RIP Richard "Dick" Poletunow

Richard "Dick" Poletunow, former prefect, lower dorm. 1968-1971


Of Cromwell, CT died at home on July 8, 2018. He was born July 22, 1946 in Tarentum, PA. Originally from Pirate (Buccos) and Steelers territory of Pennsylvania, Dick remained a lifelong fan. Besides sports, Dick was energized by writing and teaching. Despite his recent retirement from his position of Assistant Professor at St. Vincent College, he continued to serve as an adjunct professor at Middlesex Community College. Well loved by his students, he was also an effective counseling therapist with a special interest in helping children and their families. Among his many activities, he was a foster parent, taught religious formation class and coached basketball. Dick had a gift for making friends across a vast network of social and business interactions. He was known and valued for his sharp, creative intellect that often provided a fresh and thought provoking insight on many issues. He will be greatly missed for his gentle humor, wisdom and caring heart by a broad range of friends, colleagues and students including extended family- Vanessa, Polly and TJ Weber, Marianne Blanko and Ramona Zaha; sisters: Sandy (Jim) DiCostanzo, Regina (Victor) Boerio; and brother, Mark (Margalita) Poletunow; as well as numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.. He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Anne Poletunow. Visitation at DEVLIN FUNERAL HOME, 806 Perry Hwy., Ross Twp., Sunday, July 15, 2018, 4-8 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial-St. Athanaius Church, 7 Chalfonte Ave., West View Monday 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, family suggests a donation to Pirate Charities, 115 Federal St., Pgh., PA 15222 or Malvern Retreat Ctr., 315 S. Warren Ave., Malvern, PA 19355.

Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 15, 2018

Females now studying at MSJ

DEEP RIVER — In a written statement, the Connecticut Transition Academy at Deep River (formerly Mount St. John school), announced that it has expanded to make its alternative school services available to more Connecticut students. The academy’s Day School and corresponding programs are now all co-educational, and cover Grades 1 through 12 and beyond.

The Connecticut Transition Academy is a Connecticut State Department of Education-approved school, serving students with a variety of special challenges; including autism, emotional disturbance, language-based learning disabilities, and ADD/ADHD.
Students are referred privately by their parents/guardians, or by their local school districts due to social, emotional, and educational challenges requiring specialized instruction and behavioral health support, according to the statement.

“Our new name is truly reflective of the services we provide,” said Chief Administrator, Dr. Pamela L. Potemri in the statement. “Our highly individualized programs harness the strengths of the young people we work with, ensuring them the opportunity to transition to the next phase in their life.”

In addition to academic instruction, students receive developmentally appropriate social and therapeutic support. For young students, this encompasses becoming comfortable in social situations and learning relationship-building. Older students focus on completing high school requirements and building job readiness and independent living skills.
The Connecticut Transition Academy offers extended day and extended year programs, including summer camp and other enrichment opportunities, to allow students to maximize their progress. Students from every district are welcome, and the school also accepts private tuition.

“We emphasize restorative practices and renewed opportunity,” Potemri said. “Our students really own their progress. It’s a very respectful and healing environment. We’re grateful to be expanding our programs because the need for this kind of specialized instruction is evident everywhere.” 

Margot Patricia Gamerdinger

Margot Patricia (Quinn) Gamerdinger, a long-time resident of Deep River, Connecticut and brief resident of Moscow, Idaho, died Monday, May 14, 2018 at home with family in Moscow. Margot "Pat" was born in Hartford, CT on November 25, 1936 and was the daughter of Edward L. and Margaret (Colehan) Quinn. Pat was a graduate of Mt. St. Joseph Academy in West Hartford, CT and Lasell College in Newton, MA. She was employed as a legal secretary at a Hartford law firm for several years prior to her marriage to Peter E. Gamerdinger of Old Lyme, CT. on May 7, 1960 in West Hartford. They became parents of four wonderful children, Peter, Amy, Paul and Kathleen. When her youngest child entered kindergarten in 1971, Pat began employment at Mt. St. John Home and School for Boys in Deep River. She worked as the Secretary of the Education Department for over 31 years, and upon her retirement, Pat received the Patrici-Anne Award for Distinguished Service from the Chancery and Bishop of the Diocese of Norwich on June 19, 2002. Prior to moving to Moscow in 2013, Pat was deeply involved in the community of Deep River as a member and Chairman of the Republican Town Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, Trustee of the Historical Society, member of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 61, and member of St. Joseph's Church in Chester, CT. To recognize her service, Pat was awarded an Official Citation from the Connecticut General Assembly for her 44 years of dedication to the Deep River Community on July 13, 2013. In Moscow, Pat was a member of St. Mary's Parish and volunteered at Gritman Medical Center as an Auxiliary member. Her favorite social activities were playing bridge and attending concerts in the park, Jazzercise, and performances at the Goodspeed Opera and Ivoryton Play Houses with her friends in Deep River and Moscow. Pat loved to visit and travel with her children and watch her grandchildren's sporting, theatrical, and musical events. Pat cherished the friendships she developed throughout the Deep River, Essex, Chester, and Moscow areas and was so very thankful for her immediate warm welcome into the Moscow community after her fond and friendly farewell from Deep River in 2013. Pat was predeceased by her husband Peter E. Gamerdinger in 1984 and daughter Kathleen Tabor in 2012. She is survived by her children Peter M. Gamerdinger (Vicki), Carlsbad, CA; Amy Conway (Courtney), Moscow; Paul Gamerdinger (Anne), Morristown, NJ; son-in-law James Tabor, Salem, OR; sister Judith Noonan, Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ; brother Edward Quinn (Sharyn) Payson, AZ; grandchildren Peter, Angela, Dalton, Matthew, Carson, Devon and Justin; great granddaughter Kathleen; and several nieces and nephews. A Funeral Liturgy will be held on Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 11:00 AM at St. Joseph's Church (48 Middlesex Turnpike, Chester, CT 06412) and a Burial Service will follow at Fountain Hill Cemetery in Deep River (57 High Street, Deep River, CT 06417). A reception will be held at The Lace Factory in Deep River following the burial (161 River Street, Deep River, CT 06417). To honor Pat's cheerful disposition, colorful attire is encouraged. For online condolences and guest book, please visit www.short

