Five years ago Theresa Minutillo started Senior Prep Day to bring together Hoboken High seniors with volunteers from the community representing a range of professions. The students get advice on selecting a career, preparing a resume, presenting themselves to employers, and picking a college. I’ve served as a volunteer for the past two years and have really enjoyed interacting with the students. Apart from having the opportunity to talk about my nerdy career with budding nerds, the event also dispelled the misconceptions I had about Hoboken High. Spending the morning there revealed a school not unlike the one I attended, with its collection of jocks, arty types, slackers and nerds.
It was this event that also convinced me to volunteer for Theresa’s re-election campaign for a seat on the Hoboken school board this year. She’s running with Maureen Sullivan and Ruth McAllister under the Kids First banner. The work Theresa has put into this event over the years is clear evidence to me of how community volunteers and the school system can work together to improve the schools in ways the school system can’t do on its own.
Unfortunately, it appears that the school system doesn’t feel the same way. Just two weeks after being asked to organize this year’s event, Theresa was contacted again and told that her services wouldn’t be required, at all. Instead the high school has suddenly decided to take over the event. All it wants from Theresa is the list of volunteers she has recruited over the past six years. The confusion caused by this last-minute decision—the event has been renamed Career Day and is scheduled for Wednesday – will certainly diminish this year’s event.
It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to conclude that this senseless decision may have been the result of political meddling. There are certainly parties that would like to deprive Theresa of any positive publicity, like the publicity she would rightfully receive for organizing Senior Prep Day again this year. In fact, there is a precedent for this kind of political meddling. As reported in this newspaper when Theresa was running four years ago, Senior Prep Day was canceled, only to be mysteriously reinstated after the election.
One expects a certain number of dirty tricks during any political campaign, but when these tricks go so far as to hurt the students that the campaign is aiming to help, one must stand up and protest. The high school’s decision to take over Senior Prep Day so close to the event is a mistake and should be rescinded. If the school is truly intent on taking over the event, then it should continue to work with Theresa to make sure the day remains the success it’s been.