Alumni

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This year the Rocket City is breaking down barriers. For the first time every inductee to the Space Camp Hall of Fame is a woman.

The inductees say Space Camp is what changed the course of their lives and every career decision they've made goes back to the first time they put on those blue Space Camp uniforms.

"It's amazing that a decision I made when I was 14 years old now, 31 years later, I am representing the Space and Rocket Center in a way that I never conceived, never conceived was possible," said (1991 Fitchburg High School graduate) Tara Sweeney, president and chief scientific officer of Servamer Corporation.

Sweeney is the president of an advanced technology test and evaluation company. What brought her to the camp that would change her life? Space Camp, the movie.

"At the very top of those credits it said 'filmed on location at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama,'" she said. "And I turned to my parents and said, 'This is real? This is some place that I can go?'"

You may wonder how many women characters are in this movie. It turns out some of are in starring roles.

"So it was easy to see myself as a pilot, astronaut, and someone who had to think through problems," Sweeney said.

Read more here.

All women Space Camp Hall of Fame inductees become role mode.mp4

A standout high school basketball player, Renee Tourigny had the same goal many players have after graduation: to step on the hardwood in college.

Though her collegiate career was derailed by an injury before it could begin, Tourigny still found a way onto the court. It just came in an unexpected uniform.

A referee for nine years now, Tourigny, 26, has officiated both college and high school games. And her hard work and dedication to the sport will be recognized next week as the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletics Association will honor the Fitchburg native as its 2017-18 Official of the Year in girls' basketball.

"It's great and it's an absolute honor," Tourigny, a 2010 Fitchburg High School graduate, said Wednesday afternoon. "I love officiating, so it's nice to be recognized for what I'm doing."

Tourigny's award will be presented in Franklin on May 30 at the third annual MIAA Official of the Year Banquet.

Tourigny says she plans on continuing to officiate games and "take whatever opportunities" come her way.

Read more here.

Tara Sweeney, a 1991 Fitchburg High School graduate, jumped at the chance, when asked by Superintendent André Ravenelle, to be the founding member of Fitchburg's Alumni STEM Mentoring Program.

The General Excellence Award winner, Gold F recipient, and FHS Athletic Hall of Famer hopes children are inspired by these mentors and will go on and do great things in their own lives.

'The No. 1 message I want them to know is that they are wicked awesome,' Sweeney said. 'By being wicked awesome, they can do amazing things for themselves, their family and their community, whether that community is Fitchburg, or in the far reaches of the universe. I'm a product of this amazing school system that has sent me off to do such amazing things in my own life.'

To this day, Sweeney makes sure to credit Fitchburg schools for equipping her to create her own path in life.

'No matter where I am in my life, I think it's very important to feel a connection to the school system that helped give me so much,' Sweeney said. 'I still have such a vested interest in the community where much of my family resides. It's where my teachers live. It's where my friends are now teachers. Fitchburg is such a special place, and I think it's important to give back, to try to be helpful.'

Read more here.

The 65-year reunion for Fitchburg High School's 1953 graduating class reunion was recently held at the Fitchburg Art Museum. Guests included a core group of local residents and graduates living out of state who attend every reunion, and some who were in attendance for the first time.

The event featured a presentation to graduates of the ongoing plans to restore the former B.F. Brown Junior High School to its former glory by converting it into affordable housing.

The evening ended with the 43 former classmates in attendance gathering together for a photo not unlike the class picture they all posed for nearly 70 years ago. Like the teenagers they once were, they poked at each other and laughed as the photographers tried to direct them how to stand.

Read more here.

fitchburg high school alumni

Craig Chalifoux

Principal, Longsjo Middle School

“The Fitchburg Public School provided me with excellent classroom experiences and many extracurricular opportunities to pursue my love of athletics through competitive sports. I was so fortunate to be coached and guided by caring professionals that saw my potential as a young student-athlete. Ultimately, it was the positive relationships formed with Fitchburg High School staff and classmates that set me on a career path with the necessary skills and determination for success.”

Class of 1981

Ellen J. (Martin) Ferraro, PhD

Director of Research & Technology, Raytheon

“My education in the Fitchburg Public Schools gave me the academic and leadership skills to be successful in both college and in my career. The teachers always showed strong commitment to the success of the students and provided us with opportunities to grow and develop as individuals. The breadth of the athletic programs and extracurricular activities provided at FHS enabled me to explore a wide range of interests, develop confidence and learn to be part of a team. I’m thankful to all of the teachers, coaches, class advisors and guidance counselors who helped me and so many other students along the way.”

Class of 1985

Deborah Gelinas, M.D.

Global Director Neurology and Immunology at Grifols; Clinical Professor University of North Carolina

“I believe my education at Fitchburg High School prepared me well for a lifetime of Academic Achievement. Honors English taught me to read critically, German and Latin taught me to assimilate new vocabularies, Advanced Math taught me to recognize patterns and Biology taught me to marvel at the complexity of life. I was fortunate to have had all that exposure to learning and encouragement to pursue future goals.”

