Devil Doings February 2023 Newsletter


Happy Spring, Blue Devils! We are now gearing up for the big Celebration of the Schools End-of-Year Walk-Through Event on Thursday, May 4, 2023! We look forward to seeing many alumni there. We expect that it will be a great opportunity to catch up with former classmates, snap photos of the old schools, and reminisce!


This event, put on by the Wickliffe City School District, will be an indoor/outdoor event, weather permitting, with many activities taking place outside on the front lawn of WHS.


The WSAA plans to have several tables set up there, where we'll be selling Wickliffe Schools' famous peanut butter cookies, baked with love by volunteers from the WSAA. These will be for sale for $2 per bag, with two cookies in each bag.


Additionally, we will be selling slices of Revolution Pizza for $1 per slice and bottled water for $1 per bottle.


Lastly, we will be holding a 50/50 raffle and a basket raffle! Tickets will be 6 for $5 or 12 for $10. There will be lots of great prizes donated generously by local businesses and alumni in the community. Check our Facebook page to get sneak-peaks of the baskets!


We will also have a few memorabilia items for sale such as trophies and yearbooks. We are asking for a small donation for these items. We are unable to provide specifics at this time as to what trophies/years will be available, but feel free to come check it all out on 5/4!


All proceeds that we make at the event will be put directly back into the WSAA, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. These funds allow us to provide Wickliffe High School seniors who are college or trade-school bound with thousands of dollars in scholarships each year. Additionally, we are able to use these funds for operational costs that allow us to work on special projects, such as offering this Devil Doings e-newsletter! Please consider supporting our efforts by joining us on May 4th. We hope to see you there!

Nomination forms are now being accepted for the 2023 Achievement Hall of Fame


Inductees are chosen from the pool of nominations forms that are received. If you know of an alumnus with a distinguished career or significant community service endeavors, please nominate him or her (nominees must be out of school ten years before consideration).


Click HERE to nominate a deserving candidate.


Deadline for nominations is Saturday, April 29th, 2023


Questions? Please contact Dave Hintz at [email protected]

Where are They Now?

Herman Rueger

by Scott Tennant '88

If you were a student at Worden Elementary School in the 1970s, you are undoubtedly familiar with Herman Rueger the teacher.

 

But may we also introduce you to Herman Rueger the historic interpreter, Herman Rueger the postcard entrepreneur, Herman Rueger the New York City tour guide, Herman Rueger the caregiver and Herman Rueger the narrator?

 

Trust us when we say the multi-faceted Mr. Rueger is someone worth getting to know, whether or not you were ever in his class.

 

Rueger, now 74 years old and a lifelong Wickliffe resident, is as seemingly energetic now as he ever was. Here’s a look back at the life of a man fondly remembered by the students he taught at Worden so many decades ago:


THE TEACHER

Rueger grew up on Robert Street and graduated from Wickliffe High School in 1966. His high school experience centered largely on music, as he was a member of the school’s Marching, Concert and Dance bands, as well as the A Capella and Madrigal choirs and the Boys Glee Club.

 

None of that is perhaps surprising when you consider that his mother played the piano, his father enjoyed singing, and his grandfather was a Lutheran minister for whom music was an important part of church services.

 

“I remember Mr. (Chuck) Frank coming to my house in 6th grade to give me trombone lessons,” Rueger recalls. “This was even before my arm was long enough to reach the seventh and last position on the trombone.”

 

His vocal career didn’t begin until 11th grade, at a time when he was looking for other ways to expand his enjoyment of music. As a senior, Rueger and the choir – under the direction of the legendary Michael Lenenski – visited New York City. That trip and his connection to Mr. Lenenski would both have a profound impact on Rueger later in life.

 

He decided to attend Kent State University, from which he graduated in 1970 with a degree in elementary education. He did his student teaching at Worden School, where he himself had been a student years earlier.

 

Upon graduation from college, he contacted Worden principal Donald Zalud to see whether the school had any openings for teachers. Fortuit-ously, there was a need for a 4th-grade teacher, and Rueger got the job.

 

“That first year I looked at my room and saw the walls were a pale green color,” says Rueger. “I asked Mr. Zalud if he minded whether I painted the walls, and he said that would be fine. So I went out and got some navy and powder blue paints and redid the room before classes started.”

