1971 graduate of the Block Island School seeks reunion
Tony Shatsky, a graduate of the Block Island School in the 1971 class, reached out to The Block Island Times after reading about the Class of 2020 graduation in June. The Block Island Times interviewed Shatsky on his own experience at the school in 1971.
Q: Can you tell me a little about yourself during that year?
TS: I came from not the easiest route. I had dropped out of high school at 16 years old in Los Angeles, California. I found my way to New York because photography is what I wanted to pursue. After a really hard year of struggling, someone took me out to the island at the beginning of the season for a weekend. I fell in love with the island, and felt there was no reason for me to return to New York City. I came over in June 1970 when I was 18 years old. I spent the summer, and ended up being a caretaker out on Corn Neck. I talked to Thomas McCabe, who was the superintendent of the school system for Block Island. He said if I could find someone who could vouch for me and be a sponsor, I could come to the school and be put in the senior class. He made me get a sponsor — Geraldine Hutchinson. The sponsor was there for me, that if someone had a problem with me, there was an agreement that Hutchinson would take responsibility for me.
Q: Describe to me your experience on Block Island in 1971.
TS: It was a lovely place for me because I had been through a very difficult couple of years. My father had passed away when I was 10 years old.
There were a lot of highlights on Block Island. There were days the boat didn’t come and the school didn’t open. That year that I spent on Block Island was the most influential year of my life. Being around New Englanders, and looking at birds and at nature, I really learned so much.
Q: Who were your classmates, and how many students were in the school at the time?
TS: I believe there were about 80 students at the time. My classmates were Leslie Slate, Carol Sprague, Grace Conley, Lynnette Lutton, Roger Inman and Lynlee Transue.
Q: What were some memories that stand out?
TS: We did our play at the end of the year, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” I can’t remember what part I had, but it was a big deal. It was an annual school play at the end of the year.
Q: What occurred after graduating from the Block Island School?
TS: When high school was coming to an end, it occurred to me that I should continue to go to school. What little family I had was still in California. I applied to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and that got me back to California. I was a student at this art school for a couple of years, ran out of money, and ended up in a career for 42 years of selling packaging boxes through the company Landsberg.
My life has been a disjointed journey. I have two children who are my proudest accomplishments, who both ended up on the East Coast.
Q: Have you been out to the island since graduating in 1971?
TS: I have not been back to the island since I graduated from the school. I wonder if any of my five classmates would like to have a reunion next year. It will be 50 years next year in celebration of graduating from the Block Island School.