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EAST GREENWICH - A recent Americaâ€™s Cup winner, who is also a Rocky Hill School alum, was a welcome addition to the schoolâ€™s 2013 Homecoming events.
Faculty, staff, current and former students, and parents all gathered around Jerome â€śRomeâ€ť Kirby IV who graduated from Rocky Hill in 2007.
Kirby was the guest speaker at the schoolâ€™s daytime Homecoming festivities on Saturday, thanking his parents and the schoolâ€™s faculty for helping him graduate.
But the kindest words spoken on Saturday were about Kirby, coming from Corinne Dedini, who was Kirbyâ€™s advisor and science teacher during his time at Rocky Hill.
Head of School Peter Branch read Dediniâ€™s comments. Dedini, who is now a faculty member at Atlantaâ€™s Girls School, wrote, â€śWhen I met Rome 10 years ago, his dream was to become a world-class sailor; even in high school, just about every choice he made inched him closer to that reality.â€ť
She talked about Kirbyâ€™s knowledge of science as it related to sailing, even at that age. On one occasion, he taught her marine ecology class about wind patterns and currents in the southern ocean, â€śAs Rome presented to the class, we all knew that this was the real deal; Rome would be sailing around the worldâ€¦.â€ť
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â€śThis September, I was glued to the Americaâ€™s Cupâ€”one of the worldâ€™s preeminent sailing regattasâ€”to see my former advisee, Rome, grinding and trimming onboard Oracle Team USA,â€ť she wrote.
It was 13 years ago that Kirby started at Rocky Hill as a sixth grader and Branch welcomed him back, noting that Rocky Hill looks â€śto help students discover and embrace their passionsâ€”and Rome was no exception.â€ť
Kirby did his senior internship with PUMA Ocean Racing while at Rocky Hill. Five years after graduation, in 2012 â€” and after Kirby attended Salve Regina University in his hometown of Newport â€” Kirby joined that same sailing team and took third place in the eight-month, around-the-world, Volvo Ocean Race.
One year later, Kirbyâ€™s appearance at Rocky Hill was less than four weeks after he won the 34th Americaâ€™s Cup with Oracle Team USA in San Francisco.
Kirby was the youngest member of both teamsâ€”but even the PUMA Ocean Racing website credits his â€śmass of experience,â€ť sailing since he was three years old.
Kirbyâ€™s father, Jerry, a world-class sailor himself and six-time Americaâ€™s Cup competitor, was also at Rocky Hill on Saturday.
The Alumni Association presented Kirby with a brick. The brick, which read Rome Kirby â€™07, Oracle Team USA, Americaâ€™s Cup 2013, would later be installed in the Garden Brickwalk at Rocky Hill.
â€śSo now Rome, not only have you left an indelible mark in sailing history,â€ť Sarah Shaw Siskin, Alumni Association President, told Kirby. â€śbut you have left one at Rocky Hill School too.â€ť