(Photos by Jeff Hanouille)
LONGMEADOW, MA – The Longmeadow High School Class of 1978 celebrated its 40th class reunion this past summer and wanted to use funds raised from the event to honor their classmates who have died.
After purchasing a bench for the high school in memory of their lost classmates, they decided to take things a step further.
Last week on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 in the main entrance to central administration at the high school, Craig Kazin and other members of the Class of ’78 presented a $4,500 check to the parents of George Ginopolous for the scholarship given annually to two LHS students in his name.
George’s parents Ann Marie and Jim Ginopolous were on hand to accept the donation from Kazin, who served as chair of the Class of ’78 reunion committee.
“Most of us in our class have had the experience of putting our children through college, and we know how challenging that can be,” Kazin said. “The Ginopolous Scholarship struck a chord with our committee since it helps out students who want to contribute to their community and are always there to help. I think the service aspect of the scholarship is really what spoke to us.”
Kazin said that an anonymous classmate underwrote the entire reunion weekend, which took place from June 22-24, 2018, allowing the committee to use event admission fees and donations to purchase the bench and present the $4,500 check to the Ginopolous Scholarship.
“We hope that through this small token of our class’s appreciation that you can continue to give this scholarship and recognize deserving kids,” Kazin said to Ann Marie and Jim.
After the check presentation, Jim and Ann Marie gave Kazin a “thank you” letter with George’s picture on it along with a wristband inscribed with George’s favorite saying, “How can I help?”
“I just want to thank everybody from the Class of ’78 for considering us for this high honor,” Jim Ginopolous said. “With your donation, it pretty much doubles (the scholarship fund), so it’s going to go on for a long time. I just want to thank you from my heart. Thank you so much.”
LHS Principal Tom Landers said Kazin contacted the school last spring to start a conversation about honoring friends and classmates from the Class of ’78 that were no longer with them by donating a bench.
“We eventually talked about a bench because it’s utilitarian, and we always need benches for people to sit on and enjoy,” Landers said. “We eventually picked out a nice place right outside the central administration entrance.”
Kazin said the decision to honor their fallen classmates was made to “recognize that our friends and our classmates are gone, but they are not forgotten.”
During his speech, Kazin read the names of his lost classmates and asked for a moment of silence. The deceased members of the Class of ’78 are: John Fuller, Bill Walsh, John Knisely, Frederick Petrucci, Marsha Michalik, Scott LaFrance, Annice Veitenheimer, Craig Adamz, Deborah Laakso, Steven Winniman, Edwin Law, Matthew Kochanowski, Adam Curtis, Scott Dalitzky, David Whitney, Jon Ditmar, and Steven Smith.
– Article by Jeff Hanouille