Monday, April 23, 2018

High Tech Hiking Club Takes First Trek of the Year to Pyramid Mountain

(Montville, NJ—April 21, 2018) On a picture-perfect Saturday, students and staff from the High Tech Hiking Club embarked on their first trek of the year at Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Morris County, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech High School. 

Ronald Kliesh, High Tech social studies teacher and Hiking Club moderator, along with Shelly Witham and David Polito, veteran science teacher and social studies instructor, respectively, chaperoned the students, who enjoyed breathtaking glacial erratics, rock outcrops, wetlands, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks that include the Manhattan skyline.

“We’re all looking forward to more hikes and welcome any member of the High Tech High School staff to join us,” says Mr. Kliesh.

Tripod Rock, a 160-ton boulder resting on a trio of smaller boulders, and Bear Rock, one of the largest rocks in the Garden State, proved to be highlights of a hiking trip that encompassed Pyramid and Turkey Mountains in Kinnelon, Boonton, and Montville. 

Nearly 30 miles of marked trails provide opportunities for hikers to experience expansive views from flat-topped ridges.  The Visitors Center serves as a starting point for loop hikes, with more than a dozen trails in Pyramid Mountain and Turkey Mountain, ranging from 0.7 to 7.3 miles.  Several new trails include a 1.2-mile white-blazed trail, plus a black-dot trail and yellow-blazed trail, with a combined length of 2.8 miles.  The longer of these two runs from Powerville Road in Boonton Township to Bear Rock.

To watch video of the experience, go to the following:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

High Tech Teacher Brian Mooney Speaks to DEMOCRACY NOW! about Kendrick Lamar Winning Pulitzer Prize

