SOUTHINGTON – Brian Stranieri, who retired as principal of Southington High School Wednesday after 37 years in the district, says he is grateful for the opportunity to change young people’s lives for so many years.
Stranieri first came to Southington High School as a technology education teacher. He served as assistant principal for 13 years and then principal for five years. Additionally, he coached football and baseball for more than 20 years.
“I’ve been retired for two days and it hasn’t quite set in yet,” Stranieri said Friday. “I plan to have no plan for a while, take it easy and then enjoy my summer vacation. I spent 37 incredible years at Southington High School – I was lucky to land a job in such a great town.”
Stranieri said that the opportunity he had to change the lives of young people was always on his mind as an administrator.
“I took a lot of pride when I ran into someone who had graduated and they told me something that I did for them that helped to change their life,” he said. “School isn’t all about ABCs and 123S; it’s about teaching those social skills that prepare you for your adult life. That’s what made it all worthwhile for me.”
Stranieri said that, in the end, his students changed his life too.
“You can learn a lot from the young people of today if you listen to what they have to say,” he said.
To that end, Stranieri remarked how students had started a number of “social justice” clubs in recent years. He counted among these the “multicultural student union” which has students of a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, and the “LGBTQ club”, which he said students have taken to a “whole new level.” He said that Southington High School created gender neutral lavatories as a result of these groups’ efforts.
“This is an era where we really have to have a respect for diversity,” he said. “The equal rights movement started in the 60s but battles are still being fought today. Clubs like these help to bring a cultural awareness to Southington High School. They give students a voice in what the school looks like and begin to change the high school. We laid the groundwork which will be built upon forever.”
Stranieri said that he is “very excited” that Frank Pepe is his successor.
“He is a true gentleman and he is coming in with prior experience as an administrator,” he said. “He will do an outstanding job as the next principal.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.