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2016 Hall of Fame

HOF Award Graphic

Kathleen Domenicucci '81

Distinguished Alumna

Kathleen Domenicucci studied Health Assisting at Minuteman. She has stayed true to her abiding interest in the medical field throughout her career.  

She became an EMT after high school, then opted to be a medical assistant.  After taking courses at Mass. Bay Community College and Middlesex Community College, Ms. Domenicucci worked at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates in the late 1990s as a correspondence secretary in the medical records department.  Due to increased computerization, her position was eliminated, but Harvard Vanguard did help to finance Ms. Domenicucci’s return to school. She attended Fisher College from 1997 to 1999, earning an associate’s degree and graduating with honors. She worked next for a doctor in Marlborough for six years as a medical assistant.  

Ms. Domenicucci is currently employed at UMass-Worcester Medical Center in the ICU as a unit secretary and nurse manager’s assistant. “I’m happy,” she declares.  Her Minuteman education played a big part in getting her where she is today.  “I loved my time at Minuteman,” she said. “I had a fabulous experience there.”

Heidi (Taylor) Pitard '85

Distinguished Alumna

Heidi Pitard’s career path has been anything but linear.  She studied horticulture at Minuteman and envisioned herself eventually working in a flower shop.  Ms. Pitard did so briefly and found it was not quite what she anticipated, so she enrolled at the University of New Haven to major in criminal justice.  However, she never embarked upon a career in the correctional system as she intended. 

Another bend in the professional road took place when, after college, Ms. Pitard decided to enter the corporate world.  She also married and started a family, which she found did not blend well with her responsibilities as a wife and mother.  Ms. Pitard became a stay-at-home mom until a temporary job came along that entailed helping at The Apple Valley Flower Shop in Hudson, Mass., at Christmas 2001.

She had come full circle – and this time, she loved it.  In fact, Ms. Pitard was so convinced that she had finally discovered her true niche that years later, in 2013, she bought the shop, renamed it The Purple Violet, and is still contentedly at the helm.

She particularly likes bringing her unique personal touch to the colorful items she designs for her clientele. As for the usefulness of her Minuteman education, Ms. Pitard says it was incredibly helpful.  ”To this day,” she remarked, “I remain a huge advocate of vocational-technical education.”

Kenneth Lanzilli '83

Distinguished Alumnus

Ken Lanzilli studied plumbing at Minuteman with the goal of becoming an entrepreneur.  Although his career path diverged somewhat from that long-ago objective, he has had notable professional success by using the training he received in high school as a springboard to many significant achievements. 

A Medford native, Mr. Lanzilli attended Medford High School for ninth- and tenth-grade. At that point, he recalls his father saying, “Ken, let’s get a trade going for you,” so he subsequently transferred to Minuteman for grades eleven and twelve.  “It was quite the culture shock,” Mr. Lanzilli said with a chuckle. ‘There were only four of us from Medford at Minuteman.  It was fun, though. It was a social learning experience. In a month, it was my school.”

After his graduation in 1983, Mr. Lanzilli continued his education in the plumbing field, was employed in Florida for a while, then returned to Boston. He diversified himself, working at his family’s convenience store / gas station, doing plumbing part-time, investing in real estate and getting into the construction business. 

Mr. Lanzilli started filling in for the Medford plumbing inspector and was eventually asked to remain in that position on a permanent basis. Today, he is the building inspector for Medford and holds a number of licenses in the building trades.  A gregarious, outgoing individual, Mr. Lanzilli says he particularly enjoys interacting with the wide variety of people he meets on the job when he is out and about in the community.  

He excelled in sports at Minuteman, specifically football and wrestling. Praising the strength and speed of the 1981-82 football team for which he played running back and defensive back, Mr. Lanzilli remembers that the squad compiled a stellar season record and just missed going to the Super Bowl.  The wrestling team did well, too.  “We surprised a lot of people,” he said proudly. “Our chemistry made it work.”

To this day, Mr. Lanzilli credits the solid beginning he had at Minuteman for his present success. “Minuteman kept me focused.  It got me started on the journey to where I am now.”

Joyce Cusack

Service to Minuteman

Minuteman was very good to me,” says Joyce Cusack.  “You felt like you were part of a family.  I had very good relationships with a lot of people.”  Ms. Cusack, who retired on Sept, 1, 2016 after working at the school for 30 years, was in the business office doing purchasing for 25 years, then was an administrative assistant in various departments including Guidance for the last few years of her time at Minuteman.  

