As a third generation graduate of Bloomfield High School, you could say Sharon Friedman Della Fera has Bloomfield in her blood.
Which I guess in her case would be Bengal blood?
Della Fera graduated from BHS in 1983 as an honors student and as the oldest of a family that has been tightly interwoven in the school’s development over the last century - they are still involved in the present day growth of the school.
“My grandfather on my father’s side, my mom and Dad all graduated from Bloomfield High School,” said the former Franklin Street resident, who works in quality engineering and management.. “My father, Howard Friedman, is still a pretty big supporter – he’s treasurer of the Bloomfield Educational Foundation."
In fact, Sharon and her husband, Mario Della Fera, both graduated in 1983, but her lineage goes back much further. Her grandfather Max Friedman graduated in the 1930s; her father Howard Friedman graduated in 1959; her mom Floretta Melograno in 1961; her uncle Robert Friedman, a varsity athlete, graduated in 1962; her sister Susan Marchello a year later in 1984; and, finally, her brother Rick Friedman in 1987.
Currently a resident of Hillsborough, NJ, Della Fera played varsity volleyball at BHS her senior year but also participated in various extracurricular activities, including Key Club and the Navy League, where she was a sea cadet.
In those days, Della Fera said the volleyball team was being resurrected and she was just happy to have been asked to play. Despite seeing herself as more of a student than an athlete, Della Fera can remember playing volleyball in the old school gym, which students now refer to as “The Pit.”
Della Fera used to return to her alma mater each year to watch her uncle Robert Friedman compete in the annual alumni basketball game. She recently returned to the school and marveled at the new additions, especially the newer, sparkling gymnasium.
“I haven’t been further than the new gym, but ‘The Pit’ is still there,” she said. “It’s where they wrestle now, but I used to play volleyball there.”
Somewhere between her father’s continued commitment to township and BHS and her constant trips to Bloomfield to visit in-laws, Della Fera will always have a place in her heart for her alma mater.
She fondly remembers some of the quirky things about the high school building in the 80s that have since been repaired or remodeled.
“We had the old part and the new part,” she recalled about the second and third floors of the pre-reconstructed BHS. “There was a little ramp that went from the second floor of one and you ended up on the third floor of the other; that’s all gone now.”
Some of Della Fera's most important memories stem from her times at BHS, where she met some people who would have the biggest impacts on her life. Outside of the lessons her parents taught, she learned the importance of reliability, focus and drive from volleyball coach Ellen Reiner (now Reiner-Roschitt and the school’s dean of discipline) and former school guidance counselor Joseph Bizzaro.
She said through her years in college at Georgia Tech and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and later throughout her professional life working as a quality and production engineer in places like Ford Motors and JDF Uniphase, many lessons learned at BHS guided her and kept her on track.
“...When Coach Reiner asked me to play volleyball, I never thought of myself as much of an athlete and I’m kind of short," recalled Della Fera, noting it was a memory that still touches her today, "but the coach was building up the team and wanted someone she could count on participating and giving her all – so I participated in my senior year.”
Although a good student and lover of math and science, Della Fera said some of her best memories come from “homeroom 216.” The mix of students and personalities in her BHS homeroom created friendships that have lasted her a lifetime.
“I was one of those geeks who liked school,” she said with a smile. “But, once you get your academics, you get pigeon-holed into specific classes, but homeroom was a mix of everyone and I loved that.
“I really enjoyed the people for my three years there and I’m still friendly with all of my friends from homeroom.”
Della Fera said she and her family will always have ties to BHS, through her father’s work with the BEF and visiting her in-laws, who live in the Berkeley Avenue area.
“I have two kids and my kids know Bloomfield, even though they didn’t grow up there,” Della Fera said. “Even when I moved here (Hillsborough), I had to find a place where I could find a sense of community - like Bloomfield.”
Bloomfield High School will celebrate its 100-year anniversary April 16 at The Villa in Mountain Lakes. Tickets are still available at the BEF website. For more information on the gala, .