EG Athletic Hall of Fame Takes Place May 5

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 jsantoseg@verizon.net, or Guy Asadorian at 884-4143 or guyasa821@gmail.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 Celebrates Community

From left, Diane McDonald (with a granddaughter), Matt Plain, John Chandler, Bernice Pescosolido, and Guy Asadorian – the 2018 inductees of the EGHS Wall of Honor.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

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.”

Pescosolido graduated from the high school in 1970 and is a distinguished professor of sociology at Indiana University. (You can read more about Pescosolido and the other four inductees here.)

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.”

There was a sixth person honored Wednesday night, if not officially. That was Dominic Iannazzi, who died in 2017. Iannazzi was a teacher, school administrator and coach in East Greenwich from the 1950s into the late 1970s. He wanted no fanfare upon his death but Wall of Honor organizer Bruce Mastracchio recounted a couple Iannazzi stories and that seemed to prompt others.

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 thebrooker23@yahoo.com.


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Inspectors Deem Eldredge Safe; School to Reopen

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

East Greenwich, R.I. – After spending most of the day at Eldredge Elementary, structural engineers told school officials Wednesday the main part of the building was safe following a partial ceiling collapse in the school gym Tuesday.

“The engineering group came back and said we were cleared to be in the building,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Wednesday evening. “We’re still looking at the root causes of the actual ceiling collapse itself.”

“The gym is off-limits, potentially through the rest of the school year,” he said. The classrooms above the gym have been deemed safe, he said.

Mercurio said he also submitted a waiver to the state Department of Education to ask if Eldredge could end the school year with the rest of the schools on June 22. He said he should have an answer in a couple of weeks.

Tests of air quality came back negative for any problems, Mercurio said. 

“We dodged what could have been a very catastrophic event,” he said. “Now it’s just a question what the extent is what the repair is for that facility, but it’s going to be extensive. There’s no question about that.”

Here are a couple of pictures of Eldredge from the year it was built, in 1927, courtesy of Alan Clarke.

Painting the third floor hallway at Eldredge School in 1927.
A classroom at Eldredge School before it opened in 1927.


 

Part of Eldredge Gym Ceiling Collapses During PE Class; No Injuries

The portion of ceiling that fell onto the gym floor at Eldredge Tuesday.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

There will be no school at Eldredge Wednesday so the whole building can be inspected. 

East Greenwich, R.I. – A section of plaster ceiling in the gymnasium at Eldredge Elementary School, including a light fixture, fell Tuesday morning during a third grade gym class. No one was injured.

School officials said the incident happened at approximately 10:55 a.m.  Students and two faculty members were in a different area of the gym at the time. Principal Dan Seger sent an email to parents on Tuesday.

Here’s a portion of that email:

Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Both Ms. Peduto and her students were quite obviously shaken by this event, and we have called in student service supports for anyone requiring them.  The Director of Facilities is on the scene, has locked off the gymnasium, and has contacted the building inspector to review the entire area.  The portion of the facility is closed until further notice.   We are taking all necessary steps to ensure student safety.

“We avoided what could have been very catastrophic,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Tuesday evening.

He said one student said the collapse looked as if the ceiling came “unzipped.”

According to Mercurio, the ceiling over the gym is a different type than ceilings in the rest of the building but that, as a precautionary measure, ceilings in the entire school will inspected by Halliwell Engineering Associates Wednesday. There will be no school.

“As a precaution, we said, let’s get an engineering firm here and look at the whole building structurally,” said Mercurio. “I want to err on the side of caution.”

In an email sent out to Eldredge families, Mercurio said he would follow up with Wednesday afternoon, “upon completion of this structural engineering review.”

He said the initial inspection showed no sign of asbestos.



