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A Welcome Face: Mr. Zisa is Back!

By Sofia Waldron

This school year, there were a lot of changes in the performing arts department, but with these changes we also welcomed back a familiar face, Musical Theater teacher, Mr. John Zisa. In my interview with Zisa, I learned that, in some ways, he feels as though he never left. But, with a new classroom and students, it’s enough to make him feel like there’s a fresh start as he is getting to know his students, their strengths and interests, and figuring out how he can “help them to grow and improve upon what they already bring to class naturally.”

During his time away from High Tech, he focused on directing professionally, and directed for several theaters around the NYC area, and was able to assistant direct a broadway show. In his words,”Focusing on directing professionally before coming back to HT was helpful because I really got to learn a lot by working alongside people in the industry, and I can bring a lot of what I learned back into the classroom.”

Zisa has long had a foot in both worlds of teaching and performing, which has only seemed to benefit him. “The benefit of having been a performer and teaching is that I have first-hand experience and advice about the industry that I’m teaching.” The first show lined up for the musical theater program is an alumni show in November, Homecoming, where current and former musical theater students will perform a series of numbers, while also celebrating HTHS alumni who have worked professionally on stage and behind the scenes all over the country and beyond. “I decided on an alumni show this November because it does feel like a great time to reflect on the program’s past, while also looking ahead to the future of the musical theater department.”

With this show already lined up, it begs the big question of what will the spring musical be? Zisa explained that he is still getting to know everyone, and would like to pick a show that will help the students shine the most and bring out the best in everyone. Although Zisa is very busy with the musical theater program, he is still keen on finding ways to direct theater outside of the classroom, and he plans to get a dog one day. For right now, he is just figuring out how to balance it all. My final question to Mr. Zisa was if he had anything else he would like the community to know about him, and he wants you to know that he loves pizza more than life. Same. Thank you, Zisa!

Catching Up with Mr. Gongora

By Luis Varon

Many students know Mr. Gongora as their former math teacher, but recently he was moved to a new position which most of us student didn’t know about. Currently, Mr. Gongora works with other staff members in the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. Mr. Gongora is in charge of building and changing the school curriculum to ensure that all students in the district, including High Tech, County Prep, and Explore Middle School, meet the educational standards set by the state of New Jersey.

Another of his responsibilities is how this new curriculum will be taught in classrooms across the district. This includes working with teachers to ensure they have everything they need to teach the curriculum, whether it be supplies or needing help with using technology in their teaching. The Office of Curriculum and Instruction is also responsible for making sure that state testing in the district goes smoothly and that students perform well.

Most of you might not know that all state testing does indirectly affect you, not on a grading scale but in other ways. If most students perform way less than expected on state testing, then the budget for the school might be lowered, as the state provides the school with a yearly budget. Still, if it sees that the students are not performing well with the current curriculum, then the budget is lowered because the money is clearly not being spent well.

So, the next time you think about not doing your best on standardized tests, think about all you hold dear in this school, whether it be the food or anything, and know that you have the power to make it better or worse. And you also make Mr. Gongora’s job harder for him. In fact, he has a few choice words for those of you reading, “Any time that you are in a room taking a state test, you might as well do your best, because you never know who is looking at the data. And why not? And because, you should RISE to the challenge.”

Diving Horses by Mr. Nardiello: A Student's Review

By Colin O’Mara

“When one is stuck at home with their family, one can only think of family,” Mr. Nardiello explained to his class the day before opening night of his newest play, Diving Horses. Family was the driving factor in writing his four-part play, which Mr. Nardiello’s described as his “COVID project.” The play, which was directed by HTHS English teacher, Ms. Murphy, isn’t any upbeat Broadway play like people would expect. It tackles harsh topics like abuse, domestic violence, custody and not knowing who your family truly is. While it does take on some of these dark tropes, it also takes some of these themes and turns them into comedy. I’ve seen the play myself and the people around me laughing at the jokes while seeing the irony of what the characters said. Mr. Nardiello found the perfect balance between dark and comedy in this play.

