‘High School Nation’ comes to Secaucus’ High Tech High


By Jillian Risberg

The ‘High School Nation’ touring company shared a music festival and vaping education workshop with the Hudson County School of Technology on Thursday and it was a great learning experience for everyone.

“We reached out to High School Nation, filled out a questionnaire online; they called us back within about 10/15 minutes — and Mr. Gongora and I were able to put together most of the event with a lot of help from the administration,” says Steven Ricciardi, supervisor of the High Tech High School Arts Academy.

Ricciardi adds that it was a big hit with the students, faculty and administration and they feel they can get a lot out of it again next year. 

“The whole draw was basically the arts part of it… incorporating the kids into the Q&A that we did; and the experience on the panel from the people that are working for ‘High School Nation’ was outstanding,” says the Arts Academy supervisor. “We do workshops throughout the year with the kids —  and this was a great opportunity to get a lot of those questions answered by people in the industry.”  

An event like this can keep the kids engaged, serve as inspiration and really give the kids something to think about in terms of future careers.

“It’s like a pretty fun experience for the whole school to attend,” says Camryn Cacace, a 10th grade student.

“I mean I love it here ‘cause like I want to do fine arts and (music) broadcasting —  ‘cause I feel like that would be a fun thing to do in case I want to do that in my future,” says Caitlin Gomez, another 10th grade student.  She adds that it makes sense to her because she’s so creative and you use your imagination.

And they get the inside scoop and real life experience from the professionals at an event like this who can serve as sort of mentors about what they might need.

“Definitely, 100 percent —  we actually have our dance majors are upstairs right now practicing with a professional dancer/choreographer,” Ricciardi says.  “They’re going to perform for all the students.”

They also incorporated vaping into the day’s discussion because it’s on everyone’s mind and a definite cause for concern among teens today.

“There’s just a national epidemic at this point about vaping and smoking in general,” the Arts Academy supervisor says.  “Some of the parents actually reached out to me over the last month  — are we doing any education on vaping and this kind of played right into that.” 

Everyone agrees, this is something they want to keep doing. ‘High School Nation’ is returning to High Tech High next year, hopefully in September and they’re actually proposing a two-day event this time — where they can do a day of workshops and then maybe a day of performances.  

“This is how everyone can get together just by having fun and seeing like new people come into the music place,” Gomez says.  

This is icing on the cake, so to speak — getting to connect like this in high school means the world and what it translates to down the road might mean even more.

“I got to experience how all these different like artists and people in tech and like how they came on a journey and how they like became where they are today,” Cacace says. 

Ricciardi says that’s just industry experience.

“So what they’re learning in the classroom, move that right over into the industry and then they can get a job in these fields,” says the Arts Academy supervisor.

According to Ricciardi, even their music and audio tech major was able to come out and go through some of the sound check to set up all their equipment.


Do you have a news-tip or want to share a story with us? Please Fill out the following form. Anonymous tips are also welcome.