No matter where she was assigned, however, Ms. Cusack was highly valued for her diligence, professionalism, and her regard for the students, whom she still affectionately calls “my kids.”  

Getting to know many of them, especially during her time in Guidance, made leaving Minuteman much more emotionally wrenching for her. “It made leaving harder,” Ms. Cusack said. “I really do care about them.”

And they obviously care about her. The Class of 2015 called her up on stage at their Graduation in appreciation for everything she has done for the school, and the Class of 2016 established an award in her honor.

Steve Fernandes

Service to Minuteman

Steve Fernandes worked at Minuteman from 1982 to 2012, first as a teacher and later as a Department Chair and coach. He was respected for his collaborative leadership style during his tenure as Humanities Chair in charge of several programs including social studies, foreign languages, music, and art.  He established a departmental culture that reflected a philosophy of collegiality and mutual respect. “You don’t work for me,” he told the teachers. “I work for you.”

Working cooperatively with his department, Mr. Fernandes helped to lead initiatives that moved Minuteman forward: redesigning the social studies curriculum, hiring and training new teachers, and maintaining excellent professional relationships with his staff.  He enjoyed his interactions with members of the department, connecting with each teacher on a daily basis. 

Mr. Fernandes enthusiastically embraced his primary role as a history teacher, taking great pride in his daily lessons and his ability to challenge students to think critically. He was recognized as a leader at Minuteman for his successful implementation of Accelerated Learning techniques and History Alive strategies. Most of all, Mr. Fernandes was highly regarded as a beloved and popular teacher who made history “come alive” for his students.

Mr. Fernandes also enjoyed an outstanding coaching career at Minuteman.  He excelled at coaching varsity soccer (15 years) and golf (10 years).  Under Mr. Fernandes’ direction, Minuteman’s soccer team, which had never experienced a winning season, was transformed into a fierce league contender compiling a record of 186 victories. Over the years, the team had 13 winning seasons, including a season in which his team posted a record of 16-1-1, followed by an undefeated season.  Deflecting the credit from himself to the soccer team, he stated proudly, “I had a great group of players over the years.”

The golf team flourished as well, winning over 100 matches and qualifying for the State Tournament in all 10 years that Mr. Fernandes coached the squad. “Minuteman was very good to me.” he said.  “I enjoyed every minute of it.  It was an exciting place, a fun place.  I’d do it all over again.”

Sebastian Paquette

Service to Minuteman

“My thirty years at Minuteman (1980-2010) were and are meaningful to me,” said retired English teacher Sebastian Paquette.  “I had the great pleasure of working with some extraordinary people at Minuteman at all levels.  Superintendent-Director Ron Fitzgerald and others were instrumental in developing my teaching ability.  For that, I am most grateful.”

So are the young men and women who were Mr. Paquette’s students.  He was nominated for the Minuteman Hall of Fame by a former student, and even now, six years after his retirement, Mr. Paquette said he still receives dozens of letters, notes and cards from those who learned the fine points of English in his classroom.

A summa cum laude graduate of UMass-Boston who did post-graduate work at Salem State University, Mr. Paquette taught grammar, punctuation and literature to students in grades 10 through 12.  He teamed with fellow teachers working on brain-based teaching and learning, portfolio system design and implementation, AIDS education for students and staff, new teacher mentoring, and evening and summer computer courses for adolescents and adults.  He also taught “English for the Entrepreneur,” a course he developed.  It was given state approval and earned a federal grant.

In thirty years, Mr. Paquette said he never had a confrontation with a student or sent one to the office for misbehaving.  He is deeply grateful for a generation’s worth of indelible memories forged during his teaching career. “I feel I was very lucky,” he remarked.  “It was a happy, wonderful time in my life.”

Ford Spalding

Service to Minuteman

Ford Spalding has been the Dover representative to the Minuteman School Committee for eight years.  He is also chairman of the Minuteman School Building Committee and the Campaign for Minuteman’s Future.  Both have played an instrumental role in bringing the dream of a new Minuteman school building closer to fruition.