In these four plays, you will be thrust into realistic scenes, like the first play which introduces a brother and sister who go through their father’s things when his father is accused of being a human trafficker by a random stranger. The next play was about a father and mother of a family youtube vlog channel. The father was oblivious to the fact that the channel was breaking his family apart and confronts his wife when she tries to convince him to shut down the channel. The third play is a monologue from a father who was never involved in his son’s life because he was shut out by the mother, and he goes to seemingly unthinkable lengths to spend time with his estranged son. The final play is about a family of four whose daughter returns from college with a screenplay she says is based on themes familiar to their family. The familiar theme turns out to trigged prior trauma from her father’s childhood. If one thing can be said about these plays it is that they are real life problems condensed into 20 minutes that makes you feel every second of it.

HTHS Freshmen Todd Green (left) and Hudson Pascual (right)

Freshman Check-in with Esteban Marenco

With a new school year comes new freshmen, and after two months of being in school it's time to get their hot takes on High Tech.

To get the best opinions on how the 2022-23 freshman year is going, we spoke to Hudson Pascual and Todd Green who gave some pretty positive feedback.

Hudson is a DFab major and Todd is a Media and Visual Arts major but if you saw them in the hallway you might have trouble guessing that they are separate majors just because of how close they are. This is because, unlike previous years, this freshman class is starting off their High Tech experience with most, if not all, of their general education classes (like English, history, math, and science) intertwined among all of the majors. This is a big change from the days when students took their core academic classes with teachers in their wing of the school.

The difference was seen when we asked them what they like the most about coming to High Tech: Todd talked about how he really enjoys meeting and seeing all of his different friends, while Hudson said that he really enjoys and appreciates all of his teachers throughout the building. This especially caught our attention because, as mentioned earlier, previously students were separated by major and so were teachers. But now, students have the chance to get exposure from different kinds of teachers from all across the building, giving them a more open view of high tech staff.

After discovering their favorite thing about High Tech it was only natural we find out their least favorite thing. As any freshman would agree, they started listing their hardest classes and complained about the work they were being assigned. So, these newbies are still making adjustments but they are enjoying their experience.

Fun Fact: This year's freshman class experienced the initial Covid-19 lockdown in 6th grade!

Merch Store Galore

By Gracie McKenna

What better way to show some school spirit than to display it on your clothes? High Tech has officially opened its brand new merch store! Located right across from the first floor entrance to the C wing, the new store has a variety of clothing with different styles, colors, sizes, and fonts for everyone to enjoy. Although we have had HTHS merch in the past, we've never invested in an in-school store, so this is a very exciting addition for many students and staff. Currently, the store is only open during the fourth and fifth periods and is run by High Tech senior, Julie-Ann Cartegena.

The prices are as follows: sweatpants ($25), hoodies ($20), crew necks ($20), and T-shirts ($15).

As of this writing, all purchases are cash only. Even if you are not ready to buy, students are encouraged to browse and get a feel for what's available . So come on down, represent your school spirit to the fullest, and buy yourself some High Tech merch.

Senior Jaiden Cortes (center) plays Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast

High Tech Seniors Star in Kidz Theater’s Beauty and the Beast!

By: Makaela Garcia

High Tech seniors Penelope Burt, Jaiden Cortes, and Makaela Garcia took the stage this November for Kidz Theater NYC’s production of Beauty and the Beast. Running from November 4 through 20, the show features Penelope Burt as Belle, Jaiden Cortes as Lumiere/Ensemble, and Makaela Garcia as Ensemble. Kidz Theatre is a professional musical theater training program for children of almost all ages. Kristen Caesar, the Director of Kidz Theater, explains: “Our Main Stage productions push social justice issues to the forefront, and through strong storytelling, our performers get to make a strong statement about the world.” Kidz Theater’s reimagination of a popular kids fairy tale brings to light all of the deeper meanings that the story entails.

Haunted High Tech

By: Gabriela Romanelli

This past Halloween the Junior Student Council hosted a haunted hallway in the F wing throughout all four lunch periods. Inspiration was drawn from High Tech’s haunted history: the “Hudson County Lunatic Asylum” (1873-1939), with plenty of student volunteers dressed up as doctors and patients to give their classmates the spook of the season. Planning began all the way back in August, supplies were mostly donated by students and teachers, and actors were sourced from across all the academies. The decorating took place the day of, from first to third period. There were about thirty to forty student volunteers dedicated to making sure the event ran smoothly, with junior student council president Brianna Paulino keeping everyone in line.

