The JC memory that lasts a lifetime

Leah Polakoff and Leah Polakoff

As I sat there in the front row with hundreds of people before me, I heard the speaker tell my class the ring we were about to receive was something that would be recognized all over the world.  Feeling my eyes roll backwards, I let out a huge sigh. Yet another teacher who was attempting to make our school to be more popular than it really was. What was so special about this ring? Why was it so different and more distinct than the ones my friends at public school wore?

Exactly eight days later, I realized what my teacher had been talking about. While eating at the restaurant Japanese Sakura (where you share tables with strangers) I glanced at the right hand picking up a sushi roll across from me. On it was the same gold ring with the onyx stone I wore on my right hand. I started a conversation with the ring wearer and as it turns out, JC is more popular than I thought. This woman graduated in the same class as my horseback riding trainer, and we ride at the same farm!

I heard a similar story from my classmates who had just returned from a trip to Orlando, Florida with JC. While boarding a bus to Animal Kingdom, the students heard a woman exclaim, “Oh my God! Do you guys go to John Carroll High School?” Junior Elisabeth Johnson said she knew exactly how the woman had recognized them. “Mr. Ward and Mr. Gadreau remind us all the time that people really do see the JC Ring and instantly have a bond with us,” she said.

Math teacher Alvin Ward, class of ’70 still wears his ring with pride. “It’s a memorable piece of jewelry,” he said as he pulled out the original ring order form and stared at it with a sense of nostalgia.

Fellow JC graduate fine arts teacher Michael Gaudreau, class of ’70 is the nephew of Tom Gaudreau, the designer of the ring, and also sports his ring daily. Gaudreau was among the group of students that hated the design of the ring, and wanted to design their own. Looking back, he’s happy with how things turned out. “It’s a symbol of the school, protecting, nourishing, honoring, and helping the students,” he said.

The ring I carry on my right hand every day has brought me much more attention than I would have ever imagined. It’s a symbol of my life, displaying my wisdom and my background. I plan to be like Ward and Gaudreau, and proudly show my ring off years after I graduate. “It’s not a piece of cold metal you’re going to throw in a drawer. It’s a timeless modern design,” Gaudreau told me.

I’ll look back in 10, 20, and 30 years and remember the time I spent at JC. The hours spent doing homework, endless softball games, and the amazing friends I’ve made I’ll always cherish. My ring is my reminder that I came from a school I never wanted to leave. I can only hope my fellow classmates and graduates feel the same, as our rings will be what separates us from the rest of the world.

Leah Polakoff can be reached for comment at [email protected]