Northern Highlands Regional High School

Northern Highlands Regional High School (NHRHS) is a regional public high school and school district in Allendale, Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. The school serves students in ninth through twelfth grades from Allendale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Saddle River, and Upper Saddle River. Students from Saddle River have the option of attending either Northern Highlands or Ramsey High School, as part of sending/receiving relationships with the two districts.

As of the 2014-15 school year, the school had an enrollment of 1,373 students and 115.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.9:1. There were 4 students (0.3% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 3 (0.2% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch.

The district was classified by the New Jersey Department of Education as being in District Factor Group "J", the highest of eight groupings. District Factor Groups organize districts statewide to allow comparison by common socioeconomic characteristics of the local districts. From lowest socioeconomic status to highest, the categories are A, B, CD, DE, FG, GH, I and J.

Northern Highlands Regional High School is accredited by the New Jersey Department of Education.

Northern Highlands Regional High School entrance.jpg
Northern Highlands Regional High School entrance.jpg
Location map of Bergen County, New Jersey.svg
Northern Highlands Regional High School is located in Bergen County, New Jersey
USA New Jersey location map.svg
Northern Highlands Regional High School is located in New Jersey
Usa edcp location map.svg
Northern Highlands Regional High School is located in the US


In May 1963, voters in Allendale and Upper Saddle River approved a referendum to create Northern Highlands Regional High School, with the expenditure of $3.65 million to build a facility on a 40-acre site, with plans to complete the building in time to start classes in September 1965.

The building, completed at a cost of $4 million, was dedicated in February 1966 and was constructed to handle an expected enrollment of 1,300 students. The facilities included in the original structure included a planetarium and 750-seat auditorium / theater and an FM radio station.

As of 2012, school elections were shifted from April to the November general election as part of an effort to reduce the costs of a standalone April vote.

In 2016, the Northern Highlands district reached an agreement with the Ho-Ho-Kus School District to extend the send / receive agreement through 2026 under a fixed-price contract by which Ho-Ho-Kus would pay $3.6 million for the 2016-17 school year, escalating by 2% a year to $4.3 million in 2025-26, regardless of the number of students from the borough sent to the high school.

Awards, recognition and rankings

During the 1986-87 school year, Northern Highlands Regional High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive.

Maryann Woods-Murphy, a Northern Highlands Regional High School Spanish teacher, was awarded the state of New Jersey's highest honor given to a teacher: she was named the New Jersey Teacher of the Year.

The school was the 3rd-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology. The school had been ranked 22nd in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 6th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The magazine ranked the school 8th in 2008 out of 316 schools. The school was ranked 7th in the magazine's September 2006 issue, which included 316 schools across the state. ranked the school 43rd out of 381 public high schools statewide in its 2011 rankings (a decrease of 29 positions from the 2010 ranking) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the mathematics (93.2%) and language arts literacy (97.7%) components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).

In Newsweek's 2014 ranking of the country's top high schools, Northern Highlands Regional High School was listed in 59th place, the 9th-highest ranked school in New Jersey.

In the 2011 "Ranking America's High Schools" issue by The Washington Post, the school was ranked 35th in New Jersey and 1,171st nationwide. The school was ranked 1174th nationwide, the 39th-highest in New Jersey, in Newsweek magazine's 2010 rankings of America's Best High Schools. In Newsweek's May 22, 2007 issue, ranking the country's top high schools, Northern Highlands Regional High School was listed in 766th place, the 16th-highest ranked school in New Jersey.


Northern Highlands has a four-day rotating schedule; days are lettered with A through D. Students are scheduled for eight courses, six of which meet daily. This schedule provides longer segments of time (57-minute periods) to engage in higher-order thinking and performance-based learning. To receive a Northern Highlands Regional High School diploma, all students must pass the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), and earn a minimum of 125 credits including: four years of English and a Freshman Rhetoric course for one semester; one year of World History / Cultures; two years of United States History; three years of Mathematics; three years of Science; two years of World Languages; two years of Career Education & Consumer, Family, and Life Skills, one semester of which is Contemporary Business Technology, one semester of a Financial Literacy course; two years of Visual and Performing Arts; and a year of Physical Education and/or Health for each year a student is in attendance at Northern Highlands.

