EAST GREENWICH - A recent America’s Cup winner, who is also a Rocky Hill School alum, was a welcome addition to the school’s 2013 Homecoming events.
Faculty, staff, current and former students, and parents all gathered around Jerome “Rome” Kirby IV who graduated from Rocky Hill in 2007.
Kirby was the guest speaker at the school’s daytime Homecoming festivities on Saturday, thanking his parents and the school’s faculty for helping him graduate.
But the kindest words spoken on Saturday were about Kirby, coming from Corinne Dedini, who was Kirby’s advisor and science teacher during his time at Rocky Hill.
Head of School Peter Branch read Dedini’s comments. Dedini, who is now a faculty member at Atlanta’s Girls School, wrote, “When 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.”
She talked about Kirby’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, “As Rome presented to the class, we all knew that this was the real deal; Rome would be sailing around the world….”
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“This September, I was glued to the America’s Cup—one of the world’s preeminent sailing regattas—to see my former advisee, Rome, grinding and trimming onboard Oracle Team USA,” 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 “to help students discover and embrace their passions—and Rome was no exception.”
Kirby did his senior internship with PUMA Ocean Racing while at Rocky Hill. Five years after graduation, in 2012 — and after Kirby attended Salve Regina University in his hometown of Newport — Kirby joined that same sailing team and took third place in the eight-month, around-the-world, Volvo Ocean Race.
One year later, Kirby’s appearance at Rocky Hill was less than four weeks after he won the 34th America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in San Francisco.
Kirby was the youngest member of both teams—but even the PUMA Ocean Racing website credits his “mass of experience,” sailing since he was three years old.
Kirby’s father, Jerry, a world-class sailor himself and six-time America’s Cup competitor, was also at Rocky Hill on Saturday.
The Alumni Association presented Kirby with a brick. The brick, which read Rome Kirby ’07, Oracle Team USA, America’s Cup 2013, would later be installed in the Garden Brickwalk at Rocky Hill.
“So now Rome, not only have you left an indelible mark in sailing history,” Sarah Shaw Siskin, Alumni Association President, told Kirby. “but you have left one at Rocky Hill School too.”