2022 Hall of Fame Inductees
Anna LoPresti, Valedictorian of the Seymour High School Class of 1926, served as principal of Maple Street School and Chatfield School for 45 years. She became Seymour's first female First Selectwoman from 1973 to 1977. In recognition of her contributions, Maple Street School was renamed LoPresti School, later merging with Chatfield School to form Chatfield-LoPresti. Anna's name remains on the school as a testament to her significant role in advancing education and community development. Her legacy as a trailblazer and advocate for progress is evident today, with four women currently serving as selectmen. Anna LoPresti's dedication to education and lasting impact on Seymour's community make her an esteemed member of the Seymour High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Paul Pawlak, Sr., an esteemed graduate of Seymour High School, left a profound impact on his alma mater and the local community. Serving on the Seymour Board of Education, he played a key role in the successful development of a new high school. As a dedicated state legislator, Paul chaired the clean waters committee, drafting influential legislation that ensured pollution-free waterways across Connecticut. His commitment to Seymour's growth and well-being extended to expanding the town's sewer and sanitation facilities during his tenure as first selectman. Paul Pawlak, Sr.'s unwavering dedication to public service and his instrumental contributions make him a significant figure in the Seymour High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Alese Kummer, a proud 1966 graduate of Seymour High School, has dedicated her life to giving back to the community. For 23 years, she served as the Business Manager for Saint Nicholas Parish, actively involved in various community organizations and contributing to the daily operations of the churches. Alese played a pivotal role in the establishment of The Seymour Historical Society as a charter member, and she served as the Curator of the Seymour Historical Society Museum for over 30 years. Her dedication to preserving local history extended to developing a comprehensive fourth-grade history program for all Seymour students, providing them with a copy of the workbook she meticulously researched, wrote, and published, titled "Learning More About Seymour." Alese's innovative approach included training eighth-grade students to serve as active student "teachers" during fourth-grade history program visits, creating a positive impact for all involved. Additionally, she authored a delightful children's book titled "The Story of Angel 3/23" in 2017. Alese Kummer's unwavering dedication and invaluable contributions to her community make her a distinguished member of the Seymour High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Eugene Coppola, a distinguished graduate of Seymour High School, has made a lasting impact as an educator and administrator. With an impressive career spanning over four decades in Seymour, he served as principal at Chatfield and Bungay Elementary School, Assistant Superintendent, and Superintendent of Schools. The Bungay library stands as a testament to his influence and dedication. Known for his strong community engagement, Gene attended every event and maintained a personal connection with staff and community members. His welcoming smile and remarkable familiarity with every district employee made him an admired figure. For 42 years, Eugene Coppola's positive presence has shaped the lives of Seymour staff, students, parents, and the entire community. Reflecting on his lifelong connection to the town, he expresses his deep love for the community and the honor he feels in being nominated for this esteemed recognition.
Bobby Kelo, a 1978 graduate of Seymour High School, became a beloved figure in his community as Coach Kelo. For 32 years, he taught math and coached at Seymour High School. As the head baseball coach, Coach Kelo had an impressive track record with 438 wins, including a State championship in 2007. He was recognized as Coach of the Year twice and guided sixty players to pursue college baseball. Many of his players earned accolades, with forty-five making it to All-League teams, twenty-five selected for the all-state team, and six signing contracts with Major League baseball. In 2018, Coach Kelo proudly joined the Seymour High Sports Hall of Fame, a testament to his unwavering dedication. Known for his tough yet caring approach, Bobby made a lasting impact on his students and players, earning their loyalty and becoming like family.
2021 Hall of Fame Inductees
Peter Klarides, a 1950 graduate of Seymour High School, was born to immigrants from Greece and started his career with an ice cream parlor and a grocery store. He had a dream that eventually grew into two supermarkets and real estate. Peter's business model was centered on working hard, treating employees and customers with respect, and always being honest. He was a strong believer in giving back to the community, especially to his beloved Seymour High School and its students. Peter also had an adoptive family, the girls’ softball team, and he could always be found at their games cheering and supporting them. In addition to supporting his community, Peter always prioritized his family and enjoyed watching his daughters and grandson compete for Seymour High School.
