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Longtime sub hopes to speak at graduation

Substitute+teacher+Todd+Russo+helps+students+during+a+late+April+art+class+at+Mills.+Russo+would+like+the+chance+to+speak+to+students+at+graduation+festivities+in+June.
Substitute teacher Todd Russo helps students during a late April art class at Mills. Russo would like the chance to speak to students at graduation festivities in June.

Substitute teacher Todd Russo helps students during a late April art class at Mills. Russo would like the chance to speak to students at graduation festivities in June.

Nick O'Brien

Nick O'Brien

Substitute teacher Todd Russo helps students during a late April art class at Mills. Russo would like the chance to speak to students at graduation festivities in June.

Nicholas O'Brien, Contributing Writer

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Nick O’Brien
Longtime substitute teacher Todd Russo would like the chance to speak to seniors at their June graduation.

The graduating class of 2017 may see a new — yet familiar — face at the podium if a student movement gets its way. Todd Russo, a long time substitute teacher who has been with 2017 class members since they were in fifth grade, expressed his desires to write a speech for the graduation ceremony when asked by class president Kevin Kryzwick. Russo has made similar efforts in the past, such as when he spoke at senior night for the class of 2015. However, if school administration agrees, this could be his first time speaking at the actual graduation ceremony at the Warner Theatre in June.

Russo feels a special bond with the class of 2017 not shared with other classes.

“For me to be there and not tell your parents about the friendship we have would be missing a big part of the experience,” he says.

Students feel similarly.

“For anyone else to speak would be a tragedy,” says senior Billy Willett.

Classmate Carson Karanian echoed Willet’s view: “He has won the hearts and minds of our grade.”

Russo has a long history with the graduating class, starting as an unknown substitute teacher at Har-Bur Middle School when current seniors were in fifth grade, and slowly building his reputation as a fun and helpful sub throughout the years. Students say that he makes a much better substitute than normal, due to his degree in natural science.

“He is able to help us when we struggle, even in advanced subjects,” said Willett.

Russo gets far more involved in student lives and school activities than other subs, such as when he joined the class of 2017 on its senior trip to Newport, despite not attending similar twelfth-grade activities in previous years.

Says Russo: “I have a special bond with nearly everyone in the class.”

Nick O’Brien
Substitute teacher Todd Russo helps students during a late April art class at Mills. Russo would like the chance to speak to students at graduation festivities in June.

To make the speech a reality, the senior class must petition the school administration. According to Russo, Principal Chris Rau is aware of the idea and open to it. However, Russo has one requirement.

“I’m not gonna speak to a class for three minutes and say something meaningful,” he says, explaining the speech must be long enough for the longtime sub to communicate his message of appreciation for the students.

This problem precluded him from speaking to the class of 2015, when a seven-minute speech he penned was considered too long and rejected. If the student petition continues to gain steam, Russo thinks that there is a good chance of the speech becoming a reality.

 

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