By Judy Bass
“Tonight, as we reflect upon the creation of the District School Committee and of the District, I hope that everyone will think about what makes Blue Hills special,” said Blue Hills Regional Superintendent James P. Quaglia.
“I can sum it up in three words – it’s the people.”
The sentiment Quaglia expressed was reinforced by various speakers time and again on the evening of Tuesday, December 9, during a festive celebration of the school’s District School Committee, which was created fifty years ago.
The gathering was held in the school’s restaurant and attended by school staff, present and past District School Committee members, as well as State Senator Brian A. Joyce (D-Milton), State Rep. Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton), and State Rep. Paul McMurtry (D-Dedham).
The celebration will continue, starting at the end of this school year, and will culminate with the 50th graduating class in 2016.
Among the guests were current District School Committee members Francis J. Fistori (Avon), Eric C. Erskine (Braintree), Chairman Aidan G. Maguire, Jr. (Canton), Thomas R. Polito, Jr. (Dedham), Robert A. McNeil (Holbrook), Festus Joyce (Milton), Kevin L. Connolly (Norwood), Marybeth Nearen (Randolph), and Vice Chairman Charles W. Flahive (Westwood).
Past District School Committee members Bernard H. Baher (Avon), Timothy Sullivan (Braintree), William T. Buckley (Holbrook), and Alan L. Butters (Westwood) were also in the audience. Baher, now 94, is the only surviving member of the original Blue Hills District School Committee, which he served on for 22 years, including three terms as chairman. He was first elected in 1965 and has maintained a close relationship with the school ever since.
Legislators Joyce, Timilty, and McMurtry addressed the audience, each warmly praising the outstanding education Blue Hills provides to its students. “I’ve always been impressed with what happens here,” said Joyce. “For fifty years, this school has made an incredible difference in a lot of people’s lives.”
Both Joyce and Timilty presented Chairman Maguire with official citations from the Massachusetts Legislature commending Blue Hills and the District School Committee for the great work done at the school.
“I believe that the best schools are the product of diligent teamwork,” Quaglia said. “Since the 1960s, the District School Committee has led the way by working closely with the Superintendent, Principal, teachers, support staff, parents and officials from our nine sending towns to fulfill our mission – providing the most outstanding technical education possible to every student. For fifty years, we have succeeded. Our graduates are good citizens, valuable employees, and the best ambassadors for this school that anyone could possibly want.”
Chairman Maguire paid tribute to some of the school’s exceptional graduates and past District School Committee members for their dedication and commitment to Blue Hills and technical education. Scott D. Tingle graduated in 1983 and is now a NASA astronaut; Alexander S. Arredondo, Class of 2002, joined the US Marines and lost his life in the line of duty in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 20; Mr. Buckley, the former Holbrook representative to the District School Committee, served in that capacity for nearly 30 years; and Mr. Butters, the Westwood representative to the District School Committee, held that post for nearly 17 years.
However, no one matches the remarkable longevity of Mr. Baher’s connection with Blue Hills. Baher, a longtime resident of Avon, has been a visiting lecturer in the Engineering Technology program for nine years (Baher was himself an engineer). He is a permanent consultant to Blue Hills, helped to organize the Blue Hills Foundation with former Superintendent Wilfrid Savoie and Ron Linari, and was its president for 16 years. Baher is also a talented wood sculptor who fashioned and repaired the handsome gold eagle that once graced the flagpole outside the school and now is displayed inside the building.
“Despite all his achievements,” said Chairman Maguire, “including being Chairman of the National Council of Vocational Education during the administration of President George H. W. Bush, Mr. Baher has always been someone of immense humility who enjoyed serving the school and its students.”
Two talented individuals provided musical entertainment for the guests. Student Jalen Rance of Holbrook sang three numbers in his own uniquely soulful, blues-infused style, and former District School Committee member Tim Sullivan delighted everyone by belting out a rousing rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.”
District School Committee member Marybeth Nearen of Randolph presented bouquets to District School Committee Recording Secretary Joanne Kuzborski and Communications Specialist Judy Bass for their efforts to make the evening memorable.
A sumptuous array of hors d’oeuvres was prepared and served by the students in the Culinary Arts program. They, along with Culinary Arts department head John Haelsen and Instructor Heather Irber, were applauded by the guests for their exemplary work.
Lauding Blue Hills’ current District School Committee members and employees, all of whom have lived up to the exemplary standard set by their predecessors decades ago, Supt. Quaglia said, “Our present District School Committee members, along with our administrators, faculty and staff, still keep the fires of education and knowledge burning brightly. To paraphrase President Kennedy’s inaugural address, “The glow from that fire can truly light the world.”