Toms River HSE “Raiders Shortcircuits” Get $1K Staples Grant

High School East students competed with their robot in a recent competition. (Photo courtesy Toms River High School East)

TOMS RIVER – The Toms River High School East’s Robotics Club, better known as the Raiders Shortcircuits, is now $1,000 richer, thanks to a grant from the Staples Foundation and a HSE alumni who now works there.

The newly acquired funds will be used to purchase electronic parts for the 2017-2018 First Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Competition. The Shortcircuits compete at various events throughout the year, and also do outreach at elementary schools to stimulate youngsters’ interest in STEM skills and careers.

“We have more than 30 students engaged in designing, building and coding the robot we’ll use for the FTC competition this year,” said club advisor Suzanne Signorelli who, along with colleagues Catherine Applegate and Walt Patelunas, wrote and submitted the application. “With this grant, Staples is helping us provide outstanding opportunities for our remarkable students.”

Alexa Leon, a former computer programming student and current employee at Staples, recommended Toms River for the 2 Million & Change sponsorship, which provides more than $2 million in donations each year to nonprofit organizations. The grants allow Staples employees around the world to direct funding to organizations that focus on academic education or job skills. Leon guided High School East through the process of applying for the Staples grant, as it’s the school’s first time being awarded.


“This is exciting news because not only was it initiated by one of our former students, it directly impacts our students, and connects us with a local organization that is doing great work for the community,” said Superintendent David Healy. “Our district is grateful to Staples for this donation and commends Alexa Leon for her initiative with this grant.”

Toms River Regional Schools was also recently awarded a $10,000 grant from SAP to fund a coding program for intermediate-level girls, and is pursuing several multi-year programs to encourage advanced skills in coding, cyber security and computer programming. One of the three new Career Academies set to open in the 2017-2018 school year is the STEAM Academy at High School East, where robotics and coding are highlights.

Technology remains a priority in Toms River Regional Schools, and is one of the five major school board-approved goals for the current school year.

“This is a well-deserved award for a school and robotics club that has made a name for itself over the years in competitions like FTC,” said School Board President Ben Giovine. “I’m certain the Raiders Shortcircuits and its team of advisors will work wonders with this funding.”

For more information on High School East’s Robotics Club, contact Suzanne Signorelli at For more information about Staples’ community and giving efforts, visit