The Rhode Island Foundation is offering East Greenwich residents a place to have a neighborly talk face to face over a meal May 1.
East Greenwich, R.I. – The Rhode Island Foundation is inviting East Greenwich residents to share their thoughts about the issues that are important to them at a community dinner May 1. The event is at the heart “TogetherRI,” a new initiative from the Foundation designed to get people talking face-to-face again in a time when social media is becoming increasingly coarse and divisive.
“We’re giving you the opportunity to listen, reconnect and inspire civil dialogue at a time when people are more ‘connected’ via social media, yet more disconnected from each other personally than ever,” said Neil D. Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Our hope is that participants will meet someone new and will leave knowing that their voice was heard.”
The East Greenwich community dinner is scheduled for Tues., May 1, at the Varnum Memorial Armory, 6 Main St., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, and the doors will open at 5:45 p.m. People can register to attend at togetherri.org, but RSVPs are not required.
“This is a place for everyone – no matter where they live or what they care about – to come together to strengthen social connections, to be heard, to discuss opportunities and challenges and to strengthen the foundation of our community,” said Steinberg.
“Each and every Rhode Islander has a role to play in ensuring our collective success. These conversations will be a neutral place for dialogue on topics that are critical to our common future, and a place where we hope the recent tendency toward divisiveness and polarization will be left at the door,” said Steinberg.
Independent, professional facilitators will guide the sessions. The University of Rhode Island’s Social Science Institute for Research, Education, and Policy will review the information shared at TogetherRI conversations and from brief, anonymous, participant surveys. The Foundation expects to announce the topline results at its annual meeting May 24 and to release a complete report this summer.
The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Working with generous and visionary donors, the Foundation raised $38 million and awarded $43 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities in 2017. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information, visit rifoundation.org.
Among this year’s honorees are Bob Corr, Chris Della Grotta, Stephanie Gloria and Kristen Manson.
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
The East Greenwich Athletic Hall of Fame will honor its 2018 slate of inductees as well as present special awards and the two Ucci Award scholarship recipients at its annual banquet Saturday, May 5, at the Quonset “O” Club.
In this year’s class are Bob Corr, Class of 1976; Allen Pritchard, Class of 1978; Chris Della Grotta, 1983; Stephanie (Balkcom) Gloria, 1989; Mike Kamin, 1991; Steve DiIuro, 1992; and Kristen Manson, 1995.
Michael Kamin, Class of 1991: A four-year varsity track and three-year basketball star, Kamin was a three-time All State shot put champion and javelin thrower. He holds school records in both events.
In basketball he was All State leading team to a State title and was a Street & Smith Honorable Mention All America. He helped EG to 1991 Class B State hoop title and was a Providence Journal Honor Roll Nominee.
At the University of Illinois he was a two-time letter winner in javelin and is one of the Illini’s top ten throwers of All-Time. In 1992 he was Top Male Student-Athlete and was All Academic Big Ten three times, also winning U of I’s prestigious George Huff Award.
Stephanie Balkcom Gloria, Class of 1989: Played four sports at EGHS. Cross Country, Basketball, Soccer and Track. She established five school records in three sports – track, basketball and soccer. Steph earned first team All Division honors 9 times and All State Honorable Mention 4x.
In college Balcom played club basketball one year and club soccer one year but made her mark running varsity cross country and track for the Fordham Rams. She was named All Patriot League in 1992 and placed in the PL’s top 15 Indoor track times for the Mile and the 3000. Her running sparked Fordham’s Patriot League title in 1990 and Metropolitan crown in 1992.
Stephanie Balkcom Gloria continues her running to this day and took a first place in the Don Davis Memorial 5K. She has also been a high finisher in several other Road Races in the Ocean State.
Robert J. Corr, Class of 1976: A first team All Class B selection in football at EGHS. Also a member of the track team. Next, at Governor Dummer Academy he played football and lacrosse and was named 2nd team Boston Globe Independent Prep Team as running back.
At Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, Bob was a four-year starter in Lacrosse and a three-year starter in football. He came to EGHS as a Freshman football coach and also did JV and assistant varsity before taking over the reins in 2002. As Head Varsity Coach he turned out an undefeated regular season team in 2004, which lost in playoff semi-finals. In 2005 EG lost in semis again, but in 2006 Bob piloted the Division iii Super Bowl champions. 2007 saw them rush into the semi-finals again before losing.
Corr founded the East Greenwich Alumni Football Association, which started the now traditional Annual Thanksgiving Eve Pasta Dinner.
Chris Della Grotta, Class of 1983: A four-year hockey standout for the Ice Avengers, he graduated in the top 10 of his class. Made the Phi Beta Kaplan Society and was first team All Division. Selected to RI All Star team, which won the 1983 New England Yankee Conference Tournament. He played in 127 games at EG and had 80 goals and 138 assists, giving him the All Time scoring record at 218 points. He was named MVP twice and his teams won Met B crowns three times.
At Bentley College he played four years of hockey getting two hat tricks as a freshman, with seven overall there and garnering six game-winning goals. He ended up as Bentley’s 9th All Time scorer by the time he graduated cum laude with a degree in accounting.