 

 

Homeowner Fights Batting Cage At Cole

The batting cage planned for Cole Middle School would sit on the west side of the school.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It seemed like a nice idea – the EG Little League wanted to donate batting cages to the high school and Cole Middle School that could be used by school teams as well as Little League teams. The School Committee approved the offer last spring and equipment appeared at Cole to install the batting cage last Memorial Day weekend.

Except that placement of the proposed batting cage at Cole was on the west side of the school, the side closest to Sarah’s Trace, the street on which homeowners had sued the town over construction of the school in 2011 and which resulted in a settlement in 2015. When construction of the batting cage began, a Sarah’s Trace homeowner called police, citing a breach of the settlement. Police stopped the construction.

Now, nearly a year later, Little League representatives are hoping to get the construction back on track. The double batting cage at the high school was erected without incident after the failed attempt at Cole.

The challenge at Cole is there aren’t very many place to put the batting cages, Athletics Director Chris Cobain told the School Committee Tuesday night. He said there were only two sites at the school that don’t have anything to do with drainage, sewage, or electrical lines. One is near the tennis courts, close to houses on Wanton Shippee Road. The other is the side that abuts properties on Sarah’s Trace. Cobain said they chose the area closer to Sarah’s Trace because of the generous landscape buffer there. There is no such buffer on the Wanton Shippee side.

Cobain said he spoke with the homeowners who’d called the police.

“I talked to the family and heard, “We will fight, we will fight tooth and nail,” he said.

School Committee members said they needed to know just want was included in the settlement. If it was about equipment, could EGLL use hand tools to install the batting cage, they asked.

Committeeman Matt Plain said there was a difference between whether or not the settlement contained language about construction of something like a batting cage at Cole and the batting cage itself.

EGLL representative Russ Marcantonio agreed.

“If you let the threats of lawsuits dictate how you operate, that’s a bad precedent,” he said.

The School Committee decided to have their lawyer talk to the town about the issue, since it is the town that has the settlement with the homeowners.

School and Little League officials said they hoped the issue could be ironed out before spring baseball begins in earnest.

 

Asadorian, McDonald, Plain Among EGHS Wall of Honor Recipients

The wall of honor at EGHS can be found in the hallway between the auditorium and the cafeteria.

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 Association and 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.

School Committee Passes $39 Million Budget

 

The budget includes a librarian at the high school and a director of teaching and learning.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

In a 7-0 vote, the School Committee passed a $39.1 million budget Tuesday night, which includes asking the town for $35.4 million, a nearly 4 percent increase – the maximum possible under state law – over last year’s allocation.

Originally, the School Committee had asked “budget owners” – building principals and other administrators – to level-fund their budgets, which resulted in a 2.9 percent increase for the town’s part of the budget due to contractual salary and transportation cost increases. But at their meeting March 20, the panel asked Supt. Victor Mercurio to revisit the budget with those budget owners to add in those items they deemed critical for the integrity of the district’s educational offerings.

On Tuesday, Mercurio presented $340,000 in additional budget requests, including $200,000 for maintenance (both ongoing and deferred), and $80,000 for a reading program for the lower elementary schools Frenchtown and Meadowbrook.

“It’s not that we’re trying to fill every possible percentage of what we’re able to ask for to fulfill a wish list,” said Chairwoman Carolyn Mark. “We’re trying to regain some ground.”

Mark was referring to the current (fiscal year 2018) budget, which fell short of what the committee had deemed necessary. A year ago, the School Committee asked the Town Council for a 4 percent budget increase ($1.3 million). The Town Council budget level-funded the schools but took around $530,000 in administrative costs off the district’s books. That resulted in the School Committee cutting the library media specialist position at the high school among other things.

In the current budget, the high school librarian is restored and there is money for the long-desired position of director of teaching and learning (i.e. a curriculum director).

“This isn’t a wish list, these aren’t luxuries,” said Committee member Matt Plain. “The suffering compounds over time” without sufficient budget money.

Plain suggested that school administrators attend the School Committee’s presentation of its budget to the Town Council since they are the boots on the ground who really know what’s needed.