Market Place at the Academy of Mount St. John

The friendly team at the Market Place at the Academy of Mount St. John are, left to right, Josh Braziel, Jerry Pellerin, and Cody Foran. (Photo by Rita Christopher/Courier )
Finding Hidden Treasures at The Market Place
By Rita Christopher, Senior Correspondent
You know what they say about trash and treasure: the difference is in the eye of the beholder. And a good place to put that notion to the test is The Market Place at the Academy of Mount Saint John in Deep River.
Its rooms are full of donated merchandise of every kind from a custom Italian leather sofa to complete dinnerware sets for 12; there are electric drills, electric appliances, and at least one electric guitar. There are chairs of every description: easy chairs, needlepoint chairs, lyre back chairs, and a modernistic set of two chairs and a table made out of cardboard that can bear the weight of a full-size adult. There are side tables, coffee tables, and dining room tables with enough flatware, water glasses, and wine glasses to serve a banquet.
And how did all this get to the Academy of Mount St. John? Jerry Pellerin is the answer to that. Pellerin, who taught science at the school for more than 40 years before he retired in January, now manages The Market Place. When he started Mt. Saint John was a residential school for boys who were placed there usually as a result of a court judgment, but several years ago the State of Connecticut decided it would no longer pay for residential placements in private facilities and Mount St. John transformed itself into a day program for adolescents and young men with emotional challenges.
“It’s a clinical day program for kids who just don’t fit in, and believe me there are a lot of them,” Pellerin says.
Currently, there are some 25 students, all male, who take academic classes and then can spend two hours after school in career programs from carpentry and electronics to culinary arts.
Pellerin operates The Market Place with the assistance of two students, Cody Foran and Josh Braziel, who are learning the aspects of running a business. Both young men have opted for a fifth year at the academy to acquire more vocational skills.
“I wanted to do this,” Foran said of his job at The Market Place. “That’s why I stayed another year after graduation.”
Foran and Braziel, who described themselves as on the autism spectrum, helped a recent visitor with courtesy, professionalism, and real enthusiasm for their jobs.
“I didn’t do well in public school; it was just not right for me, and I went to two other schools before Mount St. John. When I heard it was all boys, I was not sure I was going to like that,” Foran, now 20, admitted. “But I’ve liked the opportunities here, the real world focus.”
Pellerin has introduced the young men to all aspects of the business, including searching the Internet for pricing clues and staging sales rooms for maximum impact. He himself has long had an interest in antiques and has worked weekends for some 20 years with Peggy Maraschiello of River Wind Antiques in Chester running estate sales.
“The boys have done everything, staging, picking up, doing displays, learning how to move furniture,” he said.
In addition to dealing with customers and running the sales desk, Foran has created a Facebook page for The Market Place ( He also on his own initiative recently organized a room devoted completely to a vast array of tools.
Braziel, also 20, said he never would have seen himself doing the kinds of jobs he has at The Market Place before he began to work there. Among those experiences was a chance to address the Deep River Zoning Board. The Market Place needed an exemption to run a commercial venture in an area zoned residential. After hearing Braziel, the board voted unanimously to grant the exemption.
The Market Place began after a successful tag sale that was a fundraiser for Mount St. John. One of the parents involved suggested making the tag sale into a permanent thrift shop, and the store opened last May in an area once used for clinical services. In fact, there is so much space that Pellerin is not worried about having too much merchandise.
“What we cannot put out now, we have room to store,” he said. “We never know what is coming in. We just keep growing.” All donations to The Market Place are tax deductible.
The Market Place is open Tuesdays to Thursdays, and although weekends are ideal for shopping, Pellerin pointed out that school runs a five-day week and his two assistants, who call him Pel or boss, are not available. However, the store will open on Saturday, Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to showcase the Christmas room, which has a vast assortment of glass balls, tree decorations, and Santa Claus figures, along with many small buildings that are components of the popular Christmas villages. There is even a craft book titled How to Knit Ugly Holiday Sweaters.
The profits from The Market Place are used to underwrite its ongoing operations, pay stipends to Foran and Braziel, and support the work of Mount St. John.
The Market Place at the Academy of Mount St. John
135 Kirtland Street, Deep River
Drive to the top of the hill and go right at the sign that says
The Market Place
On Facebook:
Open Tuesdays to Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Also open Saturday, Dec. 2: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To arrange for pickup of donations, call Jerry Pellerin at
860-575-0286 or email at: