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First Baldwin-Whitehall academic hall of fame class to be honored

| Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 9:01 p.m.

They come from all walks of life.

One is a local mayor, another a geologist and Antarctic researcher. There's a college president, U.S. senator, retired police sergeant, biomedical engineer, a teacher and coach, and a special agent in the FBI.

Yet, they all have one thing in common: They're graduates from the Baldwin-Whitehall School District.

Each one, too, has had great success in their personal or professional lives or contributed immensely to the community.

Eleven people were selected out of more than 35 nominations as the inaugural class of the Baldwin-Whitehall School District and Baldwin-Whitehall Education Foundation's Distinguished Highlander Alumni Hall of Fame.

The first class of the hall of fame, meant to recognize life accomplishments outside of sports, will be inducted during the district's 75th Diamond Anniversary Gala on May 2 at the South Hills Country Club.

“It's a great year to recognize them,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said. “We have such a great list. We're catching up for 75 years worth.”

District leaders began looking for a way to recognize alumni for their accomplishments, Lutz said. “You run into a Baldwin-Whitehall grad and they're doing some fantastic work,” Lutz said. “We looked around the district and said, ‘How are we recognizing those folks? We're really not.'”

The district already has a sports hall of fame that recognizes athletes for their accomplishments every other year. The goal is for the distinguished hall of fame to induct members in alternating years.

Foundation board members scoured through the list of nominations using a rubric with 10 criteria to dwindle down the list to 11 inductees.

The goal is to recognize Baldwin-Whitehall graduates who have found success in various aspects of their lives, Lutz said.

That included professional and personal success, community service, honors and awards received, and contributions to the mission or value of the school district, foundation President Anthony Graham said.

“We wanted to make sure there was a good representation of backgrounds,” Graham said.

Nominations ran the gamut from U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) to retired Baldwin Borough Mayor and longtime police Sgt. Alexander Bennett to Baldwin-Whitehall teacher Edward Helbig Jr. Graduates ranged from the class of 1952 to 1993.

Many of the people nominated were “heads of organizations, heads of companies,” something Graham said that surprised him.

“The one thing that rings through is they all take a leadership position,” he said. Members of the educational foundation, which see themselves as the “academic boosters,” hope to showcase their organization through this, as well, Graham said. Their goal is to give grants to teachers to augment initiatives.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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