By Isaiah Steinberg (’23) and Sophia Caputo (’24)
To many in the community, former J-DHS Principal Paul Gasparini’s retirement marked the end of an era. Famous for his hallway fist bumps and his implementation of the school’s Constitutional Convention, Gasparini was universally loved by students and staff. Over the past year, Gasparini has brought his trademark positive attitude and engagement with students to the nearby Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). At Gasparini’s new school, both students and staff happily report that he has been an effective leader and a tremendous addition to the school.
In his first year as the principal at CBA, Gasparini reports that his goal was to acclimate to the new school rather than making sweeping changes right away. “The first year is really getting to know people and getting to know processes and procedures here. It’s a faith-based school, so getting used to that, getting used to the schedule as I said. Getting used to the courses – they’re generally pretty much the same, but there are some nuances and some differences. So just generally getting the lay of the land of the courses, the schedule, and the people.”
One key issue that Gasparini has addressed in his first year is the dress code. Students have been dissatisfied for years with CBA’s strict dress code, so Gasparini played a part in creating a dress code committee with students and faculty. According to CBA sophomore Harriet Dweh, “Something new [Gasparini] has implemented is the dress code committee, which I’m apart of. The dress code has been something that has been very students versus faculty and teachers. He’s kind of diffused that by making a committee with teachers and students on it. Our last principal – not to talk bad about her – she was very strict on the dress code, whereas Mr. Gasparini is willing to listen to what we think. But he’s not letting us go wild.”
Additionally, CBA students have expressed concern about having their break period switches from tenth period — the final period of the day – to fourth period. Junior Julia DeBottis reports, “It’s very unproductive if we have a break in the middle of the day and then we go until 2:51. The rising seniors are going to present to Mr. Gasparini and the department heads. We’re having a meeting tomorrow to plan, ‘What are we gonna do? How are we gonna present this?’ Next week, after senior graduation, we’re gonna have a meeting with everyone and propose [our plan]. The department heads and administration are the people pushing for it and we’re the people pushing against it. So we want to make our case before everything is final.”
A common sentiment among CBA students and staff is that Gasparini has created a positive environment in the school. Math teacher Patrick Wiese says, “My favorite thing about Mr. Gasparini is that he’s always happy and he’s always supportive. Whenever you have an issue arise and you go to him, he’s the first one to build you up and support you rather than tell you what you could have done in that situation. He relates really well to everybody, and he’s approachable. Everyone knows that they can approach him and not feel guilty when they leave. They know that they can talk to him and leave a better person.”
Junior Billy Assaf particularly enjoys Gasparini’s legendary ability to remember every student’s name. “My favorite thing is definitely how much he communicates with the students. He’s in the hallways all the time between periods giving everybody fist bumps. He knows everybody by name. Even though this is his first year here, he’s very CBA proud.”
In regard to his departure from J-D, Gasparini shares a funny story. “I will say that I’ve worn CBA gear over at Wegmans and I’ve seen J-D kids. One J-D kid yelled at me once, ‘Wrong color!’ I really root very, very hard and I still have J-D swag. When the baseball team won the Sectional Championship, I texted Coach Dera and I was so happy. When the softball team won Sectionals, I texted Coach Cantor and I was so happy. I was really sad last night when our girls’ lacrosse team lost. It made me very sad, because I really wanted them to win, and I know Coach. I think tonight the boys lacrosse team plays in the Sectional Championship.” He explained the school switch in terms of MLB teams, Gasparini quotes, “If I was on the Red Sox and I was traded to the Yankees, I’d play hard for the Yankees. So I was traded to the Yankees.”
While countless students miss Gasparini’s presence at J-D, he is equally appreciated in his new position at CBA. At the heart of Gasparini’s leadership style is his student-centric approach. When asked what his favorite part of the job was, Gasparini stated, “The students. Always has been, always will be. Period.” Regardless of his current position, Gasparini reiterates that he cares most about the students he gets to interact with. Addressing J-D students, Gasparini stated, “I miss you. I love J-D.”
Ultimately, Gasparini reflects fondly on his time at J-DHS. “J-D was my home. I miss my home.” Just remember, Mr. Gasparini: you will always need red to make purple.