Highlanders are celebrating a golden anniversary

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:33

    Students making documentary on the history of West Milford High School WEST MILFORD - Did you ever wonder how they came up with the Highlanders nickname for West Milford High School? Or how the mascot was chosen? Did you know Highlander Drive wasn’t always Highlander Drive? Did you also know that this school year is the 50th anniversary of the existence of West Milford High School? There are some pretty curious students at West Milford High School who are looking to unearth much information about the Highlanders, the high school and everything that goes along with it as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of their school. “Mr. Matlosz told us it was the 50th anniversary of West Milford High School and the Highlanders,” said Katie Schiller, a junior in Matlosz’s Advance Placement Government and Politics class. She and some others in the class, along with students from his AP US History II class, decided to memorialize the big anniversary. They started searching for some facts about the early days of the high school and it grew into an ambitious project they now want to share with the entire community - and include the community in its making. Golden anniversary Katie and her fellow co-chairs of the committee - seniors Dan O'Brien and Leslie Lynn and junior Kelly McGill - decided they would put together a documentary, filming the recollections and memories of the students from the early days of the high school, the pioneers, so to speak. They’ve also been doing research at the West Milford Museum and have come up with some great trivia, a way to pull in the students who currently walk the halls of West Milford High School. “We want to get the students involved, increase their interest and their school spirit,” said Katie To do that, the committee is running a trivia contest throughout the weeks, asking a fun question each day during the morning announcements (see box on pag 1). And today they are holding a pep rally on the final day of spirit week at the school. Part of the pep rally is a college bowl-type contest complete with Highlander trivia. The committee is planning other events to help celebrate the anniversary and to keep Highlander pride at a fever pitch. In March they will distribute paper deer - the Highlander's mascot is a deer - for each class to decorate. Inspiring project These students have just about everything covered. They came up with their goals - which include educating students on the history of the high school, collaborating with all student groups to create a celebration the entire school may participate in and enjoy and to utilize the celebration to unite the student body and inspire school spirit. One of the keys to this being a success is connecting with alumni who want to share their experiences at the high school and at Butler High School, where West Milford students attended until September 1961 when the doors to their own high school opened. The project is perfect for this group of kids. “We're very into history,” said Kelly. “It’s very applicable when it’s your own high school.” Principal Paul Gorski is impressed by the work these students are doing. “We tried to come up with an event to recognize the anniversary,” said Gorski. “They’re trying to raise awareness to the students and they will open it to the public.” “It’s good to get students involved with history,” added Matlosz. But make no mistake - this is a student-run project with oversight by Matlosz and Gorski. “We are giving them an opportunity to run with this and put their own stamp on it,” said Gorski, who said he and Matlosz meet every few weeks with the students about the project. The goal: This dedicated group of about 30 students will present to the student body and the pubic a documentary detailing the history of West Milford High School told by those who experienced it themselves. Their target is April. They plan to hold an assembly to celebrate the milestone and they will also invite the public to a separate gathering where they will screen it as well. "Anyone who is interested in being interviewed for the documentary should contact us," said Katie. "We've had a good response so far." Alumni wishing to participate in the documentary may email Matlosz at gmatlosz@aol.com. And The Messenger will carry information on their progress throughout the project. How well do you know Highlander trivia? These are questions asked this week for Highlander trivia. 1. In 1961, when students were voting upon what our mascot would be, what was the other possible mascot? A. Rebels B. Pioneers C. Bobcats 2. What was the original name of Highlander Drive? A. Arnold Road B. Roosevelt Ave. C. Main Street 3. What was the first West Milford High School yearbook dedicated to? A. Wisdom B. Knowledge C. Power 4. What is the missing song lyric? "Our highlands masked in shadow black, Our lakes reflecting gold, Our _____ _______ dear to us" A. Highlander deer B. close friends C. Alma Mater Answers: 1:B, 2:A, 3:A, 4:C