 

A second painting was done in 1976 for the American Bicentennial in red, white and blue stars and stripes.

 

Time and space don’t permit a detailed examination of all the creative ways in which Mr. Rueger engaged with his students, but they include:


  • The formation of “corporations” with his social studies students that sold everything from seeds to pet rocks to sugar Easter eggs.
  • Working with music teacher Chuck Valley to put on a production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” in which Rueger himself played the part of Linus. Using scenery borrowed from the Fine Arts Association in Willoughby, the production was so well received that the faculty cast later had the opportunity to perform for the all-city PTA at a time when Wickliffe had three separate elementary schools.
  • Writing and directing a play based on the life of Thomas Jefferson. The class raised funds to travel to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they performed the play for the elementary school with which they had been pen pals that school year.

Herman Rueger, top left, poses with his Worden Elementary School 3rd-grade class in 1980.


Later in his teaching career, Rueger would be called upon to teach one year each of 2nd and 3rd grade. Since he still lived on Robert Street, he would “leave the building at lunchtime, go home, wolf down a sandwich, then set an egg timer for 10 minutes when I would collapse on the bed and get some much-needed rest before returning to class. Second-graders have a lot of energy!”

 

As the population of Wickliffe fell dramatically in the late 70s, so too did the school district’s enrollment. Sadly, Rueger was a victim of a workforce reduction in 1980 and ended up leaving the teaching profession altogether.


THE HISTORIC INTERPRETER

But he wasn’t finished educating others. From 1975 while he was still at Worden until 1985, Rueger served as a National Park Service historic interpreter in the summer at both the Jamestown and Yorktown sites in Virginia, as well as working with student education programs at Gettysburg National Military Park from 1984 to 1986. As with his teaching days, he says he could “fill a book” with the stories of what he encountered in those roles.

 

He can, for example, be seen as an extra in the 1984 TV mini-series “George Washington,” which was filmed in Yorktown. He played the parts of a wealthy planter, an American regular soldier and a Royal Scot Highlander. “When I watched it on TV, I saw myself facedown dead as the Americans stormed our British forces!” he recalls.

 

Rueger says he enjoyed working at Yorktown more than Jamestown. Jamestown required him to cover 100 years of history in a swampy area often overrun by mayflies, especially as he tended a field portraying an indentured servant/tobacco farmer of 1636.

 

At Yorktown, on the other hand, he only had to worry about four days’ worth of history (the final British defeat and surrender that ended the War of the American Revolution).

 

THE POSTCARD ENTREPRENEUR

After a stint (1987-90) working for the North Coast Development Corporation in Cleveland, Rueger started Nu-Vista Prints, a small business that produced and distributed Cleveland-themed postcards and souvenirs.

 

“I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Rochester and saw these fabulous, colorful postcards,” Rueger says. “It made me realize that Cleveland had such crummy postcards.”

 

Rueger called the company that made the Rochester postcards and asked whether they would consider expanding into Cleveland. He was told that would be too much of a geographic reach, and the firm suggested that Rueger himself start the business.

 

He started taking some of the photographs used in his Cleveland postcards, a job that found him at various times on top of buildings, and on top of and under bridges.

 

While the business turned a profit, it was never enough for Rueger to hire an employee to help him, and the job was getting to be too much for a single person. He was distributing his postcards and souvenirs as far west as Port Clinton, as far east as Ashtabula County, and as far south as Akron.

 

Ultimately, he sold Nu Vista Prints to a friend.

 

THE INTERPRETER (REVISITED)

In 1986, while seeking a place to view the release of 1.5 million balloons in Downtown Cleveland – the infamous and ill-fated BalloonfestRueger and a friend spotted a log cabin on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River. Curious, the two went to the cabin to inquire about its origins.

 

The replica cabin was built in 1976 for the Bicentennial to represent the homestead of the Lorenzo Carter family, the city’s first settlers. Rueger told the staff there about his experience as an historic interpreter, and before he knew it, he was volunteering in a similar role at the cabin. Later he would become director of the River’s Bend Parks Corporation, the nonprofit organization that served as caretaker for the cabin. That adventure lasted 25 years.

