Sachem alum from Class of 1961 shares some memories
John Hughes Hall graduated from Sachem in 1961. He later served in the U.S. Army, and Nassau County Police Department, and was a trustee of the Sachem Board of Education from 1993-1998. He reflected about his Sachem memories in this piece.
On Monday night, June 26, 1961, 132 students graduated from Sachem High School (now Samoset Middle School). I know this because I graduated No. 132 in that class.
Back then there were only six elementary schools, (Gatelot, Grundy, Lynbrook, Nokomis, Union, and Waverly), Sagamore Jr. High was on the drawing board, and district office was in a farm house on Farm-to-Market Road. Eleven Holbrook sixth grade students graduated from Union Avenue School in June 1955.
Two teachers that come to mind who were responsible for my success were Arthur Sacks and Anthony Bellofatto. Mr. Ballofatto was a Nassau County Police Patrolman and left the police department to be a teacher in the Sachem district.
Being raised by a divorced single parent, it was Mr. Bellofatto who became my mentor. With his guidance, I joined Nassau County Police Department in April 1965. To his disappointment, I left the police department in December and joined the U.S. Army. Stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, we came home to get married and returned to Germany where we lived.
While in the military we learned of all the building being done in Holbrook and that my friend and fellow Holbrook volunteer fireman, Alexander Diguardia, was killed in Vietnam. After serving in the Army I returned to the police department and retired after 34 years as a detective in the arson/bomb squad.
We have two sons John (Sachem 1991) and Michael (Sachem 1993) and four of my six grandchildren will have attended Sachem: Amanda (2010), Kaitlyn (2017), John (2021), and Tyler (2024).
Never having school spirit when in school and wanting to give back something to the district that did so much for me, in May 1993 I was voted on to the Board of Education and served until June 1998.