English welcomes 13 new members to Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame inductees pose for a portrait at Spinelli's Tuesday night. From left, in the top row, Shawn Bleau, Douglas Anderson, Gary Bogart, Peter Holey, Joel Abramson, and James Down. In the front row, Christine Pierce, Joyce Knappe, Joseph O’Connor and Raymond Brown. Missing from the photo are Kevin Franklin, Donald Lucia and Mike Pazik. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNNFIELD — The English High School Hall of Fame welcomed 13 new members Tuesday night. The Class of 2019 included Joel Abramson (1964 graduate), Douglas Anderson (1968), Shawn Bleau (1988), Gary Bogart (1966), Raymond Brown (1942), James Down (1969), Kevin Franklin (1978), Peter Holey (1981), Joyce Knappe, Donald Lucia (1955), Joseph O’Connor (1980), Michael Pazik (1968) and Christine Pierce (1978). 

“It’s just a great thing honoring people who are graduates of English High School, had great success there and took what they learned from English High and made something of their lives,” English Principal Thomas Strangie said. “They give back to their communities. It’s an honor. As we say, ‘Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog.'” 

The inductees were honored with a ceremony at Spinelli’s in which they were handed plaques and city citations from Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee and the Lynn City Council. 

English inducts a new class every two years. Strangie, along with athletic director Dick Newton, were members of the selection committee. The class was announced in July. 

“We try to pick a wide-range of people from athletes to those who are active in the community,” Newton said. “It’s not just an athletics hall of fame, like some people think it is. It’s various people, from businessmen to athletes, like Shawn Bleau and Joseph O’Connor.” 

Strangie shared a similar take. 

“It was a great experience selecting the inductees,” Strangie said. “It was a lot of work. Some of the inductees, I knew personally. The others I hadn’t met personally. But going through this process of talking with them, meeting with them, it’s just enriching. It builds that whole ‘Bulldog family.'” 

Taking turns introducing the inductees were Newton, Strangie, and vice principals Heather Fabiano, Jennifer Mancaniello and Gary Molea. The inductees were invited to take the podium to deliver brief speeches. Many of them homed in on their unforgettable experiences at English High and the life lessons they learned wearing maroon and gray. Some chose to gear their speeches toward the coaches and mentors that impacted their lives at English. Others deflected the credit to their parents, families and support systems. 

“It’s great that they remember where they came from,” Strangie said. “These people made an impact. They get to talk about them. I know myself, becoming a teacher and later an administrator, you really never know the impact you have on students’ lives until things like this. People remember what you did or what you said 20, 30, 40 years later.” 

Bogart delivered a cheerful speech in which he warmed the crowd with laughter. He recalled his journeys to the football teams at Tyler Junior College in Texas and Eastern Michigan University. 

“Bogart’s speech kind of took the cake,” Newton said. “Everybody spoke from the heart. They talked about their families and what’s most important in life. It wasn’t just about the hall of fame but what brought them there, and that’s the most important thing. 

“You’d want any of these people around your kids,” Newton said. “That’s how you judge them. You want them around your own kids. These people are just genuine people. We’re looking forward to the next one. This is one of the fun parts of being in education and being at English.”

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