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Town resident among Minuteman Hall of Fame inductees

6th annual ceremony Nov. 3 in Stoneham

The Minuteman High School Hall of Fame recognizes exceptional alumni, teachers, administrators, coaches, sports teams and others associated with the school who have distinguished themselves during and after their time at Minuteman.

DeAnne Dupont, 2016 Citizen of the YearDeAnne Dupont, in 2016, when she was named Arlington Chamber of Commerce first Citizen of the Year.

This year’s inductees are DeAnne Dupont of Arlington, recognized for  service to the Minuteman Parent Association; retired administrator William Callahan, alumnus David Jones, alumna Eliza Leahy, alumnus Randy LeBlanc, retired administrator Dick Lee, alumnus Bob McCarthy, alumna Jody Bobbitt Zolli and the 2002 girls’ basketball team.

They will be inducted in a ceremony at Montvale Plaza, 54 Montvale Ave., Stoneham, on Friday, Nov. 3, from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $60 per person, which includes a reception, buffet dinner, and the award ceremony.

RSVP by Oct. 20. Make checks payable to Minuteman and write Minuteman HOF on the memo line. Send checks to Minuteman Hall of Fame, Sonia Vetrano, 758 Marrett Road, Lexington MA 02421.

For more information, contact Sonia Vetrano at 781-861-6500 x7241 or email her at SVetrano[@]

Here is additional information about the 2017 inductees, reported in an Oct. 10 school news release:

DeAnne Dupont

For Dupont, it’s all about doing everything she can to give back to her fellow citizens and to Minuteman High School. Her sons, Geoffrey Landskov and Erik Landskov, graduated from Minuteman in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

She has been an important guiding force for the Minuteman Parent Association as its past co-president and board member. Dupont expressed great pride in the group's Grant-a-Wish program, which funds requests from Minuteman faculty and staff related to student enrichment. Some of those requests included purchasing new cordless tools for the Plumbing program and funding for students to attend a performance of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Dupont pointed out that dues for parents to become members were eliminated during her time of service to the group, so there were no financial obstacles to people joining. Parents could pay something if they wanted to, or not pay anything at all.

Yet another major step forward was the group's acquisition of non-profit status during Dupont’s tenure, thus making it possible for donations to be accepted.

Although she emphasized that its milestones were achieved as the result of a group effort and not solely because of her industriousness, her leadership, ingenuity and commitment have contributed enormously to its success.

She also served on Minuteman’s School Council, a state-mandated group tasked with advancing the school’s educational goals. Its members typically include students, faculty and parents.

Dupont is one of the founders of Food Link Inc., a food-rescue organization that partners with local grocery stores, farms and bakeries to obtain surplus nutritious food such as produce, meat, dairy, bread and non-perishables and distribute it to those in need in ten communities including Arlington, Lexington, Medford and Malden. Promoting healthy eating is Food Link’s primary mission.

She said the group collects more than 1,000 pounds of food a day, seven days a week, thanks to its dedicated volunteers. She added that Food Link originated as a community service project of the MPA and gradually grew in scope. Today, for example, Food Link also offers job training for young adults who are coping with mental illness.

Dupont, who is an Arlington Town Meeting member, was chosen as the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s first Citizen of the Year in 2016 in recognition of her extensive civic involvement. 

Minuteman High School logo

William Callahan

Words like caring, dedicated and wise describe Callahan as a person and as a former Minuteman administrator. Callahan had a long, distinguished career at the school beginning in 1976, just two years after Minuteman opened its doors to students for the first time.

He was dean of students from 1976 to 1979, principal from 1979 to 2003 and superintendent from 2003 until his retirement, in 2006.

Minuteman was a very different place back in the late 1970s, Callahan recalled. The student population of approximately 1200 was significantly larger than it is today. There were 12 communities in the Minuteman district; in 1981, four more towns were added. The students who attended Minuteman came from a staggering total of 48 district and nondistrict locations.

