Starting out in the 1970s as a vocational high school, the Hudson County Schools of Technology revamped in the late 1980s to focus more on technology. High Tech High School was launched in 1991. County Prep came into being a short time later. High Tech has been recognized as one of the top schools in the state numerous times over those years.
With the district about to break ground on a new campus in Secaucus, school officials want to also develop something they have never had before. Although it has developed some premier educational programs over those long years, the schools never had an alumni association.
“Alumni are the lifeblood of any school,” said Frank Gargiulo, superintendent of HCST. “They are a reflection of what the school was and is. There is no better compliment to a school district than the support of its alumni.”
Alumni associations are seen as booster squads for their respective schools. These associations often organize social events, publish newsletters or magazines, and raise funds for the organization. Many provide a variety of benefits and services that help alumni maintain connections to their educational institution and fellow graduates. Additionally, such groups often support new alumni, and provide a forum to form new friendships and business relationships with people of similar background.
“This brings together people associated with the school who can help build a real community of former graduates.” – Sal Vega
Saa said the association will kick off with an open house on April 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the North Bergen campus.
“This will allow former students to reconnect with each other and get involved with the alumni,” Saa said. “We’re extending an invitation to any graduate from any of the school’s programs that includes High Tech High School and County Prep.”
This is a free event, she said, designed to draw in as many former graduates as possible.
Will bring people from all over Hudson County
While Hudson County Schools of Technology has its current campuses in North Bergen and Jersey City, it draws students from throughout the county. It also has satellite programs such as the industrial arts program located in Bayonne High School.
The fledgling association has already developed a mission statement.
“The HCST Alumni Association will foster alumni relationships with the goal of remaining involved with the HCST community and help to create and guide current and future student leaders who will take the skills and values developed at HCST into the world beyond,” the statement said.
The HCSTAA seeks to provide enriching opportunities for students and cultivate relationships with HCST alumni, to cultivate future alumni involvement from current student population, and to provide avenues, on and off campus, for alumni to interact with each other.
The alumni association will be directed by former freeholder and West New York Mayor Silverio Vega, along with the support of Gargiulo and HCST Foundation Executive Director Linda J. Quentzel.
The association has established an inaugural executive board that consists of five members.
Vanessa Cirillo, president, is a West New York resident and High Tech Class of 2005 graduate. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and English from Caldwell University and an M.A. in English from William Paterson University. She is the advancement services manager for Caldwell University.
Amit Jani, vice president, lives in Jersey City and is a County Prep 2008 graduate. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from Rutgers University. He currently works for Vision Media Marketing in Secaucus.
Marshall Quentzel, treasurer, is a Secaucus resident and a High Tech Class of 2010 graduate. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Montclair State University. He is currently a senior accounting associate at Prudential in Newark.
Lauren Perez, secretary, is a resident of North Bergen and is an AACT 2010 graduate. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Secondary and Middle School Education K-12 from William Paterson University. She is currently working as a 7th Grade Resource Teacher at Franklin Elementary School in the North Bergen School District.
Megan Wofsy, alumni outreach officer, is a resident of Guttenberg and a High Tech graduate. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in General Humanities at Montclair State University. She is a substitute teacher for the Township of North Bergen.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Vega. “This brings together people associated with the school who can help build a real community of former graduates.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.