On Saturday, September 17th, the Class of 1966 celebrated its 50th High School Reunion. For me, this was the beginning of Homecoming week. I met about 35 graduates from the Class of 1966 in front of the Main entrance and took them to the auditorium to give them a brief synopsis of what happened to the school and the District since they graduated. The graduates of Clarkstown High School had many questions for me: class size, world languages that we teach, what happened to some of their teachers, the plans of seniors after they graduate, and programs that we offer. After our meeting in the auditorium, I took these graduates on a tour of the Main gymnasium where they quickly recognized that the bleachers were the same ones they sat on five decades ago, cheering for the home team during basketball games. They informed me that the classrooms in the Main Building were relatively unchanged except for the desks, chairs, and technology. We looped through the cafeteria and X-Wing (which was not there in 1966), and made our way to the Annex. The graduates of this class informed me that they were the first students to have attended 7th through 12th grades on this campus. After taking some photos in front of the Mansion, we departed ways.
A few days later, I received a lovely letter from one of the graduates of this class. In it, Dorothy Milianta writes: “It was so heartwarming for us to find that even though it has been more than 50 years after our high school graduation, and in spite of the changes to the school and to its name, the high school still feels like our school.”
Our Homecoming week this year had the same sentiment: the school “felt like our school.” Hallways were decorated and windows were painted in school colors. Students dressed according to various theme days. The bonfire was brought back by the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA). It had been almost seven years since the last bonfire. Parents and students worked together to organize this event, which was a celebration of North and its students. After the bonfire was lit on a perfect early fall Thursday evening, seniors participated in various field day activities. Students planned the activities, organized the order of events, and refereed the games. Students, their siblings, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members attended the bonfire. There was that feeling again; it “felt like our school.”
The following day on Friday, we had a pep rally for the entire North community. The North Marching Band performed the National Anthem, followed by performances by the Dance Team, the Taiko Drum Club, the Hip Hop Culture Club, and the Cheerleading Team. We recognized and celebrated our fall season sports and athletes. Again, there was that feeling; it “felt like our own school.”
Although the Homecoming Dance was not well attended this year, the students that did attend wanted to be there and took ownership of their school. Our 9th graders learned how to get to the Main Cafeteria from the rear of the Main Gymnasium that night. They took photos with their classmates at the photo booth. After the Homecoming Dance, North High School “felt” like their school for our 9th grade students, feeling the same sentiment as the Class of 1966 did when they entered North High School many years ago.