My Journey Back to West Side

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.  
Alumni, Please make your Journey a  visit the new website   http://www.west-side.org and Join The Alumni Association
Bob Taylor’62 Robert E Taylor, 303 W Marion St, So Mantoloking 08738  908 875 4342

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