"It was a fun event," said Gryzbowski, now a junior at Saddle Brook High School. "I remember going to it all the time."
So did Ralph Fernandez, who is now a junior at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City.
"I remember going to those ceremonies and wishing that I could be in the Hall of Fame someday," Fernandez said. "When I was in grammar school, I wanted to be just like my coach [Kenny Martoral]. I wanted to break his scoring record and be a Hall of Famer like him."
Last Wednesday, both Gryzbowski and Fernandez were among the four former Klein School athletes to receive Hall of Fame accolades, with Silvino Pichardo and Stephen Orluski the others.
The pep rally and the Hall of Fame ceremonies have been part of Klein School's makeup since 1990, when the school decided to honor past athletes who were at least juniors in high school for their past accomplishments while student/athletes at Klein.
The pep rally features performances from the school's drum corps, called the Mustang Thundering Drums, and the school's Pep Band, as well as flag twirlers, baton twirlers and cheerleaders. This year, the Emerson High School Junior ROTC presented the colors.
Popular rap artist Anonymous, who is also a graduate of the school, performed as well. Cathy Stewart's kindergarten class sang "Hands Up," while Bruce Nicoletta's fifth grade class sang a patriotic version of the Pledge of Allegiance.
But the highlight of the day was the Hall of Fame ceremony. With this year's induction class, there are now 59 members of the Klein School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Gryzbowski, who currently plays for the Saddle Brook varsity, was that school's leading scorer and rebounder in the 2001-2002 season.
Fernandez averaged 20.5 points per game in his eighth grade season, leading Klein to an undefeated record in 2001-2002 (23-0), and was the Most Valuable Player of three tournaments.
Pichardo played for Klein School in 1999-2000 and was the leading scorer for that team before going on to play at North Bergen High School. His 17 point per game average is the 11th highest scoring total in the school's rich history (Fernandez ranks seventh).
Orluski earned his accolades as the state champion in the annual Elks Hoop Shoot foul shooting contest as a 9-year-old in 1988. Orluski went on to the Eastern Regionals in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. that year, taking his free throw shooting prowess to another level.
According to Klein School vice-principal Joe Forenza, who once coached the Klein School boys' basketball team, the day is a chance to bring the former students back and be honored in front of the entire fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes.
"It's an opportunity to bring them back before we lost touch with them," Forenza said. "We want them to receive their honors as quickly as possible. They definitely serve as role models to our current students. It gives our current athletes something to shoot for and gives them incentive to do better."
Before the ceremony, there was a Hall of Fame luncheon sponsored by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Penna, for the inductees and their parents and friends.
Gryzbowski, whose father, Joe, is the town's highest ranking police officer, and mother, Donna, is a teacher at the school, recently began practices at Saddle Brook for the coming season.
"I was very surprised when I heard about it," Gryzbowski said. "It's a great honor, but it took me by total surprise. It was great for me to come back and see the people I played with, see my coaches and my teachers. Without question, Klein School helped me to get where I am now. The gym was always packed and the games were always close. It's helped me to continue playing. While I'm happy where I am, I always miss what I used to have. I couldn't believe all those years I watched the ceremonies, and now, I was a part of it. It was great to be back."
Fernandez, who graduated from Klein with Gryzbowski, echoed those sentiments.
"I always hoped I could get in the Hall of Fame, but I was a little surprised when I was called," said Fernandez, who should play a significant role for St. Anthony, the No. 1-ranked high school basketball team in the country, this season. "I loved coming back. It was a great feeling for me. I missed the school so much. I wished I could do it all over again. I definitely had some great times and great coaches. They got me going on the right track. Coach Martoral is like a little Coach (Bob) Hurley. I always wanted to be like Coach Martoral, and I'm sure there were kids there who wanted to be like me."