The boys return to IHS



by John Pearl

At the crack of dawn on Friday, July 2nd, Jerry DePass and I left for Senior Awards Day at Irvington High School.  We arrived just prior to the event, and were greeted by Patricia Padovani and the guidance staff in the guidance office, now just inside the main entrance to the school.

At the ceremony in the auditorium, the senior class and presenters provided the audience and the award winners were on the stage.  It was an enthusiastic, motivated group, excited to celebrate their success.

Alumni were represented by an umbrella alumni group which supports the school.  They gave a number of awards.  I understand they also provide continuing grants to deserving, needy graduates now in college.  

We presented the Class of ’54 scholarship for $2,000 to Gersika Saint Martin.  She will be attending New Jersey State College this fall.  Many of the graduates who are college-bound will be attending state schools—no doubt due to the affordability.

The event ended with the singing of our Alma Mater (which remains the same).

O Irvington, we call you fair and musical your name . . .

As the voices rang out it was a moment of nostalgia for those years (many years ago) when we, like today’s graduates, left Frank Morrell High School with hopes and dreams yet to evolve, but with the memories of our high school years stamped forever in us.



Through the course of my life, I vow to dedicate my time doing particular tasks that will help me build my character and create dreams that I cherish to accomplish.  I always put my energy and efforts into the things that I know I can do best—my talents and hobbies.  Among all the interests that a young girl like me can possibly have, my biggest one is writing.  Almost all of my peers do not like writing.  Others in my age bracket are not driven by the same passion as me, and it is rare, today, for teenagers to find interests in writing or literature, I would say.  Though I love writing, it is not the only thing that I do in my spare time. 

It was difficult for me to choose a sport that I can really enjoy and I have decided to be a tennis player, for the simple reason that it brings me joy in my sadness and clarity in my confusion.  Occupying my time doing things that I enjoy has allowed me to build social skills and understand the importance of teamwork.

I intend to use my creativity and social skills and transform these qualities into a career that will reflect exactly who I am.  However, my career interest is not directly related to my hobbies.  My commitment and ability to invest my time and energy proves to me that I can be whatever I wish to become.  I can have any career that I dream of, because there is an unstoppable determination in me.  

Since I was a child, I have always wanted to have a career in the medical field, but I never knew precisely what I wanted to be.  I had so many options, and I have changed my mind several times, but I am finally certain that I was born to be a physical therapist.  I am aware that it will take a lot of effort, but what is life without taking risk?  What is success without effort?  Nothing is easy and that inspires me to always give the best that I can in order to succeed.  I am not perfect.  No one is.  However, I want to use my qualities and my flaws to help as many people as I can.  Helping otheres is my primary reason for wanting to be a physical therapist.

In addition to having the desire to help others in my future career, I was given the opportunity to serve my community with the Bridge Imani Center.  Along with friends, I used to distribute food to people every third Friday.  I do community service with the National Honor Society, which I am a member of, and also with my church.  During my hour of services, I have learned a lot from others and, mostly, I have learned to feel what they feel and see the humanity in them.  It brings compassion and sympathy to my heart and those are the greatest words in the medical field—compassion and sympathy.  My hours of services have helped me choose my profession and strengthen my character and personality.

During my high school journey, I have discovered my strengths as well as my weaknesses.  Some of my classes have been challenging to me, but I always found a way to make it.  I made it to Top Ten, and I am extremely proud of myself.  The biggest satisfaction that I've always had is the smile on my parents' faces and the look in their eyes.  Yes, they are proud of my work.  With success comes rewards, and I am honored to have been honored for my achievements: Student of the Month; Super Honor Roll; Honor Roll; Essay Contest Second Place winner; and I am a member of the National Honor Society.