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The following comes from a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: ”DNA” by Kendrick Lamar, from the Pulitzer Prize-winning album DAMN. This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. We end today’s show with the announcement that shocked the world of music and hip-hop.
DANA CANEDY: And last, but certainly not least, for music, the prize is awarded to DAMN., by Kendrick Lamar, a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Pulitzer administrator Dana Canedy announcing Monday that rapper Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for the album DAMN., making this man from Compton, California, the first non-classical or jazz artist to receive the honor. Kendrick Lamar has topped the charts with music that tackles issues of race, politics, religion and even mental health. The Pulitzer follows the five Grammy Awards won by Lamar in January for DAMN., his fourth studio album. His previous album, To Pimp a Butterfly, also won five Grammys. Kendrick Lamar recently produced and curated the soundtrack for the Black Panther film to critical acclaim.
For more, we’re joined by hip-hop educator Brian Mooney. He’s a New Jersey high school teacher. After Kendrick Lamar learned Mooney was teaching the To Pimp a Butterfly album to his students in 2015, Kendrick visited Mooney’s class in New Jersey.
Welcome to Democracy Now! I’m sure the kids could care less.
BRIAN MOONEY: Yeah. Thanks for having me on, Amy. I appreciate it. Obviously, it was an incredible day that myself and my students will never forget. And, you know, I’m part of a collective of educators who use hip-hop in classrooms and educational spaces, called the HipHopEd movement. And, you know, we’re educators and researchers and professors and activists and community leaders who find ways to engage young people, urban youth, using all the elements of hip-hop culture, particularly rap music, but also other elements of hip-hop—knowledge of self and turntablism and graffiti art. So, we’ve been thinking about ways to be culturally relevant in classrooms and get young people excited about, you know, rap music, that they’re already invested in.
You know, so when I saw Kendrick Lamar release To Pimp a Butterfly in 2015, there were so many concepts and themes that were relevant to novels that I was already teaching, like Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye. So it was a perfect opportunity to just kind of like enhance the curriculum that I was already teaching. And my students responded really well.
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, of course, I was kidding when I said they could have cared less. Could you imagine Kendrick Lamar walking into the school? How did the kids act?
BRIAN MOONEY: Yeah. Well, what was incredible about it was that he was really a student that day, when he came in. You know, he was there to kind of really listen to our students perform their work. And he, like a good teacher, was just really leaning in, listening to what they were saying.
AMY GOODMAN: So what was your response yesterday when you heard that DAMN.had won the Pulitzer?
BRIAN MOONEY: Just thrilled and really just, you know, like humbled that my students and I were able to, you know, play a part and bring some awareness to other educators and teachers around the world that his work can be educational, and rap music and hip-hop culture can be used to teach and learn. So, you know, I thought it was a long time coming. It was well deserved. You know, while hip-hop, in many ways, has been very anti-institutional, it’s nice to get the institutional recognition that I feel like is very deserved.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pulitzer committee said DAMN. was, quote, “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” So, talk about how he has changed the landscape.
AMY GOODMAN: You also have now BeyoncĂ©, what, first headlining Coachella—
BRIAN MOONEY: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —the first black woman to headline Coachella. This is really late in time.
AMY GOODMAN: You have Nina Simone getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course posthumously.
BRIAN MOONEY: Right, right, in the same year when Black Panther is breaking all kinds of records in the box office, too. So, it’s an incredible year, I think. But with Kendrick’s music in particular, you know, I feel like it’s part of a long lineage in hip-hop. And if you listen to that album, in particular, DAMN., the masterful storytelling and command of language, you know, it’s incredible.
You know, sometimes educators will think, “Well, how do you use hip-hop in a classroom, you know?” And you think about people like Shakespeare. Those people were incredibly versatile with what they did with language. You know, Chaucer, they were inventing words. They were inventing language. You know, they used the double negative. People don’t know that, right? So, when you think about emcees, modern-day emcees—right?—these are people with incredible linguistic versatility, like Kendrick Lamar.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a video from NPR of Kendrick Lamar going to your tech—High Tech High School, where you teach in North Bergen, New Jersey. After visiting with your class, he performed at the school-wide assembly.
KENDRICK LAMAR: This album wasn’t made for—I didn’t think I made it for a 16-year-old, you know? So, when a 16-year-old is intrigued by it, it lets me know how so far advanced as a society we actually are, you know? And that inspired me on a whole 'nother level. I always get people like my parents or, you know, older adults saying, ’This is great. You know, you have a message. You have—you have themes. You have different genres of music.' But to get a kid actually telling me this, it’s a different type of feeling. I don’t think nobody in the world can belittle, you know, their humor, their smarts, nothing, because they’re highly intelligent. And walking into that classroom, it just proved me right.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes, there he was, at your high school, at High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey. What was his reaction to coming to the school?
BRIAN MOONEY: One of the things that really made an impression on all of us was when he spoke to the whole student body. He said that this was the best accolade he ever received. And this was at the time when he just recently got the key to Los Angeles and he was deemed a generational icon. And he’s telling a whole student body of high school students, “This is the best accolade I could ever receive, is making an impact on young people.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk more about HipHopEd, Brian.
BRIAN MOONEY: Yeah, so, for any teachers out there, educators listening, you know, we have a Twitter chat on Tuesday nights from 9 to 10 p.m. with hashtag #HipHopEd. And we talk about the intersections of hip-hop, education, pop culture. We share resources, ideas, lesson plans. And we’re really, you know, just—it’s a professional development every Tuesday night and a resource for educators, who often can become very isolated in classrooms, you know, in the way that public school works. So, it’s an incredible resource.
And, you know, the HipHopEd movement is led by Dr. Chris Emdin from Teachers College, Columbia University, but also just teachers in classrooms doing the work every day. And they just released a book, a compilation, #HipHopEd, the first part in a compilation, and it’s incredible. There’s just amazing teachers and researchers out there, from Dr. Lauren Kelly at Rutgers to Mike Dando in the University of Wisconsin, to Dr. Edmund Adjapong at Seton Hall and Dr. Ian Levy at UMass—just incredible people who are doing great, great work. And that’s my team, the HipHopEd team. We’re just some brilliant, brilliant people who really care about kids and are trying to do good work in schools.
AMY GOODMAN: Your kids’ response yesterday when it was announced that Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer?
BRIAN MOONEY: You know, I haven’t really talked to them much about it yet, because I haven’t been in yet today. But when we—when I go in, you know, we’re going to talk about it and discuss it, because, you know, this is what we do. We talk about these recognitions and these accolades, that these are artists that they’re already listening to, they’re already invested in. So, when we, you know, do this kind of work in schools, it’s about being culturally responsive and culturally relevant.
AMY GOODMAN: Brian Mooney, New Jersey high school teacher. Kendrick Lamar went to his school in 2015, High Tech High School in North Bergen, New Jersey, to perform for the kids, as Brian Mooney participates in HipHopEd.
That does it for our broadcast. I’ll be speaking in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Friday night. That’s Friday night at the Rococo Theatre. Check our website for more details,