Mrs. Pamela Finkle a , born and raised in Seymour, started her education at Bungay Elementary School in 1954, and went on to teach in the same school system for 47 years. For 28 years, she taught at the middle school and was voted Teacher of the Year in 1999, earning runner-up for the Connecticut State Teacher of the Year. Pam was the founding member of several programs in Seymour, including the SHS Hoopsters, Diamond Club, and Spirits Hall of Fame. She also attended the Teacher of the Year conference in DC as the state of Connecticut representative and was a Vice President of the George J Hummel Jr Division. Even after retirement, Pam continued to work for nine years as a substitute teacher at Seymour High School, where she was highly respected and beloved by students. So much so, that they dedicated the 2018 yearbook to her, and she was honored with a graduation ceremony upon her retirement. Pam's contribution to the Seymour community was immeasurable and she was a true inspiration to all who knew her
Mrs. Karen Stanek, a graduate of the class of 1966, had a distinguished 35-year career teaching a variety of Social Studies classes at Seymour High School. She was an outstanding teacher and had great success introducing the Connecticut High School Mock Trial Competition to Seymour High School in 1981, and was the advisor to the Seymour team that won the statewide Mock Trial Competition in 1982 and 1983. In addition to her teaching career, Mrs. Stanek was a beloved Student Council and class advisor, as well as the co-creator of the Mr. Seymour Contest with fellow colleague Mr. Tony Ciccone. She also served on the Seymour Board of Selectmen from 2011 to 2019, and was a member of the Valley Community Foundation Board of Directors and the Seymour Historical Society. Mrs. Stanek's accomplishments and dedication to her community were recognized when she was named the Distinguished Alumna for the Class of 2016. Above all, Mrs. Stanek valued teaching the relevance of history to the present day and the importance of our constitutional form of democratic government to high school students in an engaging and interesting manner. Her contribution to the Seymour community and its students was immeasurable and her legacy will continue to inspire future generations.
Mr. Fred Stanek, a graduate of the class of 1972, and Distinguished Alumni recipient has practiced law for 41 years, utilizing his training and experience not only for his clients, but also for the community. He served as the Co-Editor of the 1972 Seymour High School Yearbook and was an editor of the High School page in the former local newspaper known as the Evening Sentinel. He has served on many boards, commissions, and committees including the Town of Seymour government, Seymour Board of Education (since 1989), Seymour Board of Selectmen, Seymour Library Board of Directors, several school building committees, a local Grievance Panel of the Connecticut Statewide Attorneys Grievance Committee, and the Griffin Health Services Corporation Board of Directors. He is particularly proud of his contributions to expanding the curriculum and programs of the Seymour Public Schools. He advocated for the expansion of AP courses, worked for the approvals needed to build the present modern Seymour Middle School, and for the expansion of Seymour High School to include a 21st Century Science Wing.
Mr. Leonard Greene, a graduate of the class of 1976, served almost 12 years as State Representative for the 105th District. He believed that there is always a way to achieve a positive outcome when faced with obstacles in life. During his tenure, he helped to secure a $500,000 grant to renovate Debarber Field and obtained a $25,000 grant to pay for the lights at both Woodland High School and Debarber field. Additionally, he secured a $500,000 grant to help pay for the renovations to the Seymour Police Station and a $35,000 grant to help pay for the renovation of the Headquarters of Seymour Ambulance.
Mr. Kurt Miller, the Chief Fiscal Officer of Ansonia and former Town of Seymour Treasurer, is a graduate of the class of 1988. During his time at Seymour High School, he served as the Class Vice-president, Student Council Vice-president, and interestingly, the first ever captain of the Seymour Soccer team named in 1986. Miller considers himself very lucky to have grown up in Seymour and even luckier to be able to raise his children here. He is the third generation of the family business of Miller-Ward Funeral Home in Seymour, and he was honored to be a five-time elected First Selectman of Seymour from 2011-2020. During his time as First Selectman, Miller worked hard to improve the communications infrastructure to allow employees and residents to have a better voice in how things are run. He reorganized the organizational chart and broke down the silos that kept departments acting independently to have them work more collaboratively. Most importantly, he made the budget process and financial standards more easily understandable to give the average resident a better view of how and why the final decisions were being made. Miller learned very quickly that to be successful, you need to have a plan to help guide you along the way. He believes that plan is a living, breathing document that needs to be reviewed and updated constantly to address changes that happen along the way. He says, “The more time and energy you put into your plan, the easier the path to your goals will be.” He adds, “Failing to plan is planning to fail….. Life isn’t easy so you need to make sure you are ready for what the future holds.”
Mrs. Themis Klarides, a 1983 graduate, is a former leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives. Raised around a family supermarket business that taught her the value of hard work and community involvement, she is an outspoken advocate for first responders and public safety personnel, including firefighters, police, and emergency medical technicians. Themis was the first woman to hold the position of Republican leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 2014 to 2020. In the legislature, she led the fight against runaway spending while working to support law enforcement and strengthen education. In 2017, she led the passage of a bipartisan budget that put in place spending caps and real budgetary reforms that are responsible for the current budget surplus and rainy-day fund in Connecticut. Themis held the line in the State Legislature in the fight against reinstituting highway tolls in Connecticut. During the 2020 debate over the Police Accountability Act, she stood with law enforcement and against legislation that would’ve removed important police protections. After graduating from Trinity College, Themis earned her Juris Doctorate from Quinnipiac University School of Law, and is currently practicing law in the State of Connecticut and in the United States District Court for Connecticut.
