Talking With High School Kids

Last year, I was contacted by my high school to gauge interest if I would be interested in coming back and speaking to the current students about my transition from high school to university and eventually to professional life. My limited flexibility in my schedule due to just starting a new job didn’t allow me to make the trip last year but I was finally able to do it earlier last week when my scheduled trip home fit both of our schedules.

Let me explain my high school first. The Middlesex County Academy for Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies was established in 2000 and I was part of the 2nd class to enter the institution. Each year, the school only accepts 40 students from the entire county and stops replacing them if they leave after sophomore year. I ended up graduating with only 32 students but just from that select group alone we have people working internationally, have had some enrolled in Ivy League schools, a couple going for their PHDs and not to mention the various types of fields in the industry we have managed to penetrate. Let me also say I was fortunate to have Christine volunteer to come speak with me as well as it provided an excellent balance for two people who started in the same place and have gone on to take completely opposite routes since and still be enjoying what they do professionally.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the talk as I didn’t know too many of them beforehand since we have been out of that building for almost 6 years now but it continued to be more productive as the day progressed. The seniors seemed far more reserved compared to the barrage of questions and feedback we received from the juniors afterwards but they did come back with requests to talk to alums who had taken certain paths and to the best of our abilities, we have put all in touch with someone within a matter of days.

Since the talk, we have started to take the first concrete steps towards founding an Academy Alumni Foundation which I think will go a long way in connecting not only the alumni with each other but also serve as a strong foundation for the current students looking to take the next step in their educational or professional careers. I have already heard from excited alumni who are asking about how they can help and hopefully this type of activity still exists once the association is up and running – which shouldn’t be too far into the future (barring any setbacks).

For those that went to my high school and have not yet filled out the Alumni information form, please do so here. In under a week now, we have been able to get nearly 50% of all graduates already spanning over six years and hopefully that trend continues so we can officially launch in the near future.

Alumni Use Experience To Continue Dominance

Edit: Thanks to “Shot Shanker” for giving the update on the goals on either side of halftime. If anyone wants to fill me in on that or any other detail I might have left out… feel free to leave a comment or contact me any other way.

On the warmest 40 degree morning you will ever experience, the Alumni and Academy soccer teams faced off for the eighth time in four years. It was not as easy as one might have expected giving the Alumni owned a 6-1 record against the current Academy team. Keeping true to Academy form, the 11:00 scheduled game time promptly started at 11:30 after some roster and starting position difficulties.

The game was only a matter of minutes old, when the Academy would get the first strike. Following an Alumni turnover on the opening possession, Academy calmly moved the ball down the field into attacking territory when Sami Abdisubhan fed the ball to Maksim Goryunov who brought it up on the near-side flank loosely marked. Max would eventually cross the ball into the box bypassing most defenders towards the far corner of the 6-yard box where it was essentially a one-on-on between alum Frank Levering and current Junior Daniel Hillman. The younger one would have his moment as a well timed leap and connecting on a header over Frank’s head inside the near-side post would put the current Academy squad up 1-0.

The lead would not last very long as only a few moments later, Kevin Scala and Chuck Andrejcisk would get the Alumni moving in the right direction. It would be a well timed pass from the former that beat two defenders and allowed to Chuck to take a couple of uncontested touches before drilling the ball in the back of the net to even up the score at 1.

Kevin would tack on another one a few moments after typing it up at one as the Alumni started to build some momentum. The half would end with the score 2-1 in favor of the Alumni as possession was evenly divided between the two squads with a couple of corners a piece on both sides.

A more resilient Alumni side took the field in the second half determined to the put the game away quickly and they showed it as they dominated ball possession and really controlled the tempo. About 10 minutes into the half, Alumni would strike again to build a 3-1 lead as Kevin received a pass from about 30-35 out and dribbled it to the top of the box before releasing a rocket passed the arms of Academy goalie into the side netting. 2 goals and an assist on a very productive day by the youngest Scala to be an Academy alum.

Half way through the second half, Anish Abuwala got into the mix of things as finally a penalty shot was called in favor of the Alumni following several close tackles inside the box. Anish would make no mistake on the shot as the ball just beat the outstretched feet of the goalkeeper who had incorrectly guessed leaning towards his left to score the final tally for the Alumni to make the score 4-1.

Four unanswered goals by the Alumni really put the game away that even careless goalkeeping would not allow the Academy back into the game. Following a goalkeeping punt that would go a mere 10 yards and a muffed pass backwards by two different keepers, the weak second half goalkeeping would come full circle as Shaban Hani tried to make a comeback for the Academy side as he dribbled into the box near side and would beat the keeper on a low, weak shot and momentarily brought life back into the game at 4-2.

