Kearny High School is a four-year comprehensive public high school serving students in ninth through twelfth grades from Kearny in Hudson County, New Jersey, United States, and operating as the lone secondary school of the Kearny School District.
As of the 2018–19 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,710 students and 131.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.0:1. There were 741 students (43.3% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 136 (8.0% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.
Construction began on the present school facility began in 1921. Kearny High School opened for the fall semester in September 1923. The school's stadium was completed in 1925. In 1940, an addition costing $400,000 was added. In 1974, another addition was added that cost $5 million, providing a new Music and Art Department, new gymnasium, locker rooms, classrooms and parking. The school is divided into two different buildings that are connected to each other.
The Kearny Museum includes a full collection of Kearny High School yearbooks.
The school was the 244th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology. The school had been ranked 224th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 230th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The magazine ranked the school 235th in 2008 out of 316 schools. The school was ranked 200th in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which surveyed 316 schools across the state.
Schooldigger.com ranked the school 246th out of 367 public high schools statewide in its 2009-10 rankings which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the language arts literacy and mathematics components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).
The Kearny High School Kardinals compete in the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic Association, which is comprised of high schools in Hudson County, operating under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). With 1,293 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2019–20 school year as Group IV for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 1,060 to 5,049 students in that grade range. Prior to the 2010 reorganization, the school had competed in the Watchung Conference, which consisted of public and private high schools in Essex County, Hudson County and Union County in northern New Jersey. The school was classified by the NJSIAA as Group IV North for football for 2018–2020.
The school participates as the host school / lead agency in a joint ice hockey team with North Arlington High School and Secaucus High School. The co-op program operates under agreements scheduled to expire at the end of the 2023–24 school year.
The boys cross country team won the overall state championship in 1936, 1937, 1938 (public school) and 1940, and won the Group IV title in 1947 and 1983. In 1978, Joe Weber, won the All-Groups Cross Country State Meet of Champions. In 2004 and 2005 Joe Weber Jr. won the Hudson County Cross Country Championship. With the win in 2004, Joe and Joe Jr. became the second father/son duo in state history to win the same county championship, with Joe Sr. having won in 1977.
The boys track team won the public school indoor track championship in 1927-1929, 1932 and 1936. The boys track team won the Group IV spring track state championship in 1927.
The boys' soccer team has won NJSIAA Group IV state championship in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1954–1956, 1958, 1975 (as co-champions with Steinert High School), 1981 (vs. Hamilton High School West), 1982 (co-champions with Freehold Township High School), 1984 (vs. East Brunswick High School), 1987 (vs. Cherry Hill High School East), 1999 (vs. East Brunswick), 2002 (vs. Shawnee High School), 2004 (co-champion with Rancocas Valley Regional High School) and 2017 (vs. Princeton High School). The NJSIAA ranks the team's 10 state championships as tied for fifth-most among public high schools in the playoff era. NJ.com ranks the team third in the state, with a total of 17 titles that includes championships awarded to the school by the NJSIAA in 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1954. The 1984 team finished the season with a 24-0 record, making it the state's only unbeaten team, after winning the Group IV title with a 2-1 victory against East Brunswick in the championship game at Rutgers University. In 2002, the boys' soccer team earned the North I, Group IV sectional title, edging Clifton High School 3-2 in the tournament final. The 2017 team finished the season with a 19-0-5 record after winning the program's 12th Group IV title with a 3-1 victory against Princeton in the championship game.
In 1948, the Kearny High School varsity football team was awarded the New Jersey high school state championship.
The softball team won the North I sectional title in 1973 and won the Group IV state championship in 1982, defeating runner-up Edison High School in the tournament finals.
In 1973, coach Tom Krulik led the track team to win both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Relays. The two-mile relay team set the New Jersey state record at 7:52 at the Highland Park Relays, earning an invitation to compete in the Nationals at the Penn Relays weeks later.
The baseball team won the North I, Group IV state sectional championship in 2003 with a 5-3 win vs. Ridgewood High School in the tournament final.
In 2007, the girls' soccer team, seeded #2, won the North I, Group IV state sectional championship with a 3-0 win over fourth-seeded Montclair High School in the tournament final, the team's second consecutive title.
