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[PHOTO] ALJ Holds 16th Annual Alumni Football Dinner

Among the attendees were returning alumni dating back to the school’s inception in 1956.

This release was submitted by the Clark School District.

In what is an eagerly anticipated event for the past 16 years on Thanksgiving Eve; the Arthur L. Johnson High School intergenerational Alumni Football Dinner was held in the school cafeteria as it has since 1997.

As he has for the past 16 years, dinner organizer Ken Drake served as the master of ceremonies and facilitator for the evening. Drake commenced the evening by introducing the various guests in the form of current and former administrators, athletic directors, and coaches in attendance.  After this, returning alumni dating back to the school’s inception in 1956 stood up and introduced themselves, stating their name and the position they played.  Each of the three head football coaches in attendance were recognized as well: Bob Taylor, Gus Kalikas, and current coach Mike Mancino.

After a break for a delicious buffet dinner, the program continued with a short address by organizer Ken Drake, some words from former players and current college players,  an overview of the season by Mancino, and an introduction of the current players. The seniors were called up to the front of the room and each received an eloquent introduction by Mancino, at which point the senior captains were recognized and thanked for their leadership.

The evening concluded with the viewing of a highlight film of the 2012 Crusader season, one in which the team made the state playoffs and completed the season with a 6 – 4 record.  Current and former players, coaches, and administrators lingered on in the cafeteria long after the official end of the dinner, catching up with each other and sharing war stories from the gridiron.

In commenting on the evening, Clark Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Knops remarked, “The Arthur L. Johnson Alumni Dinner is such a valued part of our district culture.  I look forward to attending the dinner each year and haven’t missed one during my tenure as superintendent.  Ken Drake does a wonderful job organizing, facilitating, and running the evening.  It’s always a delight to see the former coaches who are held in such high esteem by their players.  Bob Taylor, Carl Peterson, and Coach Albano always lighten up the room when they enter it; former players are so happy to see them.  It’s also good for our current players to see the legacy of the football program and meet the players and coaches who shaped such a vital tradition.”

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