“Everything we’re going to put before the Town Council we can back up,” he said. “Not just that it’s something good – we can back it up that it’s something that’s necessary.”

Committeeman Jeff Dronzek – chair of the district’s finance subcommittee – said he thought the committee should pass a budget even just slightly below a 4 percent ask from the town as a show of good faith.

“To push the limits because we can isn’t necessarily the best thing we can do,” he argued. “Yeah, if you don’t ask you don’t get it but I think we need to be cognizant of the entire situation…. I think if we put something out there that’s a little bit lighter than 4 percent, that puts us in a better negotiating position.”

Dronzek also expressed frustration that the committee still did not know the district’s fund balance (i.e. surplus). Typically, the town’s audit is completed by now and the district knows how much money it has in surplus. This year, for a variety of reasons, the town sought extensions through March 31 to submit audit figures to the state. While town officials said during a Town Council meeting March 26 that the audit was on track for state submission by the end of the week, town Finance Director Linda Dykeman did not offer any new information at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting about the school district’s fund balance.

Mercurio said he would have more information about the fund balance at the  April 24 School Committee meeting. However, that wasn’t going to help in the current budget discussion since, by Town Charter, the School Committee must submit its budget request to the town by April 15.

After the committee approved the budget request, Chairwoman Mark stressed that this was just the start of the budget process and that there would be a lot more discussion before the Town Council votes on the final town budget in June.



 

AfterPromEG Looks for Community Support

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 afterpromeg@gmail.com.

 

With Misgivings, School Committee Approves Finance Consolidation With Town

Several members argue district can’t afford to say no, but others say town is forcing an unnecessary choice.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

After significant debate, the School Committee voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve a plan originally proposed by Town Manager Gayle Corrigan in which the school and town finance and human resources staffs will be consolidated and work as one.

Committee members Jeff Dronzek and Michael Fain voted against the plan, arguing that no change was really needed and that the past year of compromise with the town has yielded nothing positive for the schools.

“I don’t believe we should be essentially blackmailed into one way or the other,” said Dronzek. “We’ve been put in a difficult situation but we’re continually put in difficult situations by this Town Council.”

He said in the past year the Town Council had given the schools far less than they requested and had, as yet, not come through with additional funding as they had promised they would last June. He referred specifically to the extra preschool classroom that had to be added last August due to an unanticipated uptick in the number of students needing preschool services.

“How many times do we walk down the same road?” he said.

Chairwoman Carolyn Mark acknowledged the risk.

“This is uncharted waters. We don’t know if this is going to work,” she said. But she said she was going with the fact that Supt. Victor Mercurio supported the plan. “I’m hearing him say that not proceeding with this is worse than taking the risk of proceeding.”

She said the memorandum of agreement worked out by Mercurio and Corrigan had three important protections for the school district: shared responsibility between the town and schools; a dispute resolution process; and the ability given to either side to walk away from the agreement for the following year with 60 days notice.

“I’m not comfortable with this … but I have to balance what the superintendent says,” Mark said.

Corrigan proposed this all-or-nothing approach – either the town and schools consolidate finance departments completely or the town withdraws the support it already provides and the school district is forced to recreate a standalone finance department – in a joint meeting last December. The School Committee rejected it initially in February

At that February meeting, Mercurio said building a standalone finance department was a non-starter. When asked to estimate what rebuilding a full finance department could cost, Mercurio said it cost $200,000 to $300,000.

Committeeman Matt Plain said it struck him “odd” that the status quo couldn’t be maintained. Ultimately, though, he said he wasn’t willing to risk the loss of school funding if the committee were to vote against the consolidation and subsequently had to spend a big chunk of budget money to build a standalone finance department.

“Complete separation would be painful. We have to take steps to stand up, [but] we also have to protect our kids,” he said, adding, “We have over a year’s worth of evidence that they may venture down this path.”

