Tradition – Changes, Challenges, and the Things that Endure

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Mr. Carmen DiCello discusses the importance of tradition in today’s COVID-19 reality. Mr. DiCello retired from teaching at Pottsville in 2020. He said, “It is crucial to regularly reorient ourselves to our hallowed past, that is, to our tradition.”

With all the recent changes we have faced—from viruses to shutdowns to various struggles in our own district—Pottsville has gone through a rather difficult period. When such things occur, when faced with adjustments, modifications, and a world that is not as predictable as we would like, it is perhaps wise to familiarize ourselves with those aspects of our school culture that don’t change. Amid the fluctuating currents of time, our anchor and stabilization come from our history. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly reorient ourselves to our hallowed past, that is, to our tradition.

At Pottsville Area High School, historically, tradition has been the lifeblood of much that we do. For as long as the Castle has stood on the hill, we have been driven by tradition. But what, exactly, does this mean?In a general sense, tradition is that which is passed from person to person and from generation to generation. At Pottsville, the particulars of this tradition include the pursuit of excellence in every endeavor, an unusually generous spirit, and an unmatched level of passion and zeal for all things Crimson Tide. Among other things, we are a school that cares deeply about academics, athletics, music, art, and people. We are a community committed to helping those in need. And our emotional connection to one another is sincere, deep, and profound.

If you already appreciate this tradition, your honorable task is to give expression to it.  But whether you feel the power of this tradition, don’t quite “get it,” or even if your school pride has waned, there are things that we can all do to capture or recapture the spirit of Pottsville Area.

Let me provide three:

1. Learn about and respect the past.

People came before you and me, and as in any era, many individuals preceded us and left their mark. A few examples: Ray DiCello, my uncle, was a history teacher, football coach, and perhaps the all-time greatest pep rally motivator; people still recall his exploits. Bill Flynn was a math teacher and legendary coach; much of our school pride stems from his influence. Rita Ryan was a brilliant and quite demanding teacher, who taught me College Prep Verbal. Because of her, I still remember that to gormandize is to “eat voraciously.” Joe Reichert was (and is) perhaps the most knowledgeable Spanish teacher anywhere. This is but a small sampling of the past, a reminder that others were here first, exuded impressive values, and laid the foundation for so much that we celebrate today. Learn what you can from those who came before. Listen to the stories that are shared by parents, grandparents, teachers, and others who have paved the way. Create your own list of notable figures, those individuals who have cemented their own respective legacies. So much of what we are and hope to be finds its impetus in our history.

2. Embrace the highest ideals.

If you know anything about our storied past, you understand that the passion we display is not merely emotional. Yes, we are passionate about our school, but that passion flows from our values. Look around you, seeking to comprehend and absorb those values that today, as in the past, energize us. We are not perfect; no one is. But there is a purposefulness in our efforts. We genuinely believe in supporting one another. We sincerely want to make a difference. We honestly care. Look for specific manifestations of these ideals, and in your own way, honor these values by giving expression to them each day.

3. Pass it on to others.

Finally, recognize the honor and responsibility of sharing this tradition with others. Pay homage to our treasured tradition by allowing it to flow through your life. In a world of temporary practices, we are privileged to be a part of something lasting, something permanent. Administrations come and go. Teachers come and go. Students are here for a moment and then move on. But what ties together the best examples of each of these, what animates all who have been blessed to walk our sacred halls, what transcends all and motivates us, is our tradition. Know it, live it, share it, and be proud as you exclaim it. “Roll Tide.”