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Flag has special meaning for Plum graduate

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 7:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
Student Ambassadors Colleen Brown, Sarah Carroll and Caroline Crossey demonstrate the new touch-screen TV located in the Plum High School media center featuring interviews with distingusihed alumni including FBI agent Richard Evanchec, a member of the Distinguished Alumni Class of 2010. Evanchec recently gave the school a United States flag that flew over Bagram, Afghanistan, where he is stationed.

FBI Special Agent Richard Evanchec was a senior at American University in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks occurred, including the one at the Pentagon.

“I lived a mile from the Pentagon,” Evanchec, 34, said. “It was a pretty powerful thing for me.”

The experience prompted Evanchec, a 1998 Plum High School graduate, to embark on a career “confronting the terrorism challenge.”

Evanchec's career so far led to his induction into the Plum High School Distinguished Alumni Class of 2010.

At his induction, Evanchec met retired Plum teacher Bob Ford, who was instrumental in starting the program with the first class that was inducted in 2009.

Ford was thrilled when Evanchec proposed sending Plum High School an American flag that was flown over the FBI compound at the Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on March 28.

“Rick is one of the most wonderful people,” said Ford, 77, of Plum. “It was a true honor meeting him.”

Evanchec said the flag was flown in honor of the Plum High School Distinguished Alumni Class of 2014, as well as the high school faculty and staff.

“It is my hope this flag will fly over the grounds of Plum High School as a fitting tribute to those who have used their lives for the betterment of others and in honor of all those who have given their lives to protect the values we enjoy as Americans,” Evanchec wrote in a letter that Ford read during the induction ceremony for the Class of 2014 on April 28.

Evanchec began his career with the FBI as an intelligence analyst. In 2006, Evanchec worked in Iraq assisting with the prosecution of Saddam Hussein. Most recently, Evanchec was assigned to Afghanistan, where he worked with the military on criminal prosecutions.

Plum High School Principal Ryan Kociela said plans call for the flag eventually to be placed in the new media center at the library.

The first graduating class – Plum High School Class of 1961 – donated the money for the media center, which has a touch screen television on which are biographies of members of all six distinguished alumni classes. Interviews of the alumni conducted by members of the Plum High School television production class are planned to be added.

“I think about how special this flag is having flown over Afghanistan,” said Sarah Carroll, 17, a senior. “It is awesome to have this historic artifact at our school.”

Colleen Brown, 17, a senior, said she appreciates the opportunity to learn about the distinguished graduates.

“Students will be able to know what we can achieve by seeing everything they have done,” Brown said. Ford continues to marvel at the graduates who are nominated for the distinguished alumni classes.

“It is amazing how many people (distinguished alumni candidates) are still on the list,” Ford said. “It is a heartwarming thing for me. When I started it, I had no idea where it would go. Each year, we have these quality people who have done so much. We have so much to be proud of in Plum.”

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or

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