Alumni Honor and Remember Mr. Donohue

Alumni Honor and Remember Mr. Donohue
Posted on 05/26/2017
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On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Collier alumni and staff gathered at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in Holmdel, NJ to remember their beloved History teacher, colleague, mentor and friend, Ken Donohue.  The alumni had conducted a fund raiser in April 2015 at the Tilted Kilt in East Brunswick and raised funds for a paver to be placed in the Vietnam Veterans Park under the Huey helicopter.  The idea for the paver came from Robyn Gold Donnelly, Class of 2003, who spoke the following at the gathering for Mr. Donohue: 

Alumni of Collier High School - a NJ Alternative High School"
First and foremost I'd like to thank everyone who came today to honor Mr. Donohue and everyone who took part in making this day happen.  Mr. Donohue passed away on June 11, 2010 and I was really bothered that there wasn't a physical marker on this earth for this man who had made a huge mark in my life.  After bouncing some ideas back and forth with other alumni, it was Lauren Parisi, Class of 2000, who organized the event where alumni could raise the money for this paver at the Vietnam Memorial in honor of our beloved teacher.  Mr. Donohue was in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 as a sergeant in the Red Diamond division and earned a distinguished medal for his service to our country.  He taught at Collier for 41 years and had a unique way of teaching.  Mr. Donohue threw the textbooks out the window and taught from books he owned and collected, printing tiny notes on numerous blackboards for his students to copy, to be tested on later.  He also believed in teaching by experience.  I remember many trips to this memorial and learning about the Vietnam war from the men and women who served our country.  Instead of teaching what was mainstream, he taught what was real and true.  He taught me things like love for your country and trust for your government were not mutually exclusive.  He taught me not to believe everything I heard or read but to question and form my own judgments and opinions.  He was a man who fought for the things he believed in....he was definitely different and a little bit eccentric.  I think that's what made me and so many of my peers feel so close to him because in some ways, he was very much like us."

When Robin was finished she invited alumni and staff to share their memories of Ken Donohue.

Tory Vassilious, Class of 2011, noted that. "Before I got to Collier HS, learning was not fun for me.  Mr. Donohue made it all interesting. To this day, I am still curious about learning new things."  David Siederer, Class of 2001, shared the time when the staff allowed the alumni to take a memento from his classroom, right after his memorial service at the convent.  David was his Film Study student and his favorite movie from that class became Metropolis.  When he entered Mr. Donohue's classroom, the first drawer he opened was the top drawer of his desk.  A DVD of Metropolis was laying there.  David said, "It felt like he put it there for me to find it."  Mr. Gillespie, vice principal at CHS, remembered that Mr. Donohue was instrumental in how US History I and II are currently being taught in the state of NJ.  He thought that it should be presented from the vantage point of the Native American.  He submitted the curriculum to the NJ Department of Education and they accepted it .  Ms. Zmich, Post-Graduate Counselor at CHS, stated that she missed talking politics with Mr. Donohue.  She looked up at the sky and said, "This would have been one heck of an election year to have our discussions."

Alumni of Collier High School - a NJ Alternative High School
After everyone had shared their memories and stories about Mr. Donohue, they turned on the Huey helicopter.  It was poignant ending to a heartfelt event.  Alumni and staff then met at Houlihans in Holmdel for more memories and fellowship.

Mr. Donohue will not only live on in the hearts of those who knew him but for future generations of CHS students who visit the VIetnam Veterans Memorial Park.

Thank you Collier alumni for your kindness and generosity in remembering him.

  This article was entered a year after the event because the paver had the wrong spelling of Mr. Donohue's name.  We thought it would be more appropriate to wait until it was replaced.  Thank you for your understanding.