July 23, 2013 - The Monticello Central School District is proud to announce the inaugural members to be inducted to the District’s Hall of Distinction. Ten outstanding individuals will be honored at a special ceremony on Sunday, November 3, the same day as the National Honor Society Fall Induction Ceremony.
Holding both ceremonies on the same day is significant,
explained Monticello Superintendent Daniel Teplesky. “We
will have the opportunity to honor our students who strive
for excellence as well as honor the Hall of Distinction
inductees, who have accomplished so much in their lives and
careers,” said Teplesky. “The common thread between both
events is our school, our community and our pride in both.”
The 2013 Hall of Distinction Inaugural Inductees are:
Harrison “Slam” Allen (Alumnus, Class of 1984)
Guitarist and singer Slam Allen was named “Future Legend of Blues” by Blues Magazine and has written and produced four critically acclaimed albums. As the lead singer and guitarist for the legendary Blues harmonica player James Cotton, Allen wrote two original songs on Cotton’s Grammy Nominated CD "Giant.” In 1995 he was voted “Best New Soul/ Blues Artist” by the Manhattan Blues Alliance. His critically acclaimed 1998 release “Things Sho’ Done Changed” on the RaveOn label garnered praise among blues aficionados.
Robert H. Benmosche’ (Alumnus, Monticello Jr. High School, 1962)
The current President and CEO of insurance giant AIG and past President and CEO of Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Benmosche’ was asked to come out of retirement at the request of the U.S. Government to assist in the effort to save AIG from bankruptcy, after a federal bailout of almost $182 billion dollars. The task, once thought to be impossible, was accomplished in a little over three years with the company financially sound today. A member of the Insurance Hall of Fame, Benmosche’ was recognized for his lasting contribution to the insurance industry and for being a successful leader, innovator and visionary.
Milton K. Berlye (Teacher, 1940-1970)
Interviewed and hired as a teacher at Monticello High School by Mr. Kenneth L. Rutherford in 1940, Milton K. Berlye was an innovative, compassionate and creative Industrial Arts teacher. During his thirty year career, Beryle served as the Director of the Adult Education Program (a new program in the 1960’s) and helped to develop Industrial Arts curriculum with the New York State Education Department. Two programs created for Monticello by Mr. Berlye, The Cooperative Work Experience Program and School to Employment Program (STEP), were developed to directly address high drop-out rates facing the district in 1964.
Stephanie Blythe (Alumna, Class of 1987)
Described as a singer of extraordinary versatility, Mezzo Soprano Stephanie Blythe began her professional singing career with the Metropolitan Opera in 1994. She has toured internationally with the Metropolitan Opera Company and made her Lincoln Center debut in 1998. Signed to the Virgin Classics record label, Blythe has performed with renowned opera companies throughout the world and most recently made her solo debut at Carnegie Hall in March, 2013, where she performed the works of Samuel Barber and James Legg, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Ray Henderson.
Lawrence Henry Cooke (Alumnus, Class of 1931)
Former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, Judge Cooke was instrumental in bringing about swift reforms such as uniform work hours and vacation, extended civil arbitration and uniform rules for all trial courts. Working his way up the ladder of the court system, Judge Cooke began as a private practice lawyer, was elected a Justice of the Supreme Court in the Third Judicial District, was appointed an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division and was eventually appointed Chief Judge by Governor Hugh L. Carey in January, 1979. In this position, he served with the highest accolades until his retirement in 1984. In 1997, the Sullivan County Court House was named in his honor.
Sonia Pressman Fuentes (Alumna, Class of 1946)
Ms. Fuentes was one of 49 founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and is one of nine surviving founders. She was also a founder of Federally Employed Women (FEW) and a charter member of the Veteran Feminists of America. She was one of the longest-serving members of the board of trustees of the National Woman’s Party (NWP). She was the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A published author, community and feminist activist, and public speaker, Ms. Fuentes lives in Sarasota, FL.
David Kaufman (Alumnus, Class of 1947)
Dedicated public official, community activist, volunteer and inspired humanitarian, David Kaufman is one of Monticello’s most distinguished public servants. A lifetime resident of Sullivan County, Kaufman served nearly 40 years in numerous lead roles including Supervisor for the Town of Thompson, C.E.O. of the Monticello Housing Authority, Chairman and member of the Sullivan County Board of Supervisors, President of the New York State Association of Counties, Mayor of the Village of Monticello and Trustee for the Village of Monticello. Throughout his career, Mr. Kaufman was the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions honoring the decades of compassionate self-sacrifice and his commitment to helping the citizens of Monticello find a better way of life.
Jeff McBride (Alumnus, Class of 1977)
Master magician Jeff McBride’s career began, innocently enough, at the library at the Kenneth B. Rutherford School where he discovered “The Golden Book of Magic.” His unique theatrical style of magic combines pantomime, martial arts, Kabuki theater and a dozen varied performing disciplines with world class sleight of hand. He has staged critically acclaimed shows in New York and Las Vegas, appeared on the World Magic Awards, where he received an award for “Best Classical Magician,” and has appeared on numerous television shows. McBride is the founder of McBride’s Magic and Mystery School, a school for aspiring magicians from beginner to expert levels.
Ida Mae Mitchell (Monticello CSD Board of Education Member, 1969-1977)
While serving as a member and Vice-President of the Monticello Central School District Board of Education, Mrs. Mitchell was known for her love of humanity and her passion to help children; she worked tirelessly and faithfully to ensure that African American students were accepted into “ivy-league” colleges; was a member of the Sullivan County Community College Board of Trustees, earned a Service and Dedication Award for the study of Afro-American Life and History. Her outstanding dedication made her a much loved and respected member of the Monticello community.
Roland Paramore (Alumnus, Class of 1984)
Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Roland Paramore served as a supply support specialist for 27 years in locations throughout the world before returning stateside. In 1999 he was accepted to the 99th Airlift Squadron, serving as a military Flight Attendant. In 2001 Senior Master Sergeant Paramore was offered a permanent position at Air Force One, ultimately serving as Superintendent of Presidential Flight Attendants. Serving Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, Paramore earned numerous medals and distinctions during his career and served as President Obama’s Chief Flight Attendant before retiring in September, 2011.
The Hall of Distinction was established in 2012 by the Monticello Board of Education to honor highly successful graduates, former students and former employees who have achieved distinction, outstanding accomplishment or significant contribution within their school, family, career, community and/or personal lives. Inductees are selected by a group of community stakeholders, Board of Education members, faculty and alumni. The Hall of Distinction is located in the lobby of the Arnold Packer Hughes Auditorium at the Monticello High School. Application forms for the 2014 Hall of Distinction will be available in December 2013.
For more information, visit the HALL OF DISTINCTION page or contact Laura McAndrew at 845-794-7700 ext. 70511 or by email to: email@example.com.