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Lynn Classical High School inducts 16 new members into its Hall of Fame

The 2019 Lynn Classical High School Hall of Fame inductees. Sitting from left, James Guy Jr., Christina Mihos Granese, Afton Dean, Richard Maag, and James Rooney. Middle row, from left, Mark Cullinan, Dennis Baldini, Joseph Cawlina, Michael Cawlina, Brian Maes, Gene Constantino, and state Sen. Brendan Crighton. Back row, from left, Matt Durgin, Alvin Abreu, Meryl Brown Sr., and William Frost. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Sixteen new inductees entered the Lynn Classical High School Hall of Fame Saturday night during a ceremony at the Nahant Country Club, including a father-son combination, two former principals, a state senator, two former coaches and a musician.

Alvin Abreu (basketball), Dennis Baldini, Meryl Brown (basketball), Joseph Cawlina, Michael Cawlina, Gene Constantino (coaching/principal), Brendan Crighton (football/politics), Mark Cullinan, Afton Dean (softball), Matthew Durgin (football coach), William Frost (former principal), Christina Mihos Granese (softball), James Guy, Jr. (football), Richard Maag (baseball coach), Brian Maes (music) and James Rooney joined the list of members.

Classical’s Hall of Fame is all-encompassing, and not merely for athletes.

“This is quite an honor,” said Constantino, who, in addition to having retired last summer as principal, was also the girls basketball coach for 19 seasons. “I started out at Classical as a special education teacher and figured I’d stay for five years. I ended up staying for 43. Classical is a special place.”

Constantino, currently an assistant principal at St. Mary’s, coached many Hall of Fame inductees for the Rams, including two — Helen Ridley and Monique Lee — who played at Division 1 Quinnipiac on full scholarships.

Brown was the “big man” on a basketball team many believe was Classical’s best ever. The Rams won the state championship in 1980 with the likes of Brown, Tony Thurman, Stu Primus, Sandy McGee and Pancho Bingham.

“But,” he said, “I wasn’t that big.”

Two of those players — Thurman and Primus — became stars for Boston College. Thurman became the only consensus football All-America in Lynn’s history; and Primus played for the Eagles’ basketball team from 1982-85.

“It was just a heck of a team,” said Brown, who went to Worcester State and now lives in the city. “After my freshman year, we just took off.”

He gave a special shoutout to his coach in those years, Lou Falkoff.

“There were four or five us us, and only one ball,” said Brown. “He had to have control.”

Crighton, Class of 2001, is a state senator whose district includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus and Swampscott.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without my teachers, coaches, classmates at Classical,” said Crighton, who is a former Ward 5 councilor and councilor-at-large in Lynn. “It is an honor to join the Hall of Fame.

“I continue to rely on the lessons I learned at Classical, and I’m forever grateful to be part of the Ram family.”

At Classical, Crighton played baseball, basketball, track and served as captain of the football team. He went on to play football at Colby College.  

Joseph Cawlina graduated from Classical in 1948 and his son in 1974. Joe Cawlina’s competitive candlepin bowling career spanned from 1948 to 1961. In 1956 he achieved the highest average ever recorded in candlepins. He won US  men’s singles and all-events titles, men’s doubles titles, men’s five-man team titles, and paired with his wife Barbara (’49), also won the United States mixed doubles’ titles.

Michael Cawlina was a three-sport athlete  who graduated with a business degree from American International College, where he played football.

Abreu (’05) was a boys basketball MVP for the Northeastern Conference and Agganis all-star games. He graduated with a 3.3 GPA and earned a full scholarship to the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where he was a three-year team captain.

Baldini (’74) ran cross country and track, and was captain for all three seasons as a senior. He continued to run at Salem State, from which he graduated with an economics degree.

Cullinan (’69) worked for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department as Director of Planning and Development and oversaw projects on the Boston Common, Public Garden, Emerald Necklace, Franklin Park. He was also chief engineer for the Department of Environmental Management, currently known as DCR.

Dean (’08) was a four-year starter and two-year softball team captain and three-time Northeastern Conference All-Star and MVP as a senior. The standout shortstop led the Rams to a state tournament appearance in each of her four years.

Durgin (’84) became football in 1997 and stepped down in 2007. Later, at St. Mary’s, he coached the Spartans to a Super Bowl appearance.

Frost, along with former principal Nick Kostan, came to Classical in 1991, and replaced Kostan as principal in 2004 after Kostan moved to the administration building. In 2015 the Frost family endowed the Frost Family Scholarship that is presented to a deserving Classical graduate each June.  

Guy  (’77) played football, baseball and basketball at Classical. As a senior,  he helped lead the Rams to a Super Bowl championship and was the team MVP.

Maes (’74) attended Berklee School of Music, and then began touring and recording with numerous bands such as Shire, Heritage, American Teen and Robert Ellis Orrall’s band.

He has made his mark in the music business as a performer, songwriter and producer.

Maag  (’57) played baseball and basketball for three years at Classical, and was a member of the Rams’ 1963 championship baseball team.  He was the school’s baseball coach from 1972-1995, and he helped found the Nipper Clancy Baseball Tournament in 1982, along with Frank Carey, Jim Tgettis and Bart Conlon.

Granese (’03)  helped lead the Rams to the Division 1 North State Final in 2003, pitching in every inning, of every regular season and playoff game in both her junior and senior year.  

After graduating from Boston University (Bachelor of Arts 2007), she taught history in the Lynn Public Schools and coached softball at the middle school and high school before enrolling at Suffolk Law School.  

Rooney (’66)  played for the best hockey team in the history of Classical.  After graduating from Classical, Jim played in the Mass Amateur Hockey League, while also working in the GE.  After serving two tours in Vietnam, he became a Lynn Police officer.

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