The pride Mr. Spalding takes in the favorable outcome of the recent district-wide referendum on funding the new facility is unmistakable.  “Our overwhelming ‘yes’ vote was a ‘yes’ vote for the new building and a ‘yes’ vote for future Minuteman students. It was the right thing to do.”

Mr. Spalding, who is in the insurance business, has also served on the Dover Board of Selectmen, the Dover Warrant Committee, the Dover-Sherborn Regional School Committee, the Small Business Association of New England and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. For someone with such a high level of interest in civic involvement, a position on the Minuteman School Committee was “a perfect fit,” he said.

“I care about education, students and the workforce,” Mr. Spalding added.  “My goal is for Minuteman to become the career and technical education school to go to for the right student who wants a specific education for the right goal.”

Janice Smith

Service to Minuteman

With 33 years of service to Minuteman, Janice Smith is the second-longest serving employee at the school after William J. Blake, Jr., who is one of her current supervisors.  Ms. Smith arrived at Minuteman on April 24, 1983 for a four-week stint as Superintendent Ron Fitzgerald’s executive secretary - and she’s been there ever since. 

Ms. Smith served in that capacity for 21 years.  She worked for Superintendent Bill Callahan for three years, then worked for Superintendent Ed Bouquillon for one year.  She is now the administrative assistant to Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Bill Blake; Director of Career and Technical Education, Michelle Roche; and Director of Educational Technology, Annamaria Schrimpf. 

The last three-plus decades have been extremely hectic.  Her responsibilities have included preparing her bosses for School Committee and other meetings, surveying teacher salaries in local school districts, doing newsletters and pitching in behind the scenes to assist with preparations for the Minuteman Hall of Fame induction ceremony.  Whatever the task, Ms. Smith always handled it with laudable efficiency. 

This is Ms. Smith’s final year at Minuteman.  When she reflects upon her time at the school, she thinks of how rewarding her position has been. She said she still keeps in touch with colleagues who retired as far back as 15 or 20 years ago, and witnessing the success of the students has also pleased her immensely. 

“Knowing that the work I do helps the students and the staff, and has helped Minuteman become what it is,” Ms. Smith said, has been tremendously satisfying.   

Former Superintendent Fitzgerald expressed his appreciation of Ms. Smith’s capability in a statement that will be read at the induction.  It says in part: “Her loyalty, communication skills, computer skill, discretion, and steadfast friendship were a powerful contribution to my work and to Minuteman until I retired in August of 2004.  Thank you to a great professional and special lady.”

1978-79 Boys’ Varsity Basketball Team

The 1978-79 Minuteman boys’ varsity basketball team was very special. Just ask their coach, Nick Papas, who started the school’s athletic department in 1975 and was closely associated with it, either as a coach or an observer, until he retired in 2008.

“As a 25-year-old varsity coach in 1976,” Mr. Papas wrote, “I literally ‘grew up’ with these guys. I have seen these young teenagers develop into terrific high school players, progress on to college careers, and now into manhood, with much success in their chosen professions and in the family life they have.  For this, as their ‘old Coach,’ I am most proud!”

The team members were Ed McGonagle, Paul Klemm, John Evans, Don Howard, Steve Bowden, Paul Bagineau, George Holly, Peter Haxton, Mark Palaima, Donovan Reid, Dan Sullivan, Peter Meade, Paul Szidat and Mark Wirzberger.

This talented squad put Minuteman on the athletic map, in Mr. Papas’ words. “We struggled the first year,” he recalled, “then developed a winning tradition.”

A centerpiece of that tradition involved an exchange program Minuteman had with athletes from Tervuren, Belgium. Nearly 80 athletes from that country came to Lexington in April 1979 for a tournament, then 102 Minuteman athletes and cheerleaders journeyed overseas in August 1979 for 17 days for a tournament in Belgium.  Minuteman emerged victorious in both international contests, prompting Massachusetts Governor Edward King to issue a proclamation in the team’s honor.

“This experience was very unique in the 1970s,” Mr. Papas explained. “We still talk about it today. It was outstanding.”

The squad notched a slew of records, garnering team and individual accolades. To this day, the 14 student-athletes on that unforgettable team have a secure place in Mr. Papas’ heart.  In 42 total years of coaching at four different schools including Minuteman, he says they remain his favorite group of all time. “The pride that they still have in wearing the blue and white Minuteman uniform is evident each and every time you speak to them,” he said.