High Tech High School Students Earn Eight Medals at SkillsUSA NJ Championships

(Bridgewater NJ—April 14, 2018) High Tech High School students earned a total of eight medals for demonstrating occupational and leadership qualities at the 2018 SkillsUSA New Jersey Championships, held in the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Gym, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech High School.

The following High Tech students earned the medals in their respective categories: Hoboken resident Gibson Borelli won a Gold Medal for Job Skill Demo (Culinary Arts); Makayla Blount of Jersey City and Secaucus resident Alana Aninipot won Gold Medals for Television (Video) Production; Alice Chen of Jersey City and Union City resident Sebastian Cruzado earned Bronze Medals for 3D Visualization; David Mansour of Bayonne and Hoboken resident Colm Donston also earned Bronze Medals for Television (Video) Production, as did Rebecca Rosas of West New York for Welding Sculpture.

“SkillsUSA was such an interesting learning experience,” says Borelli.  “It was so cool to see how hard everyone works for something they love to do.”

The awards ceremony honored winners for over 40 competitions held that day. The Gold Medal winners move on to the National Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, from June 25th-29th.

“I’d like to congratulate our winners and say how proud I am of all the participants involved in SkillsUSA,” says Dyanna Bruno, Instructor of Food-service Management and Marketing and co-adviser with Chef Jennifer Fargo.  “It’s amazing for Hudson County and High Tech to be recognized in such a prestigious competition, and I want to thank everyone involved.”

SkilllsUSA, a national partnership of students, leaders, and industry representatives, helps to ensure a skilled American workforce.  SkillsUSA serves high school and college students preparing for careers in technical, skilled, and service occupations.

“SkillsUSA was an amazing opportunity to observe the different styles of the same art from people all across the state,” Mansour adds.  It was a lively and educational experience.” 

(from left to right: Alice Chen, Sebastian Cruzado, Alana Aninipot, Colm Donston, David Mansour, Rebecca Rosas, Gibson Borelli, and SkillsUSA co-adviser Dyanna Bruno)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

HCST County Prep Culinary Arts Department & Teacher John Palsi Receive Charity Award

This Friday, April 20th, the Chandelier Charity Organization of the Year Award honors a community volunteer group that has actively supported the work of Hudson Milestones as well as the individuals within their programs. This year’s recipient is Hudson County Schools of Technology, Culinary Arts Department, led by John Palsi. Congratulations!

Four High Tech TV Production Students Earn Medals at SkillsUSA NJ Championships

(Bridgewater NJ—April 14, 2018) Four High Tech TV Production students earned medals in Video Production at the SkillsUSA New Jersey Championships, held in the Bridgewater-Raritan High School Gym, announced Dr. Joseph Giammarella, Principal of High Tech High School.

The TV Production students, David Mansour of Bayonne, Hoboken resident Colm Donston, Makayla Blount of Jersey City, and Secaucus resident Alana Aninipot, participated in the Television (Video) Production competition, whereby they wrote, filmed, and edited a 30 second advertisement for SkillsUSA aimed toward the 8th grade and freshman demographic. The students worked in pairs to create their SkillsUSA ad over the span of four hours.

The awards ceremony honored winners for over 40 competitions held that day.

Aninipot and Blount won the Gold in the Video Production competition.  Last year, they nabbed the Bronze Medal in the same competition.  Newcomers Donston and Mansour earned the Bronze as well this year in the very same competition.