Fitting in was not easy when I started school here at Irvington High School.  However, I had a purpose.  I did not speak English and some of the students made fun of me.  I didn't let them stop me from achieving my goals, because I knew my purpose in the United States, and that's what kept me going.  I have learned to speak English and set greater goals for myself.  Not only did I devote myself to my own success, I have also helped friends, classmates, and even strangers to adapt to the environment.  So far, I can proudly say that my journey has been a success.

Soon my high school years will be memories, as I am preparing myself to start my new journey in college.  This is going to be the biggest investment of my life, and I intend to make it worth it.  Education is not free, but it's worth every effort and eery dime that one is willing to put in it.

This scholarship will help me to afford my college cost.  Many people have been discouraged to attend a college or university after getting their high school diploma for the simple reason that colleges are too expensive.  Getting as many scholarships as I can is one of my priorities, and each scholarship will be useful to me in some way.

I know what it takes to be a college student, and it will require a lot from me, but I am willing to go every step of the way until I get there, because the fire of success is already burning in me.


John Pearl, Gersika Saint Martin, and Jerry DePass
                                                                                       by John Pearl
It was a cloudy but pleasant fall day as Buddy McCutcheon, Tommy Gilleece and I drove north on the Garden State Parkway for a reunion with Frank H. Morrell High School. We had been invited by Principal Burnett Davis to be guests at the Irvington High School Homecoming Weekend activities. As we approached our alma mater we each reflected on our last visit.  In my case, it was in 1955 on an offhand weekday afternoon with Harris Rome witnessing a football practice. Buddy and Tommy echoed similar memories.
We attended a homecoming breakfast where we met Coach Pascarelle and were greeted by Principal Davis. We were escorted by the coach and  Jr. ROTC Cadets to a room where we met parents, students, and teachers. We were announced as graduates of the Class of 1954. Easy to feel ancient with all the bright young faces around us. We took pictures w the players [or I should say Buddy did].  Not much interest in Tommy or I, as Buddy was the returning football hero. There were applause and visits from many in the room. The cheerleaders were, for us, keepers of the torch that we remember with Jane, Lois, and Charlotte, although their names are Tiana, Andrea and Jumanah among others. I was struck by their energy, enthusiasm, and high spirits.
After a bit we adjourned to the game, Irvington Blue Knights [no more Campers] and the West Essex Knights. Irvington had only lost one game, as had West Essex. Coach Pascarelle led the team to the field as I thought back to Thanksgiving 1953 and our season ending tied with West Side. It seemed our team was a bit over- matched. West Essex suited approximately 50 brawny young men, and the pre-game drills forewarned of a tough afternoon.
The cheerleaders and the color guard paraded past and the game was underway. I am not going to bore you with the details, but despite a gallant effort West Essex dominated. There was a moment near the end of the first  half when a pass, worthy of Eli Manning, brought the score to 10 -6, but no more feel good this afternoon.
Various dignitaries visited us including the interim Superintendent of Schools, Neely Hackett and the Director of Athletics, Gary McGeehan. Around the end of the third quarter the game announcer mentioned our presence one more time, citing each of our accomplishments to the crowd. I knew it was time to go when Buddy said, "They did not applaud very much." I think he was thinking of the days of our youth when six thousand filled the stands -- not so on this afternoon.
My memory of this poignant visit in time was the kids. Their bright faces and energy. their wish, not unlike ours, to make a life for themselves and find success. The school has seen better days. I would guess there is not much money around and the building looks it. I hope the students are able to rise above it all and capture their hopes and dreams. In closing I was struck by a young woman, Shirlena Cole, who approached me at breakfast and introduced herself, inquiring if perhaps I know how she might qualify for scholarship assistance at Seton Hall. A lovely young person hoping to get ahead.
We were fortunate to be there at a different time and place. We drove away in the mid-fall shadows, each headed to our homes. As I dropped off Tommy Gilleece on McCallister Place where he had parked his car I thought, "Well maybe we are not the boys of summer but not, thank goodness not yet, the ghosts of a gridiron of a long time ago.