Bacon Academy hosts All-Class Reunion
By Merja Lehtinen - ReminderNews
Colchester - posted Tue., Aug. 6, 2013
The Bacon Academy Board of Trustees sponsored an All-Class Reunion and 210th anniversary party for the school on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun. At the event were members of the Class of 1938, represented by Stephen Fedus, Jr., all the way up to recent graduates, as well as faculty past and present. All celebrated the spirit of Bacon Academy, one of the nation's long-standing educational institutions. It was started as a "college" committed to educating leaders. Today, it remains the local publicly-funded high school for town.
More than 310 graduates and guests gathered for cocktails, followed by dinner and dancing. The 210th anniversary chairman Patricia Tynda Nardella, Class of 1961, and a team of 10 spent a year planning the evening.
In the early 19th century, local leaders - led by Pierpont Bacon - started Bacon Academy. With Music Vale Seminary just south on New London Road, the town was "a flourishing center of learning" in the 1800s. Most American children attended one-room schoolhouses for first through eighth grade. School-based learning stopped early unless they went on to be teachers, lawyers, ministers or doctors at universities or apprenticeships. Colchester was lucky to have Bacon Academy, which accepted locals for further studies through 12th grade. Farmers prepared for studying agriculture at the nearby agricultural college, which is now UConn.
Bacon Academy has graduated future governors, senators, fighter pilots and other accomplished people who contributed in many ways to American society.
"The old Bacon Academy spirit still lives," said Jeff Mathieu, Colchester's current superintendent of schools.
Frank Felciano traveled from Arizona to reunite with good friends, real estate brokers Moe and Pearl Epstein among them. After graduating, Felciano served as a fighter pilot in the Air Force and most recently was base commander for the Air Force in Arizona.
Not all former students claimed a stellar academic performance at Bacon. More than a few confessed to having been more interested in having fun and meeting people than hitting the books. “But I am successful now," said one graduate who works for a major defense contractor today.
Larry Curran, Class of 1988, said it is "always the people you miss, not the buildings."
"I was a party girl then, and I still am today," said a member of the Class of 1979.
Former students waited in line to greet and thank former faculty member Myles Hubbard, who one former student thanked personally for teaching him how speak and write properly. "You would not give up on me, and I thank you for that," Hubbard's former student said.
Hubbard remembers joining Bacon Academy faculty in 1959, soon after he graduated from Fairfield University and UConn. He taught in town until 1966. "Colchester made me feel comfortable as a teacher, in particular the late Helen Gay and Harriet Bron did; they were two outstanding women who welcomed me to the community," he said. Although he went on to teach in Bloomfield and eventually turned to guidance counseling, more recently he worked in administration for the Archbishop of Hartford. This led to Hubbard being appointed as a Knight of Malta, an ancient honorary society that helps the poor, infirm and homeless. In this more recent role, he founded a North Hartford food pantry with a Dame of Malta.
It was an interesting time in the late 1950s and 1960s, the height of the civil rights movement. There were unspoken tensions in town, as there were all across America, according to several people. But Colchester Federated Church leaders such as the late Lions Club member Aaron Turner, one of Colchester's town constables and former state policeman, who had been a college classmate of Dr. Martin Luther King at Morehouse College, set the tone of civility along with many others. With a population that included Yankees, southern African-American landowner farming families who moved north, turn-of-the-century Jewish and eastern European immigrants' children, as well as French, Italian, Scandinavian descendents, diversity was a hallmark of the community, and it remains so today. Intra-cultural acceptance is a tradition long considered part of Colchester's culture.