Allen Pritchard, Class of 1978: A four-year starter in both football and baseball and a three-year starter in wrestling, Pritchard was All Conference as an Outfielder (JR) and as a pitcher (SR) and was co-MVP. In wrestling he came in fourth in state at 185 as a senior.
He was one of two people ever outside of Warwick to be asked to play for Warwick’s American Legion Shields Post #43. At Elon College he was best pitcher in ’80 and ’81 and was #2 in the NAIA in ERA. He also won NAIA All District and All Conference honors and had school honors in victories and ERA marks.
He was elected to the Elon College Sports Hall of Fame and chosen to throw out the first pitch when Elon celebrated 100 years of baseball in a game versus Brown. He was invited to the St. Louis Cardinals for a tryout and played for the Johnson City Cardinals minor league team.
Stephen DiIuro, Class of 1992: Wrestling, football and baseball at EGHS, while playing soccer for EGSA travel teams during that period. DiIuro was a Wrestling All Stater and the 145-pound champion, also making All League. He was the Class B Sectional Champion. The team’s captain he was chosen as a Providence Journal Bulletin Winter All Star.
In football he was second team All State, first team All League, the Thanksgiving Day MVP and his team’s MVP. Steve was also named the Dr. Uno Uustal Award winner and EGHS Most Outstanding Male Athlete Award winner. He also served as student council president for two years. He graduated from URI with a B.S. in Management Science and Information Systems.
Kristen Manson, Class of 1995: A field hockey, basketball and softball star at East G., Manson went on to star in field hockey at James Madison University and coach at Central Michigan and then back at JMU. In field hockey she was All Division twice and All State twice while leading her team to state titles. She made All Tournament and was the defensive MVP in the state All Star game. She also served as the Avenger captain.
In basketball she made All Division twice and was also Honorable Mention All State.
At James Madison, Kristen grabbed All Conference honors and was a NCAA Regional All American second teamer. She was the Lady Dukes team captain, team MVP and played in the North-South Senior All Star Game. In her time at JMU they were CAA Champs, an NCAA Final Four team, and were ranked in the top ten.
As an Assistant Coach at Central Michigan, she helped the Lady Chips take the 2002 MAC Field Hockey Championship.
The EGAHOF will also be honoring three local residents with special awards – Kerri Withrow Valentine, who will receive the Special Recognition Award; and Fred “BeBe” MacDonald and Bruce Roberts, will be presented with Golden Avenger Awards.
The Special Recognition Award goes to an Individual who has given of themselves selflessly in supports of athletics in the Town of East Greenwich and whose efforts are integral in perpetuating the town’s athletic tradition.
The Golden Avenger Awards are given to individual, who grew up in the town, had success
in athletics and have given back to the EG community throughout their lives, and, whose efforts have laid the groundwork for the town’s athletic tradition.
Kerri Withrow Valentine was a four-year field hockey standout at EGHS and captained the team her senior year. She returned the next year as an Assistant Coach and was part of the program, which won four state and seven division titles.
In 2004 she became EGYFH president, a program that has grown and grown under her direction. The EGYFH runs spring clinics, leagues and summer camps. It sponsors a high school summer league and a fall program.
In 2017, Valentine was nominated for the NFHCA Junior Hockey Award.
Fred “BeBe” MacDonald graduated from East Greenwich High School in 1950. As an Avenger he played four years of baseball, four years of football, four years of baseball, managed the basketball team and also was on the wrestling club team.
He served in the Korean War and, while in the service, also played baseball for his base team.
A lifelong quahaugger, MacDonald is still bullraking at the age of 86. He managed the Shell Fishermen’s Co-Op, Eastern Seafood, started Independent Fishermen’s Co-Op and built 10 condos on his property off Forge Road. To give back to his community, “BeBe” started a scholarship program for the children of quahauggers.
Bruce Roberts played for East Greenwich High School in the 1960s. He jokes that he had an intimate relationship with future Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri, as Roberts was the center and Carcieri the quarterback. Bruce also played for the excellent EG Townie teams of the early to mid ‘60s. Those teams won both the Rhode Island Semi-Pro Championship with an unbeaten season, and the next year took the Southeastern Massachusetts title with a 9-1 record.
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Bruce coached lacrosse at schools out of state before moving back to East Greenwich and joining the LAX staff at East Greenwich High School, where he has been a valuable contributor to the success that Avenger teams have had on the lacrosse pitch.
Ucci Award Winners
Andrew Blessing, a three-sport athlete in football, basketball, baseball, plus a few others, and Jennifer Imbriglio, a four-sport athlete, have been chosen as the 2018 Ucci Award winners. They are both from East Greenwich High School.
Blessing was on the football team for three years and was the quarterback and captain. He also played basketball for three years and baseball for two. In between he played golf and was on the track and cross country teams.
