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Newtown: Shaping A Life

To The Editor

Fifty years ago, when I was a senior at Newtown High, then on Queen Street, my life was full of wonderful adult models who helped to shape my life:  Mrs. Harte, my inspirational English teacher and advisor to the Queen Street Journal (school paper). I didn’t know it then, but she was the teacher that “turned” me toward a career in education; coach DeGroat and Reverend Paul Cullen who help to shape my sense of belonging and community spirit; Mrs. Schulz and AFS, that would involve me, in the best way, in world culture, “Walking Together, Talking Together”; Kay Dolan and Earl Smith, calming teachers in the room on November 23, 1963, when our homeroom learned that President Kennedy was shot.  Kay and Earl soothed and helped me to understand the impact this would have on the importance of nurturing and caring in our lives; and, Joe Grasso, our music teacher, choir director, and friend.  Who can forget dancing to his band playing “Moon River” at the prom?  He continues to inspire in my music to this day.

Newtown, its people and community, was critical to my positive development as an adult.  Now retired, Newtown is at the core of my strong sense of community, working with youth, building with Habitat for Humanity,  and volunteering in schools and libraries.

As a young adult, when asked where I went to school, I would have to explain where Newtown was.  Somewhere between New Haven and Danbury, not too far from Bridgeport.  Today, when I mention Newtown to my fellow volunteers, building a new home for a low income family, everyone stops abruptly, knowing exactly where Newtown is, but not knowing what a wonderful place it was for me before it was sadly placed on the world stage.

John Larrabee

Class of 1964

Grantham, NH                   September 27, 2013

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