Elective offerings in Visual and Performing Arts include: all art and music classes, Acting I, Actors' Workshop, Creative Writing I and II, Journalism, TV Production I and II, and Film Studies. Semester courses include: Digital Multimedia and Web Page Design, as well as Mass Communications, Introduction to TV and Film, and Public Speaking. Elective offerings in Family and Life Skills include: Business, Computer classes, Industrial Technology, Family and Consumer Sciences, Music and Fine Arts. Semester courses include Digital Multimedia and Web Page Design which may apply either to Visual and Performing Arts requirements OR Family and Life Skills, and Personal Finance and Investment, Entrepreneurship, Financial Management and Accounting, and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Engineering courses are offered and rapidly growing in popularity.

There are 37 Honors courses — two of which are Syracuse University Honors Project Advance classes in Forensic Science and Writing Studio I/ Reading Interpretation — and 19 Advanced Placement courses, in AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP United States History, AP European History, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Physics, AP French Language, AP Spanish Language, AP Latin Literature, AP Macroeconomics, AP Art History, AP Studio Art, AP United States Government and Politics, AP Computer Science and AP Music Theory. AP courses are available to juniors and seniors and sophomores, although sophomores are only allowed one. Those students who take two lab sciences must have a study.

Extracurricular activities

The school newspaper is called The Highland Fling.

The Northern Highlands Regiment, the high school marching band under the direction of Theodora Sotiropoulos, is a top program in the region, having won the USSBA New Jersey Division 4A state championship in 2004 and 2010 as well as the Group 3A State and National Championships in 2012. They also won the Group 4A National Championship in 2013 and 2014.


Corcoran Gym.jpg
Corcoran Gymnasium at Northern Highlands during the Palooza

The Northern Highlands Regional High School Highlanders compete in the Big North Conference, following a reorganization of sports leagues in Northern New Jersey by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). With 1,021 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2015-16 school year as North I, Group III for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 786 to 1,074 students in that grade range. Before the 2010 realignment, the school had previously competed in the North Bergen Interscholastic Athletic League.

NHRHS stadium.jpg
A track and football field at the stadium at Northern Highlands Regional High School

The Northern Highlands football team won the NJSIAA North I Group III state sectional championship in 1978. Starting in 1965, Fred Conrad became the Northern Highlands Head football coach. After eight years, Conrad led Highlands to its first state final match. The Scotty Dogs ended up with Highlands' first championship win. Five years later, Conrad brought the Scotty Dogs to their second state championship. Three years afterwards The Scotty Dogs would face Indian Hills High School in the state, losing by a missed field goal (the last time Highlands has gone to the division 3 states). In 1982, Conrad turned over the head coaching job to Carl Mortenson, who led the Highlanders for six seasons. Steve Simonetti took over in 1988 and coached the Highlanders (changed from Northern Highlands Scotty Dogs) for 19 years. By the time Simonetti retired from coaching in early 2006, 46 of his football players had gone to play in the NCAA. Simonetti was replaced by head coach Christopher Locurto. In his two seasons as head coach, the team's record was 1-14 after a loss in a homecoming game against Mahwah High School by a score of 35-7 on October 19, 2008. Locurto had a 4-6 record in his 3rd season as the head football coach.

The field hockey team won the North I Group III state sectional championship in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 2013 and 2014; the team won the Group III state championship in 1986, defeating Central Regional High School in the tournament final. The team won the 2008 Bergen County Championship, its first since 2002. They were named by The Record as Team of the Year and were ranked #3 in the state. In 2010, the Northern Highlands Field Hockey team has become the second field hockey team in school history to win three consecutive Bergen County Championships, defeating Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest by a score of 1-0 in 2008, and defeating Ramsey High School by 2-0 in 2009 and 3-2 in 2010. Northern Highlands had also won three consecutive titles from 1998-2000.

The men's track and field program were the league champions from 2002-06. The men's track team won the League, County and Sectional championships in 2006. In 2009, Northern Highlands voted the 2006 men's track & field team as the best male team in Highlands history while coming a close 2nd in the best team in history to the 1992 girls' soccer team.

The Northern Highlands ice hockey team won the NBIL regular season title and the inaugural NBIL Cup in 2007.