“The Town Council has not explained why we need to go to these extremes,” said Committee member Michael Fain. “I’m not willing to agree to something I don’t think is a smart move.”

Dronzek said he didn’t think the committee needed to make the choice at all.

“We didn’t propose this. We are our own governing body. The town has to force us to change. This is us playing along,” he said. “We should be able to just table the whole thing.”

Plain acknowledged a level of coercion by the town. “The remedy is political,” he said. All five seats on the Town Council are up for election in November (as are four of the seven School Committee seats).

“We’ve been backed into the corner for reasons that don’t seem reasonable to any of us…. We’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Committee member Lori McEwen. Based on that, she said, she had to go with what the superintendent thought was the best option.

Committeewoman Mary Ellen Winter said the School Committee was in this position because the state Auditor General had to be called in last year because of a structural deficit and changes needed to be made.

Dronzek pushed back, arguing that the council’s decision to cut funding to the school district this year wasn’t helping to solve the deficit. He also argued that the cost savings was not comparable to what the School Committee would be giving up.

The consolidation is projected to save $70,000 in salaries. Dronzek said plans to redo the school department central office would eat into any savings (although the salary savings would extend yearly).

Committeewoman Yan Sun said she thought rejecting the consolidation plan was too risky.

“Our risk is one year,” she said, referring to the walk-away clause if either side decided the consolidation wasn’t working. “On the other side … I see that the risk of complete separation is much higher.”

A motion to table the plan failed 2-5, with Dronzek and Fain the lone supporters.

Now that the School Committee has approved the memorandum of agreement on the plan, it goes to the Town Council for a vote.





 

2018-19 School Calendar Keeps Keeps Religious Holidays; Feb. & April Breaks

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

If you are a fan of weeklong breaks in February and April, you may exhale. The School Committee Tuesday night approved the 2018-19 calendar, keeping both the February and April weeklong breaks as well as retaining the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (Good Friday is not a extra day off next year because it takes place during the weeklong April break.)

The first day of school for students will be Wednesday, Aug. 29; the last day of school (barring added school cancellation days) is Monday, June 17.

But School Committee members continued to express frustration  over the length of the school year – with bad-weather days, the school year typically ends sometime after June 20.  (With this week’s added snow day, the final day of this school year looks to be June 22. The 2017-18 calendar here has been adjusted to reflect weather-related school closures and the later end of the school year.)

“I’d be shocked if we were the only district that found after the middle of June there was significantly less production,” said Committee member Matt Plain.

“It seems like every year we’re talking about it, it’s already too late,” said Chairwoman Carolyn Mark. In addition to those families who plan trips during February or April breaks, Mark said, there are families who have custody arrangements based on school vacations.

Supt. Victor Mercurio suggested deciding  the 2019-20 calendar a lot earlier, by October 2018, to give families time to plan.

Plain said parents needed to accommodate the school calendar.

“As a parent I’m required to get my child to school,” he said. “We’ve got to find ways to fit 180 school days in the best way we can.”

The challenge for 2018-19 is there are two election days (Primary Day is Wednesday, Sept. 12; Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6) and both Jewish holidays land on weekdays.

Plain recalled the public comment at the Feb. 27 School Committee meeting, where people remarked that one reason they moved to East Greenwich was because of the respect shown for the Jewish holidays. While those residents feel welcome by East Greenwich, Plain said, what about others?

“There are two religions represented on this calendar. There are not only two religions,” he said. “What message are we sending to those who practice other religions?”

Committeeman Michael Fain asked Supt. Mercurio if there was a specific absentee rate – when it’s known that a number of students will be absent for a particular reason, such as a religious holiday – at which it was determined school should be cancelled on that day.

“I don’t know what the tipping point is,” Mercurio said.

The committee voted 7-0 to approve the calendar. Chairwoman Mark pledged the School Committee would start work on the calendar for 2019-20 in September.