By SHERIDAN CYR
The Wall of Honor at the Southington High School commemorates the bravery, innovation, creativity, intelligence and strengths of nearly 50 SHS graduates. The wall that current students pass in the hallway on a daily basis serves as an inspiration and a reminder of what students can achieve in their lives.
For 13 years, Board of Education member and retired Southington teacher, Bob Brown, along with a team of teachers, administrators, parents, students and other community groups, have worked together to review applications, select, and research candidates. This year, however, there have been some challenges.
The committee decided to hone in on World War II veterans who were killed-in-action for this year’s nominees. Most of the veterans who served at that time are no longer around. The research involved, Brown said, has been tedious and often controversial.
“I started researching and came across some good information, but also, some contradictory information,” Brown said. “Some of the names are not lining up, and I don’t want to put anyone up there and have the wrong name.”
The committee also faces difficulty in the fact that they don’t know who to turn to for information about local veterans. Finding information on the individual is one thing, but tracking down family members who may not live in town is another difficulty in itself.
“We do the best we can, but we want to get the word out there and see if people can contact us with information,” Brown said.
Brown and the committee were able to find more than 30 former SHS students who served in and were killed-in-action in WWII and would like to honor 11 of them this year, and the others in the coming years, in no particular order. They have released the following names (four additional names will be announced at a later time): Francis Gura, Stanley Putala, John Ziemba, John Calvanese, Paul Flynn, Anthony Pasquale, and a man with the last name of Folcik (the first name could be either Stanley, Anthony or John).
“We are asking that if anyone knows a family member, or is a family member themselves, or was a friend of any of these veterans, please reach out,” said Brown. The seven listed veterans, along with four others who have not been announced yet, will be honored at the Wall of Honor ceremony on April 9, 2019 at 6 p.m. at SHS.
“Of all the things I’ve done as a teacher, this is one of the most rewarding things – to see people from this town who have gone to our schools get this recognition,” Brown said. “When you hear some of the things they’ve done, it’s unbelievable. I think it’s inspirational to the kids and it’s kind of a pat on the back for the community that this town has produced some really important and accomplished people.”
Brown brought the idea of the wall to SHS after seeing a similar concept at Norwalk High School, and the annual induction ceremony draws dozens to the school to honor former graduates.
“They had all these plaques on the wall featuring former students,” he said. “I thought it was a great idea.”
Friends and family members of the veterans to be recognized this year are asked to contact Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 621-0416.