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Photo of the intercom speaker in room 301, the Journalism classroom.

The NHS Intercom: From Ants to ‘All Too Well’

Every morning at Nutley High School, an estimated 120 teachers find themselves cutting their lessons short. The reason? A system of crackly speakers all buzzing to life at the same time. 


“Good morning, Nutley High School! Time for the announcements: we’ve got a few today!”


To help improve the academic environment, efforts have begun to turn the intercom into a tool to increase Raider spirit. This year sees many new traditions, from broadcasting daily banter between the announcers and principal to playing Taylor Swift during the passing periods.


NHS Principal Denis Williams thinks this is just what the school needs. “We were less in ‘school spirit’ and more in ‘school fatigue’,” Williams said. “Two years of COVID and then trying to come back and re-establish things is hard…It’s gonna take some time, but we’re realizing we can do some fun things for everyone.”


And fun it is. NHS TV’s announcement footage from November 3rd features one student’s unique take on announcements: in the video, while promoting candy grams from the Latin Honor Society, Yuna Mehdizadeh said,  “I’ve bought so much candy. It’s all under my bed. I’ve got ants, it’s awful.” This was just one of many iconic things she’s said for the whole school to hear.


Mehdizadeh, who is the Student Council’s Corresponding Secretary, certainly has her fun with the job. “I wanted to start doing announcements because I wanted to make them more interesting and fun, put on a kooky voice and make people happy,” Mehdizadeh said. 


It’s worth noting that as one of many voices of the student body, she is kept very busy. “Every Thursday morning I have to be in the office before 8:07,” Mehdizadeh said. “The announcements are handwritten, and this one time I had to ask the counseling secretary what something said. We had to guess it on the spot while announcing.”


But none of this work has gone without its effect. “I’ve realized that people have been talking about the announcements a lot more,” Mehizadeh said. “I had a substitute teacher today say she recognized me, and it’s strange because I never knew how distinctive my voice was. But people tell me, ‘I actually listen to you.’”


This is just the kind of reaction Principals Williams wanted. “Last year there was kind of a drop-off in announcements responsibility,” Principal Williams said. “I was hoping this year we would have kids who are dedicated to delivering the message. And all of these kids are doing a great job.” 


And now, each Thursday morning of laughs is complemented by a Friday afternoon of dancing. In a new fundraiser by the Band Student Council, for $5, students are able to submit their own songs to play through the halls during Friday’s passing periods. 


The Band Student Council President, Caroline Ritacco, is happy to manage such a great new tradition. “I wanted to promote the music program, ‘cause a lot of everyone’s favorite musical artists found their passion through the arts in high school,” Ritacco said. “I wanted to see people dance and sing in the hallways to this High School Musical kind of thing.” 


Ritacco’s schedule is also filled by the work. “I go down early from class, wait for the bell to ring, and then I play the music,” Ritacco said. “I also run the Google Form and schedule the people who submitted and paid.”


The playlists have become a welcome part of student life, appearing in both the school’s celebration of Diwali, and a mischievous ‘Rick-Roll,’ so far. “I’ve seen mixed reactions of people who love and hate the music,” Ritacco said. “But when people don’t like what’s playing, they just submit their own playlist. Everyone’s bonding over the music. It gives people something to talk about and brings people together to do a really cool thing.”


“I was always a fan of the hallway playlists,” Principal Williams said. “It’s a good way to let off steam. It’s great with lifting school spirit and making it enjoyable to be in the building.”


As a whole, these changes come at the same time as reinforced cell phone policies, new bathroom scanners, and other measures. All adjustments like this take time and have mixed reception. 


But Principal Williams is optimistic for a new age of school climate. “It’s funny; we’ve tried to get kids off the earbuds and focused on what’s in front of them,” Principal Williams said. “People are listening now when we have special months and events and we’ve really livened things up.”


For Mehdizadeh, this new age is just another day on the job. “If my announcements can make people laugh and I can brighten up someone’s morning -- like when I say I have ants under my bed -- then I’m glad and I love to do it,” Mehdizadeh said. 


To submit your own hallway playlist, fill out this Google Form!