"How I Got to CHS"

By Sandy Sorrentino, MD PhD '61

Editors note: Dr. Sandy Sorrentino '61 reflected on the question of "how did you get to CHS" which was posed at his class reunion, and wrote the following recollection. He encourages his fellow Canisius alumni to share their stories, too. If you'd like to submit a story, please email it to chstoday@canisiushigh.org.


"So, how did you get to CHS?"

I'm not exactly sure, but I'll give you the chain of events and you can figure it out. Russ Belcher lived down the street on Hewitt Avenue. He was a year older than I was, and a freshman at CHS, and also the paper boy at Millard Fillmore Hospital. I sort of looked up to him. I asked him about CHS because I knew only one person that ever went there -- him. I also knew that it had a great reputation. He filled me in on the details -- no girls, a lot of studying, but a lot of days off on the Catholic holidays. The days off attracted me and I sort of ignored the other two. Besides, he said I could help him with the paper route and make up to 20 bucks a week. My interest really piqued. I had just dumped my 8th grad squeeze (old form was "sweetheart") and somehow the absence of girls didn't bother me as much as the 20 bucks did. I could take the studying as long as it didn't interfere with sandlot baseball (which it did, as I found out later).

Off I went to seek some guidance. My first advisor was my cousin Louie. He and I were 8th graders at PS 68 on Bailey Avenue. Big mistake! 

"What are you? Crazy?!" was his response.

Next up on the chain of command were my parents. Mom and dad did not have high school educations or a lot of money. Dad owned a bar in downtown Buffalo and knew poker and craps really well, but CHS? "Where's that, and who can pay 200 bucks a year?" (Actually, it was $240 when I became a freshman.) My mom was Polish and her world revolved around Loblaws and homemade kielbasa. No help there.

When in doubt, go to teachers Miss Rentz and Miss Gentner -- my 8th grade math and English teachers. They had actually heard of CHS and were quite fond of my decision to try to go there. They gave me extra math and English sessions to prepare me for the entrance exam. I was the only student from PS 68 to ever have applied to CHS.

Needless to say, I passed the exam. I surprised myself in scoring high in math and not so well in English. My dad came with me to my entrance interview with the principal. I think it was the only time my dad stepped foot in the foyer, except for my graduation. Same for my mom.

I worked hard at Canisius and at the hospital, and loved carrying my blue and gold school bag. To me it was a symbol of goodness and hard work, just as it was a symbol to others. It was also a great asset in thumbing rides home after school. The rest is history.

I don't know where I would be if I went to Kensington High School with all my friends. But, I do know that I am where I am today in great part due to CHS.

So, how'd you get there?

Dr. Sorrentino earned a PhD in Anatomy at the University of Tennessee Medical Units in 1969, and his MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1975. He was board certified in internal medicine in 1978, and had a solo practice of internal medicine from 1978 until his retirement in 2016. He and his wife, Marie have three children.

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"How I Got to CHS"

Dr. Sandy Sorrentino '61 shares his story of attending Canisius, against the odds.