‘This is a family’: Rochester says goodbye to six retiring teachers

Jun 9, 2023

ROCHESTER — Students at Rochester Memorial School lined the hallways on Friday, June 9 with posters and signs to give a final sendoff to six retiring teachers.

With over a century of teaching experience between them, sixth grade teachers Lorraine Taylor and Jim Della Cioppa, kindergarten teacher Deb Bacchiocchi, and first grade teachers Debra Lucas and Dianne Alexander, were honored by students and staff alike.

Second grade teacher Dana Stupalski also retired but was not present.

While students said goodbye to their current and former teachers, they recalled meaningful moments they had while in retiring teachers’ classrooms.

“In first grade I had Ms. Lucas,” said Rochester Memorial School student Julia Costa. “We got to go to the zoo and I wanted to [see] the red pandas but I didn’t get to [see] them.”

Sixth grade students gave a rowdy goodbye to Della Cioppa, who they nicknamed “Drippy D.”

“The kids gave me that moniker,” he explained. “It’s a positive thing, and they started giving me that name in the last month or so.”

“Mrs. Alexander was one of my favorite teachers,” said Rochester Memorial School student Zachary Jupin. “I had a great year with her and we even got to make our own sundaes one time and it was the best day ever.”

For Lucas, Rochester Memorial School was a “big huge family.”

“We’re here day and night, we work but it’s not just work, I love being here,” said Lucas. “We back each other up and support each other. The students are like my children … there will truly be a hole in my heart.”

At a meeting of the Rochester Memorial School Committee on Tuesday, June 6 a book was donated to the school library in the name of each retiring teacher.

“It’s always a bittersweet event because we have fantastic teachers at this school,” said Rochester Memorial School Committee Chair Sharon Hartley. “Many of these people have spent much of a lifetime devoted to our school and our children and our families.”

Bacchiocchi, who has worked in the Old Rochester Regional School District for 34 years, felt “blessed to work in a community that was so supportive.”