 

THE NEW YORK CITY TOUR GUIDE

As many are aware, Mr. Lenenski began taking groups of Wickliffe students and residents on annual trips to New York in 1961. Inspired by his own NYC trip with Mr. Lenenski in 1966, Rueger spent 20 years as an assistant before becoming host of the tour.

 

“We always had different philosophies,” says Rueger. “Mike thought that since everyone on the tour was an adult, we could get them to New York City on the bus, arrange to have them attend several musicals, and otherwise let them figure out what they wanted to do on their own. My feeling was that many people had never been to New York and wouldn’t be sure what to do, so I’ve always arranged side trips to places like Coney Island, Roosevelt Island, the Brooklyn Zoo and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.”

 

Rueger will lead the 60th annual tour this June. It will be the first time the tour is being conducted after three years of cancellations resulting from the COVID pandemic.

 

THE CAREGIVER

Rueger never planned to become a caregiver for older adults. It started when he took care of his mother then later took care of people from his church. He has been of service to eight elderly people, including Mr. Lenenski in his final years.

 

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” he says. “Mike Lenenski was family to me. Both Mr. Frank and he instilled in me the lifelong love and appreciation of good music.”

 

THE NARRATOR

Nowadays you can catch Rueger as the narrator for the Lakeland Civic Band. That engagement started in 2012 when he was asked by Mr. Frank – then the band’s director – to describe pieces of music to the audience before they were performed. In one memorable instance, he narrated for the band when it played at the venerated Severance Hall.

 

“I started out by telling the audience I graduated from Severance in 1966, so this was my second time to appear on that stage!” he laughs.

 

It will come as no surprise to learn that Rueger was inducted into the Wickliffe Community Hall of Fame in 2014. The honor is fitting for a man whose legacy of service is a credit not only to himself, but to the city he has called home his entire life.

Among his many adventures as an historical interpreter, Mr. Rueger portrayed a 17th-century indentured servant/tobacco farmer

For Pete's Sake! - A Benefit for Pete Wolfgram

The Wickliffe Forever Foundation is hosting a benefit for Pete Wolfgram organized by friends of Pete and Karen on Sunday, May 28th at The Croatian Lodge in Eastlake.


Emceed by Wickliffe's own Terry Mulroy with entertainment by Pieces of Eight featuring the Lakeside Brass and 3 & Easy, the evening will be an epic Wickliffe event!

The evening starts at 5:00 with music, dancing, dinner, silent and Chinese Auctions, a 50/50 raffle and libations! (21 & over only)


Tickets are 75.00 per person and 100% of the proceeds will go to Pete & Karen Wolfgram to help with expenses incurred during his illness which they battle daily, together (cash, credit cards & checks will be accepted).


Click HERE for more information and to purchase tickets.


Click HERE to visit the Wickliffe Forever Foundation Facebook page for more details, opportunities to donate items or volunteer time, questions, comments and to review any updates leading up to the event.


If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to donate, a link is being created and will soon be added to the WFF FB page. If you would like to send a check, please make it payable to Wickliffe Forever Foundation and send it as follows:


Wickliffe Forever Foundation

1918 Fairway Dr.

Wickliffe OH 44092

**in the memo section, please put "For Pete's Sake"

 

For those of you that know Pete and his decades long commitment to the people of Wickliffe, NOW is the time we can thank him for all the support over those years and return the support and care - For Pete’s Sake.

2023 Donors


Valued Donors

Diane Turchetta, friend of WSAA


Memorabilia Donors

Domenic Mongiardo, faculty

Bruce Whitman, Class of 1959

Gloria Whitmer Majeski, Class of 1974

Joe Lombard, Class of 1986


Levels of Giving

Gold Donor - $500 and above

Blue Donor - $100 - $499

Valued Donor - $1-$99


Click HERE to donate today.


You can even give a gift in honor or memory of a favorite teacher or classmate.


Want to donate the old fashioned way? Just send a check to:

WSAA

P.O. Box 195

Wickliffe OH 44092

The Evolution of the

Wickliffe City School System 


by Nancy Krihwan Perlic '66

Teri DiMattia Shine '72

As the landscape of the Wickliffe City Schools will soon be changed, let's walk down the path to how the school system has transformed through the years -- changes based on the surrounding community with the housing markets and the influx of generations of families.


