It's not just a feeling — Wauwatosa West High School Principal Frank Calarco said he knows for a fact there's a large number of alumni from the school who have gone on to lead prominent careers in their chosen fields.
And now the school will recognize them.
Located just outside the school's auditorium is the new 'Wall of Recognition,' which will someday be filled with plaques honoring those who once walked the school's halls before finding success outside the classroom. The wall strives to honor individuals who have made a difference, succeeded, or have made the world a better place.
'I first saw it done in Menomonee Falls about six or seven years ago,' said Calarco, who has been principal at West since 2010.
'I knew I wanted to do it here, too.'
Calarco said he strategically chose a wall near the auditorium as he believes a large number of those honored will be involved in fine arts. The induction committee, composed of Calarco, Superintendent Phil Ertl, three teachers and a student, will collect nominations over the next few months. The inaugural induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 4, and Calarco said he hopes to induct about six people the first year and about two for each subsequent one.
Wauwatosa West High School, 11400 W. Center St., also is home to an athletic hall of fame, which has been inspirational to students, Calarco said.
'Students see photos on those walls and think 'I'm going to get my photo on that wall someday,'' he said of the athletic hall of fame. He said he thinks the same sentiment will carry over to the Wall of Recognition.
School officials plan to alternate inductions to the athletic hall of fame and the Wall of Recognition every other year, Calarco said.
Honors at East
Wauwatosa East High School is home to a similar project that began in 2003, dubbed the Wall of Inspiration.
Principal Nick Hughes said the Wall of Inspiration — which currently has about 20 plaques — recognizes a long list of notable alumni, including Howie Beach from the class of 1945, who joined the United States Army at age 18 during World War II before he finished high school. After he returned from war, he earned his high school diploma by attending night school and through tutoring lessons held in the homes of Wauwatosa teachers.
Dr. Phillips Talbot of the class of 1932 began his career in journalism before he was appointed the U.S. ambassador to Greece from 1965-69 in President Lyndon Johnson's administration.
Sister Patricia Ann Preston of the class of 1951 founded and directed a community center for Hispanic families and helped to create Notre Dame Middle School for Hispanic girls in Milwaukee. Preston was also a professor at Mount Mary University, serving twice as academic dean.
'What I do know is that our kids see people, and they read about their accomplishments and they go, 'Wow, they went to school here just like me,'' Hughes said.
East also has an athletic hall of fame.
To nominate someone for Wauwatosa West High School's Wall of Recognition, fill out the nomination form on the school's website at bit.ly/1Y6Afwr. For more information on the process, call the school office at (414) 773-3005.