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Memories of Derby High School - 1980's

Joe Musante '82

Derby High School in the 1980s was marked by a curious combination of long-standing traditions and the birth of new programs and challenges. We will always remember the "goodies and difficulties" of Richard Lavery's biology lectures, the "un minuto mas" of Raymond Nalewajk's Spanish classes, the "brownie points" earned in Frank Alu's history classes and, of course, "Fahyology."

But we also witnessed the retirement of several veteran DHS teachers, including Anthony DeFrancisco, Elizabeth Dempsey, Lou DeFilippo and Al Vitello -- all of whom left their mark in school history.

In the mid 1980s, the building incorporated the city's 7th and 8th grade students for the first time in what was to become known as the Derby Upper School.

The proud athletic tradition continued throughout the decade. The football team saw a resurgence in the early 1980s that eventually led to Class S State championship in 1985. The boys' cross country team racked up a remarkable 41-3 record over the 1983 and 84 seasons, while the wrestling team took home its first state team title in 1984. The boys' basketball team posted a 12-8 record in 1979-80 and qualified for the state tournament during that season and again in 1981-82.

But girls' sports also shared in the success stories of the 1980s. The softball team assembled several successful seasons, including a 1985 Class S title. It also earned several tourney berths throughout the decade. In the late 80s, the school's first-ever girls' cross country team was formed and in 1989 -- only its second official season -- the team compiled a 10-5 record and a 3rd place finish in the Housatonic League. A year later, the team placed 5th in the New Haven County Meet and 5th in Class S.

The cheerleaders fared well in summer competitions of their own, while the DHS Band, majorettes, Derbyettes and flag squad performed at Disneyworld, The The Daytona Beach Festival and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, in addition to their football game half-time performances.

We will remember the 1980s as a time that blended the old with the new to create a quality and energetic high school.

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