DL announces 2017 Distinguished Alumni class

The Deer Lakes School District Distinguished Alumni Hall of Honor will recognize six graduates who have gained recognition for outstanding accomplishments in their fields of endeavor.

The 2017 inductees are: Thomas DeMartini (’67), Justin Fyala (’02), Jackie Jaros (’88), Karl Kennedy (’66), Michael Stephan (‘66) and Robert Tatrn (’57).

The induction ceremony and banquet will be held starting at 6 p.m. on May 5, 2017 at Deer Lakes High School.

Thomas DeMartini, West Deer High School, ‘67
Thomas DeMartini has spent his entire life leading others, be it students, businesses, organizations, communities and even school districts. DeMartini is perhaps best known as a long time local leader and the voice of the Community Days parade. He has also served as a director for both West Deer Township and Deer Lakes School District. However, what people may not know about him is he has also enjoyed two highly successful careers – first as a teacher in the Mars Area School District for 14 years; and later as a State Farm Agent, where he served the Allegheny Valley for 29 years.

Justin Fyala, Deer Lakes High School, ‘02
At just 32 years-old, Justin Fyala is the Executive Director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC. Prior to that, Fyala led the Windy City Gay Chorus and Treble Quire and the Youth Choral Theater of Chicago, where he served as President of the Chicago Fringe Festival Board of Directors. Fyala holds degrees from Penn State and Carnegie Mellon universities and he studied voice at the University of North Texas. Prior to serving at the executive level, Fyala has worked for the Pittsburgh Opera, Aspen Music Festival, Bella Voce, Dallas Opera, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, American Institute of Musical Study and the State College Centre for the Performing Arts.

Jackie Jaros, Deer Lakes High School, ‘88
Jackie Jaros has spent her entire life in the Deer Lakes community, first as a student and later teacher, school counselor. As a school counselor, Jaros has spearheaded many efforts to make the middle school as more inclusive and bully-free environment, including co-authoring the district’s anti-bullying curriculum. Jaros is also extremely active at the state level of student government and advises Deer Lakes Middle School’s student council. In 2015, after first being named the Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic Adviser of the year, Jaros was named Warren E. Shull National Student Council Adviser of the Year at the National Association of Student Councils (NASC) national conference in Albuquerque, NM. This past November, Jaros helped lead Deer Lakes’ hosting of the Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils (PASC) statewide conference, which featured approximately 1,000 student delegates and advisers from all corners of the commonwealth.

Karl Kennedy, West Deer High School, ‘66
Karl Kennedy’s journey has been marked by his amazing persistence, problem-solving ability and faith. He has served as a teacher in the sciences for North Allegheny, Shaler Area, Deer Lakes and Fox Chapel Area school districts. He also spent a quarter century working part-time as a programmer and analyst at Kopp Glass, Inc. However, his most remarkable achievements came outside of his professional life following the 1978 automobile accident that severely injured his wife. That left Kennedy to serve as his wife’s primary care-giver and to raise their two children, Elizabeth and Daniel. Kennedy was also elected for four consecutive terms as a school board member in the Mars Area School District and remains active in his local church as an ordained ruling elder.

Michael Stephan, West Deer High School, ‘66
Michael Stephan’s aviation career began in 1968 as a helicopter pilot and Second Lieutenant in the United States Army where he served until 1972. As a soldier, Stephan earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars and 31 Air Medals. Forty-eight years, 19,000 hours and six continents later, Stephan’s aviation career is still going strong and has allowed him to circumnavigate the globe three times and it has taken him to numerous countries – including Australia and New Zealand, where he counts snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and visiting the Tamaki Maori Village and geysers as being among his lifetime highlights.

Robert Tatrn, East Deer-Frazer High School, ‘57
Robert Tatrn has broadcast more than 4,000 sporting events during his distinguished 57-year radio career, earning him the nickname the “Voice of the Valley. In addition to his work at the high school level, Tatrn has called games for Pitt and Penn State and he served as a researcher and writer for Notre Dame football broadcasts. Tatrn has worked with national broadcasting icons like Keith Jackson, Ray Scott and Chris Schenkel and local legend, Bob Prince. In 2006, Tatrn launched a sports history website and has published more than 2,000 stories, with roughly 600 or so having appeared in books and other publications. Tatrn also co-founded the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame, which has inducted more than 400 members in its nearly five decades of existence.

The purpose of the Distinguished Alumni Award is to identify, recognize, celebrate, and honor those alumni who have distinguished themselves in academics, the arts, public service, professional contributions, or athletics at the collegiate or professional level and who, in so doing, have contributed to the pride and prestige of the Deer Lakes School District.

Earlier this year, the district circulated nomination forms asking residents of East Deer, Frazer, and West Deer townships to nominate a graduate from the former East Deer/Frazer, West Deer and Deer Lakes School Districts who had graduated at least a decade ago and whom they felt deserved to be recognized. A panel of judges, composed of administrators, individuals from the community at-large, former inductees, school board members, and current students selected the honorees from more than a dozen nominations. The honorees were selected on the basis of outstanding contributions made in their chosen professions.

Tickets to the Distinguished Alumni event are $25 per person and include dinner and the induction ceremony. For more information about the dinner and how to purchase tickets, or for information on previous inductees, please visit: www.deerlakes.net or contact the communications office by email: jcromie@dlsd.k12.pa.us or by phone: 724-265-5300 Ext. 2131.

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