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Memories of Derby High School - 1960's

Barbara Tiano Garofalo '61 Linda Tiano Coppola '67

The 60's jumped off to an auspicious start with Dave Bishop's record setting high jump of 6'1" that still stands today (update - Eric Hicks broke the record with a jump of 6'4" in 2015). The baseball team featured such skilled players as catcher Bruce Sill, center fielder Hubie Reynolds and the strong pitching of Bob Martino.

At the same time, the high school music program flourished under the joint direction of Don DeFala and Ralph Chiarella. In addition to original music pieces composed by DeFala such as "The Commuter", participation in the band, color guard and majorettes grew as the decade progressed.

An administrative transition occurred when Daniel Heffernan retired and the memorable team of Principal Martin Chromik and Vice-Principal Angelina Vitali took firm control of Derby High School. It was an era of strong discipline, conservative dress code, neat grooming and high academic standards. Who could forget the ruler measuring skirt lengths and sideburns?

The outstanding faculty included: Mr. Coss, Mr. Al Vitello, Mr. Palmuci, Mr. Koval, Mr. Tony DeFrancisco, Signorina Botti, Miss D'Alessio, Miss Dempsey, Mrs. Dargon, Miss Gibbs and Mrs. Garnsey.

To accommodate overcrowding conditions at the Minerva Street high school, the freshman class attended p.m. sessions from noon to 5 p.m. from 1963 through April 1968. Proms were held in the Irving School gym as well as varsity basketball games. Nothing was as exciting as the march up Hawthorne Avenue the night before the big football games against our valley rivals, the Ansonia Lavender and the Shelton Gaels, for a bonfire in the current softball field. The much-anticipated move to the present high school on Nutmeg Avenue occurred in April of 1968.

The basketball program succeeded under the inspired coaching of Bill Duggan as it thrilled us with exciting state tournament play. Some familiar names come to mind: Allie Vitello, Mike Carroll, Dave Walkinshaw, Dave Stochmal, Dave Narowski…

The football dynasty began when Ron Carbone was recruited to take the helm of the Red Raiders football program. The offensive threat of TonyPassander to George Budzinack was the talk of the valley. Carbone's successes were followed by an extraordinary year under Bill McAllister, which was topped by the hiring of the legendary "Big Lou DeFillippo". The football program closed out the decade by landing at the pinnacle by reaching the top of the charts as the Number 1 football team in the state. This team was loaded with talent and division 1 football players - Vin Greco, Brent Sanford, Rick Volo, Glenn Gaetano, Gary Pozuzak, Bunny Baczek, Bruce Cirillo, John Saccu, Frank Romano, Jay Hemstock and Dan DeGennaro.

The sixties were filled with social unrest, controversial music and movies, long hair, short skirts, anti-war demonstrations and racial riots.

Derby High School was the best place to be.

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