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Tribute to "Mr. B," Frank Battisti '53

The weekend of June 23–24, 2006, brought a big celebration reuniting Frank Battisti ’53, M.S. ’64 (center, front), with the 1954–67 alumni of the Ithaca High School band. Frank graduated from Ithaca High School in 1949 before heading to Ithaca College for two music degrees. After graduating from IC he returned to IHS as an assistant to band director John Graves ’43, M.S. ’51. In 1955 Frank (“Mr. B.”) became director of the IHS band, and in the next 12 years he and his students created an incredible high school band program. The celebration weekend included a concert by his former students, a band marching drill in the old IHS band camp in Danby, a presentation to Mr. B., a barbecue, a banquet, a multimedia program of band performances over the years, speeches by colleagues and friends, a talk by Frank’s oldest son, David; and the highlight: the presentation of a musical score of a new work for band, “Day Dreams,” by IC professor of composition Dana Wilson, commissioned by the 1955–57 band members. The work dual premiered at the New England Conservatory and Ithaca College in October; 20 additional ensembles throughout the country will perform the piece during the 2006–7 season. Dorothy Sholeen ’86, a member of the committee who created the two-day tribute, writes, “This was such an important event in the field of music education. Frank is an exceptional teacher. We endeavored to honor the skills he instilled in all of us; he touched so many educators’ lives over his career.”

U.S. Navy Commander Christopher J. Fletcher '88

In July Commander Christopher J. Fletcher ’88 assumed command of the Warlords of HSL-51, based in Atsugi, Japan. HSL-51 is the U.S. Navy’s largest and only forward-deployed SH-60B squadron, with 15 aircraft and 374 sailors. The command’s mission is to provide combat-ready helicopter detachments for deployment aboard ships of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces operating from the Pacific Ocean to the Arabian Gulf. Chris is the squadron’s 12th commanding officer; he received his commission through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1989. He earned his wings of gold in 1990 and has flown the SH-60B for his entire naval aviation career, accumulating almost 3,000 total flight hours.

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