Alumni Newsletters


The alumni newsletters are written by Jeff Otterbein of the communications department. If you have an alumni note, email jotterbein@xavierhighschool.org.

DECEMBER EDITION

The Xavier Alumni Magazine is in mailboxes this month and will appear on line. It is filled with many stories, including several on fathers and sons. One of the stories is the Kohs family history. Another is the Jaskot family history. Those names are such a big part of school history.

This hit the cutting room floor, but we wanted to share what former basketball coach and athletic director Artie Kohs had to say on these topics.

How he found Larry McHugh: Wally Camp, a legendary state high school basketball coach, told Kohs that he had someone teaching eighth graders in Durham who would be a good football coach, someone who had played in college, had a tryout with the New York Titans of the American Football League. And that was Larry McHugh. “We met and hit it off,” remembers Kohs. Now, all these years later, the football field is named after McHugh and the basketball gym after Kohs.

Remembering the legends: Kohs recalls current AD Tony Jaskot and current guidance department director Rich Magner with nothing but fondness. He remembers telling the principal to get Jaskot in here; he’ll do anything. And now Jaskot has done anything and everything and will retire at the end of the year. “He spent his whole life here,” Kohs said, which of course is what Artie did. Magner took over for Kohs as basketball coach in 1979 and was a longtime baseball coach who played nine seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ system. He says Magner “forgot more about baseball than anyone in Middletown ever knew.”

‘My Adventures With Santa’

Greg Bereski is working on a movie called “My Adventures With Santa,” to be released in December 2019. It’s starring Denise Richards (“Wild Things”), Barbara Eden (“I Dream Of Jeannie”), and Patrick Muldoon (“Starship Troopers”).

Filming in Middletown, Cromwell and Meriden wrapped up at the end of October.

Bereski, a 2003 graduate, recently asked a former teacher, David Applegate, if the Xavier community could collect paper. He came in and hauled it away.

“I needed the paper for a scene in which Santa has a large stack of Christmas lists from kids across the world,” Bereski said. “He is very backed up on checking the lists so it is stacked high near his desk.”

Bereski said he has been working on films for about eight years.

“I started off doing background work as an extra in movies,” he said, listing “Heat” (Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy), “Great Hope Springs” (Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep), and “Grown Ups 2” (Adam Sandler and Kevin James).

He then moved to the crew side of things and has worked as a production assistant, set dresser, but now “has spent most of my time on set as a prop master, creating, fabricating and managing props needed in the movie.”

Time To Be Thankful

A Thanksgiving Mass was held at Xavier Nov. 24. After the Mass, there was a special presentation.

For the past three decades, Xavier has honored legacy families at each commencement. As part of a powerful presentation, alumni fathers receive a legacy medal from their graduating sons. The medal represents the shared values between generations of Xavier men and the passing of the torch to a new group of leaders.

Four families that had not been honored because the tradition had not yet been established were recognized at the Mass:

Matthew Natalie ’67 and son Matthew Natale ’88.
Jeffrey Mefferd ’68 and son Christopher Mefferd ‘88.
Charles Rayner ’68 and Geoffrey Rayner ‘89.
Steven Perruccio ’69 and Todd Perruccio ’89.

Two were present.

Matt Natale gave the medal to his uncle Martin Natale. Martin was standing in for his brother, Matt’s late father.

Steve Perruccio’s son Todd, living in California, could not be present so the medal was place on Steve by Xavier Headmaster Dave Eustis.

Rev. David Choquette ’90 was the celebrant for the Mass, assisted by Rev. Frank Gilbert ’74.

More Xavier family to be thankful for.

Ryken Award Winner

The Mass of the Feast of St. Francis Xavier was celebrated Dec. 3 at the school, with a special announcement at the end.

Headmaster Dave Eustis announced this year’s winner of the Ryken Award, the highest award an adult can receive at Xavier. Director of Admissions Nick Grasso, a 2005 graduate, was the recipient in a vote by his peers.

