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Fairfield Prep teacher taught students to appreciate life "The Lives They Lived" is a series remembering friends and neighbors who changed our lives. FAIRFIELD -- What does it take to mesmerize a group of 14-year-old boys? Fine art, classical music and good cuisine -- in 's classroom at least. The teacher was known for "unlocking a wider world," as former student put it. Saracco taught at Fairfield Prep for 50 years, the longest tenure of any teacher at the school, before retiring in 2009. He died in May at the age of 80. While there, he helped expand the school's curriculum and after he died, donated his estate to the academy. Saracco was the kind of teacher who would plop the bust of a Roman general on his desk and ask his students, "Who is this?" said , who has taught social studies at Fairfield Prep for 40 years. Saracco referred to his detailed index cards in his lectures, and most of his classes included something from his personal collection of artifacts that he had collected from around the world. His home in Fairfield was like a museum, Szablewicz said. Saracco's favorite place to teach was in the many museums in New York City. "I remember over winter break freshman year, he invited a number of us students to take the train down to the city," Murphy, who was Saracco's student in the early 1980s, said. "It was the first time I saw the Egyptian collection at the Met. Then right after that we went to the Whitney and saw some very current, modern art. To see such different art in one afternoon was very cool. The lesson he was trying to teach us, I think, was to get to the variety of life." One year, Saracco constructed diorama models of museum exhibits to show his class, his sister-in-law Marge Saracco, who lives in Woodbury, said. Saracco's class wasn't easy to pass, said , who was also Saracco's student in the early 1980s. There were students who Saracco knew he should fail, Szablewicz said, but instead gave them a passing grade so they would not get kicked out of the academy and would work closely with them to make sure they'd succeed. Szablewicz originally joined the social studies department, which Saracco chaired, as an anthropology teacher. Soon after, he approached Saracco and asked if he could teach a class on non-Western cultures. "So in the mid-70s, we added Asian studies to the curriculum," Szablewicz said. "No other schools were doing anything of the kind. We still have it today. I doubt we ever could have had it without , as we called him. It's one of the things I loved about him. Whenever we wanted to do a course, he gave us the thumbs up." In 1970, Fairfield Prep hired its first female teacher, who taught art. "I don't think the art department would have grown and been successful without Lou's support of it," Szablewicz said. He drove a bright orange Volkswagen Ghia convertible and smoked until he was 70, using the type of Italian cigarette holder you might see in an Italian film, Szablewicz said. One year, a group of pranksters carried the Ghia to a school entrance, blocking the students in when it was time to change classes. He had pranks of his own, though. He would jump out of the second story window of his classroom to scare the new freshmen, who didn't know there was a balcony right below. Saracco donated his estate at 317 Edward St. to the school in his will. The school did not have room to store his collection, so it was auctioned off and the proceeds were used to benefit the school.