A look back at our past

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Megan Osborne

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Imagine when students were smoking down the hallways and sported neon outfits with crazy hair. That’s exactly what happened at West Essex 40 years ago. The school dynamic, spirit and overall appearance has completely changed throughout the years.

  • 1988:
    • West Essex changed their sports division from The Hills Division to the Iron Hills Conference.
    • The school was in the process of refurbishing the gym lobby where the main goal was to make a central display for the athletic awards. The school also painted the walls red and white.
    • The gym floors were repainted and new bleachers were installed in main gym.
    • WE was undergoing periodic testing to minimize lead water content. Even though WE didn’t have any lead they wanted to monitor it to be safe.
    • Smoking in the school was trying to be eliminated and students/staff were only allowed to smoke in room 314 and anywhere outside.

  • The NJ Public Safety passed the “Graduated Driver’s License” bill passed by the NJ Legislature. This bill would raise the “Graduated Driver’s License” driving age from 17 to 18 and there would be a curfew of 11pm- 5am for 17-year-olds. Most students were against this and hoped the bill wouldn’t get passed, little did we know years later this bill would be in effect.
  • There was many teen driving accidents which resulted in deaths. This was the ultimate reason why the state raised the driving age.
  • Frelinghuysen visited West Essex to talk about politics.
  • The Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal made major headlines.
  • The cafe got vending machines, a new menu and raised school lunch prices.
  • West Essex had a chess team.
  • Students wished there was more control of smoking in the bathrooms. Students at that time were can only allowed to smoke in the courtyard near the cafe.
  • Students complained about the lack of working computers in the library and the library hour times.
  • This was the first year Jill Cosse started coaching lacrosse.



    • Students complained about the stress of AP testing and applying to colleges.
    • Freshman were intimidated by upperclassmen during lunch and got switched to eat lunch during fourth period. This caused complaints as fourth period was to early in the morning to eat lunch because at the end of the day, they were all starving.
    • There was a senior fundraiser called Sportsfest where fall sport teams competed in a scavenger hunt, a hula hoop contest, a pie eating contest and musical chairs. The field hockey team took home the Sportsfest win in 2008.
    • A students backpack exploded.
    • Students who played sports, participated in extracurricular activities and who had a school permit parking were required to get drug tested. This caused lots of controversy but the final decision of the drug tests remained with the parents.
    • There was talk about lowering the drinking age from 21-18.
    • Cameras were put up in the school because there was a lot of student violence. Cameras were needed as evidence in case fights would break out.
    • West Essex had a major lock down after a credible threat against the school was made. The police came in with firearms and with dogs to make sure the school was safe.