By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Southington High School inducted four local individuals from different walks of life into its 2013 Wall of Honor Monday night.
State Representatives Dave Zoni, Rob Sampson, and Al Adinolfi, presented plaques to honorees Rosemary and Jim Champagne, Karl Pytlik, and Christopher Jones—all graduates of Southington High School. The Wall of Honor committee chose the inductees based on four criteria: humanitarian work, community service, lifetime achievement or significant awards received.
“I think this is the most wonderful thing we do,” said Bob Brown, the chairman of the Wall of Honor Committee. “It is what makes me feel good as a teacher to see the people that have done amazing things in life.”
After the inductees received their own plaque to cherish at home, Brown presented each plaque that will appear on the all outside the auditorium, reading aloud the inductees’ contributions to the community as well as to other parts of the world.
Karl Pytlik, an environmental activist in the Virgin Islands, worked in California on the Clean Air Act, volunteered with the National Park Service in the Virgin Islands, running education programs and providing funds for museums. He also helped start The Caribbean Oceanic Restoration and Education Foundation (CORE), which runs a program to control the population of lionfish, an invasive species. Named the Virgin Island’s Person of the Year in 2011, Pytlik also leads a campaign to stop hunting endangered sea turtles.
Pytlik said he hopes his work will serve as an inspiration to all students of Southington.
“It means so much,” Pytlik said, referring to his plaque. “It is things like this that make all my work worth it.”
Christopher Jones, a biomedical research chemist, also hopes his work will inspire students to make a difference. Named co-author in over 20 scientific publications, Jones designed and synthesized antibiotics for the livestock to research treatments in diseases like arthritis.
“It is nice to have body of work that spans for two-and-half decades recognized,” Jones said. “All it takes is a little focus and motivation.”
Rosemary and Jim Champagne, who remain active in local community service projects including Relay for Life, felt overjoyed to be on the Wall of Honor. A veteran of the U.S. Army, who also became a national sales manager for the automobile industry, Jim has served as the festival coordinator for the Apple Harvest Festival. He also owns and operates Champagne Financial Services. His wife, Rosemary, a breast cancer survivor for over 20 years, has served as a chairperson for the Southington Relay for Life. She even wrote a book about receiving a stem cell transplant to treat her cancer, and has donated hair for “Wigs for Kids,” a look-good, feel-good program for cancer patients.
“I feel very happy and honored,” Rosemary said.