By SHERIDAN ROY
The Southington High School wall of honor, dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of graduates from Southington Public Schools, continues to grow year after year.
The 2019 induction ceremony will be held on April 9 at 6 p.m. at the high school in front of the auditorium. The ceremony is open to the public and free to attend.
“This is an important tradition because it inspires our students when they see the names on those plaques,” said Bob Brown, former teacher of SPS who maintains the wall. “It’s amazing what these people have gone on to do in their lives, and these are all people who have gone through our schools.”
This year’s honorees include: Craig Bogdanski, MD, local physician and recipient of several significant awards; Barry DePaolo, local restaurant owner who has set up successful restaurants all over the world and done considerable charity work; Dawn Donofrio, a successful woman in the insurance industry who has received national awards for her underwriting skills; and Matt Galka, Emmy-award winning television news journalist now in Arizona.
In addition, seven men who gave their lives in service to American during World War II will be honored: John Calvanese; Paul Flynn; Stanley or Anthony Folcik (his first name appears on the Killed in Action memorial as “Stanley Folcik” but is found on the 1943 school rolls as “Anthony ‘Stanley’ Folcik”); Francis Gura; Anthony Pasquale; Stanley Putala, and John Ziemba. More WWII casualties will be inducted next year.
Southington veterans committee member John DeMello said that it’s important to add these soldiers to the list of honorable graduates. “Those men left home to fight for our country and never came home,” he said. “They gave their lives for this nation and they deserve to be honored by their home towns.”
High school students pass by the Wall of Honor each day and have an opportunity to see what accomplishments have been made by students like themselves.
“These achievements are something to be proud of,” said Brown. “People in Southington can be proud of this town and proud of the school system knowing that our students can do such wonderful things.”
Over the years, nominations for honorees have dwindled down. Brown, along with a team of teachers, administrators, parents, students and other community groups have worked together to review applications, select and research candidates, but hope to expand their presence further into the community.
“I’m sure there are tons of people out there who deserve to be on the wall that we just don’t know about,” said Brown.
Soon, the group hopes to create an alumni association to help form a connection with graduates of Southington schools and follow their accomplishments after high school. In addition, Brown hopes to not only physically expand the wall, but create a traveling wall that could be moved to the library, municipal center, town hall, or to a local business.
“It would do a lot to inform the public about the wall and encourage nominations,” Brown said.
The Wall of Honor committee will soon be soliciting donations from the community to accomplish these goals of increasing visibility and awareness.
To qualify, nominees must have accomplished one or more of the following: outstanding community service, humanitarian work, career success or significant awards received.
New nominations for honorees can be made by either going to the SHS website or contacting Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.