By Robert Graeff (Class of ’71)
During the 1964-65 school year, the traditional maroon choir robes of the A Cappella Choir received an enhancement which established a new tradition of pride and excellence. Fusing his music background with his educational background, Choir Director Richard Zaloudek worked with a designer to create a “choir emblem” (pictured here).
The emblem was then placed on the choir stoles which adorned the top of every maroon choirrobe. Measuring roughly 3” X 5”, the emblems were set on white cloth and included two music symbols (sixteenth note and harp) set inside a shield often associated with University of Southern California – the college where Mr. Z had earned his Masters Degree years earlier. Above the shield were a Trojan helmet and the hilts (or handles) from two swords. Below the shield was the single word: Kearny. Besides the white background and delicate black trim, the basic colors of the emblem were gold punctuated with maroon – the school’s primary spirit color.
A choir emblem was affixed to every choir stole as part of the performance outfit. While most choir members were provided silver stoles to complete the “maroon and white” look, each of the choir’s four major officers were provided gold stoles, signifying their leadership position within the group. For any student ever to wear a gold stole, the tremendous honor and associated responsibility of “role model” were unmistakable. Over the years, the school district replaced the choir robes on a number of occasions usually through a 7-year cycle. Although the robes would often appear in new styles and formats, the stoles and emblems remained constant – surviving two additional choir directors through the 1985-86 school year.
Worth mentioning is one other use of the emblem which was fairly important. Mr. Z often directed the choir during formal concerts wearing one of two dinner jackets – one maroon and one white. On the front left side of each jacket was the choir emblem – sewn to his coats. The message was clear to every singer and audience member whenever the choir performed – in that nothing was more important than holding up the brand of excellence associated with the name: Kearny Senior High School A Cappella Choir!