As Minuteman continued to evolve in myriad ways over the years, Callahan said, its students, teachers and parents “all grew together.” He presided over that period of vigorous growth and rapid change with a steady hand. He believed that he was at the helm to serve as a guide who helped others make the right decisions themselves. He was adept at relating well to all those around him.

“I always considered my role was to lead people to where they need to be to do what they have to do,” he explained.

Rather than insert himself into every situation that arose, Callahan preferred to stand back a little, listen, then react, he said. “Education is a people profession. I did a lot of listening.”

He also made it a priority to acquaint himself with the students. Callahan knew each one’s name and something about his or her background. He encouraged the teachers to be similarly well-informed.

“I loved the interaction with kids, parents, the staff and town officials,” he said. Reflecting upon his time at Minuteman, Callahan summed it up by saying, “It was challenging, it was good, it was fun.” 

David Jones

Jones certainly knows how to cope with emergencies. A member of the Class of 1986 at Minuteman, he has been a 911 dispatcher in his hometown of Belmont for the past 21 years. “You get to deal with people at their best and worst,” he said of his interactions with the public in times of crisis.

This year, on St, Patrick’s Day, Jones had an unexpected opportunity to pitch in and help someone in person rather than on the phone. He and his wife were driving to a pub in Watertown when they noticed smoke pouring from a house on a street in that community. Without any hesitation, Mr. Jones jumped out of his car and escorted an elderly man out of the burning residence to safety.

Assisting people isn’t his only passion. Ever since his days at Minuteman, Jones has had an abiding interest in sports. An outstanding athlete, he played soccer, basketball and baseball for four years, and was captain of the soccer and basketball teams.

Jones has been involved with the Special Olympics in Belmont since 1990. He is its former program director, and although he has scaled back his involvement due to family obligations, he remains committed to the Special Olympics’ goals, mission and outreach. He takes immense pride in the fact that the program has grown significantly over the years. When Jones began, there were approximately 150 participants; today, he said, there are twice as many who join in.

Jones also serves on the Board of Directors of Belmont Youth Baseball. His sons, ages 8 and 12, are active in the organization.

Perhaps a laudatory comment in the essay nominating Jones for the 2017 Minuteman Hall of Fame sums him up best: He is “a great family man and a great all-around person.”

Eliza Leahy

Leahy was an outstanding student at Minuteman. She was a member of the National Honor Society, took honors courses and majored in Environmental Science. She graduated in 2007 and attended Macalester College in Minnesota. She still lives in that state and is an editor at a children’s book publishing company.

Leahy truly made her mark in sports at Minuteman, particularly as a competitive runner. According to the essay nominating her for the Hall of Fame, she “is the most accomplished female runner in school history. In 2006, she finished fourth in the state vocational championship; in 2005, sixth; in 2004, as a sophomore, sixth. In each of her three seasons, she was in the top ten in the conference championships and was named an All-Star. She won many regular season meets. Her leadership was instrumental in building a girls' cross-country team.”

“I was really committed to sports at the time,” Leahy said, “Especially when I was a junior and senior.” In addition to running, she played basketball for four years at Minuteman, softball during her freshman year, and tennis from sophomore through senior year. In her senior year, Leahy was a captain on the basketball team which won the state vocational championship.

She gravitated to running for several reasons. As a student in middle school, she joined the cross-country team. In high school, running was an ideal way for her to “destress” and develop close relationships with her teammates.

“Sports was important to me because I was a pretty shy kid,” Leahy explained, “and that was where I made friends. I felt like I was bonding with people. I still look for that kind of connection and sense of community. It was really important to me in every aspect of Minuteman.”

Randy LeBlanc

LeBlanc, owner of LeBlanc Mechanical in Waltham, was chosen for induction into Minuteman’s 2017 Hall of Fame for his professional accomplishments and outstanding community service.

After graduating from Waltham High School, LeBlanc completed the HVAC Post Graduate program at Minuteman in 1991, with the intention of creating his own heating and air-conditioning business. That dream came true when he founded LeBlanc Mechanical in 1997.

