Like many people in the West Springfield community, I truly loved Leslie. It was my absolute pleasure and honor to have taught her in my Applied History class her senior year at West Springfield High School. In her short 20 years her life demonstrated what it means to be a gracious and grace filled human being. Her sense of selflessness is unmatched by any student I have taught in my 27 year career. Leslie led a life guided by idealism, strong values, deep compassion for those in need, a sense of genuine humility,and a wonderful sense of humor.

She wanted to be a historian and her beau ideal of a historian was David McCullough. I can't even tell you how much joy it gave me to introduce her to David, someone with whom I have worked with on the National Council for History Education, at his kickoff event for his book 1776 at the National Archives.

That was a special night! On my desk at home and at school I have a picture of me, David, another student I brought with me, and Leslie.

As I write I can look at the glow on her face as her favorite historian has his arm around her. She gave a copy of that picture to a friend, who could not go with us that night and signed the back of it, "I met David McCullough last night... sigh..."

Leslie was one of those rare human beings who "got it," and understodd what life was about. Many people live well into old age and never "get it." To have been a part of Leslie's life and journey is a humbling experience. Her internal radiance was brilliant and reaffirms what it means to live devoted to other people. She was a gift to all who knew her. I count her among the many blessings of my life.

Leslie always took to heart and then put into action words of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. In his 1967 Christmas Sermon, called "The Drum Major Instinct," he called for people to step up to the plate and serve others. Leslie consistently stepped up to the plate and every time hit a grand slam. She was a Drum Major For Life! Godspeed, Leslie, Godspeed! Thanks for being a teacher, too.



James Percoco




James Percoco





James Percoco, “[Untitled],” The April 16 Archive, accessed July 25, 2024, https://april16archive.org/items/show/28.