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Alumni Profile: Mr. Orlinsky, a life-long Patriot

Sarah Shelley, Staff Writer

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This week I had had the privilege of interviewing one of FTHS’s most beloved teachers, Mr. Orlinksy. I asked him a few questions about what it’s like being an alumni of the school he works at, and what exactly is different now compared to them. Having graduated from FTHS in 1997, and getting the job in 2003, he was able to provide some valuable insight.

 

What was your favorite memory from high school?

I would say graduation. It was a pretty amazing feeling looking back at that point at all that I had accomplished and all that my friends and I did together. We reminisced about all the different things we did. It was an amazing experience because of that and also to realize that everyone from my graduating class was all together again at the same exact point. Every one of us had just graduated high school in that moment and we were all open to the world and equal. You know, everyone was doing different things and going different places, but at that moment we all had this other shared experience, which was pretty cool.

 

Did you play any sports? what would you say has changed?

I played tennis for the high school and I played other sports outside of school.

 

What’s changed?

What’s changed, first off, as far as the tennis program goes is that it has definitely gotten more competitive. I think that the quality of the players has gotten much, much better. I also think that the landscape of sports in general is very different now with much more parent involvement.  I don’t ever remember that happening when I was a kid, but at the end of the day sports are still sports and kids are still kids.

 

What was your prom theme and what did you wear?

Oh geez, I want to say it was “I Will Remember You,” which was a Sarah McLachlan song, and I wore a black tux and I want to say I had a red bow or a red vest, something like that. I am not 100% sure though.  Ms. Galinski would know for sure because she set the whole thing up.

 

What kind of car did you drive or did you take the bus and did you have a senior parking spot?

I did not have a car when I was in high school; that’s definitely changed. My graduating class was about half the size back then and everybody got a parking spot and only half the kids actually used them. One of my good friends from the neighborhood had a car so he always drove me to school every day. My first car, which I got the summer after high school, was a 1989 ugly, snot brown, Honda Accord 2-door, with the flip up headlights, and I loved it and her name was Sheila and she was awesome.

 

What made you want to work at FTHS?

I never knew that I was going to work at FTHS. I kind of already knew that I wanted to be a teacher, but I always thought that I would do accounting first. I actually got my college degree in accounting and I figured I would do accounting for five or ten years, make a lot of money and then come back and teach. I learned two things in college that were very important: Number one, I hated accounting and number two, I wanted to be a teacher right away. It was just a stroke of luck that I got the job. I graduated in December of 2002 with my masters from Syracuse and I got a job the next week at Manalapan High School. At the end of the year they transferred me to Township and I’ve been here ever since.

 

Did you have any teachers that still work here?

Yes, a lot actually.  They’ve recently been retiring in the last few years, but the ones that I can think of off of the top of my head are Mrs. Manzar, she was my English teacher freshman year; and Mrs. Forrester and Mr. Blanco, Mr. Gualtieri– a lot of the Phys. Ed. Teachers.  I believe Mrs. McCoy might have been here, but over the last three or four years most of them have retired. Mr. Shine was a teacher here when I was here but I never had him. My first year of teaching was bizarre and surreal because there were so many of them. Having to call them by their first names was definitely an adjustment, I would say.

 

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed at FTHS, whether it be literal or figurative?

Literally, I teach in a part of the building that did not exist when I went here, which is actually kind of nice because I still don’t feel like I am going to school every day. The size of the school as far as the number of students is amazing to me. When I graduated, my graduating class was 282 and the graduating classes now are almost double that.  There were only about 1,200 kids in the school, I want to say and now there are about 2,200. So the volume of students here is very different.  Other than that, I think kids are still kids. I remember doing the same things that you guys do today, just with different technology.  Instead of a cellphone, I had a beeper.  Yeah, my mom thought I was a drug dealer because of that, but I thought I was cool. As far as what else is different, I don’t know, I think that high school is always going to have a relative concept as far as the experience and the theme. I definitely think that the school community has become a lot more proactive with doing the right thing.  For example, the PEP Program, I think is a tremendous positive thing. Also, the SLIP Program, just having that in the forefront, where people are discussing which things we shouldn’t be doing, that to me is a huge difference. Back then, people kind of didn’t really discuss things like that and it kind of just went under the radar.  I think those are the biggest differences and the fact that it’s not Liberty Oak Park anymore, it’s Michael J. Tighe. Those are the big ones, I would say.

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Alumni Profile: Mr. Orlinsky, a life-long Patriot