Devil Doings August 2022 Newsletter
Executive Director's Note
We hope this August 2022 E-Newsletter finds all of our alumni doing well!

In case you missed our last newsletter, let me reintroduce myself! My name is Leah Reese, and I am the current Executive Director for the WSAA. I also happen to be the Service Coordinator for the Wickliffe Family Resource Center (WFRC), located right at Wickliffe High School!

Working at the WFRC, I am fortunate that I get to see the amazing progress being made on the new Wickliffe City School District PK-12 Campus each and every day. The 2022-2023 school year is a historic one for our students in that it is the last school year that will be completed in the current buildings.
We are hopeful that we will bring several events and opportunities to our alumni and community members to tour the current facilities, reminisce, and take photos, before we move into the new building. We also hope to be able to have alumni tour the new building and see all that it has to offer our students and the community.

While we have no official announcements yet, please stay tuned for more info and upcoming events! To see plans for and progress on the new building, please visit:


-Leah Reese, WSAA Executive Director
Devil Doings Newsletter

The WSAA would like to make sure we are reaching as many alumni as possible. In an effort to increase our readership, please share with any Wickliffe alumni that you know.

On the first page of the newsletter in the top right corner, you will see a blue tab that says "Join our email list". Please make sure to click on this link to ensure that the newsletter goes into the correct email account and not into your spam folder.
Class Representatives

The WSAA is in the process of updating a class representative list. If you are the class rep or an officer from your graduating class, please contact Nancy Perlic at [email protected]
History of the Alumni Association
by Susan Skufca Bell '82
While there have been other short-lived alumni associations through the history at Wickliffe High School, the current association has been going strong for 17 years now. The idea to create the current Wickliffe Schools Alumni Association was initiated by someone who was not even a Wickliffe graduate. Mr. Bob Smith (Wickliffe teacher, coach, administrator, and superintendent) was the catalyst for creating the organization which officially began in 2003. Mr. Smith has such love and dedication for the Wickliffe community and the school system, you would think he was raised there. 

In the spring of 2002, Mr. Smith invited all alumni to visit Wickliffe High School for a tour and open mic night. Many alumni came to walk around and reminisce about their memories of Wickliffe High School and growing up in our small close-knit community. Mr. Smith invited anyone interested in hearing his ideas for starting an alumni association to stick around – about 25 people stayed. Frank Foti and I were both in that small gathering, and we would both go on to become directors and fervent supporters of the WSAA. I met with Mr. Smith a few months later regarding a personal decision I was contemplating about switching careers from business to teaching. Not only did I leave his office with great career advice, but somehow I got caught up in Mr. Smith’s contagious energy, and I left as the first director of the Wickliffe Schools Alumni Association. With no idea where to begin, I turned to experts who also had deep affection for our school system, my own ’82 classmates: Jim Campbell, David Hintz, Linda Julian, Donna Palsa Mikulandra, Roger Mikuladra, and Lori Ondecko. When our first newsletter was released, other enthusiastic alum came forward to help: Melissa Erzetic Connolly, Frank Foti, Marien Spisich Kaifesh, Pam Nagy Sabruno, Teri DiMattia Shine, Mark Tennant, Judy Tennant Veneri, and LuAnn Urankar Zibert. Our first board of directors was formed. The WSAA could not have grown and thrived without the early support of these dedicated individuals.

Recently I asked Mr. Smith why he was so passionate about starting an alumni association. He stated, “I was always impressed with the fondness, appreciation, loyalty, and love the Wickliffe alums had for their alma mater. I always thought that if any school district had an alumni association, it should be Wickliffe. When I was the high school principal, I talked with some parents who were excited about an alumni association, but no one was interested in taking it on. When I became superintendent, I lobbied the board of education to get behind the project. Having the board backing, I recruited Sue Skufca Bell who brought her class of ‘82 gang and other devout alums. I knew the alumni director from Chagrin Falls, and he met with our group to help us get started. From that point on, these faithful alums took the ball and ran with it, creating the WSAA. The time and work they have put in has created an alumni association to be proud of.”
Worldwide Blue Devil Network reaching new heights in 19th season
by Scott Tennant '88
Technically, the Worldwide Blue Devil Network – live Internet broadcasts of Wickliffe High School football games enjoyed each fall season by alumni around the world – began in 2004. But the true origins of the WBDN stretch as far back as the mid-1970s.

That was when Frank Foti (Class of 1974) and Mark Tennant (Class of 1975) first took action on their mutual love of radio and the world of broadcasting.

