Drury Class of 1957 Gifts Oil Painting to Commemorate Late Principal
The commissioned oil by retired teacher John "Skeets" Richards Jr. is a gift from the class of 1957 for its 60th reunion and unveiled at the school on Saturday afternoon.
The idea was spearheaded by a committee lead by Hulda Hardman Jowett as a way to memorialize their class president.
Current Principal Timothy Callahan, who was first hired by Cirone, told the dozen or so classmates and guests at the event that the painting represented what the longtime school leader was all about.
"[It is] what Drury High School is all about, which is a sense of community, a sense of togetherness," he said. "I would just like to thank those who came to see it unveiled."
The painting and a plaque noting Cirone's career will be installed above the elevator as you walk into the two-story lobby. The class was also offered tours of both the new and old Drury (Colegrove Park Elementary School) and were to celebrate their reunion at the Stamford (Vt.) Valley Golf Course.
Cirone, who died in 2008 at age 70, also attended Brown University and received his master's degree in education from what was then North Adams State College. He taught science and later social studies at Drury for 13 years, becoming principal in 1977 after one year as assistant principal. He retired in 1999.
From the time he was first elected president of the class of 1957 as a freshman, Cirone had been involved with Drury (aside from "interludes" for Army and college) for 50 years as student, teacher, principal and coach, said his best friend Terry Coyne.
"He was a very good man who did a lot of very good things," Coyne said, and composed of "intangible qualities" like integrity, compassion and fortitude that were hard to put into words, and who used his position of power to
Cirone was the first call for the boys he took under his wing as coach, he said, in times of despair or anxiety. One boy even called Cirone, not his parents, when he got in trouble with the police, Coyne said, asking, "Coach, get me out of here!"
"Roger had very high standards for himself, and he lived up to those standards," he said.
Richards, who worked with Cirone as a teacher at the old Drury and then under him at the new Drury, recalled a good friend with whom he played basketball and volleyball, and who would come to his house for Saturday afternoon poker games.
"I have never worked for a person who was fairer than Roger," he said. "I just wish we had leaders today in this country that had the caliber Roger Cirone had."
He'd first approached the painting as a technical effort, with updates to be provided to Jowett as it formed.
"As I started doing the painting, more and more memories came back," said Richards, who retired 13 years ago. "The good things all came back. When Tim says Drury High School is a community, Drury High School is a community ... It has not changed one bit from the time that you guys were 18-year-old seniors."
The painting depicts the front entrance of the present building on South Church Street. Richards remembered walking out the front entrance on sunny days to walk down to the cafeteria on the ground floor. The painting is of a bright day with the collors of fall beginning to show in the mountains above the school.
He realized he needed some students in the painting, because it shouldn't just be a building, and if there were students, then Cirone had to be there as well. Richards said he's a still-life artist but was pleased with the depiction of a tall, lanky Cirone in his signature white buttoned-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up offering advice to a cluster of students on the sidewalk.
"It was a great experience for me to do," Richards said. "It brought back a lot of memories. I thought about Roger a lot."
Barbara Trabold Cirone was out of town and not able to attend but thanked the class for honoring her late husband.
"I'm looking forward to seeing how it will brighten the halls of Drury," she wrote in a letter read to the gathering by Jowett. "Roger would be humbled by their generosity and thank you for spearheading this project and for the effort put into selecting just the right way to honor and remember his devotion to educating the students in North Adams."
Tags: class reunion, Drury High, memorial,
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