Suffield Academy held its 16th annual Alumni Leadership Awards Program Day on May 7. The Alumni Association created the program to honor Suffield graduates who have displayed notable leadership in their professional careers or in a humanitarian endeavor.
The Alumni Leadership Award Selection Committee is comprised of alumni, students, and members of the faculty. The committee members this year were Ed Kaplan '77 and Phil Riegel '87, and seven members of the Class of 2018: James Kagan, Mariia Kalacheva, Spencer Macchia, Reginald Mhoon, Alexandra Mnich, Benjamin Sylvester, and Nicholas Vardakas. The award was presented to David Rockwell ’58.
David “Rocky” Rockwell will retire this June after 54 years on the Suffield Academy faculty. He has taught nearly 20 different courses including sociology, archaeology, anthropology, and philosophy. He chaired the history department for 25 years and has been Director of the Leadership Program since 2005. Rocky has earned many honors for his inspirational impact including Suffield’s Richter Award for excellence in teaching in 2002, the Elijah B. Andrews Award for service to Suffield in 1994, and the WALKS Foundation Swan Award in 2007. Rocky started Suffield’s Alpine Ski Team in 1967 and was head coach until 1996. He later established Suffield’s SOLO Program (Suffield Outdoor Leadership Organization) in the early 1990s. He has influenced hundreds of Suffield students through outdoor experiential learning on campus and on trips to places including the coast of Maine and Zuni, New Mexico.
Rocky was honored and gave a talk in the Second Baptist Church. Nicholas Vardakas offered an introduction and Dominic Fiallo ’12 and Academic Dean Sara Yeagar provided words about Rocky’s legendary career. A staunch advocate of lifelong learning, Rocky shared a remarkable perspective on his years spent as an educator.“Education to me has always been about life, life in the broadest sense, life experienced well and with enthusiasm,” he noted. “In order to do that you have to be involved. We require more than ever an active, informed younger generation. The divisive climate in which we presently wallow begs all of us to reach across the divide, learn as much as we can, and have genuine conversation with each other. My challenge to you is to get involved with the fight for fairness and sanity. If I have provided any kind of leadership over the years I hope it’s been in the realm of helping students gain a sense of self, encouraging them to seek truth no matter how painful, and to realize that they and only they can do great things if they put their mind to it.”