By JEN CARDINES
The Southington High School Wall of Honor committee announced their picks for the 2017 induction class. Now in its 11th year, the wall boasts notable persons that were once students at the high school.
Each year, nominees are selected to receive a place on the Wall of Honor following a free public ceremony where they are recognized for one of the following categories: lifetime achievement, community service, major career accomplishments, and humanitarian work. Once inducted, their picture and a plaque are added to the wall located outside of the auditorium at Southington High School.
Former SHS civics teacher and current Board of Education member Bob Brown created the wall to honor people for their achievements, and the project hasn’t stopped growing over the last decade.
“The wall serves to inspire our students to believe they can accomplish incredible things in their lives,” Brown said, “and also to bring positive pride to our wonderful community.”
Candidates range in age, career, background, and location, but at one time, they were all students at Southington High. Previous classes included doctors, veterans, artists, a Broadway producer, a research astronomer, and many other distinguished alumni.
“It is amazing all the accomplishments of our former students,” Brown said.
The committee also established a tradition of honoring those who served in the military and were killed during the conflict. While it is required to be a SHS graduate to be eligible for the Wall of Honor, the committee acknowledges people who left school to serve in one of the nation’s wars, an action very common during military actions like the Vietnam and Korean conflicts.
In 2016, two men who left school and made the ultimate sacrifice were inducted into the Wall of Honor, and their families received posthumous high school diplomas by a special vote of the BOE. Once again, two men will be honored in 2017 and are scheduled to be granted diplomas.
Private first class Charles Bradley Remer and Lance Cpl. Raymond Arthur Burgess both served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam Conflict and were both killed in 1968.
Family members are invited to accept the certificate. School officials plan to include this action on the Sept. 28 agenda so that Burgess and Remer will officially be graduates prior to the Wall of Honor induction ceremony.
In addition to them, four other SHS alumni will be inducted during the ceremony this fall.
Mark Boxer (class of 1978) is the Executive Vice-President and Global Chief Information Officer for Cigna. He is also a Trustee for the University of Connecticut, serves on the board of the Connecticut Children’s Law Center, and is a champion for advancing the employment of the disabled.
Robert Calandra (class of 1981) is currently principal at TenX Acquisitions LLC. He is a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer with 30 years of distinguished service in the Intelligence Community.
Stephen Gasecki (class of 1977) is a senior pilot in Port Canaveral, FL which is the second largest passenger cruise ship port in the world. He graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy, serving during Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Walter Hushak (class of 1941) joined the United States Air Corps in 1942 and piloted B26’s in the Pacific Theater during World War II. After retiring from the Air Force, he became a business leader and volunteer in Southington. He has spent countless hours with Southington High School students describing his experiences during World War II.
All inductees will receive a plaque to take home from the ceremony, while a duplicate will be hung on the wall outside the auditorium. This year’s ceremony is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m.
To nominate honorees for future induction classes, written and verbal recommendations can be made personally to Bob Brown. Applications can be found online on the high school website (www.southingtonschools.org/page.cfm?p=9034), can be printed in the school office, and submitted to Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 621-0416.
To comment on this story, contact staff writer Jen Cardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.