The Highway Herald

for the students by the students

The Highway Herald

The Highway Herald

They’re Back

Teaneck High School has a rich history. We’ve had hundreds of students walk the same halls for about 90 years. In that time period, there are bound to be students who come back to work here. Indeed there are, and I have interviewed a few of them to talk about how things have changed, how they’ve stayed the same, and what they love about Teaneck. I interviewed THS alumnus, Mr. Rodda, a creative writing and English teacher. Mr. Valdes, former THS principal. Ms. Cavallo, English and Lit and Cinema teacher. Lastly, I met with Ms. Taylor, a former English and creative writing teacher who now works in the guidance department as a counselor. I asked each interviewee a few key questions. 

 

What are some things you noticed have changed?: 

First, I asked the interviewees about some changes they had noticed in THS since their time as students. I heard things from Mr. Rodda and Ms. Taylor, about the changes to the interior of the school since their time here in the 80’s. Ms. Taylor told me about the art rooms that used to be the guidance department and the different locker colors. Mr. Rodda mentioned the auto shop that room 214 used to be, the two-story high gym, and the weight rooms that were once health classrooms. Mostly everyone talked about the downturn in school spirit, they talked about the pride that is now missing, from Teaneck. Mr. Valdes said that he has seen an uptick in recent years but it is not quite to the same level it was before. 

 

What are some things that have stayed the same?

Next, I asked the alums about some things at THS that have stayed the same. They all talked about close relationships between teachers. Another thing that everyone mentioned was the diversity of Teaneck, that students were almost blind to race, gender, or sexual orientation because no one in Teaneck is seen as different. Ms. Taylor went more in-depth, talking about the teenage essence. She talked about how in her many years here, she’s noticed that teenagers always are aspirational, and have the same hopes and dreams as the years past them and the years in front of them. Although our surroundings change, at the very core, teenagers will stay the same. 

 

How did THS prepare you for the world? 

Next, I asked the alumni which ways Teaneck High prepared them for the world. Again, the topic of diversity was brought up. Mr. Valdes talked about the way that growing up in a diverse, inclusive community prepared him for social norms he faced once he left Teaneck. Mr. Rodda also added to the diversity topic, saying that it helped him as well as his friends to grow up in a largely Jewish community, later in their lives. Ms. Cavallo talked about the honors and AP programs at THS, and how they prepared her for the large workload in college. She talked about how she never really felt like any assignment in college was “too much” because of her teachers and the expectations at Teaneck High that prepared her for them. 

Which teacher had the most impact on you, and what do you remember about them?

I then asked the interviewees about their most memorable teachers. Ms. Taylor talked about Mr. Endalkachew, a World Literature teacher. She told me about how he exuded vibrance and brought the class to life. She described him as loving literature, very passionate, and intellectual. Ms. Cavallo talked about Mrs. McVerry, the teacher who had the same job she does now. Ms. Cavallo told me about how Lit and Cinema inspired her to minor in film during college. She said that she carried over note-taking and organizational skills to college and continues to use them now. Mr. Valdes talked about his mechanical engineering teacher, Mr. Zubiaurre, a teacher he said, taught with realism and respect. Mr. Rodda talked about his English teacher, Mr. Valmoro, who commanded respect, was interesting, and well-versed. 

 

What are you most proud of from your time at THS? 

 

Lastly, I asked them about what had made them most proud in their time at THS whether as a student or a teacher. Mr. Rodda talked about the Highway Writing Center for which he is the co-founder/advisor. Ms. Taylor said that she felt proud to just be from Teaneck, THS will always be a home for her. Ms. Cavallo talked about coming back to THS and coaching the girl’s soccer team, for which she was the captain during her time here. She is proud that she was able to take charge of the team and change the culture of it. 

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