Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Two Pierced Ears: Todd Silvestri and I

A Short Memoir

Greetings, folks! I just got back from the weekend in Los Angeles, where I went to attend DeafNation Expo in Pomona. I was shocked and saddened to learn that my old friend and MSSD classmate Todd Silvestri had passed away. As I had mentioned in my comment there, he and I were on the same wrestling team way back in '78-'79. He was one of the coolest guys I knew at MSSD. If you happened to be a 90-pounds weakling wearing nerd clothes, guaranteed you'll get picked on at MSSD. MSSD in my old days wasn't for the faint-hearted...there were always arrogant alpha-male jocks you'd run into who'd take sadistic pleasures in picking on little people. Todd was indeed an alpha-male jock allright, but he was never in my memory ever arrogant or mean towards anyone. He was always polite and respectful to everyone. Of course, with his good looks he'd get many girls. He got along well with everybody and he was well liked. I had the pleasure of getting to know him when we were in algebra class (one of my worst classes with teacher Jeff Dieter...I was one of his biggest F students, believe it or not!).  

When I learned about his tragic death, I was brought back to my memory of one incident that involved he and I. It was '80 or '81 and he was sporting an earring on his left ear. We were in class one day and I noticed his earring. I asked him how he got the earring and he explained to me how he pierced it himself. Back then very few boys wore earrings. There was only one punk student at MSSD and that was one girl named Nancy. (Remember her? Her Mohawk haircut and leather outfit?) The punk fad hadn't yet caught on at MSSD, where most students wore preppie clothes. The only exception was when several football players shaved their heads and sported Mohawks to show how macho they were. (Funny, wasn't it?) I was so impressed by the gutsy thing Todd did so a few years later when I enrolled at CSUN, I pierced my own left ear. It didn't hurt much and I wore earrings often during the early '80s when I was into punk/new wave fashion. Now I don't wear an earring anymore because I kept losing them, but believe it nor not, the hole in my earlobe is still open. Nowadays you see teenagers wearing more rings and pins on their ears, noses, chins, nipples and belly buttons. Ah, as the famous folk singer Bob Dylan said, time's a-changing! I'm now in forties and I wear normal fashion like everybody else my age...but next time I put on an earring, I'll do it in honor of my old friend and classmate, Todd Silvestri. I am proud to have been on the same wrestling team with him and I am also proud as well of his great achievements and what he did for MSSD and Gallaudet. God bless him, wherever his soul is. Once again...my dearest and deepest condolences to his younger brother Toselli and family!


RLM said...

Real heart-touching blog entry about you and Todd Silvestri.

Both Silvestri brothers always were well-liked and thoughtful and

Many people said that Todd's death was a real wake-up call for maxiziming the counseling services to assist deaf people thru such difficult times.

My heart go to the Silversti family and friends!

Robert L. Mason (RLM)

Ann said...

I am sorry to hear of Todd's passing but I did not see how he passed.I am a hearing girl.I know a little about what MSSD is, but where is it?

Dan McClintock said...


Word has it that Todd took his own life. There is no official confirmation by his family yet. MSSD - Model Secondary School for the Deaf - the only high school for the deaf in the United States - is located on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. You can find out more information about MSSD at this link http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/x15174.xml.
Gallaudet is the only university in America, I think, that shares its campus with a high school and an elementary school, KDES - Kendall Demonstration Elementary School for the Deaf.

moebius said...

Only high school for the deaf in the United States?!?! So you're not counting the deaf schools in each state??

Dan McClintock said...


Those deaf schools in each state are not high schools. They are institutions, that generally include grades 1 through 12. MSSD is the ONLY (and first one) high school for the deaf that has four grades from 9 to 12. This is a fact. :)

Don G. said...

I don't remember any punk student named Nancy....? Maybe she came in after I'd graduated?

Todd was a pretty nice guy. Sad to hear about him. Wonder why he would go and kill himself.

Anonymous said...

Hey Don, is that you, one of my former roommates and old friends? If so, so good to hear from you! Why, when I clicked on your link, did a warning come up that it was an attack page? Maybe you should check it out to make sure it is not infected with a virus. Regarding your question, it would be better if you would email me so I can answer it privately. I do not mean that student any disrespect, but she was indeed there during the times we were there. Thank you and lets chat sometimes when you and I have free time, old buddy!

Dan said...

Darn it, I meant to identify myself as Dan...it was late at night as I was typing! Oopsie...

Anonymous said...

In IL there is a high school separate from Middle School and Elementary school. So, MSSD is no different because there is also an elementary school on the same campus. MSSD is NOT the only high school in the USA. It is the only "MODEL" high school for the deaf in the USA. Other state school do have their own high school buidling.

Dan said...


The difference between MSSD and Illinois School for the Deaf is that high school, elementary school and junior high school are incorporated under the name Illinois School for the Deaf. MSSD stands alone as a secondary (high) school and is not incorporated together with a junior high school nor an elementary school, despite the fact that it shares the same campus as KDES and Gallaudet. Is there any other school in the U.S. with the word "secondary" or "high" in its name, that is not incorporated with other schools?
Thank you -