The girls' soccer team won the first-ever Hudson County Tournament, defeating Bayonne High School 6-0.
In 2009, the boys' indoor track and field team won the county championship as the team continues its return to its previous status when many nationally ranked relays and individuals competed for the school. In cross country the school has produced many county, conference and state champions.
The girls' cross country team won consecutive county championships in 2007 and 2008, in addition to four consecutive state sectional titles and a Meet of Champions title in 1986, when Liz Duarte took the Group IV title.
The Kardinals wrestling team won consecutive conference championships from 2001-2004 again in 2006, and then again in 2008 in the Watchung Conference. Dave Cordoba won the 1999 state championship at 130 lbs, and holds the school record for career victories.
In May 2016, the Kearny girls' crew Lightweight Four placed 3rd out of 15 boats at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America's National Championship Regatta, taking home the bronze medal. In May 2017 the Kearny girls'crew Lightweight Four placed 1st in the Garden State Championships, the Girls J8 placed 2nd qualifying them for nationals along with the Women's V4. In June 2017, the Girls J8 placed 1st in the National Schools Regatta, while the LWT 4 placed 2nd.
The Kearny High School Marching Unit has enjoyed several years of great success in the past. Most notably, they were Tournament of Bands Class III Atlantic Coast champions in 1985, and their percussion section won High Percussion honors for three years straight, from '83 to '85. In addition the Kearny High School Marching Unit under the direction of Patrick Ragnoni was group 3A USSBA Champions two years in a row in 1999 and 2000.
Kearny High School is well-regarded for its International Festival. Each year in late May or June, the student body of Kearny High School has the opportunity to collectively display and celebrate its rich cultural diversity. On the day of the festival, students go down to the school's football field to visit the multiplicity of tents and tables that are set-up; with some selling food, desserts, and jewelry. Additionally, many students perform dances and play music native to their cultures for the entire student body to celebrate in. Kearny High School's student populated is largely represented by Irish-Americans, Peruvian-Americans, Portuguese-Americans, Brazilian-Americans, Puerto Rican-Americans, and Dominican-Americans, among many other groups. In 2010, the school celebrated its 13th Annual International Festival, of which featured over 85 different cultural tables.
In the autumn of 2006, a controversy was generated by the discovery that David Paszkiewicz, a history teacher at Kearny High of 14 years, taught Christian doctrine to his students during an American history class. When confronted by Kearny High School junior Matthew LaClair in a meeting with Paszkiewicz and the administration, Paszkiewicz denied the charge. After this, LaClair produced recorded tapes in which Paszkiewicz was recorded saying that God "did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sins on his own body, suffered your pains for you, and he's saying, 'Please, accept me, believe.' If you reject that, you belong in hell."
The teacher is said to have also taught that there were dinosaurs aboard Noah's Ark and that there is no scientific basis for evolution or the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.
The controversy raised questions over the legal right of students to record what teachers tell them during class, with some advocating the practice to ensure teacher accountability, and others arguing that it infringes on the teacher's personal liberty.
LaClair's supporters reported that "he has been the target of harassment and a death threat from fellow students and 'retaliation' by school officials who have treated him, not the teacher, as the problem. The retaliation, they say, includes the district's policy banning students from recording what is said in class without a teacher's permission and officials' refusal to punish students who have harassed Matthew."
Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) said Kearny High School had "violated the spirit and the letter of freedom of religion and the First Amendment", and that the ACLU would support the LaClairs if they were to file suit. The People for the American Way Foundation expressed similar support.
On November 16, 2006, The Jersey Journal reported that the School District had taken "corrective action" against Paszkiewicz, the precise nature of which was not specified. The administrators stated that further action might be warranted, based on Paszkiewicz's continuing conduct.
This matter is the subject of an hour-long documentary film In God We Teach, which includes statements from a variety of people involved (in particular both the teacher and student) as well as others outside the school.
During the 2006-07 school year Celeste Adamski, a 27-year-old English teacher was suspended with pay on suspicion of sexual activity with one or more of her students. In mid-October she pleaded guilty to an allegation concerning her behavior with a male student as part of a plea agreement in which she gave up her teaching certificate and was barred from teaching or holding a public job.
The school's principal is Jacalyn Richardson. Her administration team includes two assistant principals.
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