Very active in the school, he was on the student council, Prom Committee and the Future Business Leaders of America. He helps out in the community by working with the EG Youth Basketball Association and is a camp counselor for Safety Town of East Greenwich, and is a standard bearer for the CVS Charity Golf Classic. He also served as a counselor for the East Greenwich Parks and Recreation and ran a pet-sitting business.
Andrew is a National Honor Society Member, a Rhode Island Scholar-Athlete Award winner, was second team All Division in football and made the All Academic team.
Blessing was a National Leadership Conference Qualifier for FBLA and helped EGHS to the freshman state title in cross country as a freshman. He was also named a Rhode Island Scholar Athlete in football.
Andrew is deciding between Bentley (for football), Holy Cross and Fordham (where he might walk on) and Boston College (for school only).
Imbriglio is equally accomplished. She played field hockey for four years, ran outdoor track for four and ice hockey for three with one year in indoor track.
She was on student council for four years, and the same with International Club, EG AfterProm, Airband and The Crimson Yearbook. To a lesser degree she was also involved with Avengers for Animals, Prom Committee, and the marching band.
In the community, Jennifer has participated in the R.I. National Guard Military Family Program, the Women & Infants Hospital Teen Volunteer Program, Our Lady of Mercy’s Vacation Bible Camp, OLM Bread Lines Volunteer and Junior Legion of Mary. She also coaches first to third graders in EG Youth Field Hockey, gives out toys, hats and gloves to children in West Bay Community Action, coordinates birthday parties at Aim High Academy, works at Wild Harvest Bakery and serves as an EGHS Tour Guide, was an original organizing member of Roomz Without Walls.
Imbriglio has also been nominated for the coveted annual SLTP Student Leader of the Year Award 2016-17, is a national Honor Society member, earned an Honorable Mention for the Premio de Plata (National Spanish Exam), was an AP Scholar, won the George Eastman Young Leaders Award and the Rhode Island Scholar Athlete Award.
Jennifer will attend Quinnipiac University in the fall and will play either club field hockey or varsity ice hockey.
The banquet – at the Quonset “O” Club, 200 Lt. James Brown Road, North Kingstown – begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25. For tickets and more information, contact Jeff Santos at 884-3515 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Guy Asadorian at 884-4143 or email@example.com.
A note: The format for the Anthony “Tar Tar” Ucci Awards will change slightly for next year. A new application has been formulated and it will be distributed and announced at East Greenwich High School in early January. There will be a two-month period to apply and the applications will be submitted to Anthony Ucci, who will head a committee of Vincent and Joseph Ucci, David Ucci Sr. and Bruce Mastracchio, all nephews of East Greenwich’s true athletic legend. Winners receive a dinner, a plaque and a monetary scholarship award.
EGHS Wall of Honor inductee Bernice Pescosolido had to leave East Greenwich before she could understand the its power.
“The most important thing that EG High School and the Town of East Greenwich and – I have to say – the state of Rhode Island provides for people … is a sense of community and a sense of belonging,” said Pescosolido.
“I’m so proud to be from East Greenwich because we really were this working class community,” she said. “I had no idea that what we were was so special and so different. I’ve come to understand and believe that.”
John Chandler, Class of 1966, lived in East Greenwich a mere five years. He spent four of them at EGHS and it made its mark. He made his mark too, serving as class president for two years, among other distinctions.
Chandler, who had an illustrious career in information technology, almost didn’t finish high school in East Greenwich. His family, after moving to EG from California before his 8th grade year, moved to Oklahoma the summer before his senior year.
He ended up staying with the Forscht family for that final year of high school.
Chandler’s life has been elsewhere ever since 1966 but Chandler’s love of EGHS came through loud and clear Wednesday.
“I feel like I’ve come home,” he said before launching into his prepared remarks.
“I’ve been the fortunate beneficiary of an enormous amount of support from this community and love from my family for my entire life,” said Matt Plain, the youngest of the night’s honorees. He graduated in 1994.
Plain, a member of the EG School Committee, made his love of the EG schools clear, recalling all those who taught or guided him in elementary school, including the school custodian.
“Who could forget Bobby Taylor, keeping our school clean and safe for everybody to enjoy,” Plain said.
Plain started out as a teacher himself. A lawyer now, he continues to work on education issues.
Diane McDonald spoke about how she got to live out her childhood dream, riding horses and then owning her own stable (Dapper Dan). For McDonald, the daughter of teachers (her father, Norman Monks, taught and coached in East Greenwich for decades), being a horsewoman was not a given. But it was something she always wanted to do, she said.
If she could tell young people anything, she said, it would be to “follow your passion. Don’t settle for a job that’s just a job.”
Guy Asadorian, Class of 1982, spoke lovingly of this town he’s never left.
“It’s that whole deep sense of community that, really, gave me the foundation to try and be successful as an adult,” he said. Asadorian works in financial services.
“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in this town and I’m 100 percent certain that it’s that connection that I have to the community that’s really motivated me to want to give back.”
John Chandler said before he was able to find a permanent home for his senior year (his family had moved out of state), Iannazzi actually took him in for six weeks.
Bernice Pescosolido recounted how she’d tried hard to stay off Iannazzi’s radar since her brothers were definitely ON his radar.
