Regional school committee clears roadblock to honoring former music director

(Photo from Facebook)

Since he passed away unexpectedly on a school trip to Greece last year, friends and relatives of longtime Algonquin music director Dennis Wrenn have pushed to name one of the performing arts spaces at Algonquin in his honor. Earlier this week, they learned that wasn’t going to happen because the district’s naming policy imposes a 5-year waiting period. Upon hearing the news, dozens took to Facebook to express their disappointment.

“Funny how the school committee couldn’t make an exception for a man who spent his life making exceptions in his own life to benefit THEIR children at the Algonquin Regional High School!” Wrenn’s daughter Jessica Wrenn Still wrote on Facebook.

But last night, make an exception is just what the regional school committee did when they voted unanimously to suspend the 5-year waiting period. That action clears the way for Wrenn’s application — as well as the application of Spanish teacher Jeanne Arathuzik who passed away last year — to be reconsidered by the school committee’s Naming Subcommittee.

“I feel in this case the waiting period doesn’t serve any purpose,” school committee member Susan Dargan said. “If we wait five years, none of the students who had these two teachers would have the opportunity to participate in honoring them.”

School committee member Lynne Winters, who chairs the Naming Subcommittee, said the subcommittee was not comfortable overriding the policy without the express direction of the school committee. Now that they have been given direction, Winters said the subcommittee will go back and take another look at the applications.

Winters said Wrenn’s supporters would like to see some performing arts space at the high school named in his honor. The auditorium is out because it’s already named for John F. Kennedy, but other suggestions include the music wing or the band room. A Facebook page created this week by Wrenn’s supporters is called Help us! Get the Music Wing Named after Dennis Wrenn!

Arathuzik’s supporters suggested naming a language lab or similar facility in her honor.

Earlier this month, the Naming Subcommittee voted unanimously to recommend that the varsity baseball field be named in honor of Northborough resident and former Major League Baseball player Mark Fidrych, who died in an accident at his home last year.

The Naming Subcommittee is expected to make a new set of nominations at next month’s regional school committee meeting. After that there will be a three month public comment period, and then the regional school committee will vote on the nominations.

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John Mauro, Jr
13 years ago

I am glad to hear the School Committee suspended their five year rule. Hopefully they will vote to name a section of the school after Dennis.

I had the pleasure of working with Dennis on the Algonquin Principal Search Committee. He was passionate about doing the right thing for Algonquin, the students, and the Northborough/Southborough communities as a whole!

My daughter was on the trip to Greece with Dennis last year. The emotions of that tragic trip aside, Dennis did so much for the Algonquin community than most realize. Just read the Facebook postings on his memorial page and see how many students’ lives Dennis touched and changed – and not just his recent students! He had nothing put praise and encourage for the best of his students, and the worst of his students! He made those less talented fell like the star of the group. Not all educators have that ability! Dennis was one of those teachers that went well beyond “teaching”! He spent countless hours working with our kids – I often wonder when he slept!

I have to admit that I was not overly passionate about performing arts until until my children participated in the music programs at Melican and Algonquin. Dennis opened my eyes to the incredibly talented students and how music and performing arts are a part of shaping the lives of kids and their transformation into adulthood!

Generally, I do not find myself supporting naming a building, school or part of a building or school for each individual that served; however, in my opinion a select few deserve such recognition because of their dedication, commitment, and effect on others’ lives….and Dennis Wrenn certainly is one of those select few!

I support the School Committee suspending its rules and hope that Dennis receives recognition for his commitment and dedication to educational excellece!

Beth Dearden-Wrenn Johnson
13 years ago

Thank you for suspending the five year waiting period. Dennis Wrenn deserves to be remembered to posterity in the halls where he worked—where he lived—for twenty eight years. Dennis Wrenn—music—-Algonquin—-they are synonymous. Let his name live on at his school. Thank you for the consideration.

Elizabeth Nichols
13 years ago

Thank you to everyone for their support and help. The Naming Committee will be meeting soon to re-consider my dads nomination. Please send an email or letter of support for the music wing to be named The Dennis Wrenn Performing Arts Wing to Superintendent Goborn at or at 53 Parkerville Road, Southborough 01772. Please be specific about the p…erforming arts wing – NOT the auditorium (that’s already named).

Maryanne Cole
13 years ago

The following is a copy of the letter I am sending Dr. Charles Gobron:
May 25, 2010

Dear Dr. Charles Gobron,

I know that you have heard this over and over again and if you have not then you will now. I can not stress enough the need to name the music wing at Algonquin the “Wrenn Wing.” You and I, and our children, for the last 28 years know what a fine, kind and amazing human being he was. He will not be coming back to resume his position as musical director so the 5 year rule would not be a factor.
My daughter was on that trip last year and I would not wish the devastation of this event on anyone. She has been changed forever. She has decided to become a nurse she cares deeply about so much, but the one event in her life that bound her to nursing for ever was the fact that she could not help Mr. Wrenn when he fell to the ground. She was one of the students who ran to find an external defibrillator and was not in time. While she can rationalize that this was not why he died you can not take the entire event out of her mind it will be a part of her forever. I do believe it will always shape her choices in life and how she chooses to help people.
This sad story will stay with all of us who were at the airport that night when they came off the plane. More than half of the band are members of this years graduating seniors. How can we not help them to find some closure and be the voice for the students who have graduated in the past?
My Daughter and her peers have a desperate need for closure and a perfect way to complete this task would be to honor his memory forever. They feel an awesome responsibility to honor his memory. They know the profound affect he had on generations of students. It is evident in the thousands of notes and simple acts noted on Facebook over the last year. Please help us to move this along in a timely manner. Please allow these children from this year and especially the last few years to potentially be able to attend and event within the next few months as they will be home for the summer.
Dennis Wrenn deserves the honor of this and the event and the respect of this community. The best way we can prove our love and thanks for his 28 years of undying and dedicated service and hundreds of thousands of hours over and above his paycheck are to give him what he truly and justly deserves – The Dennis Wrenn Memorial wing. He can have one wing here and 2 more up in heaven, as I am sure that is where he is, watching over all of our children.

Maryanne Moran Cole

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