“My heart was racing [when I heard my name],” Grasso said.

Grasso received thunderous applause with members of his family present.

“It was amazing to have my family here,” Grasso said. “That was really special. It was a surprise to celebrate with them. My parents supported me through Xavier and college. They allowed me to go here, and made sacrifices for me to go to private schools and Catholic schools my whole life.”

Part of the criteria for winning the award is to participate in the school’s community of faith, nurture students and recognize the importance of educating the whole person.

Upcoming Events

The annual Arthur Kohs Basketball Classic is Dec. 27 and 28 at the Xavier Gym, aptly named after Art Kohs. The schedule: Dec. 27: Waterford plays Glastonbury at 5:30 followed by Cheshire vs. Xavier at 7:15 p.m. Dec. 28: consolation game 5:30 p.m., championship game, 7:15 p.m. … The Christmas concert at Xavier is Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. The snow date is Dec. 12. … There is a Mercy-Xavier doubleheader to open the basketball season. Both games are against Norwich Free Academy Dec. 15 at Mercy. The Xavier boys play at 2 followed by the Mercy girls at 4. The Xavier hockey team starts its season that night against one of the best teams in the state, Ridgefield, at Wesleyan at 7 p.m.

Fun Fact

Brendan Bell ’05, assistant director of admissions and international student coordinator among other things here at Xavier, dug out these great statistics: there are 15 alumni working here and 15 parents of alumni working here. That represents tradition and the desire to come back … and give back.


NOVEMBER EDITION

Barry McCarthy ’69 is a retired minister. Well, sort of. When you’re a minister you never know when the call will come, retired or not.

For the past 25 years he was the pastor of Congregational churches in New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Now he is the bridge interim minister at First Congregational Church in Coventry.

“A calling to the work of Christ is a strange and wonderful thing that is also dangerous to the comfortable expectations of life,” McCarthy said. “Though I felt a call early in life, I didn’t respond to ministry until midlife. After working for many years in the advertising department at the Record Journal in Meriden I entered Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania in 1992 and was ordained in the United Church of Christ as a Protestant minister three years later.

“My original plan was to become a hospital chaplain, but God again had other plans and parish ministry became my focus for the past 25 years.”

McCarthy said Xavier had an effect on what he eventually would do in life.

“My time at Xavier from 1965 to 1969 was a defining part of that call to ministry. Many facets of my spiritual journey began there,” McCarthy said.

“I still recall the freshman retreat and the guest preacher’s message titled What A Difference A Day Makes. More than 50 years later that message still reminds me to take each day as a gift and try to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

“Each morning, before homeroom began, I would slip into the empty chapel to begin my day with silent prayer. That practice remains a part of my daily life. Religion classes helped me hone my personal theological beliefs.

“However, those protestant railings did at times get me into trouble. My one and only trip to “Jug” (Is detention still called that?) came when I debated the finer points of Communion with Brother John Collins (Mark) in class.”

Yes, Xavier still has “jug,” justice under God.

McCarthy and his wife recently moved into a new home in Colchester.

“Xavier also helped me developed an appreciation for Christian community that values compassion and love for itself and its neighbors.”

Since he moved back to Connecticut, he has been back to campus.

“As a part of our homecoming, we’ve attended a couple of events at Xavier,” McCarthy said. “I was struck by how much the campus had changed and yet the fundamental underpinnings of faith were still very much on display.”

Remembering Phil Murphy

Phil Murphy, who played football at Xavier, South Carolina State and then in the NFL, died at age 61 on Oct. 10. Murphy graduated in 1975. One of his teammates, Jack Gastler ’74, remembers Murphy:

“He was both a great athlete and a great intellect. On the athletic side, he was the only football player of our era to make it to the pros (and there were some pretty good athletes during that era). But none had the combination of size, power and athleticism that Phil possessed.”

Gastler also says that Murphy “had a great mind and put it to good use in his business/entrepreneurial efforts.”