“I’m glad that we had the chance to participate in SkillsUSA for the second year in a row,” says Aninipot.  “It was nice to compete against the best programs in the state and to come out on top.”

Saturday, April 14, 2018

High Tech Has Record Princeton Acceptances in One School Year

High Tech’s Anna Rezk Offered Full Scholarships to Eight Ivy League Schools

(Bayonne, NJ—April 14, 2018) When Anna Rezk was just 13 years old, her family suffered a tragedy: the severe illness and death of her father. The teenager not only filled the family void of her father's death by helping to raise her two brothers, she also channeled her grief over her dad's fatal bout with pancreatic cancer into a determination to fight the disease. She wrote about the experience in a spectacularly successful college admissions essay.
"I think seeing him in the hospital atmosphere, seeing the strongest person I had ever known get smaller physically, it was a hard experience, it was really traumatizing on different levels," said Rezk, now an 18-year-old senior at High Tech High School in North Bergen. "But I think that, in itself, it kind of invoked this feeling in me that I had a responsibility to other people's dads, that if I had the ability to change the way that other people's lives could be affected, then I should take advantage of that.  "I'm kind of honoring my dad in that way."

Anna's father, Rezk Wanis Rezk, died at age 55.

The essay, along with other signs of Rezk's drive and intelligence that included stellar grades with a schedule of virtually all advanced placement and honors classes, helped win her a distinction unmatched in the memory of High Tech High guidance officials—she was accepted into all eight Ivy League colleges.  Moreover, every single one of them—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale—offered her a full scholarship.
Anna hasn't decided just where she'll enroll in September, though she is leaning toward Princeton University to stay relatively close to her mother, Mervat Andrawes, or Brown University in Providence, which offers an accelerated medical degree program.  And Anna didn't do a bad job helping raise her brothers: Peter, 20, now a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; while her twin and High Tech classmate, John, will attend Princeton, where he also received an offer of a full scholarship and will study engineering.
"I'm kind of the bossy one," she said, adding that her responsibilities included making sure her brothers had dinner. "So I would tell them what to do."
It was John, the more outgoing of the twins, who spread the word around school that his sister was in such high academic demand.  "I'm not bragging!" John said, beaming with pride at his sister's smarts during an interview in the office of Assistant Principal Allyson Krone. "I just wanted to let people know."
The school's longtime senior guidance counselor, Vincent Nardiello, said he could not recall a student ever having been accepted to all eight Ivies, as well as to the dozen "safety" schools where she also applied.  This is also a special year not only for Anna and John, but for High Tech, which had a total of five students accepted to Princeton among 272 graduating seniors, an unheard-of number for a single school, Nardiello said. The other three are Mousy Lo of Jersey City, Erica De Lacerda of North Bergen, and Muhammad Umar, another Class of '22 Ivy Leaguer from Bayonne.
High Tech High, which will move into a new building in September, is a career-oriented magnet school whose 1,121 students are drawn from all over Hudson County. Despite the traditional conception—or misconception—of technical schools, Krone said High Tech prides itself on its rigorous academics. Each student is enrolled in an academy, akin to a college major, which Krone and Nardiello said may give High Tech graduates an advantage over their counterparts.

Anna and her brothers were born in Brooklyn after their parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt. The family soon moved to Jersey City, where they joined the city's large Coptic Christian community. Their father, an armored car driver, moved the family to Bayonne when Anna and John were in 3rd grade, where their intellect was evident even then
"They were, like, automatic superstars," said Ghenwa Hassan, 17, of Bayonne, a friend of Anna's since elementary school, and a classmate at High Tech, who will be headed to the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in September.  "They were the smartest kids in the class."
Hassan and others said Anna was not all academics. She was a normal teen with a social life, a social conscience, and likes away from school, including fiction writing, something Anna said she thought of pursuing before medicine.
While her father's death did influence her decision on just what it was she wanted to pursue, Anna said it was her dad and mom, who, though not college grads, had instilled a joy of learning and a strong work ethic in her.
"I guess I was always like that," said Anna, who laughs easily and takes herself less seriously than her studies.  "It's hard to predict whether I might have been a slacker if he hadn't passed away."
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