Classes of the 1980s raise $10,000 in “bail money” for beloved alma mater.
June 15, 2023
By Lisa Neuman
ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On May 19, 2023, former Allentown High School student Scott Trethaway II turned himself in to Upper Freehold Township School District administration to serve one day of in-school suspension, district superintendent Mark Guterl reported.
Taken into custody by the Allentown Police Department and delivered to the school in the back of a patrol car, Trethaway looked contrite as high school principal Todd Pae recited the proclamation sealing his doom. The alleged suspect was then escorted into the school by retired English teacher Jane Samuelson, while current AHS students gathered at the front doors to boo him and record the arrest on their phones, presumably to make TikToks of the scene of public humiliation.
Trethaway, 52, had spent 35 years on the run from school administration. His crime? Mooning his fellow graduates and their families at his graduation ceremony–back on June 23, 1988.
Suspect’s past crimes come in handy for a cause
Catching Trethaway with his pants down, literally, was the late Douglas Van Dusen, then one of the assistant principals at AHS. Van Dusen, having barely tolerated four long years of Trethaway’s antics, sentenced the alleged suspect to serving one day of in-school suspension, affectionately known to students as “The Box.” But, because it was the last day of school, Trethaway went on the lam and never looked back until October 2022.
That’s when Trethaway’s high school football teammate, Thomas Falkowski, 52, was inducted into the AHS Hall of Fame. So many former classmates and teammates showed up to the homecoming game to see Falkowski, a member of the Class of 1989, receive his honor that they started brainstorming ideas for igniting a newfound sense of school spirit and pride. Trethaway and his leadership team got to work, building relationships with Guterl and Pae and planning a charity event that would be as fun as it was successful.
“Our alumni mean the world to us, and Mr. Trethaway has helped us reconnect with this growing group of dedicated Redbirds,” Superintendent Guterl said. “High school is always a special time for students, and the memories that everyone has of AHS seem to have created a lasting impact on the lives of our alums—there are few better compliments than that. We look forward to continuing our expanding relationship with the entire alumni community.”
For their part, these alumni—realizing they probably didn’t fully appreciate the high school while they were students—now found themselves deeply impressed with the academic and athletic programs, fine and dramatic arts, clubs, and other extracurricular programs AHS offers. In an era of deep budget cuts and financial constraints, they wanted to do their part to ensure the longevity of those programs for generations of students to come.
With Guterl and Pae’s help, an elaborate plan was hatched to apprehend Trethaway and ensure that he served his sentence. Bail money would be raised to spring him from the tiny classroom that for decades has housed many notorious high school criminals.
These alumni saved the AHS football team
Meanwhile, between October 2022 and May 2023, the newly established AHS 1980s Alumni Group grew to more than 850 members on Facebook. As a decade’s worth of classmates reconnected, swapped stories, recalled fond memories, shared old photos, and posted 80s-themed memes, they also raised the funds they would need to spring Trethaway from The Box and benefit AHS in the process.
This group of alumni are no strangers to reviving and revving up school spirit, however. As determined teenagers in the spring of 1986, they banded together to fight UFRSD’s school board when it attempted to dissolve the football team. Citing rising costs and a perpetually losing record, the board had recommended that canceling the program was the only prudent thing to do.
The student body disagreed wholeheartedly.
Outraged, brains, athletes, basket cases, princesses, and criminals joined forces and took their fight straight to the school board—and won. The managing editor’s op-ed in the Fall 1986 issue of The Nutshell, AHS’s student newspaper, read in part: “Once it was saved, it was up to us to prove the decision to keep football was the right one.”
Because their passion and commitment were a driving force in saving the football program from an unfortunate demise, they were elated when the 2010 team won its first division title.
But they were fully vindicated in 2016 when AHS won its first championship, the Central Jersey Group IV state sectional title, in a lopsided 41-6 victory over Brick Township High School. When the Allentown Police Department and Hope Fire Company Station 82-1, sirens blaring and lights flashing, escorted busses full of victorious football players, cheerleaders, and marching band members back into town after the game, the near-miss of the 1980s was suddenly just a memory.
But having had such an impact on AHS nearly 40 years ago wasn’t enough. Now, these alumni wanted to see how they could give back, and they wanted to give back big. So, on May 19, they turned Trethaway in, while still raising his “bail money” in the background.
It paid off. With Trethaway’s sentence served and his name cleared, on May 31 representatives of the alumni group handed Principal Pae and Superintendent Guterl a check for $10,000 and a promise of more to come.
“I can’t thank Mr. Trethaway and the alumni group enough for their generous donation of $10,000 that will benefit Allentown High School.” Guterl said. “When Scott approached us about the idea, it was definitely a unique one, but we could hear his energy and love for AHS come through. His ability to connect with alumni, his energy to make this happen, and his love for his alma mater definitely made this hope become a reality.”
Trethaway is now president of the group, which has already launched plans to apply for 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit status. The board of officers includes vice president Donna Erbe Creager (Class of 1989), treasurer Danalynn Marsh Byrne (Class of 1988), secretary Aaron Heller (Class of 1988), and steering committee Joshua Crome (Class of 1988), Stacey Frankel (Class of 1988), Brian Penrose (Class of 1988), and Nathan Wurtzel (Class of 1989).
“My vision for our future is to establish a 501(c)(3) charitable organization in order to support AHS programs and offer scholarships to current students who have excelled in academics, athletics, and the trades,” Trethaway announced to those gathered at the event’s afterparty, held at the Millstone Elks, the night he was sprung from The Box for good. “Our mission is simple: To support AHS students and programs by organizing fundraising and hosting events.”
“We have an amazing and diverse group of people with decades of experience and expertise in a multitude of areas and chosen fields,” he continued. “My goal is to establish a fun organization that is inclusive, involved, and succeeds through teamwork, something we can all be proud to be involved in.”
Officers from the AHS 80s Alumni Group present the $10,000 check they raised as bail money. L to R: Aaron Heller, Thomas Falkowski, Danalynn Byrne, AHS Principal Todd Pae, UFRSD Superintendent Mark Guterl.
Principal Todd Pae reads the proclamation announcing Trethaway’s capture and sentencing.
Retired English teacher Jane Samuelson poses with the suspect after turning him in to Superintendent Guterl and Principal Pae.
AHS football players in 1988, now in the 80s Alumni Group. Back row, L to R: Thomas Falkowski, Scott Trethaway, Brian Penrose. Front row, L to R: Brian Wangerien, Aaron Heller.