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Geneva High seeks “Graduates of Distinction”

Geneva High School Principal William Rotenberg and other school district officials are excited about the local school district’s new Graduates of Distinction Program, which is now seeking its first group of honorees.“The whole goal is to start recognizing outstanding grads as role models for our students,’’ said Rotenberg, who is secretary of the program’s selection committee.Rotenberg urged local residents and families to consider nominating graduates they know who have had significant achievements in a wide variety of fields, including medicine, science, education and cultural and performing arts.The Geneva City School District program’s committee met Jan. 12 to review its by-laws and handle other business, he said. The group set an April 30 deadline for nominations for this year’s awards.To be eligible for the honor, Geneva High grads must have made exceptional contributions in their professional or personal lives and have been out of high school for at least 15 years. To be considered, they must have distinguished themselves on a local, state, national or international level.Accomplishments must be compelling and rise to a level that the section committee believes Geneva students can look on the person as a source of inspiration and motivation, Rotenberg said. Alumni may be nominated posthumously.Rotenberg said those selected for the honor should be “an ideal for our kids, so they see that they can go ahead to that type of success.”Along with Rotenberg, the selection committee will have as voting members three Board of Education members, three representatives from the district’s faculty and administration and three community residents.Rotenberg said the first honorees will be recognized during graduation week in June. Tentative plans call for a breakfast or luncheon before the graduation ceremonies on Friday of that week. The honorees also would be recognized at the high school’s commencement exercises. Rotenberg said the committee is also considering placing permanent plaques recognizing the honorees on a wall of the high school on Carter Road.Each nomination must be accompanied by three letters of support, including two letters from people who aren’t in the same family as the nominee. Nomination forms are available at Geneva High School and at the school district office. Nominations and letters should be sent to Geneva City School District, Graduates of Distinction Program, c/o Geneva High School, 101 Carter Road, Geneva NY 14456. Fax number (315) 781-0695. Online applications may be found at the district’s Web site: www.genevacsd.org and e-mailed to wrotenberg@genevacsd.org.The selection committee must receive all nominations by April 30. If you are unable to meet this deadline, call Rotenberg’s office at (315) 781-0402.The selection committee will review all applications, select the inductees and make a recommendation to the Superintendent of Schools for review by the Board of Education. The committee will notify inductees.The Graduates of Distinction program began with a conversation between two local educators in late 2007.Vincent Scalise, a retired superintendent of the local school district and former Geneva High School principal, said the idea grew out of a conversation he had with Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. “We thought it would be good to recognize those who went on to make their mark in the world,’’ said Scalise.So Gearan and Scalise enlisted Genevan Harriot Weiskittel to work on the idea and the three of them presented a proposal to the local school board, which approved the program last year.“Geneva High School has prepared many talented men and women who go out into the world and make a difference in their professions, communities and families,’’ Gearan said. “The Graduates of Distinction program provides current GHS students and the entire community the chance to celebrate their accomplishments and take pride in Geneva.’’

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