The End of an Era

The End of an Era

Nidhi Shah, Copy Editor

After elevating Morris Hills to recent years of academic success, fulfillment and achievement, Principal, Mr. Joseph Cacciaguida will end his time at Morris Hills this month, passing his role over to the next individual in his place. Among the various feats the school has accomplished in his time at Morris Hills, including attaining high levels of academic recognition, Mr. Cacciaguida claims that the single highlight of his time at MHHS “will always be the accomplishments of our students and teachers.” Mr. Cacciaguida has always encouraged education and academics to be a student’s priority. Mr. Cacciaguida’s appreciation in education is reflected through his decisions for the school community and his own personal background. He has obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Supervision and a Bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education. This appreciation of education leads him to have great pride in our school’s recent “recognition as a US News and World Report Silver Award School, which recognizes us among top 6% nationwide or in the 93rd percentile,” and adds that this is only “one of the many awards in recent years that recognize our school as one of New Jersey’s best high schools.”

Throughout his experience, there were both ups and downs in the journey for Morris Hills. Mr. Cacciaguida believes that there always will be good times and bad times, but people should maintain an optimistic outlook and perspective and focus on the good aspects of life because “everyone has setbacks and there are always better days ahead.” He discourages students from mourning over minor failures, since “there are many others around the world who have far less comforts and opportunities” than we do. Mr. Cacciaguida sees purpose in spending time “to be kind or help someone out in a small way” instead of dwelling on your own problems because “it will not only make them feel better, it will make you feel better as well.” Offering his final words of wisdom, Mr. Cacciaguida hopes the best for students in the future.


Mr. Cacciaguida’s enthusiasm for the student body is reflected in the students’ regard for him. Student leader, and senior class president, Dominick Sarappa defined Mr. Cacciaguida as someone who “helped build a strong school community through his leadership and commitment to always look for ways to improve our school.” He noted numerous admirable qualities and personal traits that he sees in Mr. Cacciaguida, including his “courteous and always friendly” personality. When asked what he would miss the most about our principal, Dominick confirmed that he will definitely miss the “conversations and monthly meetings that the senior class and SGA officers had with him” the most because Mr. Cacciaguida “always managed to inadvertently make people laugh”.

But the principal left his mark on his colleagues as well. Superintendent, Mr. Jencarelli, sees Mr. Cacciaguida as a strong “educational leader” who, through his leadership, set “the tone for the culture of Morris Hills High School”. Mr. Jencarelli has witnessed Mr. Cacciaguida’s clear experience in “every aspect of building level leadership” through the various “administrators that he has successfully mentored”. The proficient leadership is topped with the clarity and brevity in his demonstrated communication, says Mr. Jencarelli, claiming that Mr. Cacciaguida “sends a clear message that everyone will be treated fairly and with respect”. These strengths combined with his amiable personality makes Mr. Cacciaguida a memorable figure in the eyes of Mr. Jencarelli.  In describing their time together, Mr. Jencarelli said that he will miss their mutual “passion for continually improving as educational leaders” the most. In terms of personal traits, Mr. Jencarelli will miss Mr. Cacciaguida’s “college basketball discussions, his sense of humor (which may be well hidden from his students), his ability to assess situations and always make a great decision, and his many years of successful administrative experience”. These incredible virtues make the principal not only “one of the finest administrators that [he] has had the pleasure of working with during [his] career”, but someone who is “not only a colleague, but a friend”.

As successful as the recent years have been for Morris Hills, the role as principal involves many difficult tasks, and even more important decisions to be made for a large body of people. From his own experience, Mr. Cacciaguida can offer advice to the next individual in his position in regards to such decision-making. He advises the new principal to “always seek out the opinions of others first” whenever there is an important decision to be made, and to “wait a while to process them before making your decision”. He claims that the diverse thoughts should be considered and incorporated in every decision.

After spending 12 years at Morris Hills, Mr. Cacciaguida has grown attached to the wonderful Morris Hills community. If he could isolate a single element of the experience that he will miss the most from Morris Hills, he says it would certainly be “seeing the freshmen come in as ‘puppies’ and then grow up right before our eyes into college ready young adults.” The process of intellectual maturity and growth that students undergo through their time at Morris Hills is certainly an exceptional aspect to witness for all those participating in nurturing the growth, including of course Principal Cacciaguida. Contributing significantly to the Morris Hills community and atmosphere, Mr. Cacciaguida has left his mark on the school before ending his journey with the school community. As he now moves forward, relocating to Miami, Florida with his family, Mr. Cacciaguida plans on either working or volunteering around the area providing assistance to others and the community. The school community wishes him well in all of his future endeavors.