Hall of Fame Inducts Three Alumni
June 6, 2019
Last night three alumni were inducted into the Rockland High School Academic Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place before the annual Underclassmen Academic Awards presentations.
First to be recognized was Elizabeth Damon Beecher, a 1942 graduate of Rockland High School. Beecher, now 95 years old, was an honor roll student at RHS. She became a nurse after she graduated and trained at the Massachusetts Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Boston. When President Franklin Roosevelt created the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps in July, 1943 to quickly train new nurses after most of the nation’s registered nurses were sent overseas following the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was one of 180,000 women who enlisted. Beecher described these cadet nurses as the youngest and largest group of uniformed women to serve during wartime. Beecher served from 1943-1945 at public health service marine hospitals on Staten Island and in Boston, caring for wounded Coast Guard and Merchant Marine servicemen with head injuries and loss of limbs.
She credited her teachers in Rockland, including the school nurse and her junior high principal for inspiring her to follow her dream to become a nurse. Still active, Beecher is now working with U.S. Senate leaders to pass a bill that will give the Cadet Nurses veteran status and benefits.
Second to be inducted was Steven R. Magoun – Class of 1984. Magoun is a computer software entrepreneur. At RHS he was a member of the National Honor Society. After graduation, he went on to Northeastern University where he studied in the Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences. He graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science along with a minor in business. While at Northeastern, he did a co-op with the Boston Police Department and designed a computer software system that automated the department’s records. At the time the Boston Herald called him the “whiz kid” for his computer coding work.
While still a student at NU he started his own computer company called Softcode Inc. Softcode is now affiliated with Tyler Technologies, the largest software company in the country that focuses solely on computer systems for the public.
The third inductee was Leeza Connor Desjardins – Class of 1987, an art teacher at Nonnewaug HS in CT. At RHS Desjardins was active in many clubs and sports such as softball, cheerleading and the Volunteers in Peer Service. She received her degrees in art education from the University of Hartford’s Hartford Art College and the University of Southern Connecticut.
During her 25+ years as an art teacher. her students have won many awards for their art work. Desjardins has also won many awards for her teaching. Most impressively, in 2018 Desjardins received the 2018 Connecticut Art Education Association’s Secondary Art Teacher of the Year and the Association’s Art Teacher of the Year for the State of Connecticut. Desjardins credited her former art teachers at RHS, Donna Rossetti-Bailey and the late Pat Isaac for giving her the passion for art and for teaching art.
The Academic Hall of Fame was established in 1988 by then Guidance Director, Joseph Waisgerber. In the first “class” were astronaut Brian Duffy and author George Higgins. With last night’s inductees the Hall of Fame now has 98 members. Nominations for the Hall of Fame can be made by sending information to Assistant Principal Kathy Paulding at Rockland High School.