Class of 1978

Ashley Green

Photographer, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

“Being a student of the Fitchburg Public Schools from K-12 laid down an excellent foundation for my further education and future career. Mr. Alan Twomley’s television media course took me from being a shy, quiet freshman to a confident, outgoing senior. Although I didn’t pursue a career in television media, I owe a great deal of the confidence I had to pursue a career in print journalism to that media course, a course I am confident in saying isn’t offered at every local high school. As I went on to work as a full-time photojournalist at The Sentinel & Enterprise, it was always a joy to return to Fitchburg schools and cover their many events and sports and see all the new things they had going on. Now that I’ve moved on to the Worcester Telegram, I’ll keep a piece of Fitchburg with me and always cherish my memories in the school system.”

Class of 2007

Colleen (Cummings) Hirons

English Teacher and Department Facilitator, Fitchburg High School

“Fitchburg Public Schools not only gave me an excellent education, but they also gave me a great sense of confidence and Independence. While college and then career have many challenges, the foundations of my Fitchburg education provided the tools needed to face the future head on with success.”

Class of 1980

Jim LaBelle

Food and Beverage Industry Executive

“For me, the passionate teachers and coaches I was fortunate to have in Fitchburg gave me a lifelong enthusiasm for learning and the confidence and desire to go out and engage purposefully with all the world has to offer.”

Class of 1982

Jean LaBelle-Pierce

Social Studies Lead Teacher and Senior Project Coordinator, Maynard Public Schools; Fitchburg School Committee

“Fitchburg Public Schools taught me the power of the individual and the responsibility of the individual to society. The teachers I learned from were committed to their students, passionate about their content, and determined to help us grow.”

Class of 1985

Ernest F. Martineau

Police Chief, City of Fitchburg

“My education in the Fitchburg Public Schools started at Crocker Elementary, then onto B.F. Brown Jr. High School. The FPS provided the building blocks that gave me the opportunity to serve my community for the last thirty years. Sense of community and pride was stressed, in addition to academics, in order to make a complete student.”

Class of 1983

Mike Pelland

Former Principal, Goodrich Academy

“The FPS experience provided a strong foundation and the confidence necessary to return as an educator. The example provided by teachers and coaches made a career decision seem easy for me.”

Class of 1973

Mark Pierce

Math Instructional Coach, Fitchburg High School

“The public school experience has helped to shape me into the person I am today. Whether I am teaching mathematics, coaching student athletes, or raising my family, I can draw upon the strong academic foundation and athletic experiences I received in public school as a guide in making informed decisions in my life.”

Class of 1987

Livia Racz

Group Office, Chemical, Microsystem, and Nanoscale Technologies and Portfolio Lead, Advanced Materials and Processes – MIT Lincoln Laboratory; Freelance Mezzo-Soprano Soloist

“The 1980s was a challenging time to be in high school. Teachers were getting laid off regularly, extracurricular programs were being cut, and there were no advanced placement classes to help prepare us for college. However, the inspiring and dedicated teachers who persevered, my friends with whom we self-organized our own school activities, and the citizens of Fitchburg who listened to us lowly high school students when we went to City Hall, all taught me grit and persistence. These experiences gave me the confidence to persevere and excel at MIT, after a professor told me that I didn't belong there, and the confidence to hold my own today in a tough, male-dominated research institution. Mr. Thorne and the music program at FHS was also a huge influence, and eventually inspired me to train as a professional singer, alongside my scientific endeavors.”

Class of 1985

Philip Schoenig

Director Corporate Integration, Raytheon-General Dynamics-BAE Systems, Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)

“The public school experience helped set the foundation for discipline, commitment and teamwork to achieving goals.”

Class of 1980

Peter Stephens

Retired Teacher/Principal, Fitchburg Public Schools; Fitchburg School Committee

“I have been associated with the Fitchburg Public Schools for 75 years, from when I started in first grade at Laurel Street School in 1943 to when I graduated from Fitchburg High in 1958. I have been a teacher, coach and administrator in the Fitchburg Public School system for many years. I have been on the Fitchburg School Committee for 10 years and was just elected for four more years. The teachers and administrators were the support which enabled me to be successful in my career as an educator for the children of Fitchburg.”

Class of 1958

Tara Sweeney

Owner of a technology test and evaluation company and a 3D-printing business; retired United States Air Force officer; has accumulated approximately five hours in microgravity through parabolic flight operations.

“The Fitchburg Public School system is the gift that keeps on giving to me. The teachers, administrators, and staff members laid the foundation for my personal development as a young child. They supported and facilitated my dreams as a teenager. And, now, they celebrate my success as a professional. I am so proud to hail from our Long Red and Gray Line of Fitchburg Public School graduates.”

Class of 1991

Jason Twomley

Senior Account Executive, Unitrends

“My exposure to diversity both in the classroom, school and sports helped me develop a foundation to the real world for both its successes and challenges you face as a human being everyday. Services and activities that public schools offer its students today gives them to opportunity to choose what fits their character and where they want to fuel their passion.”

Class of 2001