XENIA — The Xenia Community Schools Foundation Hall of Honor grew by five members April 28.
During the 20th annual celebration at Tecumseh Elementary School, Brad Montgomery, Phyllis Pennewitt, William Spradlin, Brian Lawrence, and Aleksander Svager were enshrined with other Xenia greats.
Montgomery, who was nominated by his daughter, Blair Davis, thanked his family and also his former teachers and coaches who “truly cared about me as a person.”
Montgomery also gave Xenia schools a big endorsement before leading everyone in a school cheer.
“Yes, we have challenging demographics,” he said. “Where can one learn from great teachers and received diversity training at the same time? Xenia is that place.”
Pennewitt, who died Jan. 12, was nominated by XCSF Executive Director Barbara Stafford.
“I had the honor of serving with Phyllis Pennewitt for several years, serving on the Xenia BRACA (Board for Recreation, Arts and Cultural Activities),” Stafford said. Pennewitt’s grandson, Charles Wilson, spoke on behalf of her family.
“It’s an honor to be able to accept this award for my grandmother,” he said.
Spradlin, who was nominated by 2017 inductee Doug Cope, has the distinction of serving as a firefighter and law enforcement officer, in addition to being a combat veteran. He was instrumental in the response and recovery during the September 2000 F4 tornado that hit Xenia, while also serving during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He cited his family members for their support of his careers.
“Over the years they sacrificed a lot of Christmas days. We had to open presents on Christmas eve because I had to go to work Christmas Day,” he said.
Stephan, nominated by fellow community volunteer Diane Dixon, said he would keep his speech short and thanked his teachers, family, and friends.
“We also had a cheer but it’s probably not G-rated,” he said.
Svager, nominated by Xenia school board member Dr. Cheryl Marcus, received a pair of standing ovations. The community volunteer and professor emeritus from Central State University is a Holocaust survivor and regularly shares his experience with students in an effort to get them to appreciate all individuals.
Svager said he wanted to be an electrical engineer but was told his eyesight was too bad for that purpose. He ended up as an educator, partly by accident due to his ability to tutor fellow students. He recalled a story of when he lived in Europe. He was told he would be tutoring four of his friends who had failed subjects. He did so well in helping them improve their grades that he ended up getting calls from parents of 50 other kids who wanted him as a tutor.
During his career, he has had five students receive a Ph.D. in physics, while 40 others received a masters.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.