“I just thought if Mr. Iannazzi knew my name I would automatically be given detention,” she said.
Diane McDonald DID get detention.
She’d asked if she could take a day off school to compete in a horse show. Iannazzi said no, but she went anyway. When McDonald turned up at school the next day with a note, Iannazzi held up the newspaper announcing that she’d won a trophy at the horse show. He gave her two days detention.
If you know of someone from EGHS you think should be put on the Wall of Honor, contact Bruce Mastracchio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The 2018 East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor ceremony takes place Wednesday, April 11, and will honor five alumni of the school: John Chandler, Class of 1966; Diane McDonald, Class of 1969; Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, Class of 1970; Guy Asadorian, Class of 1982, and, Matt Plain, Class of 1994.
The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. and is held in the East Greenwich High School auditorium, with a reception immediately following in the cafeteria. Friends and family of the honorees are invited to attend, as well as current high school students and anyone with a love of East Greenwich. Former recipients – plaques for all those who have been named to the Wall of Honor line the hallway at the high school between the auditorium and the cafeteria – are encouraged to attend.
About the 2018 inductees:
Guy Asadorian moved to East Greenwich when he was two. He has been here ever since.
Along the way he attended three of the four elementary schools in town and graduated from East Greenwich Junior High and then East Greenwich High School in 1982.
He played in the local Little League and continued on to Senior League and then American Legion ball.
In the winter he played EG Rec league basketball, and at 12 he discovered football. In high school he played four years of football culminating in a selection as an All Division end as a senior.
He also played three years of baseball and one year of golf, and in the summer participated in Junior Golf and the RIGA Tournament.
After graduation from EG he matriculated at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. There he played played four years of baseball for the Golden Bears, and two years of football.
He graduated in 1986 with a degree in finance and economics.
Mr. Asadorian used his college training to start a career in financial services, starting out as a stockbroker for Janney Montgomery Scott. After two years he moved to Smith Barney, where he spent 12 years and was elevated to the position of first vice president.
In 2001 he left Smith Barney to form Tameracq Partners, which is a middle market mergers and acquisitions firm that advises buyers and sellers up and down the East Coast and beyond.
In 2013 Guy left Tamaracq and joined BNY Mellon Wealth Management as a Wealth Director in charge of new business.
A man who loves his community, he has always tried to give back with volunteer work.
He has coached Little League softball, served on the Town Planning Board, and currently sits on the board of the Quonset Development Corporation, representing the Town of East Greenwich.
Along with Jeff Santos, Mr. Asadorian is a prime mover on the committee that has revived the East Greenwich Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2015 that body inducted four nominees for the first time in 18 years.
Not stopping there, Guy has volunteered with the business community as well. He was formerly a committee member of the City of Cranston Police and Fire Pension Fund, President of the RI Association of Investment firms and a Board Member of the Pawtucket Country Club.
Currently he is a member of the Screening Committee for Cherrystone Angel Investment Group and Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Armenian Historical Association of Rhode Island.
For his commitment to his school, his town and his state Mr. Asadorian will be one of five people to be inducted into the East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor next April in the annual ceremony at the East Greenwich High School.
John Chandler was the second son of Jim and Marie Chandler. He was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Dec. 2, 1948. The son of a U.S. navy pilot he lived mostly in California while growing up.
But in September 1961 his father was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station. At first John was disappointed, moving from sunny California to what he envisioned as the “frozen north.”
“Little did I know,” he said recently, “that living in East Greenwich would become one of the great experiences of my life, and one for which I have been forever grateful.”
John finished 8th grade at Eldredge and then attended East Greenwich High, graduating in 1966.
At EGHS John served as class president for two years and also vice president of the student council. Though standing only 5 foot 6 inches, he was awarded seven varsity letters, earning three in football and two each in basketball and baseball. He co-captained the Avenger hoopsters and was awarded the school’s Athletic Award Sweater.
Upon graduation, John enrolled at Providence College. He graduated in June 1970, with a B.A. in mathematics and minors in computer science, philosophy and theology.
While at PC he played three years for the college’s club football team, a member of the National Club Football Association. He started two years at defensive back and was chosen second team club All-American. He finished second in the nation for the NCFA in punting averaging 43.2 yards per kick.
John then joined the working world as an information technology software developer, systems architect, project manager and consulting professional. He worked for a number of corporations, including, Price Waterhouse, Home Depot, Lockheed, AIG, NCR and Scripto.
He also took some time from his busy work schedule to attend Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta, where, in 1978, he graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree.
John eventually co-founded his own company, a consulting business, CompBasics Inc., where he served as CEO and president for 17 years. His list of clients there included: IBM, Bellsouth, Southern Company, Baxter Healthcare and Sun Trust Bank. Chandler had many notable achievements while dealing with these companies and handling thousands of stores and, in some cases, billions of dollars in store sales.
“I have often told people throughout my life that the most magical, impactful and significant period of time, was the time I spent in East Greenwich, and attending EGHS,” Chandler said. “I was very fortunate to be part of this very beautiful, warm and compassionate community that was blessed with the finest teaching staff anyone could hope for.
