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A Tosa State of Mind

Alderman Dennis McBride represents Wauwatosa's 4th District. An attorney and graduate of Wauwatosa East High School, Ald. McBride strives to be an effective, thoughtful, and nonpartisan representative for his constituents and for his hometown.

Children of inspiration

In 2002, fellow Wauwatosa (East) High School alumni and I met with then-principal William Stroud to create what has become the school’s “Wall of Inspiration.”  We inducted our first group of distinguished alumni in 2003.  Since then, we’ve honored 27 alumni.

Previous honorees include men and women alike:  a war hero, a pathbreaking national news anchor, business leaders, philanthropists, humanitarians, entrepreneurs, award-winning authors, an Academy Award nominee, a National Medal of Science recipient, a former U.S. ambassador, one of the world’s greatest composers, and a priest and former papal diplomat who is General Secretary to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, among others.  What they share is a commitment to excellence – and a Wauwatosa public school education.

 

On Monday, May 16, 2011, we’ll be honoring four more distinguished graduates.  Here are shortened versions of the biographies on their plaques:

 

Howard Beach (Class of 1945) had not finished high school when he joined the Army at age 18 in 1943.  In 28 months of duty in World War II, he endured harrowing battle conditions, including the Normandy (D-Day) invasion and 11 months of steady combat with the Ninth Infantry Division.  For his heroism, he was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous bravery and five Campaign Battle Stars.  After the war, Beach earned his high school diploma and attended the University of Wisconsin.  His book The Private War of Howie Beach describes the trials of battle and the stress of returning home after war.  With his participation in the documentary film “Warriors, In Their Own Words” and the publication of a portrait book of 31 combat veterans, Beach continues to help veterans, contributing all profits of “Warriors” to Freedom Is Not Free, an organization that aids service members and veterans, their families, and families of deceased veterans.

 

A professor and administrator at Mount Mary College, Sister Patricia Ann Preston (Class of 1951) dedicated her life to higher education and the betterment of women, particularly the underprivileged and minorities.  After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she entered the School Sisters of Notre Dame, becoming Sister Patricia Ann Preston in 1958, and earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.  Sister Patricia Ann once wrote she was most proud of “being a friend to those who have fallen through the cracks of society.”  She founded and served as director of the first bilingual Head Start program in the U.S.  She was founder and director of a community center for Hispanic families, and helped to create Notre Dame Middle School for Hispanic girls in Milwaukee.  She also co-founded Milwaukee Spectrum High School for girls.  Her work at Mount Mary College spanned four decades, including two stints as Academic Dean and service as director of multiple college programs and chair of the Spanish department.  She retired with emerita status in 2005. 

 

Dr. Patrick McBride (Class of 1972) is a Professor of Medicine and Family Medicine, Associate Dean for Students, and Director of Preventive Cardiology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.  A colleague wrote, “Dr. McBride is widely recognized as one of the leading experts on preventive cardiology in the United States.”  Dr. McBride earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a master’s degree in public health from the University of South Carolina, and an M.D. degree from UW-Madison.  Both UWM and South Carolina have named him as a distinguished alumnus.  His primary areas of research are in preventive cardiology, cardiovascular risk factors, and the quality of cardiovascular disease prevention in practice.  He has written more than 100 publications on heart disease and prevention and has received dozens of honors and awards for his teaching and community service.  The author of numerous national guidelines for health care, Dr. McBride also has held many state and national leadership positions in health care.

 

Last, but hardly least, is Tosa East’s first Nobel Prize winner.  After graduating from Wauwatosa High School and Lawrence University, Dr. Thomas Steitz (Class of 1958) earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and went on to post-doctoral research at both Harvard and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.  He is Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Professor of Chemistry, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator at Yale University.  In 2009, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Dr. Steitz and two co-recipients for their work “describing the structure and function of the ribosome.”  These discoveries explain one of the most basic processes in all life forms, and are expected to lead to major breakthroughs in the treatment of bacterial infections.  Of Dr. Steitz, Yale President Richard C. Levin said:  “His work is a compelling example of how a quest to answer fundamental questions about life processes can lead to dramatic benefits for mankind.”  

 

For those who love Wauwatosa East High School, our Wall of Inspiration honorees are treasures.  For those who need to know how a community can love its public schools so much, they need only visit our Wall of Inspiration.

 

Today, Wauwatosa’s high schools still turn out graduates who someday will be worthy of the Wall of Inspiration.  Each time the students attend a Wall of Inspiration ceremony, they hear the honorees begin their acceptance speeches with expressions of gratitude to their parents and their teachers – the people on their personal walls of inspiration.  

 

Wauwatosa is a special place because we have always valued our public schools.  Our dedication to education has inspired our children, and now they return to inspire us.  Our duty is to keep on supporting our community schools so our children can continue to make the world a better place.  

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