Alumni Awards honor community members

History teacher Barbara DiPaolo will be awarded the Lamp of Knowledge Award April 25.

Amy Kang

History teacher Barbara DiPaolo will be awarded the “Lamp of Knowledge Award” April 25.

Christian Maines, Staff Writer

The recipients of the Alumni Awards were announced Feb. 13. The Alumni Awards will be presented April 25 at the Spring Fling Cocktail Party.

The first award is the “Distinguished Alumnus Award,” which “recognizes an alumnus for outstanding achievements or contributions to St. John’s, the community, the state, or the nation.” This will be presented to J. Gordon Dees, who was nominated by E. Philip and Maurie Cannon.

“I was extremely flattered and honored to have been nominated for the Distinguished Alumnus Award by Philip and Maurie as they are both wonderful people for whom I have great affection and respect,” Dees said.

Dees has served on the Alumni Board three times and was president of the board in 1996. He has also served on various SJS planning committees.

“I am, of course, delighted but greatly humbled when I consider the many SJS alumni who have accomplished so much and distinguished themselves in their professions, by their contributions to the arts and their service to their fellow men and women,” Dees said.

The second, the “Maverick Award,” recognizes “personal, professional or artistic accomplishment.” The recipient of the Maverick Award is Zach Heinzerling, whose film “Cutie and the Boxer” was nominated for an Academy Award.

The “Lamp of Knowledge Award” is given to a current member of the SJS faculty.  Upper School history teacher Barbara DiPaolo will receive this award. DiPaolo was nominated by former advisee Kate Beittenmiller.

“It’s so flattering to know that your students still remember you after they’ve gone, and that they would nominate you for an award like that,” DiPaolo said. “I was shocked when they said I had won this award because you always hope that you’re doing a good job, and it’s good to get this kind of affirmation.”

DiPaolo has taught in the Middle School and the Upper School and currently teaches World History I and Modern Middle East, a senior seminar.

“This award is about making a good impression on the kids and seeing  that they appreciate what you’ve done,” DiPaolo said. “I was so flattered and so happy — it’s a wonderful thing.”

The “Honorary Alumnus Award” will be presented to Coach Julie Russ for over 40 years of service at SJS. Russ was nominated by Jack Daniel.

“I’m just completely and totally overwhelmed and honored. I’ve been here a long time, so it’s really gratifying,” Russ said.