FALLS TWP. — The Abington Heights High School 50th anniversary celebration coming up this weekend at the campus on Noble Road in South Abington Township has Michael Dziak Jr., 89, reflecting on memories from half a century ago.
“It was an enjoyable experience,” said the school’s first principal. “If I had another chance, I would do the same thing that I did.”
The Falls Township native lived on a farm for the first 18 years of his life, until he was drafted for World War II. After two years of service in the army, he received an honorable discharge and went on to pursue a higher education. He graduated from East Stroudsburg State College (now East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania), earning a Bachelor of Science degree with certification in biology, American history and geography. He later earned his master’s degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Dziak began his career in education with a short stint at the Honesdale High School, teaching biology and chemistry, although he was not certified in the latter. When a position opened up in 1951 at the Clarks Summit – Abington High School (a then-recent merger between the Clarks Summit-Clarks Green school and the Waverly school), he jumped at the opportunity.
He started in the district in 1951 as a biology and American history teacher. During his second year there, he was appointed athletic director, and after five years, part-time assistant principal under Principal William Crum. After about 10 years as assistant principal, Dziak replaced Crum, when the principal was promoted to the superintendent position. At that time John Franklin was appointed assistant principal. Dziak retired 1984.
Some of Dziak’s fondest memories from working at Abington Heights come from his involvement in presenting the Comets Revues, biannual variety shows to help raise money for athletic awards. Another aspect which brings good memories is his work with the faculty-student council.
He said one of the biggest challenges of the job came in the form of discipline. Smoking was a problem, with students often lighting up cigarettes in the bathrooms.
Playing hooky also seemed to be a hobby for some students, but Dziak had his own way of dealing with that.
“I used to go out and check if students skipped school, particularly at lunch time,” he said. “They went up to a restaurant. …As I pulled up, I could see students sitting at the counter. When I went in, they had disappeared. Now they’ve got to be somewhere. Kitchen? No. Boys’ bathroom? No. Girls’ bathroom? Yes.”
Back to school with Mr. Dziak the students then went, earning themselves detention.
Although ongoing health issues prevent him from attending all of the anniversary weekend activities, Dziak said he hopes to be there for Saturday’s open house and looks forward to chatting with former students and faculty. He added much credit is due the school’s current assistant principal, Lee Ann Theony, for organizing the celebration.
Friday’s events will begin with a re-dedication ceremony and history presentation from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., open to current students, faculty and staff; former educators and administrators; school board members and community leaders. The public is invited to join in the celebration that evening with a choir concert, art show and memorabilia display, from 7 to 8 p.m.
Saturday’s events, open to the public, includes an open house from 9 to 11 a.m., with an oral history presentation from 10 to 10:30 a.m.