Hundreds gathered in the North Bergen High School last Wednesday to commemorate its 50th year.
Teachers, alumni, students, and town officials met in the auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 19 to share their experiences with the high school during a ceremony and reception from 7 to 9 p.m. Speeches were given by educators, North Bergen Schools Superintendent Robert Dandorph, Mayor Nicholas Sacco, Principal Paschal Tennaro, as well as former students.
During the ceremony, the marching band and chorus performed several pieces, and a plaque was dedicated to the school. Photographs of former students and teachers were displayed on a projector screen on the back of the stage.
The ceremony begins
After a welcoming speech from Principal Tennaro, Superintendent Dandorph stressed the impact the former students have had on the school.
“One thing I can tell you is that the school you left gets better every year,” said Dandorph, who added that the school continues to earn nominations and awards. “You set that standard high and we continued it.”
Following Dandorph’s speech, Mayor Sacco took the podium.
“I’ve once again made North Bergen my home.” – Michael Jimenez, class of ‘91.
Sacco also spoke of the competitive nature between Memorial and North Bergen High Schools, as well as his fond recollections of North Bergen growing up.
“I have only great memories of this community,” he added.
Following Sacco’s speech, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Vincent Ascolese delivered an energetic speech similar to those given at pep rallies. He demanded crowd involvement, and the group of former students delivered, often yelling “Bruins!” throughout his speech.
Following the speeches, the projector lifted, and members of the marching band began playing a piece from “Riverdance.” A reception with coffee and cake was held after the ceremony, and members of the key club gave former students tours of the school.
Former students have a home
For alumni such as Michael Jimenez, their careers have come full circle back to North Bergen High School. Jimenez initially moved to North Bergen in fifth grade, where he attended Horace Mann School under Principal Sacco. After graduating with the class of ‘91, Jimenez attended the University of Miami. Following a career in law, he obtained a job at a law firm in Newark.
Eventually, Jimenez accepted a job at a firm in Edgewater, unaware of the fact that the firm represents the North Bergen Board of Education.
“So after ten years,” said Jimenez, who now serves as the attorney for the board, “I’ve once again made North Bergen my home.”
Students such as Julissa Marenco of the class of ‘93 felt that her experiences in North Bergen have had a tremendous impact.
“The reason why I was able to accomplish what I’ve been able to,” said Marenco, “is because of North Bergen High School.”
Dr. George Selter, who dedicated the plaque to the school, expressed his gratitude toward the values that the school has given him.
“The things that I learned here in North Bergen,” said Selter, “I value them and treasure them because they made me who I am.”
Other students, such as Samuel Sanker of the class of 2001, echoed the same sentiments. Sanker travelled to the 50th anniversary from Massachusetts, and had recently discovered that the house he grew up in was no longer there.
“So I don’t have a home,” said Sanker, “but once I walked through these walls I knew I was home in North Bergen [High School].”
Sanker also stressed the impact the High School had on him over the years.
“There’s a lot of people in this building right now who believed in me,” continued Sanker. “It doesn’t matter where you are, it goes with you.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.