The History Behind the Flags of THS Library


The flags of the Lalor Library Media Center

Thomas Yoon, Staff Writer

Anyone who has visited the school’s Lalor Library Media Center must have noticed the dozens of flags hanging on the upper wall. And some of the visitors might have noticed that some flags are almost 30 years old, like the azure-striped Russian flag used during the beginning of Boris Yelstin’s presidency.

Some 30 years ago, the school was actively engaged in a foreign exchange program under the leadership of Dr. Guenther Teschauer (1959-2004), then Department Chair of Foreign Languages. The program offered students from various parts of the world an opportunity to interact with American students and their educational system. It was a tradition for the students from abroad to gift the flags of their countries to Tenafly High School and the dozens of flags hanging in the library represent the diverse cultures that the Tenafly community has managed to embrace and integrate over the past few decades. At one point, the school even received a flag of the DDR (East Germany or the German Democratic Republic), which reunited with West Germany in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. Some of the flags, including the one from the DDR, have unfortunately decomposed over the years and so were removed from the library. Despite the school’s efforts to continue such global and interactive programs, Dr. Teschauer’s departure, along with the newly-imposed legal issues that made it difficult to promote foreign exchange, brought Tenafly’s active participation in the program to a halt. 

Currently, Mr. David DiGregorio, the director of the media center, is hoping to continue the tradition and is reviving the foreign exchange program with video calls that students became very much used to throughout the pandemic. He believes that learning the culture and educational system of foreign countries in this new era of globalization is crucial. “Way before Zoom, videoconferencing required specialized hardware which we had,” DiGregorio said. “At that time, I set up an open connection with another school library in Georgia…. So fast forward to now, when such conferencing is made so easy. We could do the same internationally with Zoom or a similar program and again keep the connection open for a casual interchange.” Although there might be certain limitations due to the time zone, DiGregorio plans to establish a video conference-based program and is willing to support those who have connections with other schools around the world to launch it. “Students could totally spearhead such a project this time, and I would be happy to support.”

Tenafly High School when it was located on Clinton Avenue

The flags have been temporarily lowered from the library to tint the upper windows and to install the stained glasses from the old building of Tenafly High School on Clinton Avenue. These stained glass windows were ordered by the first principal of THS, Carl Ritter, in 1937, and one of them is currently being used as the logo of the library. The flags are in the process of being dry-cleaned and will be placed back as soon as the tinting and stained glass installments are complete.

While many of the students studying in or passing through the library might not have noticed the breathtaking history hanging overhead, it’s important for all students to be acquainted with the history in the library to appreciate the ever-present diversity, openness, and traditions of Tenafly High School.