimone explains, “Today’s clear braces are amazing. Not only are they small and comfortable, but they don’t stain or yellow over time (as happened with the clear braces of a decade ago). “There are even clear wires now, so that treatment can proceed without the stereotypical ‘bracey smile.’ Today’s metal braces are also significantly smaller and more comfortable than those that we had to suffer through. It’s amazing how much the technology and processes have evolved in such a short time. And of course, Invisalign® is a system that gives us another option for discretely and comfortably addressing orthodontic issues.” —Jean Stratton

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ake it yours! Compel your audience! In this case, the audience is the admissions officer who is reading your college application essay. The point is to provide this person with an essay unlike any other they have ever read before. Easier said than done! Nevertheless, it is a goal worth pursuing — it could make the difference between a “Yes” or a “No” from the school of your choice. Nancy Exumé, owner and founder of Strategic College Essays LLP in Lawrenceville, emphasizes that the essay can be crucial. “How important is your personal statement? If you are applying for admission to a competitive college or university, it is very important. Tipping Point “Most applicants to elite colleges have the stellar academic record and impressive achievements required for admission to these select schools. When colleges receive 30,000 applications for 1,200 seats, the admissions essay or personal statement

may be the tipping point that decides your fate in the admissions process.” An educational consulting firm, Strategic College Essays LLP assists applicants in writing their essays as part of their application to undergraduate and graduate/professional schools. “My company is not a ghost-writing service,” points out Exumé. “I offer writing and coaching focusing on brainstorming and storytelling.” An essay that stands out is of major importance, she explains. “Done well, it may gain you admission to your top school choice. It can also be the factor that gets you rejected if poorly crafted. I personally know many stories of applicants with perfect SAT scores and high GPAs who apply to elite schools and gained admission to none because there was an assumption that the grades and standardized test scores would suffice to gain admission to a top tier school. “The application essay or personal statement allows the admissions team to see the actual person behind the


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grades and test scores. Remember that the admissions officers are trying to fill an incoming freshman class, and they want the most interesting persons whom they know are capable of doing the work required of them to graduate. The essay or personal statement provides the applicant’s best chance to stand out in the applicant pool by writing a memorable essay.” Who You Are Authenticity and originality are key, adds The Princeton Review. The college application essay differs substantially from the typical high school essay written for English class. “Your college application is probably your first experience writing a personal statement,” points out The Review. “A high school essay demonstrates to your teacher what you know. An application essay should demonstrate who you are.” Also, continues The Review, “Your college essay should be unique and individual to you. No one sees the world quite the way you do, so let your personality shine through.” Ryan Hickey, managing editor of Peterson’s & EssayEdge, emphasizes the major significance of writing skills. “You won’t make it in college if you can’t write. The admissions officers want to know that you have achieved a level of literacy such that you have a solid command of grammar, sufficient vocabulary, and the ability to organize your thoughts so that Continued on Page 23

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you can communicate them effectively to others.” Critical thinking is crucial, Montgomery Center • Rte 206 • 609-924-8282 • Next to ShopRite • 5 miles from Downtown • Free Parking he notes. The admissions Give Your Child the Music Advantage department “wants to know From Starter to Stately Homes that you can reflect meaningfully and think critically about INTEGRITY - KNOWLEDGE - TRUST yourself and the world around you.” •• piano •• guitar piano guitar •• drums drums Another factor is whether • violin • voice • flute • violin • voice • flute • cello the applicant will be a good • clarinet • sax • trumpet fit with the institution, re•• flute • trombone clarinet ••sax sax • trumpet ports Hickey. This is inforPRINCETON: 609-924-8282• violin • clarinet • trumpet mation that can be revealed ★ NEW LOCATION ★ in the essay. “The admissions 947 RT. 206, Suite 204 officers want to see that you 609-897-0032 will be happy in both the ac(next to Audi dealer) 609-387-9631 609-448-7170 PRINCETON ademic environment and the JCT 609-924-8282 5 Minutes from Downtown BURLINGTON HIGHTSTOWN PRINCETON Lessons Only location of the school.” FREE PARKING JUST SOLD Different Backgrounds Finally, he notes, “From unListed and Closed in 67 Days dergraduate through doctor22 Lafayette Road ate, succeeding in a college degree program requires independence, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the CRS, e-PRO, ASP, SRS ability to work with others who come from backgrounds Sales Associate, REALTOR® that are different from yours. Direct 609-683-8585 “By allowing you the freedom to express yourself Cell 908-391-8396 through your writing, the admissions officers will be Listed by Donna M. Murray able to see a real human beSales2017 Associate, REALTOR® ing in ways that can’t be seen NJ REALTORS® through the standardized test Cell: 908-391-8396 of Excellence Award® - Platinum scores, CVs, or even letters of recommendation. Ultimately, 2015 NJ REALTORS® Circleofofthe Year NJ REALTORS® 2017 REALTOR® that is why they ask you to Excellence Award® Winner -Platinum Mercer County Association of REALTORS® write essays: to get to know you better.” It is not just the college application essay that is important for students. Many independent secondary schools require an application essay as well. 253 Nassau St, Princeton, NJ 08540 “Essays are an important 609-924-1600 way for us to see a student’s ability to communicate and A member of the franchise system of BHH Affiliates, LLC.


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express themselves,” explains Molly Dunne, director of admissions at Peddie School, a co-educational independent college preparatory school in Hightstown. “Equally important, however, is that the essays provide a window into who the student is and what distinguishes him or her from other applicants. “Peddie requires prospective students to complete the Standard Application Online, which typically includes two essay questions. Peddie also has supplemental questions that applicants are asked to answer, which are shorter open-ended prompts that provide an opportunity for the admissions committee to learn even more about the student.” Essays are one part of the application process, along with academic record, extracurricular involvement, interviews, and teacher recommendations, points out Dunne. Essays are unique, however, in the opportunity they give students to express themselves thoughtfully, creatively, and originally. Curiosity and Character “Peddie is looking for students who all have excitement, curiosity and character,” she adds. “A good piece of writing will often show us those attributes.” Peddie works with its students to help prepare them for college, and this includes assisting with the college application essay, explains Dunne. “Peddie students are each assigned a college counselor who begins working with students in their

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junior year. In addition to guiding students in their college choices, college counselors work one-on-one with our students to help them best tell their own stories. “In a ver y real sense, though, our students are honing their essay writing skills every day during their years at Peddie. Our students are not only working with our English teachers to become better writers, but are learning to be critical thinkers in each and every one of their classes. Our junior year English curriculum also includes writing an autobiography. So by the time our students write their college applications, they have already spent significant time exploring and writing about their personal journey.” Getting the essay right, whether it be for college or secondary school, is an important step on a student’s educational adventure. Nancy Exumé of Strategic College Essays LLP helps students develop their best writing and presentation skills. She emphasizes, however, that ultimately the work must be their own. “We rely on the writing process itself to produce a polished essay that is noticed by a college admissions team. I have worked with students who set their sights on attending one of the elite colleges and universities in the country, and my students have gained admission to schools such as Rutgers University, The University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Swarthmore College, and Princeton University, among others.” —Jean Stratton

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