By Lindsay Carey
The Southington High School (SHS) Wall of Honor Committee inducted five graduates, including a research astronomer, a renowned choreographer, a Coast Guard hero, a leader in motor vehicles, and an international relations expert to the Wall of Honor Monday evening.
“Its amazing when you look at who goes up here and the people this year and in the past to think they all grew up in Southington and went to our schools,” said Bob Brown, SHS social studies teacher and chair of the Wall of Honor Committee. “I would hope that our students look at it, especially if they are struggling with something, and think that they can achieve something like this.”
Dr. Taft Armandroff, John Krafcik, Alwin Nikolias, Captain Jim Passarelli and Michael John Williams, Ph.D had their 2014 Wall of Honor plaques presented during a brief ceremony.
Two of five inductees, Williams and Passarelli, were able to attend the induction ceremony at the high school. Brown read the plaque of every inductee and presented them with one to take home or be mailed to them, while the other plaque would go in the case at the high school.
Armandroff graduated from SHS in 1978 and holds a Masters and Ph.D in astronomy from Yale University. He is a respected research astronomer and is an author of 41 journal articles and review papers. Armandroff currently lives in Texas and runs the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas.
Inductee Krafcik graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in engineering and received a Masters degree from the MIT Sloan School in Management. He formerly achieved record sales as President and CEO of Hyundai Motor America and was also a leader for Ford Motor Co. He has received several awards for his innovation with motor vehicles and sales. Krafcik currently lives and works as the President of TruCar, an online car shopping website.
Nikolias, who passed away in 1993, was born and raised in Southington. He was trained in dance at Bennington College and has received five honorary doctorate degrees. Nikolias was a nationally recognized choreographer, modern dancer, teacher, designer and also did active duty in the army during WWII. He also co-founded the Nicholas Murray Foundation for dance. Nikolias received several prestigious awards from countries including France, Italy, Yugoslavia and the U.S.
Passereli graduated from SHS in 1987. He holds degrees from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, George Mason University and MIT Sloan School of Management. He was honored for his work helping evacuate Haiti and rescue more than 3000 Haitian refugees. Through national security, Passereli has also helped to cease millions of dollars in drugs and stopped terrorists from entering the country.
“It’s very humbling when you hear all the citations for the other people, you kind of feel like what am I doing with this group,” said Passarelli. “There are so many accomplished people that come from this school and to be a part of that group is very humbling for me.”
Williams, who was one of Brown’s students, graduated from SHS in 1998. He has received multiple degrees including a Ph.D in International Relations from the London School of Economics. Some of his accomplishments include being a professor of international relations at the University of London, a visiting fellow at Oxford University, Assistant Political Military Affairs Officer for the U.S. Embassy, Editor in Chief of a couple international relations publications and much more.
As the most recent graduate this year to be inducted, Williams was supported by not only family, but teachers at the event.
“It’s actually really nice the number of teachers who came out that I had. I was really touched by that,” said Williams. “It’s kind of a blast from the past to be in the building, but what made the high school special were the people in the building not so much the building and so without the people here it’s not the same.”
By Lindsay Carey