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The journey back was long overdue! Walking through those big doors on South Orange Avenue, entering West Side High School seemed as daunting as the day I entered in 1959, after having walked across town from home on 20th St. near 18th Ave. Saturday’s trip from the Jersey shore, was filled with similar unknown expectations. Was that old building still standing? Will I know anyone? Will I be the only traveler trying to piece together fragments of my memory? I rationalized that my inclusion, as a guest, for having sponsored Roughrider football players with our Mongiovi ‘62 Alumni Group, to a summer camp in Morristown, gave me an excuse for being there.
On the other side of the door as I entered was my new West Side family, Principal Larry Ramkissoon, Assistant Principals Cook and Jones, Athletic Director Gary Taylor, football coach Jerome LaDunna, and Newark notable, Bessie Walker, being honored for her service as Alumni Association founder.
The real enjoyment came with meeting the staff and students who were volunteering on a Saturday morning with spirit and pride, getting the message to alumni of all of the educational opportunities offered in our new curriculum design. Newark Early College, Newark Vocational & Technical and Accelerated Academy.
Once in the hands of tour guides selected from the Dream Team, advised by Tracee Thomas, the doors opened to the same stoic corridors, stairwells, and classrooms, now manicured spotlessly by our maintenance staff led by 37 year employee Mr. Hill. We passed the new Koi Pond, where students are encouraged to seek solace and reflection, then entered the Capital One Bank, Supervised by Mary Ann Mathews, Student Bank Leader, where students explained their mentorship program, which leads to internships in countywide Bank locations. Next the Dream Team room, where students are encouraged to be creative and explore new horizons. We visited Judy Mosselli’s computer lab where latest commercial technology is available for students developing high-tech careers, and also the Accelerated Academy, where over aged underachieving students are caught up, and sent back into mainstream educational tracks.
Finally walking into a crowded auditorium filled with alumni from as far back as Kay Stollen’44 and the venerable Nathaniel Potts’48 . Students from the Drum line, and Dance team filled the room with spirit and sound. TahirWhitehead’07 NFL Detroit Lions Star, thanked the alumni for supporting students, and challenged students to do their part in the community.
The final gift, scheduled to be a student solo, wound up with the entire audience standing and singing , at the students request, the West Side High School, Alma Mater.
Bob Taylor’62 Robert E Taylor, 303 W Marion St, So Mantoloking 08738 908 875 4342
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A group of West Side and Vailsburg friends from the 60s, who get together every summer at the Jersey Shore, ”played it forward” this week at Tony Siragusa’s GOOSESXXXXL Football Camp, held at Morristown Beard School, Morristown. Newark West Side head coach Jerome Laduna selected 5 players, sponsored by the former Rough Riders, in memory of recently passed teammate Phil Mongiovi, to participate with players throughout the state in the two day mentoring program.
“Our coach in the 60s Tom Higgins, taught us to respect each other, play hard, and stick together”, said Bob Taylor West Side Class of “62. The theme stuck, and the group still collects 40 or better teammates, classmates, and friends each summer at their picnic. Looking out for each other’s families, and giving support when called upon. The Camp experience allowed West Side Alumni to meet some great young men who will be Newark’s future leaders, and show support. The Camp staff led by Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl XXXV winner Siragusa also included Indianapolis Colts line coach Joe Gilbert, Antonio Garay, former New York Jets, stand out, Fitness Specialist Chuck Mound.
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Welcome to our first post on the WSHS Alumni site, I'm Greg Adkins Class of 1974. When I graduated a keyboard was attached to a typewriter and didn't launch you into a world of apps or the Internet of Everything (IOE). Forty years from now when you look back, those apps and IOE will be changed as well. Access will be built into the fabric of your clothes, eyewear, and even the wallpaper. It's true, the only thing constant in life is change, which is why we created this new channel. This is home and we promise to keep you plugged into the real bling - education, career, technology and reimagining cities.
Recently I attended a meeting at West Side H.S., my first visit in over 40 years. I had to restrain myself from running to find my old locker. That locker is where I stored all my important things, and if still there today I could add more stuff. I would add my first full passport book, because now I'm on my second. My degree from Kean University, MBA from Rutgers, and lessons learned working @ IBM Consulting - all added and stored safely away. Walking away from that locker my fingers crossed, I would hope some kid opens it to learn options are unlimited.
Thanks for joining the site and please for your first posting reply, tell me - what life items would you reach back and place in your old high school locker?