As a student at Minuteman, he won a Gold Medal in the VICA United States Skill Olympics at the state level and placed seventh on the national level. “I loved it,” he said of the intensive preparation for the contest. “I went after school to practice and studied harder than I ever did. It prepares you for your trade. It just helps you learn your craft.”

He has served as the chair of the HVAC Advisory Committee at Minuteman for more than 20 years, as well as being a substitute teacher there. He strongly supports career tech education and the growth of new programs. Mr. LeBlanc is also president of the Boston chapter of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, an organization that provides training and certification in various aspects of the HVAC industry.

In addition to continuously supporting his alma mater, LeBlanc participates extensively in the civic life of Waltham, receiving a Lions Club Waltham Hero Award in 2016 for Community Service.

He is a member of the Waltham City Council, a member of Waltham West Suburban Chamber of Commerce and Waltham Local First. He also served on the Waltham Community Preservation Committee. LeBlanc actively participates in the Waltham Fields Community Farm where he and his family maintain a garden. He strongly believes in the protection of the open spaces in the city.

LeBlanc is grateful that his training at Minuteman prepared him for a life of service. He personifies this spirit in all aspects of his life and he appreciates the opportunities that he has to sponsor and coach young community members in the Waltham Youth Hockey and Prospect Hill Ski teams. He also works with the Melanoma Foundation and has participated in two Boston Marathons for this cause, as well as helping to organize a local 5K RAW (Race Around Waltham) to benefit the Foundation.

Dick Lee

Asked about his stellar, decades-long career at Minuteman, Lee says modestly, “I just did my job.” Yet his positive and indelible effect upon the students he served is beyond measure, earning him a well-deserved place in Minuteman’s Hall of Fame.

Lee began working at Minuteman in the 1975-76 school year, when he was hired to run a program for significantly disabled students that was self-contained academically but integrated with the technical programs. He remained in that capacity for 20 years, supervising a small staff associated with this effort. Much of his time was devoted to admissions work.

From 1996 until 2006, Lee was Minuteman’s director of special education. He saw his role as helping the students he served to find a niche through experiential learning, which they often did, thanks to staff members’ expert guidance and unflagging commitment. Many of these young people, as Lee says today, graduated from Minuteman after four successful years and moved on to technical colleges. They subsequently became outstanding employees in a variety of organizations.

He was also chairman of a state organization for vocational special education directors for several years.

Looking back at his time at Minuteman, Lee warmly praised colleagues for their high level of professionalism and dedication. He particularly lauded the school’s vocational teachers. “I was very respectful of them,” he mentioned. “There was an art to what they did.”

Lee retired from Minuteman in 2006. The achievement he is still most proud of involved “seeing students get traction on their future and develop confidence. They came to realize that they were much more capable than they had initially believed.” To this day, he retains “great faith in the notion of vocational education - that it remains an underrated vehicle for achievement in today’s economy and culture.”

Bob McCarthy

When McCarthy graduated from Minuteman High School in 1986, he never imagined that the education he received there in electronics would help him land a position with the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad in 2005. He still holds that position and can reflect with immense satisfaction upon a career focused upon serving the public with distinction and valor as a police officer for 28 years - 21 years spent as a Massachusetts state trooper.

He attended Fitchburg State College for further training in electronics following his four years at Minuteman, but said he “just couldn’t sit in a building anymore.” Eager for variety, excitement, more contact with people and rigorous challenges of all kinds, Mr. McCarthy shifted his attention to law enforcement. He accepted a summer position with the police department in Dennis, Mass., and then spent three years on the New York City police force.

McCarthy’s wish for a dynamic and stimulating profession has been fulfilled to the hilt since he joined the bomb squad. He attributes his success in getting the job and excelling at it largely to his solid background in electronics from Minuteman.