The 2001 girls' tennis team won the NJSIAA North I, Group III sectional championship, defeating Ramapo High School, 3-2 in the tournament final. The boys tennis team duplicated the feat that same year, also defeating Ramapo High School by the same three matches to two score in the final.

The 2003 girls' tennis team won the North I, Group III sectional championship, defeating Ramapo High School, 3-2 in the tournament final. The 2004 and 2005 teams, repeated the result, winning 4-1 over Ramapo both years.

The girls' basketball team won the 2005 North I, Group III sectional championship, defeating West Morris Central High School 35-27 in the final game.

The girls' soccer team won the Group III state championship in 1991 vs. Ewing High School, was co-champion in 1992 with Hillsborough High School, was co-champion in 2009 with Hopewell Valley Central High School, won in both 2011 and 2012 vs. Moorestown High School, in 2013 vs. Toms River High School South and 2014 vs. Colts Neck High School. The team won the 2003 North I Group III sectional championship over Northern Valley Regional High School at Old Tappan by a 2-1 score.

The boys' tennis team won the North I, Group III state sectional championship with a 4-1 win in the tournament final over Fair Lawn High School.

The 2008 girls' volleyball team won its first state championship by defeating West Morris Central High School 17-25, 25-22, 25-19, the school's first state championship victory since 1993.

The girls' fencing team won state sectionals in 2008-09, becoming the number one fencing team in Bergen County. Then, they went on to the state championships where they were defeated 17-10 by Governor Livingston High School for first in the state. However, in the 2009-10 season the girls team made it back to the States against Governor Livingston where they won.

During the 2009 season, the girls' soccer team played against Hopewell Valley Central High School in the state finals in The College of New Jersey. The game ended with a tie of 0-0 and it was the first time Northern Highlands girls varsity soccer team has ever won a co-championship since 1992.

During the 2011 season, the varsity girls soccer team again made it to the state finals on November 19, 2011. Highlands won championship against Moorestown High School at 2-0. The team ended the season with a perfect score of 24-0-0 and with a national ranking of 4th among high school girls' soccer teams.

The wrestling team won the North I Group III state sectional championship in 2013.

School publications

The official student newspaper of Northern Highlands Regional High School is called The Highland Fling. The title refers to a traditional Scottish dance.

This 20-page paper is published eight times during the school year. Students do all of the work: planning the issues, writing articles, selling advertisements and assisting with the actual printing of the paper. The editors consider any interested students in grades 9-12 who wish to write or take photos for the paper. Students wishing to join the editorial staff first gain experience as contributing staff members and, in the spring, submit an application and writing sample. Outgoing editors select the new editorial staff from among the applicants.

The school's publications have won acclaim and numerous awards from the Garden State Scholastic Press Association, the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association (co-sponsored by the American Society of Newspaper Editors), among others. The school's literary magazine, Loch and Quay, was recognized in both 1992 and 1994 by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association as a Silver Crown Magazine.

Clubs and activities

Northern Highlands has over 50 clubs that meet during and after school. They include: Student Council, Newspaper (The Highland Fling), Freshmen Literary/Art Magazine, Literary Magazine (Loch and Quay), Yearbook (Thistle), Marching Band/Color Guard, Chorus, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir, Highlands Voices, Highlands Belles, Highlands Harmonics, Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, Fall Drama, Musical Production, Art Club, Book Club, Christian Club, Computer Club, Debate Club, DECA, Engineering Club, Environment Awareness, Fashion Club, Fed Challenge, French Club, Italian Club, Latin Club, Spanish Club Girls Learn International, Human Rights Awareness Club, Judaic Club, Knitting Club, Math League, Mock Trial, Model United Nations, Multicultural Awareness Club, National Honor Society, Photography Club, Quiz Bowl, Radio Club, Red Cross, Robotics, Rotary Club, S.A.D.D., School Store, Science Club, Science League, Stock Market, and Transition Project.


Core members of the district / school administration are:

District administration
  • Dr. Scot Beckerman, Superintendent (succeeding John J. Petrelli, who was serving as Interim Superintendent, as of July 1, 2015)
  • James Davis, Board Secretary / Business Administrator
School administration
  • Joseph J. Occhino, Principal
  • Michael Koth, Assistant Principal

Notable alumni

Content from Wikipedia