Scott Chesney, a 1988 graduate of VHS, reached out last month to VHS Alumni Association (VHSAA) honorees, the names on that wall in the high school’s lobby, to create a video that could be an inspirational lift to a most unusual school year. Chesney’s daughter Nia, a current student at VHS, did the technical work to put all the individual tributes together. “She’s been my tech support person since before the pandemic hit,” Scott Chesney quips.
The video features former administrators, school personnel, students and student athletes, including Dawn Scott Mulligan, VHS ’85, whose son Tommy happens to be in this year’s graduating class. Another former athlete, Steve Aldiero, VHS’86, quoted his legendary football coach, Al Rotella, to offer words of advice to the Class of 2020. “Turn a setback into a comeback,” he said.
Norm Liedtke, VHS ’70, stressed that every generation has its challenges. For his class, it was May 4, 1970, when 13 unarmed Kent State University students protesting the war in Vietnam were shot by the Ohio National Guard, causing four students to die. “We at Verona High School walked out in protest,” he noted.
Tom Valente, who retired from being principal at Forest 10 years ago after serving at just about every Verona school was hopeful that the social distancing that marked the last months for the Class of 2020 could become something positive in the future. “Let this fuel the fire among all of you to remain very close together as a class,” he said.
Above all, the video’s participants urged VHS ’20 to focus on the future. “Keep in mind that this is a commencement,” says Herb Babb, a former elementary school principal in Verona. “It is a beginning, not an end. It is an opportunity for you to proceed to something else much better and longer.”