Even though the first graduating class was only a small, but proud, group of three, the school system continued to evolve through the years in the number of schools, the sizes of the schools, and the sizes of the graduating classes. 

The first schoolhouse

in Wickliffe was built

on the west side of

Bishop, mid-way

between Ridge and

Euclid Avenue and

operated until 1878.

 Then came a two-room brick

school built in 1878 at 29240

Euclid Avenue. A left wing was

added in 1896, making it a four-

room school. 

The Germans came in 1893 to work the railroads and lived in the Worden area which was then called Hardscrabble. After they moved on, the land was cleared, allotted and called Stump Town (apparently clearing the land did not include removing the tree stumps). A few Italians came to Wickliffe around 1895, but the major influx was after the turn of the century. Cleveland Crane and Engineering Company moved to Wickliffe in 1901 bringing employees and their families.



At this point in time there was no high school in the west end of Lake County, so students rode the interurban trolley line to Willoughby or Cleveland if they wished to continue their education. The four-room schoolhouse was torn down in 1915.

In 1915 the replacement Wickliffe School was built at a cost of $15,000 for students attending first through eighth grades. The new school had an impressive auditorium and gymnasium along with a modern science laboratory and a room for everyone to learn typing. 

Once the school included the high school students, every graduate from Wickliffe High School had to master the touch system of typewriting before he or she received a diploma.


In 1919, Mr. LeRoy Heavilin became the first Superintendent of Schools, and Mrs. Lawton was the first woman to be elected to the school board. Also, through the efforts of the Mothers Club, formed in 1913, electric lights were obtained for the school building. In February 1924, the Mothers Club became the Wickliffe Parent-Teacher Association.

Next, construction of Lincoln Elementary School began. Over the years, there had been references that Lincoln School opened much later than the 1923 date that we found. However, a newspaper article by the mayor in 1926 confirms that four years earlier the construction of the school had begun, confirming the 1923 opening.




That is when the school on Euclid Avenue became solely a junior high and high school. Lincoln became Wickliffe’s first elementary school. Then in 1924, Wickliffe High School had their first graduating class of three students, Thomas Brooks, Loretta Edwards and Harold Smith.


The following is from an interview with then Mayor McGuire in The Willoughby Republican, October 1, 1926



Mayor McGuire believes that the schools are the best indicators of the community’s growth, “Four years ago, when Lincoln School was built, he stated, “most people felt that the 12 rooms in the building would not be filled for years to come. Many voiced the opinion that it was folly to build so large a structure. Yet today every room in the building is filled to capacity. This shows the number of new families that are settling in Wickliffe daily.” Earlier in the school year, Supt. Anderson also mentioned this same growth when he stated that the most surprising aspect of the increase in school attendance this year lay in the large increase in the upper grades, which was directly attributed to incoming residents.


Homes along Euclid Avenue were moved back during the twenties to provide space for business. There was some attempt in the 20s to build housing developments, even to the extent of putting in sidewalks and streets, but the time was not ripe for the exodus from metropolitan Cleveland. And although the proximity of the railroads was an enticement in industry, the villagers did not encourage any to move into the area. Long time residents and the wealthy Clevelanders with summer homes in Wickliffe wanted to retain the country atmosphere. In 1931 the Graphite Oil Products Company moved to Wickliffe. We know it as Lubrizol Corporation.


As enrollment slowly increased, the old Wickliffe Junior High and High School underwent an addition in 1932. However, a rapid expansion followed World War II. Homebuilders and industries found Lake County and Wickliffe. With that expansion, Lincoln Elementary School had an addition in 1948.  


The increase in enrollment continued and Wickliffe needed another elementary school. Worden Elementary School was built in 1953. 

In 1959 the new Wickliffe High School was built on Rockefeller Road turning the old building on Euclid Avenue into Wickliffe Junior High School.  

The enrollment continued to grow, and a third elementary school was built. Mapledale Elementary School was opened in 1959. 

Wickliffe continued to grow and in 1963 Lincoln Elementary School received its second addition. 


Through the years going forward, some of the schools didn’t have room for some of the classes and a church on Ridge Road or the High School on Rockefeller Rd or the Junior High School on Euclid Avenue were used for the overflow of students.


