Beloved WHS Security Director to Retire
WETHERSFIELD - Last Thursday afternoon, the dining room of the Wethersfield Country Club was packed with well-dressed public officials, school administrators, and residents from more than one town.

       The man of the hour: Ninety-year old John Saccente, the Wethersfield High School Security Director set to retire by the middle of the month. “Pops”, as members of the Wethersfield community affectionately call him, is somewhat of a “legend” in town, and today, the crowd of 165 plus people serves to illustrate that.

       “We don’t even get this kind of turnout when we have events for the Lieutenant Governor,” jokes John Gallivan, Chair of the Democratic Town Committee and a Wethersfield High School teacher.

       And for Saccente, who started at WHS-essentially a third career proceeding his service in World War II and his work with the Newington Police Department-the whole thing was a total surprise.

       “All I knew was, they told it was Bingo and World War II trivia,” Saccente says with a laugh. “Then I walk into this.”

       He’s sitting at his table, and, even as the party winds down, there’s a line of well-wishers waiting for their few minutes with him. He happily takes photos with old friends and former co-workers, as he tries to pin down his favorite WHS memories.

       “You could not fill a newspaper with all the memories I have,” Saccente says. “If I could write a book about them, I’d write a book.”

       Yet, Saccente doesn’t get too specific, reflecting mostly on the impact generations of WHS students have had on him.

       “They’re all my kids,” he says. “They grew up with me, and I love ‘em all.”

       But family members and colleagues were happy to fill in some of their favorite “Pops” memories.

       WHS Principal Tom Moore recalls the presentation of Saccente’s high school diploma-another surprise-during a graduation ceremony. Saccente enlisted in the military while he was still in high school, and by law, WWII veterans that joined under similar circumstances are eligible to receive the credential.

       “That was a pretty special moment,” Moore says.

       Deena Saccente, his granddaughter and WHS graduate, echoed this sentiment.

       “I think it was something he’ll never forget,” she says. “The opportunity to have a high school diploma was just amazing for him, and I tear up thinking about it.”

       As for his decision to retire, “Pops” says that it was simply “about time.”

       “I can’t walk around like I used to, chasing after kids,” he says. “I’m 90 years old.”

       He says he plans to kick back and take it easy. And who knows, maybe he’ll have time to write that book after all.

       “He’s an amazing person who has a huge heart,” Deena says. “He’s done a lot in his life, but I think being at Wethersfield High school is what he’s most proud of.”

      
STORY BY MARK DIPAOLA   |  Mar 09 2017  |  COMMENTS?