The middle of June this year brought in new “Panthers for Life.” There were 248 of them, as Platt High School in Meriden held two graduation sessions on the school’s new turf field. The only distinction between the two sessions was alphabetical: half the new “Panthers for Life” in the morning, and half in the afternoon.
Calling out the names of each was Principal Robert Montemurro.
It was a different kind of graduation, the way it’s been for schools everywhere on account of the coronavirus pandemic, but Platt also managed to avoid a virtual graduation, which had been the reluctant consideration for quite a while in the spring. It turned out as well as could be expected.
Montemurro has seen his share of Platt graduations. When it comes to “Panthers for Life,” he could serve as the emblem. A 1977 Platt graduate, Montemurro has been the school’s principal for the past eight years. He just announced his retirement.
Along with graduate and principal, Montemurro’s “Panthers for Life” bona fides include coach, teacher and assistant principal.
“I know how much he loves Platt High School and the people there,” said Daniel Corsetti, the principal at Meriden’s Washington Middle School, who will replace Montemurro as Platt principal.
Those are big Panther paws to fill. Montemurro has been a steady, inspiring leader who has displayed dexterity. When students held a walkout at Platt following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting and the call for mental health and gun control reform, Montemurro responded by opening up the school’s resources.
“I started working closely with him after the unfortunate Parkland shooting and as we started our student voice and action club he was at every meeting he could make with listening ears and an open mind,” recalled Angel Lee Hart, a Platt student who helped organize the effort.
“No one was a bigger supporter of the Meriden Public Schools than Rob Montemurro,” said School Superintendent Mark Benigni. “He loved Platt High School and he led with passion, compassion and respect for all.”
Montemurro told the Record-Journal he was still working on retirement plans. “Not sure where that road will take me but I can assure you it will be with Panther pride,” he said.
No surprise there, and it should be added that when it comes to pride it goes both ways.