Classical Day Launches Yearlong Celebration

By Donna Criscuolo

Classical Day - State House Lit Purple

On March 20th Classical High School officially turned 175 years old. To commemorate this milestone Mayor Jorge Elorza, the Providence City Council, Governor Gina Raimondo and both houses of the RI State Assembly declared it Classical High School Day.

Mayor Elorza and City Councilman Sam Zurier ‘76 presented their proclamations to Principal Scott Barr at a luncheon in the school library. The guests were a mix of students, parents, faculty, and alumni, along with city and district officials. The pride in the room was palpable as both students and alumni felt a part of the history and legacy of the day.

A representative from the Governor’s office gave her proclamation in the State Room at the State House later in the afternoon. Then during regular session of both the House and Senate, more proclamations were made by elected alumni in each chamber to Principal Barr and Superintendent Chris Maher. To end the day, the State House was lit in purple. It was a striking sight. Click here to see photos and videos of the day.

Classical Day kicks off a year of celebration. After all, Classical is the 49th oldest public school in the US and the 6th oldest in New England. It boasts a host of distinguished alumni who have made their mark on society both within Rhode Island and around the world.

Our next commemorative event will be on Saturday, July 28 at Ocean Cliff in Newport for the 2nd Annual Purple & White Party. Join us for an evening of purple pride as everyone wears school colors and swaps stories as the decades mingle. Last year we had alumni from 1952-2006 attend.

The big celebration will be on Saturday, September 22 at The Hope Club when we officially observe the 175th anniversary of Classical. The themes of the evening are History, Legacy, Family and Diversity. Our committee is working hard to put an incredible event together to honor Classical and its community. Stay tuned for more information.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Classical in its 175th year.

Beyond the Play – Rent at Classical

By Leila Chammas ’06

Leila Chammas ‘06 - Rent

This past weekend, the Classical HS Theatre Department had two showings of Rent, an award winning musical created in 1996 by the late Jonathan David Larson. I attended the first showing this past Friday (April 6th) along with my brother, a fellow alum. Neither of us had seen any other adaptation of Rent before; we entered the auditorium with open minds, excited at the opportunity to be back at Classical and looked forward to getting lost in the play for a couple of hours.

It was amazing to watch students take on such dynamic roles and tackle tough, but very real, issues such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, poverty, friendship, and love. Students, teachers, parents, friends, and alumni filled the audience. We laughed, gasped, teared up, held our breath in silence, clapped to the music, and even mooed (yes, as in the sound a cow makes!) as the cast carried us along on their journey. We walked into the auditorium full of excitement and anticipation and walked out fulfilled, proud, and grateful. Right here in Providence, at Classical, we watched a high school rendition of an award winning musical with a cast, crew, and musicians made up entirely of students. For two hours, audience and performers alike set aside their daily stresses to embarked on a theatrical journey together, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Funding some of the Theatre Department’s activities is one of the many ways the Alumni Association supports Classical High School – support we could not provide without our amazing alumni community! Congratulations to the cast, crew, choreographers, costume & set designers, musicians, and vocal coach – I’m looking forward to the next performance!

Alum of the Month

Alum of the Month: Hillard L. Torgan ‘50

Hillard L. Torgan ‘50 and his wife of 43 years Nancy Torgan

Name: Hillard L. Torgan, DDS, FACD, FICD.

