BERLIN - The Kensington-Berlin Rotary Club honored two former school officials at its recent annual meeting.
Former School Superintendent David Erwin and former Berlin High School Principal Francis Kennedy were recognized as Paul Harris Fellows at Casa Mia at The Hawthorne after a dinner there.
“Without these two men … we would not have the Interact Club that we have today,” said Elaine Pavasaris, a member of the club.
Efforts to form the Interact Club, the high school version of Rotary, had been underway for several years when Pavasaris approached Erwin and Kennidy.
Erwin told her that his son was in an Interact Club and he was all for the idea. Kennedy agreed, adding that he was a Rotarian.
“The stars just aligned,” said Pavasaris.
Paul Harris Fellow recognition goes to people who have made outstanding contributions to their community, said Pavasaris in a release announcing the event.
It is named after the man who started Rotary in 1905.
A $1,000 scholarship was made to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International on behalf of the pair’s recognition, which will go toward the second battered women shelter in Russia and a clean-water project in Cambodia, said Rotary District Governor David Mangs.
“This award is really humbling,” said Erwin, acknowledging the efforts of Pavasaris and Dr. Michelle Imossi of the New Britain-Berlin Rotary Club to get the club running. He was superintendent between 2010 and January of this year.
“Hearing what this honor … is going to do … in mention of me and in mention of Fran, it really is humbling,” Erwin added.
“This is so humbling and such an honor to have this bestowed upon us a special distinction,” said Kennedy,.
Kennedy retired from the top job at Berlin High School in 2017 to become an associate director of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
He lauded Interact Club faculty adviser Lisa Hatton’s positive personality traits, business savvy and math teaching to lead the club and help get it started. He shared a story of her teaching students by having cell phones light the white board during a power outage.
“If that’s not an Interact adviser, nobody is,” said Kennedy.
As part of the night, the club awarded scholarships to Jennifer Lauria Errico, who will be attending the University of Hartford to study radiology in the fall, and Calli Beatman, who will attend the University of Delaware, studying to become a physician’s assistant.
Errico said she will be looking to start a Rotaract Club, the college version of Rotary, at her school.
Hatton told how the Interact Club has grown from 13 to 162 members since it started six years ago. In that time, the group has completed 4,000 hours of community service, donated $65,000 to community service groups, hosted professional lectures, sent students to conferences and around the world and award scholarships to several students, she added.
Interact Club foreign exchange student Camila Isidora Macuada Villagran, from Chile, thanked everyone for her experiences. She went to the beach, high school prom and football games for the first time, also watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, skied and participated in the Berlin Memorial Day parade.
Newington Rapid Recovery Center was recognized as the outstanding sponsor for hosting the Festival of Wreaths and a eine tasting as well as the club’s Amber Alert sessions, which create ID cards for children.
District Governor Kate Sims also swore in this year’s slate of offficers: President Lou Zucchi, with his wife Juliette as proxy; President-elect Shree Joshi; Treasurer John Roman; Secretary Janisha Hill and Assistant Treasurer Marie Bogdanski, who was not present.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.