He has used his technical skills at places such as the World Trade Center in New York after the bombing there in 1993; he was at the finish line of the Boston Marathon just 10 minutes after two deadly explosions rocked that event in 2013; he was on the scene in a quiet Watertown neighborhood three days later when the two Marathon bombing suspects engaged in a late-night shootout with police and when one of them was found hiding in a resident’s boat in a backyard the next day; and he represented the bomb squad when he testified at Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial.

In addition to McCarthy’s duties here in Massachusetts, he is an assistant instructor with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ Advanced Explosives Disposal Techniques course, based in Huntsville, Ala. “This is where certified bomb techs continue their training in safe disposal of dangerous items,” he said.

Another facet of his preparation also takes place in Huntsville, where the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School is located. “It’s where all bomb technicians in the country receive their initial training and get certified as bomb techs,” he explained. “We also have to recertify every three years at the school.”

“What I do puts a smile on my face every day,” said McCarthy. “I love being outside and meeting people.” As for the role that Minuteman has played in his success, he added, “I’ve been talking about Minuteman my entire life. It made me who I am now.”

Jody Bobbitt Zolli

“My path has been unique and hard-won,” reflects Bobbitt Zolli of her impressive, 32-year career as a technical writer. She graduated from Minuteman in 1981 after majoring in electronics (she was only the second girl to graduate from the school’s electronics program), and she went on to be the second Minuteman student accepted at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She started out there majoring in electrical engineering but later switched to technical writing, a program she actually created, becoming its first graduate in 1987. “I was a pioneer in technical writing at WPI,” Zolli notes proudly.

“I love technology,” she explained. “I love to write.” She considers her occupation to be “the perfect marriage between engineering and poetry.” Making sure that users get everything they want is her mission, one that she has fulfilled at renowned companies such as Digital Equipment Corp., Akamai Technologies, 3Com Corp. and SeaChange International, and currently, at a start-up called VidScale Inc., in Cambridge.

When Zolli began work at VidScale, there were 45 employees -- and she was the only female doing technical work. In fact, she knows firsthand how what it can be like for a woman to compete successfully -- and be taken seriously -- in a technical world that is populated largely by men. That reality has never hindered her from excelling or meeting workplace challenges based on gender head-on.

Now, after so many years in her field, Zolli generously shares her knowledge by mentoring women who want to pursue STEM (science, engineering, technology and mathematics) careers. She offers these pointers to them: find a mentor or advocate who supports your professional growth, network with women and don’t be afraid of hard work.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Zolli said. “Minuteman taught me stick-to-itiveness. You just keep at it.”

2002 Minuteman girls’ basketball team

The members of the 2002 girls’ basketball team from Minuteman High School were true champions, both on and off the court. Cohesive and unselfish, they always demonstrated heart, character, maturity, diligence, good sportsmanship, an unflagging work ethic and passion for the game.

Their coach, John Fusco, remembers them with pride and affection to this day. Before every match-up, he would shout “Play!” and the girls would respond in unison by yelling, “Hard, smart, together!”

They lived by those words, amassing trophies and records which proved their excellence. The team won the Commonwealth Athletic Conference small school division with a 10-0 record, landed the state vocational championship and won the first MIAA game for a girls' team in Minuteman history.

Coach Fusco credits them with showing people that athletes from a vocational high school can be equally successful as their counterparts from traditional high schools. In fact, he said that he considers them to be one of the most successful teams ever from Minuteman. In his opinion, they won with respect and if they lost, they did it with class.

“This group, they were unbelievable,” Coach Fusco said. “That was the way they were from day one. They willed themselves to be the best they could be. They were a wonderful breath of fresh air to have as a coach.”

The team was also coached by Chris Danielson. The team members were Sharon Phelan, Kathleen Gildea, Brittany Gamber, Trista Manchuso, Sophia Mothersil, Kathy Montrevil, Hannah Leahy, Paris Sanders, Amie Beggan, Keryn White, Jaclyn White and Lisa Miller. 

This extended news announcement was published Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.

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