Letter Box: September 2009

More responses for February’s “Looking back”
In the “Looking back” section…from the 2/09 issue you asked if anyone could identify the picture. I’m afraid the only clue I can provide is that the “youngster” second from the left is my mother Helene Ruth Hauck Zilai [Class of 1950]. That means [the photo] isn’t from the 1955 Centennial celebration, because she had graduated by then and was busy tending to my 1-year-old brother and 3-year-old self. My Dad (John Robert Zilai ’50) recently handed me this page from the magazine during a quick family reunion in NJ, so I apologize if you have already gotten the answer to the question. Mom passed away in 1995 so I appreciate the memory.

Joyce Zilai

Stroll down memory lane
I recently visited the campus; my first visit in over 30 years. I was very impressed with how the campus has evolved. My wife and I really enjoyed walking around and I found myself recalling conversations which occurred 35 years ago as I traversed some of the same geography.

Bob Littman ’75

June “Looking back” responses
Ed’s note: These are the full responses we received in regards to the June 2009 “Looking back” photo. Edited versions of several of these letters appeared in the September 2009 print issue.

I attened what was known at the time as TSC between 1983–1987 and recognize the people in the picture, but cannot recall names. “T.O.P.S.” stands for Trenton Orientation Program Services. Students who attended “T.O.P.S.” primarily held campus positions such as CAs, SMRs, etc.

Christine Zinke ’87

The picture is from orientation 1985. The teambuilding exercise was called “Sit on my knees, please.” TOPS was Trenton Orientation Program Services, the group conducted Freshman Orientation before the College Ambassador program assumed that job. The two students in the white TOPS shirts are Lori Luck and Jackie Williams. The one in the middle might be Sharon Finn. All were in the very first group of  College Ambassadors (Spring 1985) who worked orientation that year wearing the TOPS “uniform.” There you have it!

Brian Nugent ’86

I’m responding to the article “Looking Back” in the TCNJ Magazine—June 2009. I’m pictured in the photo (on the right with the white earring) and was a TSC Ambassador. If I remember correctly, T.O.P.S. stood for Trenton Orientation Program Services. The ambassadors were working an orientation program that day. Yes, it was a team building exercise that formed a circle. The picture brings back great memories of TSC!

Jackie (Williams) Gibbs ’88

Just received the June 2009 issue and as usual enjoyed reading the stories. I remember the exercise and the names of three of the people pictured. The picture I believe was taken Spring of 1985. The last three people from right to left are:  Jackie Williams, Sharon M.? and Lori Luck. I can’t remember what TOPS stands for…it was before the start of the College Ambassador Program I believe. The three girls I mentioned and myself were part of the first group of ambassadors for the College.

Deitra Roessner Quinn ’88

I can’t remember what T.O.P.S. meant, but the photo is from 1985 or 1986. [Second] from the right is Sharon Finn.

Bob Holme ’87

I’m the guy in the foreground of [June’s] “Looking back” section. First let me apologize, as I can’t remember the event at all. I believe based upon my hairstyle and the sport coat that it is 1985 and this was a freshman orientation. If you find out more, please…let me know.

Brian Bilecki ’90

I heard from a few of my fellow alumni that this photo was in the magazine. I am one of the coordinators pictured in the middle (I’m pretty sure, anyway!) and can answer some of the questions about the photo. This was part of orientation. TOPS stood for Trenton Orientation Program Services and this activity was called the “group sit.” I was working as a graduate assistant…and was one of the people in charge of this program. I believe this was the summer of 1985. Two of the women featured in the foreground of the photo were ambassadors/orientation leaders. I remember them vividly, but not their names. I believe that the one to the right, when facing the photo, was named Jaqui or Jackie. Thanks for the memory!

Miki Albanese Cammarata ’84

While reading the latest issue of the magazine, the “Looking Back” photo caught my eye immediately. In 1981, I was part of T.O.P.S., which was an acronym for Trenton Orientation Program Services. When the Spring semester was over, members of T.O.P.S. would stay in Wolfe Hall for an additional week and give tours to incoming students and their families. Participating in T.O.P.S. is just one of the wonderful memories I have of my time at the College.

Lynda Heller England ’82

I started at TCNJ in September 1985. I recognize the “Looking back” photo on page 2 of your June 2009 issue and some of the people in it. I believe the photo (which I can almost guarantee was a color photo) was used in a lot of marketing material in the ’80s. It might have even been in the College course bulletin or student handbook (not sure of the name for this booklet) showing each degree and all the course requirements for a given graduating year…. Anyway, I recognize the two women in the foreground and believe they were Ambassadors out of the College Relations office, who would provide insightful tours to prospective students during open houses and other recruitment events. This looks like a summer orientation for new students.  I’m pretty sure I attended a session like this.  Here’s my guess, and only a guess, because we were always so mired in acronyms back in the day…probably still works that way today. The guess: Trenton State College Orientation for Prospective Students. The ‘kids’ who are not wearing TOPS shirts look like every kid I went to high school with when in high school…hair and clothes are great!! I tried to find myself or anyone else I might recognize with a magnifying glass, but couldn’t. Well, maybe the girl whose head is partially obscured by the right elbow of the man standing is a freshman floor mate of mine, Laura Gebhart, but there were a lot of girls with very similar look back then. So I would say that this photo is probably circa 1984 or 1985 in the summer…. When I cracked open TCNJ Magazine this morning it was a thrill to see a recognizable photo from “back in the day” and recognizable faces.  Thank you. Happy to be in touch.

Paul Magrino ’89

I may have some information about the June 2009 issue’s “Looking back.” Much to my surprise, as I was perusing the issue from back to front, because I always look at the weddings, births, and sadly, memoriam sections first, I saw my face in the photo. I am the first female on the left in the foreground. This activity was one planned for Freshman Orientation the weekend before Labor Day in 1986. I believe T.O.P.S. were the organizers. I was a Governor’s Teaching Scholar, but I do not believe that all the students pictured were education majors. I am not sure what the acronym stands for, but I do remember feeling a little shy and silly sitting on the lap of a total stranger. I moved out of my comfort zone anyway and wound up having fun…. I graduated with degrees in education and psychology in 1990. I loved my experiences at TCNJ, then known as Trenton State. My professors were awesome: Dr. Silver, Gwendolyn Jones, Dr. Ruddy, Dr. Patricia Brock, and Dr.Wang, and I particularly loved my student teaching experience in Puerto Rico my senior year, ’90. I do recognize my roommate’s profile, Bridget (Bell) Fisher and my two friends, Cynthia Light & Allison Cheeseman, in the back row. They were all Governor’s Scholars and graduated in ’90 as well.

Michelle R.Clark-Stubbs ’90

T.O.P.S. stands for Together Our Peers Succeed. It was the slogan used for new student orientation.  It was used in 1987, and probably other years as well.

Sharon (Goodwin) Thiero ’91

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