“A Working Man’s Stories:” Senior Turns Memories into Life Lessons

On Thursday, April 26, Danny Turecek presented his Coginchaug Senior Project (CUSP) in the library. His choice of project was very personal to Turecek, who wrote a book of stories that were told to him over the years by Mr. John Augeri, a Vietnam War veteran. Throughout eight years of doing work for Augeri, Turecek heard many stories of Augeri’s life, all with hidden lessons in them, inspiring his CUS Project.

After meeting with his CUSP mentor, English teacher Mrs. Emily Archer, Turecek began reading the book Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. This book became a key piece of Turecek’s project. Soon after finishing the book, he started to do research on writing biographies, conducting interviews, and improving listening skills to help him along the way.

“Well, when Danny first came to me with the idea, I thought it was really exciting,” Archer explained about working with Turecek. “I thought it was a monumental task, and I didn’t know him too well then, but I did have a feeling he was going to be up for the task. I absolutely love the idea of learning from people who have been around and seen a lot, especially the fact that Mr. Augeri has been in [Middlefield] his whole life. I think showcasing someone who has been in the town for so long is a really special opportunity.”

During his presentation, Turecek showed a quick clip of one of his interviews with Augeri about his experiences in the military and read the reflection from that particular story. Turecek used not only what Augeri told him but his own experiences with Augeri to paint a picture of Augeri’s experience, in which the reader can feel like they are actually there and learn a lesson of awareness alongside with him.
Click the flipbook to read Danny’s excerpt, Awareness.

In his presentation, Turecek explained that the best lesson he learned during this experience was to “hold your work to a very high standard, not to let your standards down because people will judge you based on your reputation, and… your name is the best marketing you have for yourself… That’s what people look at when they see you; they hear your name and everything that goes along with it.”

Throughout this journey, Turecek met with Augeri on a weekly basis to interview him and hear his stories. Along with recording the hour-long talks, Turecek also had a journal with him to take notes and jot down important points. After the talks, Turecek would upload the recordings to his Google Drive and meticulously transcribe them to make his book easier to write.

While writing down Augeri’s stories, Turecek found himself reflecting upon them and decided to add his reflections into the book. He got this idea from Tuesdays With Morrie and from his own CUSP journal, in which he wrote down his thoughts on these stories. Turecek used advice from his mentor to narrow his thoughts and really reflect on his experiences.

“Along the way, I was very happy I was doing this because I was learning so much from Mr. Augeri and improving my writing skills in general,” said Turecek. “I felt like it really strengthened our friendship, and I was very happy that I was able to record his stories.”

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