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Bittersweet retirement party hosted at Minnechaug

Date: 6/29/2009

By Rick Sobey, Staff Intern

WILBRAHAM Retiring from the job that one has done for one's entire life brings about a wide range of emotions. The retirees are happy with their accomplishments, but they will miss their professions. In addition, co-workers are proud of their friends for reaching this moment, but are sad because the retirees will not be at the water cooler anymore.

This bittersweet feeling was no different at the Minnechaug Regional High School (MRHS) Retirement Party on June 15. Six members of the faculty were recognized at this end of the year event, including Daniel Balser, Diane Jeserski, Bruce Kenney, Alexander Lagunowich, Patricia McDiarmid and Joseph Norman.

These faculty members had been at MRHS for several years, and according to principal M. Martin O'Shea, they have contributed much to the school and community. "They have definitely earned their retirement after many long and tiring days," O'Shea said. "This event is a great celebration, but we're going to miss them tremendously."

O'Shea discussed how these faculty members were a selfless group. "They have been quite generous with their time," he said. "They are always willing to help in any way needed. They will be greatly missed."

Balser, the technology education department chair, arrived at MRHS 35 years ago. He has taught over 4,000 students, and he was presented with the Teacher of the Year Award in 2007.

Nancy Dugre, a computer science teacher, spoke on Balser's behalf at this event. She thinks that he is the model teacher for all to follow. "The technology department believes a statue of him would be appropriate for Minnechaug's 50 year anniversary," Dugre said. "He brought out the very best in his students, and he has unending generosity."

Jeserski started working at MRHS in 1976. She has been both a business teacher and a school-to-career advisor. Jeserski believes now the work truly begins. "There are mountains to climb and rivers to swim," she said.

Jeserski finished her speech by quoting musician Alice Cooper: "School's out forever!"

Kenney, a longtime physics teacher at MRHS and local colleges, had a unique teaching style. He would weave jokes into his lessons, and these jokes would help the students remember certain formulas and concepts.

Charles Hill, who teaches calculus and physics, will be taking over Kenney's classes next year. Hill spoke about Kenney and emphasized Kenney's great sense of humor. "He puts on a great show every day," Hill said. "You're going to leave his class amused and knowing physics.

"We can't replace you and we're going to miss you," Hill continued. "I'm going to love teaching physics, but I'm going to miss you very much."

Lagunowich taught biology and other related science courses for 33 years at MRHS. Sabra Dickson, the science department chair, said that it will never be the same with Lagunowich retiring. "There will be a big void now," Dickson said. "He handled some of the most difficult students and helped them improve.

"You are such a good man," Dickson continued. "You always treat people with the utmost respect."

McDiarmid and Norman were both absent from the retirement party. McDiarmid taught health education and Norman was a custodian for many years.