Moments later, both Sami and Alyssa Milanese would attack again after picking up a turnover at midfield and moved the ball relatively easily down the near side. With Sami in the box alone, he had a strong shot but straight at the keeper which was knocked back out to a contested Alyssa who instead of shooting the ball, passed it back to an offsides-Sami and essentially ending the last threat the Academy team would put on the Alumni as the game would eventually finish at 4-2.

A closely contested game would end up being decided on a more disciplined (albeit out of shape) Alumni team which did well to employ the offsides trap on a couple of Academy strikers and using short passes in the middle of the field which allowed them to control possession for a vast majority of the second half. The Alumni had plenty more scoring opportunities but failed to capitalize on them and definitely allowed Academy to stay in the game much, much longer than they had anticipated.

The Academy: End Of An Era?

Well it wasn’t going to last forever and a Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies that has been led by Principal Glenn Methner will come to an end later next month. I had unofficially heard about the news a little while back and had it confirmed by people in the school earlier this week. What was disappointing in this whole ordeal was that I had waited to confirm it before approaching him, yet when I asked Mr. Methner whether he was leaving or not, he completely dismissed what I said as an unfounded rumor and even went out of his way to say “they would have to drag me out of here” for me to leave the Academy. It is a shame for an outgoing school principal to still resort to the same old smoke-and-mirror type political approach that some students became accustomed to while in school for their four years of high school.

Regardless of what you thought of him, coming in and being a principal of a school from inception is no easy task. There are growing pains on both the administration side and they exist on the part of the students as well but that is something you learn and adjust with over the years. From what I can tell, Mr. Methner did just that as an overwhelming number of current Academy students, if not all, were saddened to hear the news of his departure. On the other hand, I’m not sure you can state that same case with the older alumni although there seems to be a unanimous concern towards the next principal who comes and what their vision of this school may entail in the future.

As the soccer team now proudly wears apparel that states “Tradition Never Graduates”, you can make a convincing case that the former students never graduate completely from this school. Almost all students try to make a return trip post-graduation and that speaks volume to the sense of community being built in a high school that’s not even a decade old yet. That sense of community has definitely been built on trust, responsibility and accountability. Some of that which seems to be thrown into a little question with the way all this event has unfolded.

Let me preface this paragraph by saying that technically he does not owe anybody, anything given his years of service to this school. However, knowing what Mr. Methner knew, I think it is inexcusable for someone who is well aware of the impact this transition will have to take such a passive approach towards informing the student population and their families. It is a cowardly step to avoid addressing the issue straight on with your students and a blatant attempt to try and dampen any reaction someone may have by releasing the news on the eve of an extended holiday break. From what I have been informed, he is leaving prior to the end of this calendar year and that is quite a letdown to the current senior class which has obviously grown close to him to be abandoned mid-Senior year prior to graduation without much notice.

You hate to end a respectable tenure on such a bitter note but sometimes things just need to be said… and the sooner the better in most situations.

I look forward to seeing him appropriately attend his first Academy Alumni game during his final days and hope that things work out for the best in the future on all ends — especially for The Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies and those that pass through its two glass doors.

Yet Another Successful Alumni Game

[EDIT] A couple of changes noted by Rishi Abuwala. The name of freshman who I couldn’t remember but played well for us along side Dan was Tony. Also, the score at half time was apparently 2-2 and not 3-2 as I stated. The Alumni scored 3 more unanswered goals in the second half.

Here is a game recap for those who could not attend and even for those who were and want a recap of the game. Let me know if I messed up somewhere with a detail or a name and I’ll adjust it.

After what seemed like hundreds of date and time changes, the 7th Academy Alumni soccer game took place yesterday in the scorching 100 degree weather. As the current Academy students and the alumni started to trickle onto the track field at Thomas Edison Park, you could tell this was going to be a long day as everyone started sweating long before most of us even took the field.

I usually always field some shots before warm-ups from players on both sides which helps me get a sense of the new kids and whose shot I should look out for come game time. A couple of incoming freshmen did well to leave a good mark right away which tells you the future of the Academy has the potential to stay bright.

As game time neared, the Alumni including the seniors (or lone senior – Carlo) from the class of 2009 only had 9 players on our side compared to roughly 15-16 for the current Academy team. We ended up drawing two incoming freshmen who I would have preferred along side their teammates for the upcoming year but definitely gave our team a boost. I don’t accurately remember the second freshman’s name but Dan who played defense right in front of me was very calm and collected in the face of a constant attack from the Academy side which cam early and often. Even in a couple of one-on-one situations, he did well holding his own against the likes of Sami and Alyssa.

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