Memories of Derby High School - 1990's
By Diane Potkay, DHS '96
My first memories of Derby High School, were my days in middle school. At one point in the late 80s, seventh and eighth grade classes were moved into the high school building. I entered DHS building as a seventh grader in 1990 and left as a high school senior in 1996. It was quite a long time to spend there, but remarkably each year was better than the one before. It became easier to get involved in more activities and to appreciate the many traditions and personalities which made and make Derby High so special.
School days were fun. Everyday students would report to homeroom, where teachers would take attendance. Most students would beat the school bell, others, not so fortunate, received tardy marks on their records. After fifteen minutes of watching Channel One, a broadcasting system with world news and student related activities, we would head to our scheduled classes of the day.
There are a few teachers who made the Derby experience distinct. Mr. Lavery, who has since retired, redefined science laboratories with his stringent requirements. He demanded precision and accuracy from his students. Ms. Brown also exercised difficult English requirements.
Perhaps, her assignment to write ten good college essays proved the most beneficial to the students. They were ever so handy when students applied to universities. The Spanish and French classes were also intensive but worthwhile. In addition to the frequent vocabulary tests, we often sang cultural songs and enjoy days of Spanish/French cuisine.
Mrs. Vicdomino and Mr. Matthew's gym class was a fun excursion in the day. Whether it was hockey, basketball or aerobics, gym class was often the most anticipated.
Last, but certainly not least, Mr. Fahy instigated several heated discussions about life and learning in his sociology and psychology classes. It often took years before student's appreciated Mr. Fahy's words of wisdom. Even throughout my college years, my Derby classmates would refer back to Fahy's philosophies.
Derby's athletic prominence completed our high school experience. Whether it was winning a Football State Championship in the early 1990s, a Baseball State Championship in mid-1990s, to the dominating wrestling team, Derby has its share of athletic prowess. There were so many ways to share in Derby's athletic tradition. For me, I was a Derbyette (pom-pom girl), a member of the pep club, and an athlete. I also have two older brothers who both played football, basketball, and track & field.
Part of what makes Derby athletics special is because it is a family tradition with a great deal of history and pride. I can remember spending all Thursday afternoon with the pep club to decorate the halls with countless balloons, streamers and glitter-filled posters. Fridays were especially meaningful to watch as football players saw and felt the school's support for the big game. Pep rallies were often just as big as the game itself. Speeches from the coaches, such as personable Mr. DeFrancisco, and the current football captains, would often thrill the crowd with their inspirational words.
As the year came to a close, athletics were over and most classes were winding down. This came about two weeks before the last day of school. The student body enjoyed a more relaxed dress code, where shorts of a respectable length were allowed. Also many teachers treated classes by allowing the students to watch a movie or two. Yearbooks were distributed and signed. For many seniors there was the prom and graduation to look forward to, where several cash prizes were awarded and the traditional singing of the school song. There was also the task of saying goodbye to friends and starting new traditions. Lastly, it was a time to be grateful for all that Derby provided as a foundation in education, athletics, and Valley pride.