“I recall, in particular, how proud my classmates were to call themselves Avengers, as we participated in local charity and athletic events.
“I was recently blessed to attend our 50th class reunion, and I can assure all of you, that the love for, and spirit of, East Greenwich High School, endures to this day.”
Diane McDonald is a 1969 graduate of East Greenwich High School. But, way before that she started her lifelong involvement with horses. She started riding them 10 years before, at age 8, at Peter Pots Pottery in Kingston, R.I.
At age 10 she was competing in local shows, and, at age 12, for her Christmas present, she got her first pony, Dapper Dan. The next year she moved up to bigger shows at the Providence Auditorium, major shows around New England, and even at Madison Square Garden.
Along the way she received year end awards from the R.I. and New England Horsemen’s associations’ in Pony Hunter and Junior Hunter.
In 1966 the family moved to a small farm on Howland Road and Diane started teaching neighborhood children about horses and riding. Dapper Dan died in 1967 and Diane named her farm after him.
In 1972, Diane graduated from URI with a B.S. in mathematics. That same year she received the RI ASPCA Award. In 1973 she graduated from the Potomac Horse Center with a
British Horsemaster’s Degree. Along with teaching and coaching (cheerleaders) at EG Junior High, she started Dapper Dan Farm as a full operation.
She also won the Rhode Island and New England championships aboard, L’Hirondelle, in the Working Hunter Division. She was to ride him him to championships again, most notably at the Tampa (Fla.) Invitational Horse Show.
In 1974 Diane was named Young Professional Business Woman of the Year by the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and was runner-up for the Rhode Island Award. However, she was voted to the board of the R.I. Horseman Association Directors. Later she was voted to the New England Welsh Association’s Board of Directors.
In 1975, Diane moved Dapper Dan Farms to Ives Road, its present location, where it continues to prosper and turn out top horses and riders.
She has gone on to be named President of the Rhode Island Horseman’s Associationand many other boards and councils both in Rhode Island and New England. She has also coached riders, including her sister, Bethany, to championships in riding and showing.
More than all her accomplishments in the World of Horses, is the pride she felt when her own daughter, Ashley, won the Rhode Island Horseman’s Association Mini Medals Finals title, and then, was named to the Rhode Island team at the New England Equitation Championships, which took the four top RI riders, to compete in the Challenge of the States.
Bernice Pescosolido graduated from East Greenwich High School in 1970. She was one of two valedictorians for her class, and, was the top female graduate. She received a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island in 1974 and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1982.
Currently she is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. She is also the director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, and Co-Director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute. Throughout her career she has focused on social issues in health, illness and healing.
Bernice’s research agenda addresses how social networks connect individuals to their communities and to institutional structures. This agenda encompasses three basic areas of health care services, stigma and suicide research. In the early 1990s, she developed the Network Episode Model, designed to help people recognize and respond to health problems and to use health services. She initiated the first major national study of the stigma of mental illness in the United States in over 40 years.
In 2005 she was presented with the American Sociological Association’s Leo G. Reeder Award for a career of distinguished scholarship in medical sociology. In 2009 her research into gene x environment interaction earned her the Eric Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Medical Sociology. In 2011 she won the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health.
In 2013, Bernice was asked by actress Glenn Close to chair the Scientific Advisory Council for her nonprofit organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, which Close founded to address stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. one of their goals is to bring Change 2 Mind to college campuses.
Matt Plain attended East Greenwich schools from Grades K to 12, graduating from East Greenwich High in 1994.
Along the way he garnered many honors in both athletics and academics. He was quarterback on the football team, named captain in 1993. That same year he was All-Academic and All Division. A Kent County Player of the Year finalist, he topped that off by being named to the National Football Foundation’s Golden Dozen Award.
He played on the basketball team for four years. In baseball he was All Division and on the All Class B All Star team.
He was President of the National Junior Honor Society and then was named to the National Honor Society his senior year. He also served as a volunteer tutor at Eldredge School, was editor of the Crimson Yearbook one year and sports editor the next.
He belonged to the DECA program and was a State Champion in 1993.
Matt was EGHS’s representative for the Providence Journal Honor Roll Award in 1994, and was chosen Best All-Around Male Athlete that year, also winning the Uno Uustal Award for Most Valuable Athlete-Class of 1994.
He attended the University of North Carolina, where he was a Dean’s List student. He received his bachelor’s degree there while also working 30 hours a week. At Chapel Hill he served as a volunteer tutor, a youth basketball and baseball coach, and, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.
Upon graduation he taught math, science, social studies and english at a junior high school. He also coached football, wrestling and baseball. At nights he worked on and achieved a master of education degree.
Moving back to Rhode Island, he entered law school at Roger Williams University, where he was a member of the RWU Law Review, was an Honors Program participant, was a seven-time Cali Award winner for excellence in legal research and writing, received a Feinstein Grant, served as a legal intern at the R.I. governor’s office, was a member of the Association of Public Interest Law and a research assistant for a legal writing professor and a constitutional law professor.
