Lulu Harding also contributed to this article. All photos by Lulu Harding.
Malden High School’s Alumni Association hosted their fifth Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Anthony’s on April 29th, 2022, showcasing eight notable Malden High alumni and their significant contributions to one of the following fields: art, business, education, government, media, science and technology.
The event was a long time coming, originally scheduled for May of 2020. The people that were honored were chosen in the fall of 2019.
Alumni become eligible to be nominated by the committee 10 years after graduation and receive both an award as well as a permanent plaque that is displayed in Malden High. All of the net proceeds from the event go directly to the Malden High School Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, which awards money to Malden High students entering college the following year.
This year’s inductees included:
Albert Spadafora (Class of 1964 - Business)
Norman Greenbaum (Class of 1960 - Arts)
Nancy Finkelstein (Posthumous, Class of 1960 - Education)
Richard C. Howard (Class of 1970 - Government)
Michael Goldman (Class of 1967 - Government)
Ron Cox (Class of 1960 - Media)
Sandra Velleman (Class of 1977 - Science)
Phil Hyde (Class of 1982 - Technology)
The night’s MC was none other than Malden High School’s Principal Christopher Mastrangelo.
He opened his speech, “Many blessings I have to be the principal of Malden High School, and this is certainly one of them, to be part of the induction to so many impressive people that have done impressive things since leaving the high school.”
After the flag ceremony and singing of the national anthem by senior Yusra Tafraoui, Mayor Gary Christenson spoke before dinner was served to the guests.
Christenson, MHS graduate class of 1986, welcomed the night’s attendees, “On behalf of the city council and the school committee, [they] also say thank you, because as you know, we have gone through a difficult number of years here in the city of Malden, but the foundation that has been laid by all of you has never cracked. Thank you for the positive impact that you have had on our Malden Public Schools and the city of Malden.”
The first presentation of the night was for the owner of Anthony’s, Albert Spadafora (Class of 1964). He has spent over 60 years providing hospitality services in Malden and has been a recipient of numerous awards given for his generosity to the community.
Next was Richard C. Howard (Class of 1970), former Mayor of the City of Malden, who was not present for the event. Howard earned his degree from Suffolk University’s Law School and was instrumental in building five new K-8 schools and the Early Childhood Center. He previously served as president of the Malden Chamber of Commerce, Director of the YMCA and Commissioner of the Malden Housing Authority.
Nancy Finkelstein (Class of 1960) was awarded posthumously, with her sister Ellen and brother-in-law accepting the award on her behalf. She was an English and French teacher for Malden Public Schools and the President of the Malden Teachers Association (MTA). After eight years as president of the MTA, she was elected as President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
Her sister explained how she strongly believed that Nancy “was able to make an impact on [her students'] lives so that they could fulfill their dreams,” and she was always “a really good teacher, a good listener, a good advisor… I lost more than my sister, I lost a really good friend.”
While accepting the award, she also quoted what Nancy said while addressing the Massachusetts Association: “When people have asked me what I do, I never respond that I am a union president. I tell them that I am a teacher. I am proud to be a teacher. I am proud to be a president of teachers. And I am proud of all of you.”
Phillip Hyde (Class of 1982) is the CEO of InContinuum and Software and Chief Architect of its CloudController technology. Not only is he a technology entrepreneur, but he also speaks four languages. He studied physics at Syracuse University and earned a dual degree Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Northeastern University in 1987. He completed his Masters in Business Administration at the University of Colorado, and now resides in the Netherlands.
Some words of wisdom from Hyde: “Life takes you on a path, and you have to follow that path… or better yet, you make that path. Dedication, commitment, ambition; those are words that simplify somebody who does what they love. I don’t have a job. What I do is something that I just feel like doing. Anybody that’s been in business and said that ‘I’ve only had ups’ hasn’t really been in business because there’s also downs. Sometimes you have highs that are high and lows that are low.”
Dr. Sandra Velleman (Class of 1977) was named a distinguished professor for her research in Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, in Animal Science at Ohio State University. She received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Boston University in 1981 and her PHD from the University of Connecticut in 1986. Velleman also developed a nationally and internationally recognized research program in skeletal muscle development and has published over 190 journal articles, two ebooks and seven book chapters.
In addition to her scientific achievements, Velleman is active in helping females and minorities succeed in agricultural sciences. From 2016-2019, she developed and led the gender initiative for the college of Food and Agricultural Environmental Science at Ohio State University.
“I feel so fortunate. I could not have grown up in a better community than Malden and I am always appreciative of that. I thank you so much for this honor; it means the world to me,” Velleman concluded in her acceptance speech.
Executive Director of Urban Media Arts (formerly MATV), Ron Cox (Class of 1966), has helped to expand UMA into more than just a TV station. Today, it houses journalism programs, podcasts and collaborations with community groups. He is also an active member of the Malden Chamber of Commerce and ultimately plans on retiring in the late spring.
“Never in a million years did I expect this. I am overwhelmed at this honor of being inducted into the MHS Alumni Hall of Fame. The last time someone tried to induct me was 1969 and I failed the exam! But this is special, it’s from my hometown, the place where I grew up. Where I made my friends and began my journey of growing up and finding my way into the world… Almost 30 years ago… I went from a volunteer member to a video instructor, to eventually the executive director. It’s an incredible story. This award is really special to me because of the quality of the Malden High School teachers,” expressed Cox in his speech.
Composer and musician Norman Greenbaum (Class of 1960) recorded the iconic songs “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago” and “Spirit in the Sky.” A mural called “Spirit in the Sky” is dedicated to him at the 110 Pleasant St. building in Malden.
“I left here in 1964, I don’t have the memories that our other speakers have because I’ve been gone so long… [but] it did all start here in Malden,” he commented in his acceptance speech.
After telling stories from Hollywood and recalling memories from junior high, he concluded with a bit of advice for the audience: “Hang in there, know what you want, and go for it. You’re not all going to make it, and that’s okay, find something else because you still might make it with that.”
Finally, Michael Goldman (Class of 1967) accepted his award for his accomplishments in government. He formed Goldman Associates consulting services in 1979 and has taught at many colleges, including Tufts, Northeastern and Suffolk Universities. Goldman is a political analyst on both TV and radio and is currently a political columnist for the Lowell Sun.
At the end of the night, Vice President of the Alumni Association Arlene Ceppetelli commented, “I thought it was an amazing event, just being around the kids and the honorees and listening to the exchange and the questions, to me it was exhilarating. Everyone else seemed to have a great time, and that makes me happy, to see everyone else feeling so good. It’s just special.”
“Each of these citations state that the positive impact of the inductees here this evening truly embody Malden’s motto of ‘strong past, proud future.’ On behalf of all of us here in the city of Malden, a lot has changed and I know many of you have said that you did not recognize the downtown, but the fabric of who we are, which is a welcoming community and a caring community, will always remain the same because of you.” — Mayor Gary Christenson