Author and grandkids helps continue a legacy at Coolidge School

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

(l to r) Jack Perna, Sandy Perna, Mike Perna, Anthony Perna and Coolidge School Principal Tiffany Ostrander in the Coolidge School Media Center
Photo/Melanie Petrucci

Shrewsbury – In this day and age it isn’t common to have four generations of one family to attend the same elementary school. But one Shrewsbury family – the Pernas – that has been the case at the Calvin Coolidge Elementary School. Recently, a member of the family’s second generation to attend the school, Michael Perna, Jr., stopped by to meet with the students there, including his two grandsons, Anthony and Jack.

Perna is a noted local historian and author. As part of his visit, he donated a copy of his first book, written in 1998 titled “Remembering Lake Quinsigamond – from Steamboats to White City,” to the school’s media center.

“I’d given one about 20 years ago but it got worn out so I’m giving them another,” he said.

“In our third grade curriculum we are looking at the local history local government. This will be a helpful tool for our third grade teachers to use,” added Tiffany Ostrander, the school’s principal.

Perna’s father, also named Michael, was among the first group of students to attend the school after it opened in 1927. His two sons, Richard and Nicholas, were the third generation and now his grandsons, Anthony (fourth grade) and his brother Jack (first grade), are the fourth to attend Coolidge Elementary School.

Perna still lives within walking distance of the school.

Sandy, Perna’s wife, noted that her husband was currently working on another book with the assistance of some special helpers – Anthony and Jack as well as their other grandchildren, Tyler and Katlyn Perna. The kids helped select photos, do research and to transcribe notes.

“‘Shrewsbury through Time – Vol II,’ is a then and now [format] so they helped drive around town for the ‘now’ photos,” Perna explained. “It should be completed soon and out in the fall.”