Gastler recalled a few stories about Murphy.

“I have a very fond memory of going up to a night game at the old Patriots stadium with Coach Larry McHugh, Tom Tokarz, Matt Hoey, Steve Murphy and a number of other Xavier people, to watch Phil’s Los Angeles Rams play the Patriots. … Phil was tremendously gracious and even got a few of us into the locker room after the game. I think he was as thrilled to have us all there as we were to be there.”

Then there was this side of Murphy.

“One time in particular, he showed up at our house on Chauncey Road in Middletown and I will never forget my then very small (6, 3, and 1-year old) children running to tell me there was this huge giant at the door. It was Phil and he filled the front door jam.

“My kids were in awe, just staring, and Phil immediately made them comfortable and won them over with his personality and wit.

“My sister-in-law still tells the story of Phil popping finger sandwiches into his mouth like they were gum balls at a going away party for my wife Deb and I when we moved to Houston in 1980.

“Phil was truly a big man in every sense of the word: big in stature, big in presence, big in intellect, big in living life, big in heart and big in soul. … He will be missed.”

Frank Sposato ’09 Promoted In Navy

Frank Sposato, a Colchester native who graduated from Xavier in 2009, is now a Petty Officer 3rd Class in the U.S. Navy. He is an information systems technician with Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11. He serves aboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Anyone For Italy?

If you are thinking about traveling to Italy in 2019, join Miss Vitale’s Tour of Italy scheduled for April 12-20, 2019.

This is an all-inclusive tour package that includes sights that other tour programs do not offer.

Contact Miss Vitale at jvitale@xavierhighschool.org for more information.

Alumni Calendar

Nov. 23: Alumni soccer/hockey/basketball games.

Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Mass, 10 a.m. Legacy families honored. Reception in dining hall after Mass.

Dec. 6: Saint Francis Xavier/Heritage Society reception, Griswold Inn, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec. 27-28: Annual Arthur Kohs Basketball tournament. Kohs was Xavier’s first basketball coach and first athletic director. The gym is named after him.

Stay In Touch

Go to xavierhighschool.org, click in Alumni & Giving and check out the various pages.

Alumni Update Form: This gives us your contact information and tells us a bit about you.

How To Submit A Class Note: Proud of something? Let us know.

In Memoriam: We list deceased alumni, staff and faculty.

Stories Of Giving: The story behind someone’s gift.


OCTOBER EDITION

Sean O'Rourke, left, and Jay Leno.

Sean O’Rourke, who graduated in 1998, works for “Access Hollywood” after having had a couple of stints on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” until Leno retired … Barry McCarthy ’69 is a retired minister who answered another call; he is an interim minister in Coventry. … Kevin Loney ’95 is an assistant football coach at Bowdoin.

We found that out because they responded to our call on our web site. We are interested in your stories and want you to stay connected to Xavier. Here’s how: Go to our website, xavierhighschool.org and under the Alumni & Giving area, there are ways to give us your information. There is an “Alumni Update Form” as well as a “How To Submit Class Notes” form. We’d love to hear what you’re up to.

We’re up to a lot here. We have nearly 1,300 solar panels and are the first Catholic high school in the state to produce all of its energy. There are now visiting bleachers at Larry McHugh Field on campus, completing that project. Our annual alumni magazine will be in mailboxes in December with many stories highlighting fathers and sons, including the Jaskot and Kohs families that are as much a part of the Xavier legacy as anything we can imagine.

As I write this, I am proud to say I am a 1972 graduate of Xavier, working here in the communications department as associate communications director after a 32-year career at The Hartford Courant, 28 as sports editor. It is great being back, reunited with Matt Conyers, Xavier’s director of communications and former Courant sportswriter.

Everywhere you turn here, there is a story. One of my charges is to engage alumni more, tell their stories, share their memories. So when you get a chance, fill out the alumni update form, submit a class note.

We will have a monthly alumni newsletter. This is the first edition.