Mrs. Nicole Klarides-Ditria, class of 1986 and lifelong resident of Seymour, is a State Representative and a member of the Republican party who was elected to serve the 105th district of Beacon Falls, Seymour, and part of Derby in 2016. She comes from a family of Greek immigrants who instilled in her the value of hard work and community. Growing up, she worked at her family's supermarkets in Seymour and Derby, which further solidified her commitment to her community. In addition to her legislative duties, Nicole serves as the head athletic trainer at Lauralton Hall High School in Milford and manages several business properties owned by her family. She serves on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and Public Health Committee, and was previously the Ranking Member of the Regulation Review Committee. She was named Chair of the Legislative Regulation Review and promoted to serve as a Caucus Whip responsible for helping to shape public policy, assisting Republican lawmakers, and ensuring all Republican House members are in attendance to cast their votes on legislative issues. In 2011, she was elected to serve on the Seymour Board of Selectmen and was unanimously voted by both Democrats and Republicans to become the Deputy First Selectman. She was re-elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2013 and 2015, only stepping down from being the Deputy First Selectman after winning her election for State Representative. Nicole's family ties in politics are also noteworthy, as she had the distinct pleasure of serving alongside her sister, former State Representative Themis Klarides, who was House Republican Leader from 2016-2020, making them the first sisters to serve together in the history of the Connecticut State House of Representatives.
Mr. Erik Baker is an accomplished graduate and valedictorian of Seymour High School's class of 1987, where he was a member of the varsity football, basketball, and track and field teams. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, he was named the Distinguished Alumni of Seymour High School in 2021. After high school, Erik went on to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with honors in 1991. During his time at Penn, he co-founded a youth mentoring program and was a member of the varsity lightweight football team. Erik remains active at Penn and is a member of the National Advisory Board of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.Professionally, Erik is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of GF Capital Management & Advisors, a private equity firm founded in 2001. He is a member of the Private Equity Investment Committee, where he focuses on investments in the media and branded consumer product sectors, and has spoken at several private equity conferences. Erik serves on the Board of Directors of Jonathan Adler, Whalerock Industries, and GF Sportsholdings, and is a former Board member of Airborne, Repucom, Trade Service, Blue Man Group, and Melodeo. He is also a Governor for the National Lacrosse League through GF Sports’ ownership of the New York Riptide and a member of the NLL’s Executive Committee.
Former State Representative Leonard Greene Jr. is a proud graduate of the class of 1998 and a former SHS football player. He served as the State Representative for the 105 district for ten years, representing a diverse group of people in both the government and private sectors. His experience as an elected official allowed him to make a direct impact on his community, influencing state policies to address several much-needed infrastructure projects. In addition to his role as a State Representative, he also served as a member of the Seymour Board of Selectmen, helping to pave roads, create sidewalks, improve parks, and many other infrastructure projects while simultaneously improving Seymour's financial stability. Throughout his career, he has been grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the lives of his friends, neighbors, and family.
Mr. Ernie DiStasi is a proud alumnus of Seymour High School, graduating with the class of 1998 and serving as the President of his class for all four years. He has been giving back to Seymour by working in the school district for the past 20 years. These experiences have allowed Mr. DiStasi to form strong relationships with students and their families, challenge and support the students in their education, and be a valuable resource for their families when needed. In addition to his work in the school district, Mr. DiStasi has organized the Bound for Success Mentoring Program, which pairs Seymour students with mentors from the community, and instituted Rise Up Seymour, a district-wide fundraising event that has raised funds for students and families in need. Through all of his efforts, Mr. DiStasi encourages students and graduates to take pride in their hometown and to give back to their community whenever the opportunity arises.
Mr. Brent Campanelli, a graduate of the Seymour High School class of 2008, is a commercial and music video film director based in Los Angeles. His impressive list of clients includes renowned brands such as H&M, T-Mobile, Red Bull, McDonald's, and Pepsi, to name a few. Music has always been his first love, and he has come a long way from playing in high school bands to creating music videos for major record labels. Some of his videos have even aired on MTV. Brent even returned home to Seymour High School to direct a music video. Brent is committed to showcasing his unique style and staying true to himself, always willing to share his knowledge by helping young and upcoming directors. He acknowledges Mr. Pawluk, who taught him to bring energy and passion to his work, as his mentor. Brent believes that his ability to work with talent from all over the world to tell their stories has been a true blessing.