Matt graduated from Roger Williams School of Law, fifth in his class and passed the bar exams in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
After serving a judicial clerkship he joined the law offices of Barton Gilman LLP and was elevated to partner in just six years.
Matt is a member of the East Greenwich School Committee. He also serves on the Advisory Board to the Roger Williams University School of Education and sits on 14 other boards and councils.
Among his professional honors, Matt is a five-time Rising Star honoree from “Super Lawyer” magazine, the Mortar Board Award from the Segue Institute of Learning and a recipient of the Providence Business News 40 Under Forty Award.
The EGHS Wall of Honor is sponsored by EGHS alumnus Allen Gammons of Berkshire Hathaway Gammons Realty.
If you have any questions concerning the event, please call committee co-chairs Bob Houghtaling at 230-2246 or Chris Cobain at 398-1562.
A big part of growing up in old East Greenwich – we played baseball a lot. Not as much as we played basketball, which we played year round, but a lot more than football, which we reserved for the fall (except for Muckleball).
As soon as Spring sprung we were outside for baseball. We played regular baseball. We played special games like stickball, streetball, stoop ball, hit the bat, rotation and relievio.
We made our own balls of paper and tape and played in small, backyard ‘parks’ where a 90 foot “smash” could be a home run. Some of us played it in garages, where hitting a hung up garbage can cover was a double and our bats were broomsticks and axe handles.
The main point is that we played. Each neighborhood had its team, and, thanks to Butch, who was a real organizer, we formed the Dedford League.
This trip down The Lane is dedicated to those teams, both “Above and Below the Hill,” the ScallopTown Raiders, Marlborough Street Marauders, South Marlborough Crusaders, Dedford Street Lions, Rector Street Jack Rabbits and the Hamilton Rip Shirts. And, of course, to Butch (Raymond ” Butch ” Moffitt), for all his work.
I can’t remember a day of my youth when I was not involved in some game, either with other like-minded guys, or working on skills against the barn behind my home. After school, on weekends, on vacations. If you drove around EG back then you’d see a bunch of kids on at least one, and maybe all, of the fields in town engaged in some form of athletic activity.
NO adults. NO real organization. It was the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Little League did not reach us until 1953.
Without adults it was a heck of a lot of fun. One neighborhood would challenge another, set up a date, time and place, and the game was on.
ScallopTown played their games on a cinder field next to the lumber yard. It is a site for boat storage now, right across from the EG Yacht Club. Dedford Street used the Quaker Lot, which now serves a parking lot for the EG School Department. The Rip Shirts used Proulx Field on Route 2 (complete with cow flop bases). Marlborough Street used Eldredge, The Crusaders used OLM Field and the Jack Rabbits used Academy Field.
Though it was loose knit, we took our games seriously. Then Butch came on the scene. Slightly older than the rest of us, he captained the Dedford Street bunch to which I belonged. We were a Spanky and Our Gang conglomeration, which did a lot of Spanky-type activities together.
Butch, with his myriad of ideas, brought some order to the loose-knit league. He was sought of the precursor to Little League. He had us get matching sweatshirts, which with the use of markers, crayons and paint, were transformed into Dedford Street Lion uniforms.
He drew up schedules and made cardboard scoreboards. He kept statistics. He arranged games with other neighborhoods. He coached and assigned us to our positions. He kept league standings.
Butch was a manager, promoter, statistician and player all rolled into one.
I suppose, if they had let him, he would have reported our scores to the newspaper. He may have even tried that, but, of course, they were really not interested in our kid games. (Funny though, a few years later, our Little League games were well covered complete with 8×10 glossy pictures pasted up in store windows in town).
It was a Charlie Brown existence before that bald-head ever set foot on the scene. We even had girls on our teams, in baseball anyway. I guess, you could say, we got a jump on women’s lib.
For our Dedford Lions, home park was The Quaker Lot. Left field had a wire fence and was quite a poke, maybe 370 feet or more. Right field was bounded by a stone wall, and was a short stroke of 180 feet or so, which prompted many of us, and our opponents, to bat left-handed so that we might launch one “outta there”!
We played game after game, and, if we weren’t going against another team, we split up and played against ourselves. If we didn’t have enough players we would play Rotation or Rollo or Hit the Bat.
There was nothing we wouldn’t try and in those lazy, hazy times the days were long and our lives seemed like they were going to last forever (I constantly use the saying, which I coined of, “28 hour days and 8 day weeks”).
If we only knew!
As the Whittakers once said, “Nostalgia is like an anesthetic; you experience NO pain, only a beautiful haze. When you grow older, what matters is not the way it was, BUT the way you remember it ! “
Remember, old friend, our kid games? How we whiled away the hours with World Series baseball, in your garage on Duke Street? The can cover was a double, and you were always the hated Yankees, while I, the Red Sox, who played from 1920 to 1958, all on the same team.
The pitcher had to duck behind a plywood screen, or lose his head when Mantle or Williams “tagged” one for a homer.
