By Sean Barron
For a few generations of the Ricciardi family, attending Boardman High School has left a trail that likely will be covered with plenty of memories of proud accomplishments and moments – not to mention some significant travels.
“I was the head majorette for the marching band,” remembered Carol Wellendorf Ricciardi, who played the clarinet and graduated in 1966. “The band was the best thing in my life.”
Fast-forward 52 years to what undoubtedly will be another topper for Ricciardi: watching her granddaughter, Mariah A. Ricciardi, walk across the stage to receive her diploma, which she did during Sunday afternoon’s Boardman High School Class of 2018’s commencement in the gym.
The elder Ricciardi also was among more than 70 former students who accepted the Boardman High School Alumni Association’s invitation to take part in a 100-year celebration of the school district, which started in 1918.
As the commencement got underway, the alums, who represented 72 of the district’s 100 years, ushered in the Class of 2018. Leading the way were Bettilou (Whitehouse) Lyon, a Class of 1945 member, and Richard Selby, who graduated in 1949 before serving as principal from 1970 to 1985 and superintendent from 1985 to 1996.
The celebration was the culmination of four events that took place over the past year to honor the milestone, noted Cheryl Tarantino, the Alumni Association’s president who spearheaded the celebrations.
Carol Ricciardi’s travels as part of the Boardman band took her everywhere from the Canfield Fair to a Buffalo Bills game to the 1964 New York World’s Fair, she fondly recalled. The late Richard Bame, the band director who later became a guidance counselor, played tuba in the Ohio State University band, so he tried to fashion the Boardman group after OSU, said Ricciardi, who also praised assistant band director Joe Purser for his leadership.
Ricciardi, a retired teacher who worked for the Educational Service Center with preschool children with special needs, added that her mother, Vesta Wellendorf, taught sixth grade at Stadium Drive Elementary School and Boardman Center Middle School before retiring in the late 1970s.
“I’m so proud of her; she’s done so well,” Ricciardi said, referring to her granddaughter. “I can’t wait to see the things she’ll be doing in the future.”
Some of those things include enrolling this fall at the University of Akron to study biomedical engineering, with a career in mind that may entail environmental preservation, and trying to get a job this summer, Mariah Ricciardi explained.
Ricciardi, who graduated with a 3.9 GPA, said that one of her proudest achievements is having taken honors classes as well as some at Youngstown State University, a move she said she feels “got me on track for college.”
Beyond the classroom, Ricciardi prides herself in trying to emulate her grandmother’s moral code, example and environmental activism, such as performing community projects in that vein and passing out pamphlets in her church, she added.
Also proud to be a Boardman grad is Ronnie A. Scott, whose intent is to take classes at Eastern Gateway Community College this fall before transferring to YSU to major in criminal justice, with a minor in forensic science.
“I want to be a CSI [crime scene investigator] or a crime investigator,” said Scott, adding that having played cops and robbers with her younger siblings as a child, as well as a desire to help others, were pivotal in whetting her interest in that field.
Scott listed throwing the shotput and discus for and being selected captain of the track team, along with making many friends, as among her proudest school moments.
As they move forward, it’s important for the grads to make efforts to get to know and gleam wisdom from other people’s stories, realize that others will continually critique them and to choose challenging but realistic goals, Superintendent Timothy Saxton advised.
“Always remember you’re more special and gifted than you know,” said Principal Cynthia M. Fernback, who urged the grads to cherish their victories yet remain courageous in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks, challenges and adversities. “Remember, you are rare and more beautiful than you know.”
Additional remarks came from Morar and Pranav Padmanabhan, presidents of the senior class, and Noah H. Falleti, student council president.
The Class of 2018 also included 19 students who finished with a perfect 4.0 GPA: Carly M. Amendola, Monica L. Brown, Mitchell J. Brunko, Justin J. Chapman, Ashley E. Clark, Annaliisa S. Cordova, Makayla A. D’Eramo, Alaina C. Fullerman, Judy M. Garzanich, Kyle D. Kimerer, Bryan F. Kordupel, Cade M. Kreps, James T. Lagese, Alexandra E. Morar, Molly A. Slater, Jacob E. Smotzer, Madison J. Soles, Marissa A. Sudac and Devin A. Whitaker.