As part of Sparks High School Homecoming week, the Sparks High alumni association will be hosting its annual Hall of Fame event on Friday.
Former Sparks High principal Carol Dipoali (of which the Dipoali Middle School is named) came up with the idea of creating a Hall of Fame about 18 years ago with the thought that if current students saw former students succeed it would motivate them through high school to go on and do great things after they graduate.
Since its inception, the Hall of Fame has inducted around 75 people and no more than 10 Sparks High alumni are nominated in one year. There are four inductees who have been nominated in the 2018-19 school term, selected from a committee comprised of faculty, staff, the booster club, and fellow Sparks High alumni. The four alumni inductees entering the Hall of Fame this year include:
• Dr. Jenny Salls: Former math teacher at Sparks High, McQueen High School, and Clayton Middle School
• John England: Volunteers as a sports coach at Sparks High and works in the sporting goods industry
• Jerry Maldonado: Celebrated a successful career in the army and worked as a special education teacher
• Inez Casale-Stempeck: Her family has managed the Casale Halfway Club for decades; in fact the restaurant is rumored to be the oldest Italian diner in the state. Inez herself has managed the restaurant for more than 50 years and five of her six kids graduated from Sparks High.
Along with the Hall of Fame event, Sparks High School kicks off Homecoming Week with its annual flag raising ceremony on Monday morning. The class that celebrates its 50th reunion donates a new flag and shadow box and this year the Class of ’68 will be gifting the flag. Then the induction ceremony will be held on Friday at 3 p.m. at the school followed by the football game and Homecoming activities.
“This event is hopefully inspiring to current students to prepare for the future and honor the past. It’s wonderful because students are assigned to interview the inductees. They present the award to inductees and then it’s placed in the Hall of Fame room,” says alumni association board member Dennis George.
George says that a number of Sparks High inductees have stood out over the years, including federal judge Procter Ralph Hug Jr. who was appointed by Jimmy Carter in 1977 to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
There have also been a lot of former teachers, coaches, two Sparks mayors (Geno Martini and Tony Armstrong), decorated military veterans, Washoe County School District retired trustee and former Sparks City Councilman John Mayer, and Edwin “Tip” Whitehead inducted into the Hall of Fame. “A very significant bunch,” says George.