OUR Louisville Slugger was an axe handle pilfered from a father’s work truck, and we played by the hour, never really settling which team was best, though we were always sure which one really was, deep in the tabernacles of our soul.
Remember how people passing by would laugh at us in our bliss, or, maybe even smile, but have their memories jogged back to other years, another time, when they were us!
Writer’s Note: There you have it. Another tale from “Old EG,” the place of those 28 hour days and 8 day weeks! How we wish we could have them back. Please, pretty please. I would not trade one of those days for 10 days of the present or ALL the tea in China (can you even say that now?).
So to all of you out there who experienced, or know, or understand. May God bless you all and may you have your dreams. With all the love I can muster and In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (you have to read the book).
Spring is here and that means that high school rite of passage known as The Prom is coming up – it’s May 11. Four years ago, a collection of volunteers started AfterPromEG so that teens would have a safe, fun place to keep the celebration going into the wee hours. There’ll be entertainment, music, games, prizes, raffles and food, all in a high school transformed into an “Enchanted Forest.”
And, in fact, it’s open to all EGHS juniors and seniors even if they don’t end up going to the prom at all. Better yet, it’s free.
But a big event like this doesn’t happen without a lot of community support.
AfterPromEG is looking for donations of raffle items, food, and corporate sponsorships, as well as gifts of any denomination. Please help us continue this annual tradition! You can donate online here. Or contact email@example.com.
‘If we do nothing, this will continue – not necessarily to us but to students across the country.’
By Elizabeth F. McNamara
East Greenwich, R.I. – To be a high school student in 2018 is to contemplate the idea that someone might come into your school to hurt people. After the shooting Feb. 14 that left 17 dead and scores wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students there decided it was time to do something. That activism has spread nationwide, including to some students at East Greenwich High School who have organized a “walkout” Wednesday morning to honor those injured and killed and to encourage students to become politically active.
The organizers got permission from school Principal Michael Podraza but he would not allow them to leave the school, citing safety concerns. Instead, the plan had been for the students to walk out to the interior courtyard. Because of Tuesday’s snow, however, that has been scrapped. The students will now conduct their walkout activities in the auditorium.
Freshman Miguel Figueroa saw the walkout as a perfect opportunity to raise awareness at the high school.
“This is not a political, partisan thing. This is about the lives and the health and safety of students,” he said. “If we do nothing, this will continue – not necessarily to us but to students across the country. That’s why we’re doing this.”
Another organizer, sophomore Josh Petteruti, said enough was enough.
“I would call myself a victim of desensitization to school shootings,” he said. “It’s never really struck me until Parkland.”
Petteruti is in favor of some gun control measures – banning “bump stocks,” raising the age to 21 to buy long guns – but he also belongs to a gun range and believes in the right of mentally healthy people to be able to own guns.
“Mental health is an issue that needs to be tackled,” said Petteruti.
“We’re not just trying to make a message and walk out of class,” said organizer Abby White, a junior. During the event, “we’ll be giving students links to register to vote and to write their opinions and email Congress. A lot of kids have strong opinions about what action should be taken.”
She said the hope was to get kids to stay politically active, whatever they believe.
“We really need to follow through and fight for what we believe in,” said White.
The walkout is optional. Sophomore Andre Gianfrocco said he plans to attend.
“Everyone has the same feeling about Parkland. It was a messed up thing. I definitely feel like they are honoring the people of Parkland,” he said, but added, “people could be putting more energy in actually securing schools more.”
Gianfrocco said he’s had a plan about what he would do if a shooter came into his school since he was in elementary school.
“I would hop out a window and run,” he said.
Junior Zing Gee will be on a field trip on Wednesday but he said he wouldn’t participate even if he was at school.
“I think school shootings are heart-breaking, horrific events that nobody should have to go through,” Zing said via email. “I wouldn’t walk out because I simply don’t agree with all of the reasons behind the walkout. Personally, I support the Second Amendment and while I agree that certain legislation such as that banning bump stocks is reasonable, I don’t support banning semi-automatic rifles, which is something many people have been calling for.”
He added, “I think increased school security can help. I also support it when news outlets don’t publish the name or photos of people who commit school shootings because these people shouldn’t be given publicity or notoriety.”
Freshman Emmy Nutting would fall into the category of wanting to ban certain weapons. If the decision was hers, she said, she would get rid of guns but she knows there’s great resistance to that. She will be taking part in the walkout.
“I’m very glad the protests are going on,” she said. “If a shooting happened, if someone I cared about got killed … if there had been any way i could have prevented it, that would weigh heavily. I’m hoping something will change. When people look back in history, I don’t want to be part of that group that just sat there. Things don’t change if people don’t act.”
The walkout is restricted to students only. Students and adults are invited to “A Call to Action” Wednesday night from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church, 118 Division St. Speakers will include representatives from Moms Demand Action, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, among others. The evening is hosted by EGHS Civic Action.
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Mike and Laura Bottaro make it look easy. They are a good looking couple with two beautiful children and a thriving business. You kind of want to hate them. But when you talk to them, they make it clear: marriage can be great but it’s also tough.
