Five inducted to Parkland’s Distinguished Alumni Wall of Honor
Five Parkland High School graduates recently joined the list of noted honorees as members of the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Honor.
The education foundation hosted its Seven Wonders of Parkland Distinguished Alumni Gala and Silent Auction May 7 at the Holiday Inn, Breinigsville.
The gala began with a cocktail reception featuring high school senior and singer/songwriter Skylar Gutman, and the Strolling Strings, under the direction of Brian Mishler, and students in the Makerspace program demonstrating their projects.
Emcee for the evening was Ben Youngerman, a member of the Class of 2005.
Entertainment included performances by the Varsity Dance Team, the STEP Team and the cast of the musical “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which received 15 Freddy award nominations just three days later.
Distinguished Wall of Honor inductees included Barry Dobil, Class of 1969, nominated by Rose Sibilia; Samir Lakhani, Class of 2010, nominated by his mother Dilshad Sumar-Lakhani; state Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, Class of 2000, nominated by Brittney Waylen; Don Patt, Class of 1962, nominated by his brother Douglas C. Patt; and Eric Roberts, Class of 1989, nominated by Dr. John Pfeiffer.
Dobil, owner of Josh Early Candies, was the South Parkland Youth Association Coach from 1984-91 and president of the Parkland Football Booster Club from 1994-2001.
He was chairman of the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign in 2014; a recipient of the PBS 39 Good Neighbor Award, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Community Service Award, and he received a Community Service Congressional Citation from the state Senate, all in 2016.
Dobil volunteers with the Fuller Center for Housing and Habitat for Humanity; and has been a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board/Development Task Force from 2011-2018.
Dobil told the audience when he began at Parkland, his best friend there was his brother Michael.
When he graduated, he had a new best friend and high school sweetheart Marci, whom he married in 1973.
“When I was at Parkland in the late ’60s there were five electives,” he said. “Guys either took wood shop, metal shop or mechanical drawing, and the girls took either sewing or cooking.
“I am here to tell you I broke through the glass ceiling.
“I was the first man in the Parkland High School history to take the cooking class.”
He ended by saying, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be standing here before you today, so thank you very much.”
Lakhani, who was unable to attend the gala, is the director and founder of the Eco-Soap Bank, a world wide soap recycling organization.
The soap bank deals with poor hygiene and sustainability in developing countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Lebanon by collecting gently used soap bars from hotels and guesthouses, sanitizing them and processes them into new ones which are donated to hospitals, clinics, schools, orphanages and village communities.
Lakhani, who received the 2017 CNN Hero award for his extensive work in Cambodia, is also the founder of the inKind Foundation and is a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.
He was a member of the PHS Varsity Tennis, and won first place at the PJAS Science Fair in 2006-09.
State Rep. Mackenzie, a member of the state House of Representatives, is in his fourth term representing the 134th District.
He was selected to serve as the Deputy Majority Whip, and is vice chair with the Labor and Industry Committee and subcommittee chair on Financial Services and Banking, Commerce Committee.
Mackenzie is an active member of the local community and is involved in a number of charities and nonprofit organizations.
Mackenzie said he was very humbled to be selected out of all the Parkland graduates to join the incredible group of Wall honorees.
“I know there are so many other people who are well deserving of this and hopefully will get to be recognized in future years as well,” he stated.
Patt is a successful entrepreneur in various real estate and non-real estate businesses and was a co-owner with his brother Doug in the largest real estate agency in the Lehigh Valley.
He has also served 21 years as a board member of the Jerusalem House Ministries, 12 years with the Allentown Board of Realtors and Boys and Girls Club of Allentown, nine years with the cancer support community, eight years with Kids- Peace, five years with Penn State Lehigh Valley, four years with the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and Valley Youth House and three years with the President’s Council of Phoebe Ministries.
He and his wife Diana have two children, Brad and Kristen, and five grandchildren.
Brad Patt spoke on behalf of his father who was unable to attend the gala.
He said his father was extremely honored and humbled to be given this great award.
“He feels he has come full circle at Parkland,” Brad Patt said. “His maturation began at Parkland and in many ways helped him prepare for what would follow at Penn State, the Air Force and his business.”
Eric Roberts is department chair of the Parkland High School Counseling Office.
He returned to Parkland in 1996 after earning a Master of Education degree in school counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science degree in school psychology from Eastern University.
He is an executive board member of the Justin Sheftel Memorial and advisory board member with the University of Pittsburgh Admissions.
Roberts received a Coca-Cola Educator Distinction Award in 2009, Yale University Educator Recognition Award in 2013 and the Superintendent’s Parkland Pride Award in 2015.
“It is truly an honor to be up here before you tonight and I am humbled to be in your presence to accept this award,” Roberts said. “Thank you to Dr. John Pfeiffer for nominating me.”
He said he was fortunate to have so many mentors along his way at Parkland, who gave so much of their time.
Rich Sniscak, superintendent of Parkland School District, was the closing speaker.
Sniscak began his remarks by congratulating the Parkland Education Foundation on “seven wonderful and cherished years,” before congratulating all the alumni inductees.
“There are so many alumni who make us proud and our five inductees stand out as true role models for today’s students to emulate,” Sniscak said.
After giving a brief update about the school district, students and the work the Foundation has done since its inception in 2011, he thanked Robert Heintzelman of Heintzelman Funeral Home, and his family for pledging $30,000 for the next three years to support the post prom party at the high school.
Sniscak also thanked presenting sponsors, volunteers and anonymous donors who generously donated to the silent auction. In addition, he thanked all the student performers, as well as their teachers and parents, for understanding the importance of fostering their talents.
Sniscak closed by giving a special thank you to Director of Community Relations and Development Nicole McGalla and the education foundation’s new executive director, Lisa Ervin, who undertook many responsibilities of the gala.