Abington Heights High School’s first principal Michael Dziak Jr. shares memories in light of upcoming 50th anniversary celebration


By Elizabeth Baumeister - ebaumeister@timesleader.com



Michael Dziak, Jr. was the first principal of the new Abington Heights High School. He started his career in the district in 1951 as a biology and American history teacher at the Clarks Summit-Abington High School on Grove Street. During his second year there, he was appointed athletic director, and after five years, he became part time assistant principal. He was appointed principal about 10 years later. Photo from 1967.


Abington Journal file photos

William Crum served as the new Abington Heights High School’s first Superintendent. When he was promoted from the role of principal, Michael Dziak, his assistant principal stepped up to fill that role. Photo from 1967.


Abington Journal file photos

When the Abington Heights High School building opened in the fall of 1967, it was equipped with the latest technology and this language laboratory was no exception.


Abington Journal file photos

A 1967 nighttime photo from the Journal archives shows the contrast of the then-new building lit up against a dark sky.


Abington Journal file photos

Video:

Source: Elizabeth Baumeister | Abington Journal

Abington Heights High School is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of its building on Noble Road, with a weekend of activities slated for May 27 and 28. To commemorate the event, we put together this photo slideshow of images from our archives, showing the school’s first few years.

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday, May 27

1:45 to 3:15 p.m: Oral history presentation in the auditorium, followed by a re-dedication ceremony in the main gym. For current high school students, faculty and staff, former AH educators and administrators, school board members and community leaders.

7 to 8 p.m: Choir concert in the auditorium, art show in the auxiliary gym and memorabilia display in the library. Open to the public.

Saturday, May 28

All Saturday activities are open to the public.

9 to 11 a.m: Open house. Students will be available to give tours of the building and the library will open for a memorabilia display and gallery walk, along with coffee and light refreshments.

10 to 10:30 a.m: Oral history presentation in the auditorium.

For more information, visit ahsd50.org.

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.

Michael Dziak, Jr. was the first principal of the new Abington Heights High School. He started his career in the district in 1951 as a biology and American history teacher at the Clarks Summit-Abington High School on Grove Street. During his second year there, he was appointed athletic director, and after five years, he became part time assistant principal. He was appointed principal about 10 years later. Photo from 1967.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_ABJ-AHHS-Dziak.jpgMichael Dziak, Jr. was the first principal of the new Abington Heights High School. He started his career in the district in 1951 as a biology and American history teacher at the Clarks Summit-Abington High School on Grove Street. During his second year there, he was appointed athletic director, and after five years, he became part time assistant principal. He was appointed principal about 10 years later. Photo from 1967. Abington Journal file photos

William Crum served as the new Abington Heights High School’s first Superintendent. When he was promoted from the role of principal, Michael Dziak, his assistant principal stepped up to fill that role. Photo from 1967.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_ABJ-AHHS-Crum.jpgWilliam Crum served as the new Abington Heights High School’s first Superintendent. When he was promoted from the role of principal, Michael Dziak, his assistant principal stepped up to fill that role. Photo from 1967. Abington Journal file photos

When the Abington Heights High School building opened in the fall of 1967, it was equipped with the latest technology and this language laboratory was no exception.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_ABJ-AHHS-section-4.jpgWhen the Abington Heights High School building opened in the fall of 1967, it was equipped with the latest technology and this language laboratory was no exception. Abington Journal file photos

A 1967 nighttime photo from the Journal archives shows the contrast of the then-new building lit up against a dark sky.
http://theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/web1_ABJ-AHHS-0101667.jpgA 1967 nighttime photo from the Journal archives shows the contrast of the then-new building lit up against a dark sky. Abington Journal file photos

By Elizabeth Baumeister

ebaumeister@timesleader.com

WEEKEND SCHEDULE

Friday, May 27

1:45 to 3:15 p.m: Oral history presentation in the auditorium, followed by a re-dedication ceremony in the main gym. For current high school students, faculty and staff, former AH educators and administrators, school board members and community leaders.

7 to 8 p.m: Choir concert in the auditorium, art show in the auxiliary gym and memorabilia display in the library. Open to the public.

Saturday, May 28

All Saturday activities are open to the public.

9 to 11 a.m: Open house. Students will be available to give tours of the building and the library will open for a memorabilia display and gallery walk, along with coffee and light refreshments.

10 to 10:30 a.m: Oral history presentation in the auditorium.

For more information, visit ahsd50.org.

Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.


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Video Caption: Abington Heights High School is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of its building on Noble Road, with a weekend of activities slated for May 27 and 28. To commemorate the event, we put together this photo slideshow of images from our archives, showing the school’s first few years.
Video Credit: Elizabeth Baumeister | Abington Journal
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Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.

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