They met in law school at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Mike was in the library one day during third year – NOT his usual haunt, he emphasized – when he spied Laura.
“My scheme was to ask her to be my partner on the moot court team. I thought that was a pretty good way to get an in with her. She flatly rejected me,” Mike said.
But he kept asking. Finally, Mike called early one morning and asked Laura to lunch.
“I thought, well, if someone is persistent enough to call me first thing in the morning … I thought, yeah, I’ll give this a shot,” said Laura.
That first date led to another and another. Soon they were a couple.
“She liked to play pool and she liked to drink beer,” Mike said, smiling.
After graduation in 2000, they moved to Denver and started working.
“We’d meet for lunch downtown in our lawyer clothes, feeling grownup,” said Mike.
“It felt like we were playing dress up,” Laura said.
They were enjoying the young and unencumbered life. But after 9/11 and, later, when Mike’s mother began ill, they began to think seriously about moving closer to family. They ended up in Rhode Island but it took them a few more years to find East Greenwich. That happened in 2009. And suddenly they felt settled for the first time in Rhode Island.
“We bought a house, we had a child and we became part of the community,” said Laura.
Today they have two children, fourth grader Mia and second grader Dustin.
And they both work for the personal injury firm Mike founded in 2010, Bottaro Law Firm.
It’s a busy life so making time for each other has been key.
“I think what has worked in the last few years is being intentional about trying to spend time to talk,” said Mike. A little over a year ago, they started a Wednesday morning coffee hour just for them. At 5:30 a.m.
“We know midweek that we have space and the kids aren’t awake and it’s quiet,” Mike said.
They both make it clear, though: they are not perfect.
“We’re totally different people. When things are going well in our relationship, it’s pretty cool that we’re different people. But when things are not going very well, it’s also because we’re different people,” said Mike.
He said the book “The 5 Love Languages” has helped them to understand how people give and receive love. What works for Mike, for instance, hearing, “You look great today!” doesn’t really work for Laura, who would much rather have Mike express his love by cleaning up after dinner.
They’ve found mentors in family but also through church. They are active members of Christ Church.
“I think one of the reasons we’ve endured so well is we’re both so determined,” said Laura. “Neither of us give up on anything. We just keep saying, we’re not going to give up.… When things aren’t perfect, you have to think about the long game. You can’t get caught up in the daily swings of when things are high or really low.”
She added, “You have to think about getting through and what the real ultimate goal is, which is our family and our love for each other and being together for the long term.”
This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nature has always been magical for Wendy Fachon – sending messages just for her.
After her father died a few years ago, Fachon wrote a children’s book, “The Angel Heart,” about the flower more commonly known as bleeding heart. For Fachon, it’s an angel heart flower, not a bleeding heart. In the book, she strips the flower down to its basic heart shape, with petals that become fairy slippers. When all the petals are gone, what remains is a single “candle” that offers a redemptive holy light.
Nature is like that for Fachon.
“I feel closest to God – a higher power – when I am in nature,” she says. “That is my church in a way.”
She sees things in nature that most of us walk right past. And she’s sure that if children’s eyes are open to the wonders of nature, they will be better off.
As she starts out in her tiny book called “The Resilient Butterfly,”
“Did you know that every creature
wants to be your favorite teacher?
They add drama and some mystery
to science and to natural history.”
Fachon started leading nature walks and teaching nature courses for children a few years back. When her son Neil was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor in 2016, she brought her holistic approach to his illness, bringing the outside in – including moving lots of plants indoors – when he became too ill to go out and looking for healthful, healing nutrition.
Neil died a year ago Monday, at age 20, after living months longer than doctors originally said he would.
Wendy Fachon has spent the last many months writing, including that book about the resilient butterfly. It’s not hard to see echoes of Neil’s resilience in that little book, or his family’s for that matter.
Turn the last page of the booklet and Fachon’s message is clear. It reads, “Not The End.”
Wendy said some East Greenwich children and their parents helped her plant daffodil bulbs behind the high school tennis court memorial bench last fall. Neil was an avid tennis player and a beloved member of the EGHS tennis team during his years as a student there. The bench was put there in Neil’s honor last summer.
“I look forward to seeing the flowers pop up as the tennis season gets underway,” she said.
This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email email@example.com.
Every year for the past six years, Hannah (16) and Callan (13) Harris have invited a bunch of friends over and together they make dozens of valentines. When they are finished, they pack up and head – this year anyway – to the Green House Homes at St. Elizabeth’s to spread a little Valentine’s love.
This year, the girls made 170 valentines.
While the girls delivered them, one resident sang them a song and another regaled the girls with stories of his 8th grade dance where he met his sweetheart. A third promised to do something nice for the girls if they would please return next week.
George, the man to the left, told the girls, “Well, I don’t know any of your names, but I sure know you’re girls! Thank you for the sweet Valentine!”
“It brings so much joy to the older folks and to the kids,” said Kerry Sweeney, Hannah and Callan’s mom.
This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email firstname.lastname@example.org.