Also, you can stay connected by going to our web site for news stories or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. We’re trying to be everywhere you might be.

I can be reached at jotterbein@xavierhighschool.org. Don’t hesitate to ask a question, share an idea.

Now back to O’Rourke.

O’Rourke works in a department at "Access Hollywood" that gathers content that the show did not produce such as a photo or video. That might mean buying it; it might mean it is fair game. “It's half lawyer job and half a news producer,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke graduated from California State University Northridge and started at NBC as a page in Burbank, Calif.

“That was a great gig because I worked behind the scenes of all the shows that were taped there,” O’Rourke said. “Standing in the hallway backstage at Leno, bringing Harrison Ford to his dressing room, great memories.”

After that he had a few other producing jobs until landing back with Leno until the show ended in 2014. As the show was ending he had a photo taken of him and Leno on the set, just as if he were a guest.

“This is something a few of us set up with Jay before the show ended,” O’Rourke said. “During my time at ‘Tonight,’ part of my job entailed sitting in Jay's office with a few other writers and preparing the video joke segments that would air in the monologue that day. My team of researchers were responsible for producing the segments that were generated in that meeting.

“In those meetings I got to know Jay very well and developed a rapport with him … In fact, a year or so ago my wife and I went to Vegas to see Jay's show and he invited us to his dressing room and just chatted with us for 20 minutes before the show. He even invited us home on his jet, but we still had plans in Vegas that weekend."

Alumni golfers giving back: The Xavier Alumni Charity Golf Classic, held at Portland Golf Course, Sept. 14, raised more than $57,000 for financial aid. Save the date for next year: The tournament is Friday, Sept. 13.

Someone’s knocking on the door: The yearly AD Drive is on. Students sell all the ads and a book is printed. The goal this year is $100,000. Those proceeds go to financial aid. The drive ends Oct. 31. For more information, to take a business ad or a personal message, contact associate advancement director Greg Jaskot at gjaskot@xavierhighschool.org.

Get to know us: Check out Xavier’s Instagram account throughout the year for teacher and staff profiles. For instance, we asked Andy Mule this: Red Sox or Yankees. His response: “Yankees (but born and raised Red Sox; my Dad is not happy).” Lisa Keereweer, administrative assistant in the main office, tells us that one person she’d invite to dinner is James Taylor and her dream vacation is Italy. Look for those on our Instagram account. … Come to our Facebook page each Thursday for “Throwback Thursday” when we post a photo from the archives. Who knows, you might be in it one day.

In case you did not know: Jaskot started as associate advancement director in the summer, leaving behind teaching. But he still is the offensive coordinator of the football team. He is one of three Jaskots in the building. His father Tony is the longtime athletic director who will retire at the end of the school year. His mother Donna is assistant to Headmaster Dave Eustis and Principal Brendan Donohue.

Be A Man, Bring A Can: That announcement comes over the intercom as the first Friday of the month approaches. The can drive benefits The Amazing Grace Food Pantry in Middletown. There were 10,646 canned goods collected during the 2017-2018 school year.

By The Numbers

18/88: Number of varsity sports offered at Xavier/number of state and New England championships

19.8: Average class size

632: Number of college acceptances for the Class of 2018.

63: Number of towns Xavier draws from.

14: Number of faculty and staff that are Xavier graduates.

Upcoming Alumni Events

Oct. 20: Homecoming football game vs. Fairfield Prep at 7 p.m. at Larry McHugh Field on campus. Reception (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) site TBA.

Oct. 21: Open house, 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Nov. 23: Alumni soccer/hockey/basketball games.

Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Mass, 10 a.m. Legacy families honored. Reception in dining hall after Mass.

Dec. 6: Saint Francis Xavier/Heritage Society reception, Griswold Inn, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Dec. 27-28: Annual Arthur Kohs Basketball tournament. Kohs was Xavier’s first basketball coach and first athletic director. The gym is named after him.