Alumni Hall of Fame: Giving Credit Where it’s Due

By Tatyanna Cabral, Tenzin Dorjee, Felicia Fallano, and Julia Parker

The Malden High School Alumni Association was able to successfully hold its third annual Alumni Hall of Fame event. Every year, the association has a plethora of candidates to select from throughout the history of MHS. Vice President of Fundraising Diane Lind explained that the process of finding these great people is honestly “word of mouth” as “somebody knows somebody,” and through that connection, the association was able to locate these alumni.

Lind expressed just how amazing Malden is, calling it a “real American city,” due to its truly diverse residency. Lind admitted that “there were 20 applicants this year, which is really good.” A special third party selection committee were then asked to review the applications to select the cream of the crop. Among the many potential contenders for the recognition, seven of the candidates were selected this year. Each have made a very large impact on not only the community of Malden but beyond it as well. This year, the inductees have gone on to have very successful careers in the government, education, military, military, business, and the arts.

MHS Alumni and current MHS students sitting down for the afternoon luncheon. Photo by Julia Parker and Felicia Fallano.

Upon being notified of the recognition, the new inductees were truly humbled. This year, former MHS students John A. Volpe (Government), Virginia Shahbas Yardumian (Education), Diane Portnoy (Education), Theresa Ciccolo Prince (Military), John Boris (Community Service), John McCarthy (Business), and Marc Phaneuf (Arts) were recognized for their contributions to society.

John Volpe, who was honored posthumously in the hall of fame, lived a very successful life in government. Volpe served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and became governor of Massachusetts twice. During his second term, Volpe cut his time as governor short in order to become the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. He also became the Ambassador to Italy for four years, thus making history by becoming the first Italian-American to become the Ambassador to Italy.

Yardumian exclaimed how she “was sort of surprised” at how she was chosen but was appreciative nonetheless. Yardumian is a woman who had an insatiable passion for reformation, as she believed that all students, regardless of their situation, deserved an education that provided them the opportunity to further themselves. Yardumian spent her career getting involved in the parent teacher association and the Malden School Committee because she believed that it was necessary to be involved in the school somehow, to make sure that the children are getting what they need. Yardumian was also a member of the League of Women Voters, an organization who worked tirelessly to engage all citizens in the decisions that impact their life and to give them a voice.

Portnoy is the CEO and founder of The Immigrant Learning Center in Malden. The non-profit organization provides classes to immigrants who did not speak and/or write in English. Portnoy herself also immigrated to the United States from Poland shortly after the Holocaust had ended, and had to adapt to a new country just like those who attended classes at the Immigration Center. She founded the center because she saw a dire need for a place where immigrants could learn how to prosper in their new home. People thought that she would not be able to achieve this goal of her, but she proved all of them wrong and continues to help people.

A family member speaking on behalf of an Alumni who wouldn’t attend the dinner banquet held in Anthony’s function hall. Photo by Tenzin Dorjee and Tatyanna Cabral.

Prince even confessed how it was “[MHS that] basically gave [her] will and drive to do things that she never expected to do.” With that will and drive, Prince was able to become the first female in the history of the South Carolina Air National Guard to become a Brigadier General. Throughout her career, she was able to situate herself as a true decorated veteran. Not only has she dedicated her life to military service, she is also a licensed family nurse practitioner who truly cares about the well-being of other, which very much so relates to her military job.

Boris first left MHS in 1956 to join the army at 17 years old to help support his family, but then graduated with his diploma in 1964. Throughout his life, Boris has experienced health problems. Though, despite facing such setbacks, he managed to become the chairman of the Housing Authority in Salem, MA, where he is involved with the local food bank, helps homeless families in need, the elderly, and autism, cancer, and cardiac patients.

McCarthy has seen a very successful career in the banking industry, conducting much business overseas. As a current resident of Istanbul, he works as chairman of the ING Bank Turkey, along with its subsidiaries in Ireland and Bahrain. Recently, McCarthy was even elected to the Tufts University International Board of Advisors.

Phaneuf is a Malden-born and New York-based musician who has gotten to perform alongside many famed names throughout his career. Among his many associations his catalog of connections  include the likes of Frank Sinatra, Lady Gaga, Ray Charles, and he has also worked on productions such as The Little Mermaid and Fiddler on the Roof for Broadway. He stated how “it [felt] very validating” to gain the recognition. He was surprised to be a candidate and also expressed that, “whatever road [his career] leads [him] down is fantastic.”

The alumni’s day began with a luncheon hosted in the Gallery of the high school, where Anthony’s catered. The hall was filled with MHS alumni and the officers of all four classes were in attendance as well. Before the food was served, students and alumni conversed about the high school and life in Malden, particularly about how different it is now compared to how it was back in their heyday. After their meals, the students and faculty offered to give the guests a tour of the new ends of the school that were not there when they were students. Some of the additions to the school that were new to the alumni were the pool, the gym and the engineering classrooms in the basement.

Mayor Gary Christenson speaking before MHS alumni at the dinner banquet held at Anthony’s function hall. Photo by Tenzin Dorjee and Tatyanna Cabral.

Following the luncheon and tour, many of the students of MHS were able to hear the inductees’ tales of grandeur during an assembly. This assembly addressed many questions that the students had about the lives of the inductees currently, and the lives that had had while they were attending MHS. The students of MHS truly enjoyed the stories as they all were very engaged as the alumni spoke.

To wrap up ‘a day down memory lane,’ the inductees were invited to a dinner banquet at Anthony’s. Those attending included not only this year’s inductees, but also their family, friends, and other MHS alumni, such as MHS principal Dana Brown and Malden mayor Gary Christenson. The alumni and friends were able to talk and reminisce. Afterwards, Anthony’s went to work, providing all the guests with delicious food for all. After dinner had been undergone, one by one, the inductees gave a few words of appreciation for being able to receive the distinction of a Hall of Famer.

MHS has always been a school that is proud of its students, old and new, young and old, and being able to educate people to become the best versions of themselves is its greatest joy. These inductees are proof the good MHS has done for not just Malden, but for the world.

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