Every time I drive across the Connecticut River into East Haddam, I have a big smile on my face. I look up and down the river and consider Goodspeed Opera and the Gelston House on my right. Then, I decide to drive the long way or the short way to campus. Both routes offer quintessential New England sights and homesteads. I am lucky to live here. Now, I learn that the New York Times agrees with me.

“52 Places to Love in 2021” is the title of an article that appeared in the newspaper’s January 6 travel section. Here is the introduction. “We asked readers to tell us about the spots that delighted, inspired, and comforted them in a dark year. Here, 52 of more than 2,000 suggestions we received remind us that the world still awaits.” The favorite places are from around the world. Halfway down the list appears East Haddam, Conn. Town native Caley Millen-Pigliucci, a graduate student in journalism, wrote this passage.

“I never liked being from a small town. Even when I was a kid, I wanted to get away as quickly as I could. As soon as I got a driver’s license, I was zooming to other places. But last year — a year when the world felt smaller than ever — I felt a connection and longing for my hometown, East Haddam: its rolling hillsides along the Connecticut River; the beautiful Swing Bridge, which opens for boats; the Goodspeed Opera House, where I worked as an usher in high school. Although I’ve known East Haddam all my life, I finally fell in love with it last summer, when I visited with my boyfriend. We jumped into the waterfall at Devil’s Hopyard State Park; I found myself marveling at the quaint farm stands and picturesque New England churches. It may be small, but it’s home.”

East Haddam has been my home for almost twenty-years, ever since the Weissbach family moved north from Austin, Texas. I hope that when we reach the other side of this pandemic, everyone will have the chance to discover or rediscover all the many reasons why we picked the right location for Franklin Academy. Click here to review the full list of 52 places to love in 2021. Happy New Year.

PS: Photo of a winter sunset over the 360-year-old Ballek Farm, located 2 1/2 miles from campus at Town Street and Maple Avenue.