Highland Alumni Association announces 2023 Distinguished Alumni (Hall of Fame ceremony to take place Sept. 15)

The Highland Alumni Association, in partnership with The Highland Foundation, has announced its newest class of Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame inductees.

The six honorees span generations of Highland graduates, reinforcing the district’s ongoing commitment to educational excellence and include James Kendel, class of 1976; Donald Maatz, Jr., class of 1982; Suzy Marquis, class of 1992; Kelly Rostocil Rutkowski, class of 1995; Missy Schreiner, class of 1990; and Ronald Ciammaichella, class of 1953.

While at Highland, Kendel played football, wrestled, ran track and played the trumpet in the concert band. After high school, he attended the University of Toledo and Palmer College of Chiropractic. He has worked in his Medina chiropractic practice for 41 years.

Over the last four decades, Kendel has volunteered his time to many of the area high schools’ teams, including wrestling, track, soccer and football. He also has coached and set up numerous teams’ weightlifting programs.

He and his wife are also the proud parents to 10 children.

At Highland, Maatz enjoyed being a member of the marching, jazz, and pep bands. He was a 4-H camp counselor and member of the National Honor Society. After high school, Maatz attended the Naval Nuclear Power School in Orland before attending The Ohio State University, where he majored in welding engineering.

Maatz served in the United States Navy from 1982 to1988 and was stationed on the USS Pittsburgh, a fast-attack nuclear submarine. While in the Navy, he was an operator and welder for the Naval Nuclear Power Program and held a secret clearance-level in the U.S. Department of Defense.

During her time as a student at Highland, Marquis was very involved in many activities and sports, including National Honor Society, SADD, Homecoming Court, concert and marching band, basketball and track. She volunteered to help in the special education classroom during her study hall period, which helped foster her passion for working in the classroom.

Marquis earned her undergraduate degree at Ashland University and a graduate degree at Kent State University and has more than 25 years of experience working with children with special needs in the Brooklyn School District. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree.

Marquis’ current volunteer work spans many venues, including Highland. She is a 4-H advisor, president of the Highland Football Club, active member of the Highland Athletic Boosters and is known as “the concession stand lady” for her countless hours spent working in and for the concession stands at Highland High School.

Rutkowski played basketball, was a four-year varsity runner for the track team and a three-year varsity starter for the girls’ soccer team. She also broke the one-mile record and was part of a school-record breaking 4×800 relay. She earned all-county and all-conference honors for both track and soccer. Rutkowski’s soccer career continued into college where she played four years for the Ashland University Eagles.

Today, Rutkowski teaches in the Brunswick City Schools. She has coached cross-country, track and high school soccer for Brunswick. Rutkowski is very proud of her role in Brunswick’s anti-bullying program, Chain Links, by hosting the Rachel’s Challenge group and organizing the event to host grades 6-12 and to include community members. Rutkowski has been awarded the “Teacher Excellence” award and was a Fox News “Cleveland’s Own” shoutout.

Schreiner was very active during her high school years, serving as a Highlighter member of the drill team/flag corps, as well as line leader her junior year and captain her senior year. She also was a pep club member, Lil Sis cheerleader for the wrestlers and organized the Senior Night/Awards Banquet. When her own children attended Highland Schools, she embraced the opportunity to get involved again, serving as a Girl Scout Leader, Girl Scout Service Unit Director, PTO member and assisting with band, robotics and choir boosters.

Among her many other accolades, Schreiner was the Highland Pride Award winner in 2016, a member of the Facilities Advisory Committee in 2014 and United Way Spotlight Volunteer Award winner. Her newest role is serving on the Highland Board of Education. She is also a board representative for the Highland Foundation.

Ciammaichella is being awarded the distinction of Distinguished Alumni posthumously. As a member of the first graduating class of Highland High School, Ciammaichella enjoyed playing varsity basketball, varsity football, baseball and track, and playing in the band and Boys Quartet. He also was a member of student council.

Following graduation, Ciammaichella attended technical school and became involved in the Air National Guard of Ohio. He enjoyed serving on the Hinckley Lions Club and was a Hinckley firefighter and constable. He founded the Hinckley Police Department and served as its police chief for 13 years.

Serving as president of the Highland Athletic Boosters, a member of the Highland Board of Education, and as treasurer and team coach for the Hinckley Little League Treasurer kept Ciammaichella very busy. He was no stranger to the Highland community and could always be seen at his children and grandchildren’s Highland events.

The district and community will celebrate the honorees at a special Hall of Fame ceremony and reception on Friday, Sept. 15, at the Highland High School Media Center prior to the start of that evening’s  Highland Homecoming football game versus Tallmadge. Inductees will also be recognized on field during halftime.

Tickets for the pre-game reception can be purchased online at highlandfoundation.org/distinguished-alumni-hall-of-fame. Limited tickets will also be available at the door. Doors open at 4 p.m. for high school tours, followed by appetizers at 4:30 p.m. The ceremony will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m.

The Highland Alumni Association recognizes a new class of honorees every two years, with nominations accepted via The Highland Foundation website. The selection committee, comprised of members of The Highland Foundation executive committee, considers various criteria when selecting Distinguished Alumni, including a nominee’s accomplishments in their chosen vocation, their demonstrated leadership skills and their commitment to the community. All nominees must have graduated from Highland at least 10 years ago. ∞