Thanks to responses from a post on the Wickliffe Schools Alumni Association Facebook page, we have a good look at how the senior class enrollments changed through the years. In the sixties there were anywhere from the mid to upper 100’s to almost 300 seniors. In the seventies there were anywhere from low to mid 300s with the class of 1975 having 410 senior students. The Boomer birth peak came in 1957 with 4.3 million births. More people were born in 1957 than in any other year in the history of our nation. This explains the size of the 1975 graduating class. We begin to see the decline in the numbers when we get to the 1980s. Starting in the low 300s, but by the end of that decade the senior class was below 200. 


Due to declining enrollment in 1982, both Worden and Mapledale Elementary Schools were closed, and the Junior High School became Wickliffe Middle School. Worden Elementary School was demolished and replaced with the Wickliffe Civic Center and Mapledale Elementary School housed the Wickliffe Senior Center until it too was demolished, and the Wickliffe Senior Center joined with the Wickliffe Civic Center where Worden Elementary School once stood.


The enrollment continues to slow down with the nineties ranging from the low to mid 100’s. Not surprisingly the trend continued into the turn of the century with senior classes ranging from lower 100s and below. This brings us to the new construction on Rockefeller Rd which will house Pre-K to twelfth grade.  


The new campus for the Wickliffe City School System is now nearing completion. The new building will be a complete campus housing grades PK-6 on the first floor and grades 7-12 on the second floor. The campus atmosphere will allow for greater collaboration among the grade levels. Wickliffe High School that has been in existence since 1959 will be torn down. A new generation of schools will fill the landscape on Rockefeller Road. 

Click HERE for a sneak peak video of the new campus!

Alumni preserve the memory of Vince Federico ('85) through more than $1 million in scholarships, donations


 by Scott Tennant '88

It's difficult to say how many Wickliffe High School students have benefitted over the years from Vince Federico's legacy, but the number is surely well into the hundreds.


Whether they received one of the scholarships established in his memory or were on the receiving end of the charitable fund that bears his name, each has some sense of who he was and what he meant to the Wickliffe community.



Federico was a 1985 Wickliffe High School graduate who passed away tragically in 1989. An accomplished athlete and truly a friend to all, his memory might have faded with time if it weren't for the tireless efforts of two fellow Blue Devils: his brother Nick ('84) and fellow ‘85 grad Lisa Strmac Margolis.


"Vince was a guy loved by everybody," says Margolis. "He was gentle and exuded kindness, which made him truly unique."

Soon after his death, the Federico family established the fund that eventually grew into two charitable arms that have had tremendous impact. The most familiar over the last 30 years is the Vince Federico Memorial Scholarship, which annually awards five college scholarships totaling $10,000 per student over four years to deserving Wickliffe seniors.


The Federico scholarship program has given away an astounding total of more than $1 million since its inception in 1990.


Not to be overlooked is the Vince Federico Donor-Advised Fund. Those funds have been used to purchase everything from new instruments for the high school's Swing Band to new soccer goals, basketball uniforms, warm-ups and bags for Blue Devil athletes. Since being established a decade ago, the fund has spent more than $67,000 to benefit Wickliffe students.


While Vince was probably best known as a star football player, he also loved music. Accordingly, music and the arts have been a focal point for both the scholarship program and the charitable fund.


The highest profile example of that occurred earlier this year, when the Donor-Advised Fund gave $50,000 for new instruments for the high school. That included shiny new sousaphones, trumpets, trombones, flutes, oboes, piccolos, saxophones and a French horn, all of which were desperately needed to replace a stock of aging instruments well past their prime and beyond repair.


Terry Tennant, president of the Wickliffe Band Boosters, worked with Nick and Lisa to make the donation happen.


"I happened to be on the phone with Lisa about something else, and she told me, ‘We have money to help, what do you need?’" Tennant recalls. "At first I was just hoping they could fix a couple of sousaphones, but the next thing we knew, the students had 19 brand new instruments. We can’t thank them enough for their generosity.”


Margolis says she called Nick Federico about the need for new instruments, and his response was, "Dig deep, whatever they need."


