History of El modena high school


El Modena opened its doors to students in 1966.

For over forty years El Modena has been serving the community of East Orange. During that time close to over 100,000 students have graduated from El Mo. They share many common memories of curricular and extracurricular events from either those early years or perhaps from the last several years.

During those early years you could still hear alumni talk about British Literature, Comparative Politics, Science Fiction, Anthropology classes that challenged them academically. Or perhaps they mention Mrs. Herde's drama productions, Mr. Ervin's basketball squads, or Mrs. Lee's gloved orchestrated graduations. Then there were the faculty talent shows, Mr Schultz' electric chair, and the first CIF Championship football team under the direction of Coach Lester.

Around the time El Modena reached its teen years, the school was a three year school with close to 2200 students. Girls athletics were advancing and becoming more competitive as CIF competition replaced Girls League. Academically El Modena was placing students in some of the best universities in the country and embarked on transitioning from simply an honors program to an Advanced Placement program. Mock Trial and Academic Decathlon showed that besides winning CIF titles in Cross Country and Football, El Modena students also were outstanding in academic competitions. But the highlight at El Mo during those days was the fact that teachers at the school were sending their kids to this school. At one point 80% of the El Mo teachers with high school age students had those students attending El Mo.

During the last decade of the Twentieth Century El Modena had experienced a decline in enrollment similar to that experienced all over Southern California. El Mo was now a four year school with only about 1700 students. Academically, the Advanced Placement program was in full swing and a new Academy Program was on campus. The Academy Program offered an alternative to traditional education by incorporating technology in the curriculum. The El Modena drama productions, vocal and instrumental performances were still amazing audiences. The cross country and wrestling programs were becoming powerhouses in CIF competition. But one of the best highlights of the decade was the reputation that El Mo had as having a well rounded and friendly student body.

Recently, El Modena is still involved in the process of serving our community and students. In the last several years AVID, the Collaborative Technology Program, as well as Laptop and Online programs have been added to our academic programs. AVID is a program which helps students from backgrounds not conducive to eventually attending college, receive direction and support to assist in reaching that goal. The Collaborative Technology Program evolved out of the Academy Program when it shifted from mere technology coursework to a learning community environment. Laptop is an on campus program where students utilize laptops and blackboard internet opportunities to enhance their preparation for colleges. The Online program allows students to use the internet and increase their curriculum flexibility. El Modena has also offered new opportunities outside the classroom as student run club opportunities have dramatically increased. Clubs like the Red Cross Club holds two blood drives a year with several hundred pints of blood being donated at each drive. A Dance Team and Forensic Team are two quite different but relatively new opportunities at El Mo.

Lastly, it was great to watch history made near the conclusion of the school year. Quite a crowd showed up to watch the El Modena Girls Softball team win their first CIF Championship. As we enter a new school year, what history will occur where the Vanguards live.