Groups, Southside Stories

Mountaineer Hall of Fame Honors Distinguished Grads

South Williamsport High Area School has had its share of distinguished and accomplished graduates. In a move to recognize some of these distinguished graduates a Mountaineer Hall of Fame was established.

The Hall of Fame was started in February 2013 as a project of the High School’s National Honor Society.  The objective was to recognize alumni who have achieved excellence in their professional and personal lives, who have made outstanding contributions to society, and have served as role models for youth.  

It is hoped present students will be encouraged to pursue academic excellence and be motivated to participate in community service.  Mrs. Celeste Ryan, the Honor Society adviser and the school’s French teacher, proposed the concept to the school administration and the NHS. A set of bylaws were drawn up and a committee of educators, students, and community members meets each year to review nominations.

Nominations for the Hall of Fame award are accepted until November 30 each year.  The nomination letter can be submitted by anyone who feels as though a graduate of SWAHS is deserving of the honor based on the following:

  •    Graduated, minimally, 10 years prior to nomination
  •    Excelled in career and/or achieved recognition for accomplishments.
  •    Embodies qualities of scholarship, leadership, service and character.
  •    Maintains high moral standards and serves as a role model for youth.
  •   Brought recognition to the school district through accomplishments.

The procedure for nomination involves the person doing the nomination submitting a candidate’s resume and a reference letter.  Included are a biographical narrative emphasizing achievements and suitability for the honor.  In addition, two other reference letters are required from others who know the potential honoree well.

Once selected, the individual is recognized at the annual awards ceremony in May. A plaque with a photo is placed on the wall in the school’s library.

In 2014, John “Jack” Garner of the class of 1963 is a retired staff film critic with the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in Rochester, New York was inducted in the Mountaineer Hall of Fame.  Throughout his career, he published reviews and interviews at the local, national and international level.  His book, “From My Seat in the Aisle,” is a memoir and anthology of his life’s work as a movie critic and journalist.

In May 2015, Heather (Davis) Myers, Class of 1991 was inducted in the Mountaineer Hall of Fame. According to Fred Wood, who is actively involved in the Mountaineer Hall of Fame, she was a particularly inspired choice.

She came from a single parent home but had tremendous support throughout her life from her mother.  As a ninth grade student at South Williamsport, it became apparent to a number of her teachers that Heather was a gifted child who needed a mix of confidence and guidance to help her accomplish her dream of becoming a veterinarian.  

Her teachers got her on the academic track necessary for college and one of them introduced her to Ed and Tink Reisch, who, at the time, were licensed wildlife rehabilitaters.  They took Heather under their wing (no pun intended!) and gave her the opportunity to explore her passion for helping animals. 

Upon graduation, she took a year after high school to work in a local garment factory. She entered Juniata College where she met some professors who recognized the same talents and drive.  She went on to become an outstanding student and did two summer internships at a wildlife sanctuary on the Chesapeake in Maryland.  After college she moved to Ohio and went to work for a veterinary clinic.  While there, she took advanced coursework at local colleges to enhance her application to the Ohio State University Veterinary School.  She was accepted, got her degree and is now working in Annapolis, Maryland as a veterinarian.

One of the recommendation letters done by a college friend describes Heather as selfless.  She regularly participates in road races, including half-marathons and one full marathon, to raise money and awareness for a variety of causes. One of these causes is raising money to train dogs for wounded veterans. She regularly gives of her time and talents in spaying/neutering clinics. She has personally rescued three “mutts” of her own and actively participates in placement programs for pets in need of adoption.  

According to Wood, she epitomizes the qualities that the Mountaineer Hall of Fame is seeking to honor.

The Mountaineer Hall of Fame is seeking to raise its profile and is hoping that people can be encouraged to nominate individuals that may be worthy of being enshrined.

Anyone wanting to do a nomination can contact Mrs. Ryan atcryan@swasd.orgor visit the school’s website atwww.swasd.org

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