Class Year: 1950

Post High School Education

  • University of Southern California BA 1954
  • USAF Air Research and Development Command 1954-1956
  • University of Southern California Dental School DDS 1960
  • White Memorial Hospital Los Angeles 2011-presentGraduated Northeastern University in Boston 1995

Career Highlights

  • University of Southern California athletic scholarship in Track
  • Olympic Trials final 1952, member of NCAA championship track teams 1952,1953,1954
  • President USC Century Club and board of councilors USC Dental School
  • Trustee California Dental Association, president San Fernando Valley Dental Society
  • Elected by peers as a Fellow American College and Fellow of International College of Dentists

What do you remember most about your time at Classical and how has your time there shaped you?
Classical shaped my life, Al Morro, became my coach, mentor and life long friend. I remember him as hard as nails and always taught me to aim high and be the best I could be. I was all state in the Shot Put and Discus and Lettered in outdoor, indoor track, basketball, and football and I just missed out as RI student athlete of the year. As a winter class we were very small in numbers about 53, a bunch of very bright cutups, driving the teachers crazy, but bonding us to life long friendships and many achievements. Hidden between the boys and girls cafeteria was a locked room with a WWI airplane, don’t ask me how or why, but my 2 eyes told me it was there, one of the few to see it.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments or struggles to date?
Managed a busy life between, family, dentistry, travel with my wife of 43 years a retired flight attendant with life time travel benefits, skiing and Tennis at a very high level and still practicing dentistry. Limiting my practice now to Dental Sleep Disorders and Myofacial Pain so you can say I am not retired at the age of 85. Of course Skiing and Tennis are not in the picture any more but exercise 3 times a week is. I even used to row the rapids down the Colorado, Snake and Salmon rivers in wooden dories as a wanabe Western River Guide including the Grand Canyon, even a write up in ARGOSY mag. I guess you would call me a survivor.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
A Renaissance Man.

What do you do for fun?
Read, enjoy my 2and 1/2 and my 5and 1/2 year old grand daughters and brag about my 8 grand kid my 4 adult children all successful in their own fields. An attorney practicing international environmental law in Australia, One a COO of a large health care group, One in a Wealth Management Group he was also a football player for USC with an NCAA national championship ring under Pete Carroll. and last but not least a daughter who teaches HS and is a tennis coach. 2 grandsons graduating college now, 1 will be a sr. 1 still in HS, a grand daughter studying fashion design i Italy and 1 grandson starting UCLA.

You’re running late for a meeting, what’s the most likely reason why?
I do not have time to run late, if I do I just tell it like it is. I did not plan ahead or in Los Angeles it is the traffic.

What was the last song you listened to?
I hate to tell you it is jazz and the 40ties.

What motivates you?
Just being alive and enjoying every minute. I have 2 traumatically broken hips, open heart surgery, a shattered ankle in China and a few other goodies. So you can see why the first 7 words say it all.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you, maybe I should write a book. Many family members have attended Classical. From the Torgans, Potters, Soforenkos, and other distant cousins.


Junior Research Projects

Junior Research Projects

Each year, some members of Classical’s junior class research and present on a topic of their choosing. As part of the research process, each student is required to connect with someone in the field who is willing to be a resource and offer valuable information.

If you are interested in being a resource for a junior, please email Jonathan Ryder ‘89, CHS Librarian at Topics of particular interest are medicine, international relations, and computer science but resources from other fields are always welcome. Time commitment is minimal and may be as simple as responding to a few of a student’s questions via email.

Hall of Fame Dinner

Join us for the our Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner on June 3rd from 5 – 8 PM at Twelve Acres in Smithfield, RI. This year’s inductees are:

John Fiore ’62
Don Cybulski ’64
Tom Lenz ’76
Debra Cannon Zolkos ’85
Michael Van Leesten ’85

Timothy Dorcas ’86
James Castillo ’85 (posthumously)
1980 – 81 Girls Gymnastics Team
1983-85 Track Teams


2nd Annual Purple & White Beach Party

Don’t miss our 2nd Annual Purple & White Beach Party!

Join us on Saturday, July 28th from 6 – 10 PM at Ocean Cliff in Newport, RI!

Mingle with fellow alumni, enjoy the beautiful views, and show off your purple pride! Be sure to dress in purple and/or white!
Proceeds from this event fund the Freshman Orientation outing and provide tuition for teacher Advanced Placement certification courses.

Ocean Cliff