The Federico Donor-Advised fund also purchased "Bearacades" for all three Wickliffe schools and Mater Dei Academy. The devices secure classroom and office doors from hostile intruders. In addition, the fund helps to cover unpaid student academic and athletic fees for those in need.


Supported in its early years by annual charitable golf outings, the fund was given a significant boost thanks to an extremely generous $500,000 infusion facilitated by a cy pres donation from the law firm of Dworkin & Bernstein. Cy pres donations result from settled class action lawsuits when monies are not claimed by class members. This allows leftover funds to be given to nonprofit charitable organizations.


As for the Vince Federico Memorial Scholarships, they continue to be awarded each year to deserving Wickliffe athletes and budding artists. They are given based on need, community service and personal interviews.


"We would like to expand eligibility for the scholarships," Margolis says. "Right now it's only for students who are attending a four-year accredited college or university. We are working to change that to include those who are attending a two-year program or trade school. That's a population that's often overlooked, but they're just as deserving as students going to a four-year college."


Ultimately, Margolis stresses, the idea is to continue supporting Wickliffe students in ways that honor the memory of Vince. As a graduate of the school system herself, it's a labor of love for her, as it is for Nick.


"When people ask me where I'm from, I always say Wickliffe, even though my husband reminds me that we've been living in Highland Heights for 30 years," she says. "Wickliffe is my heart and soul. It's a wonderfully tight-knit community that always produces bright kids who don't always have the resources to realize their dreams. We want to do everything we can to help, in Vince's memory."


Margolis added, "When Vince died, his parents asked me to never forget him, and I honor the promise I made to them to make sure his memory lives on."


Members of the Wickliffe Swing Band show off some of their new instruments.

Nick Federico and Lisa Strmac Margolis pose in the Wickliffe High School band room with one of the instruments bought for the school through the Vince Federico Donor-Advised Fund.

Class of 1983 - 40th Reunion


Yes! You read that correctly. It has been 40 years since we last walked the halls as seniors at WHS.


Save the date!

DATE: September 8, 2023

PLACE: Lino's

TIME: 6:30 pm


For more information contact Bernadette Nicoletti Martens at

[email protected]

or

Click HERE to visit our Facebook page!


COST: $20 per person if paid in advance/$25 at the door

More details will be provided as the date approaches.

Can't wait to see everybody!

Reunion Central

Speaking of reunions, is your class starting to plan a reunion?

Did you know most graduating classes have a Facebook page?

Need more information about your graduating class?


Click HERE to visit our Class Representative Page


We are still looking for representatives for the Class of 1959, 1961-62, 1964-65, 1967, 1976, 1979, 1981, 1990-1999, 2001-05, 2007, 2009-10, 2013-2022


If you would like to volunteer to be your class representative, please contact Susan Skufca Bell at [email protected]

Memorabilia Donations?

Cleaning out the

basement or garage?


Do you have any

Wickliffe Schools' memorabilia?

 

The WSAA is accepting donations

for our memorabilia collection.



If you have items to donate,

please contact Teri Shine at [email protected]

HELP WANTED


The WSAA is looking for enthusiastic alumni with fresh ideas for all committees. 

Sports fanatic? Fundraising guru? Twitter happy? We have a place for you! Contact us at [email protected] 

to let us know what areas/committees you would like to learn more about

and explore.


WSAA Board Members
  • Susan Skufca Bell '82 - Secretary, Newsletter
  • Gail Shindly Bencina '81 - Social Media
  • Mark Cline '75 - Scholarship Committee
  • Frank Foti '74 - WWBD Network, School Connection
  • Dave Hintz '82 - Chairman, Achievement Hall of Fame
  • Dave Krych '71 - Achievement HOF
  • Chris May '77 - Treasurer
  • Nancy Krihwan Perlic '66 - Newsletter, Class Rep Administrator, Teacher Connection
  • Connie Kosanovich Powall '83 - Legal Counsel
  • Leah Reese - Executive Director
  • Teri DiMattia Shine -72 - Memorabilia, Hall of Fame Committees
  • Bob Smith - Honorary Board Member
If you are interested in getting involved with the WSAA, have any questions, or want to get in contact with any of our board members, please email us at [email protected]

WSAA

PO Box 195 Wickliffe, Ohio 44092

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