This entirely student-run haunted hallway was a major success. The junior student council raised upwards of three hundred dollars, meaning that around one hundred and eighty members of the High Tech community purchased tickets to show their support and give in to the halloween spirit. Overall, the event was well received. Students say, “even though it wasn’t very scary, it was funny seeing your classmates all dressed up and hearing them scream from the cafeteria.” The class really came together to pull this off. All the academies worked as one, students established themselves as leaders and role models, and everyone had a good time. Whether students volunteered as decorators, make-up artists, actors, or even just donated a couple dollars, the class of 2024’s Haunted Hallway was a hit. Hopefully, it will become an annual tradition!

HTHS Costume Contest

By: Grace Conlin

Halloween at High Tech was especially spooky this year with the Senior council costume contest. Hosted by Rapha Dieng, Grace Conlin, and Emily Dadulla, the contestants competed for the prize in four categories. Best group costume, won by Brandon Fernandez and Eliel Gonzalez with their rendition of Cuphead and Mugman was a wonderful display of their creative talents and ability to work together!

There were quite a few laughs and hollers from the audience from the two Pitbulls during a dazzling performance of “Hotel Room Service”. Portia Tomasso and Emilia Rokeach took the prize that day for funniest costume and definitely deserved it. Then we saw some real creativity with Matthew Barragan with his detailed costume of Denji from Chainsaw man! Matthew wowed the audience with a show and definitely deserved the prize of most creative costume.

Closing out our show was Olivia Moran with the best character portrayal with none other than Vector from Despicable Me. She committed to the costume, wig, glasses, and all and had the audience begging for more even after she went off stage. It was definitely a successful last Halloween for the seniors here at High Tech, stay tuned for the next contest.

Paint and Chill with Interact Club

By: Gabriela Romanelli

High Tech’s Interact Club hosted its first ever Paint and Chill event this past Wednesday in the upper deck of the media center. Around fifteen students spent the after-school session from 3:00-5:00 making beautiful paintings that are to be donated to AngelaCares, an organization that works with Jersey City senior citizens. These talented students’ work will be donated and displayed in a retirement home here in Hudson County. Club members worked together to organize, photograph, and cleanup all throughout the event.

Many students stopped by and showed their appreciation, and there was much interest in future events. Leslie Hernandez, secretary of the Interact Club, said “We’re so proud of the effort our members put into making this event happen. I’d consider this to be a success!”. Students expressed their creativity and showcased their talents while giving back to the community. The goal of Interact Club is to promote togetherness/interactivity and establish lifelong relationships both within High Tech and throughout Hudson County, this event allowed students to do so in a fun and easy manner. The High Tech community can look forward to seeing more of this kind of event in the future.

High Tech Hosts Its First Hispanic Heritage Showcase

By: Cydney Rampersad

To conclude Hispanic Heritage month, High Tech hosted its first Hispanic Heritage Showcase. The event, organized by Ms. Guzman and the Spanish Club, took place in the resource room during lunch periods. It was a hit with students from all different backgrounds who were immersed in Hispanic culture through food, music, art, and dance.

The Showcase room bustled with vibrant decor and lively music, as soon as you entered. There were beautiful poster boards and infographics throughout the room that provided insight into Hispanic society. Ms. Velazquez’s painting booth allowed students to express their creativity and celebrate the rich history of Hispanic civilization. Our very own cafeteria staff also kindly took the time to make some traditional Hispanic foods, like empanadas (crescent-shaped pastries that are filled with a variety of savory ingredients and then baked or fried) and yuca frita (fried yuca wedges). Our favorite office staff, Ms. Jeanette and Mr. Rivera, also made an appearance at the event, dancing, singing, posing with props, and just having a good time celebrating Hispanic heritage! The festivities came to a close with a dance party to prominent Latino singers, like the “Bachata King” Romeo Santos and Reggaeton artist Bad Bunny.

Weeks of planning went into organizing this event, and Ms. Guzman did a phenomenal job of managing the event, arranging the activities, and keeping the crowd entertained. Overall, High Tech had an amazing time commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month!

To view the photos of the fiesta, click this link or visit the folder below!

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