Almost every year two or three grown men attend Pittsfield High School.

Mature persons — this year one of the two men at PHS is in his thirties — they stick out rather conspicuously in a sea of adolescence. But they often add an experienced point of view to classroom discussions, and as Principal Harold E. Hennessy says, “They are a good example to the students, who see men coming back to complete their education.”

One of the men at PHS this year is John F. Fresia of 55 South Mountain Road. Mr. Fresia is 23, married — to the former Judith Ann Passardi of Pittsfield — and an Air Corps veteran. He left PHS in 1954 during the middle of his junior year. Later he joined the Air Force, where he was a radar operator.

On being discharged two years ago, he found he could not get work in the electronics line, despite his Air Force training, because he had no high school diploma. When Berkshire Community College was started he wanted to take the electrical technician’s course, but with no high school diploma, that was out too.

So this fall he reentered the school he had left six years before. He expects to get his diploma in June and hopes to enter BCC in the fall.

Mr. Fresia is taking four subjects, algebra, modern history, English composition and literature, and biology. His schedule is laid out so that he only has to attend school in the morning. He can work in the afternoon. He also gets help from the Veterans Administration.

How did he feel about sitting with children years his junior?

“At first it was kind of awkward,” he says. “You’re kind of conspicuous. But now it’s just normal routine.”

He says he has a different attitude toward school now than when he was a student before. “There’s no fooling around,” he says.

Everybody at the High School, teachers, administrators and students, try to make it comfortable for the men who come back. Mr. Hennessy says:

“Usually these fellows are a little on the shy side on account of their age, but everybody tries to make them feel at home.”

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.