For Frank, that meant studying at the WIXY School of Broadcasting and later becoming a staff engineer and on-air personality at WELW in Willoughby. For Mark, it was college radio gigs at both Lakeland Community College and Cleveland State University, followed by a stint with Armed Forces Radio and TV while a member of the U.S. Air Force stationed in Crete and South Korea.

Frank would go on to serve as chief engineer at three legendary rock and roll radio stations: WMMS in Cleveland, KSAN/KNEW in San Francisco, and Z100 in New York. He would later become an internationally renowned figure in the field of audio signal processing, founding Omnia Audio and serving as executive chairman of The Telos Alliance.

Mark continued to work in local radio in Northeast Ohio – including his own tenure at WELW – while building a successful career in both IT and marketing.

What brought the two old friends back together was an idea of Frank’s that eventually led to the birth of the WBDN.

“In the early days of the Wickliffe Schools Alumni Association, we were trying to come up with ways to get noticed,” recalls Frank. “My company Telos specializes in streaming audio, and I knew in the evening hours we had a lot of available data bandwidth, so the idea of streaming Wickliffe home football games seemed a no-brainer. I pitched the idea to the Alumni Association board and they were all excited.”

Mark already had experience in the field of sports streaming, having operated a website in the 1990s that broadcasted communication between NASCAR and drivers and their pit crews.

“Frank called me just before the 2004 football season and said, ‘Guess what you’re doing this Friday?’” Mark remembers. “I said, ‘I don’t know, what?’ And he laid out a plan to do the Wickliffe football games and stream them live through the Alumni Association website. I figured, ‘Wow, this should be fun to do for the season.’”

Except it wasn’t just for one season. Frank and Mark are now in their 19th year of covering Blue Devil football games, and their broadcasts draw hundreds of listeners not only from Wickliffe and the surrounding area, but also from wherever Wickliffe alumni live around the world.

And now, nearly two decades in, those “listeners” have also become “viewers.”
“For a number of years, (Wickliffe football) Coach Marce Porcello had been asking us for video and whether we could archive the games,” said Frank. “We had a couple of sharp guys at Telos who told me about a program called OBS (Outside Broadcast Services) that would enable us to stream live video of the games. We tested it and it worked, so we debuted it at the start of the 2020 season during what was actually an away game at Lutheran West.”

That Lutheran West game saw Mark and Frank crammed into the Wickliffe coaches’ booth since there was no room for them in the main press box area. It turned out to be a resounding Blue Devil victory in a season that featured many victories and a deep playoff run.

Frank also found a program that would display an onscreen clock and scoreboard. He added school colors and graphics, giving the new video broadcast a professional look and feel that is largely unmatched even by much bigger high schools.

Of course, having to operate a camera and a manual scoreboard in addition to providing their regular play-by-play and color commentary makes Friday nights a little hectic for Frank and Mark, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

Not surprisingly, 19 seasons of broadcasting have provided plenty of great memories.

“For me the biggest one was when we made the playoffs in 2016 for the first time in many years,” said Mark. “We had done several seasons of Wickliffe football in which the team honestly struggled, and while we lost that playoff game at Leavittsburg LaBrae, the fact is that we made it. We broadcast that game from the roof of LaBrae’s press box!”

One of the Frank’s best memories came two years later when the Blue Devils hosted perennial state championship contender Kirtland. The Hornets would go on to win the game but led only 14-7 at halftime – by far the closest any of their opponents had been at that point of a game during the regular season.

“After the game I packed up our equipment and was walking through the parking lot when I saw Coach Tiger Laverde of Kirtland,” said Frank. “I congratulated him, and he said, ‘I really want to thank you and your team because that was the first game all year when somebody tested us.’ I remember feeling so good about that.”

While neither Frank nor Mark can say for sure when they’ll step aside from the WBDN, the intention has always been to get Wickliffe High School students more involved in the broadcast. That has begun to happen over the last two years, with students running the camera and even providing color commentary thanks in part to the efforts of WHS principal Shyla Urban.

“I would love to get a sideline reporter, too,” Frank said. “That would be really cool, having a student on the sideline to talk to both coaches when the half ends. One offshoot of the WBDN is that Wickliffe High School now has a broadcast media course, which began the second semester last year. I helped install a little broadcast studio at the high school, and my thought is to get the kids going to the point they can have ongoing streaming radio shows. I think we could eventually turn this whole thing over to the students. That would be the ultimate goal.”
WHS Blue Devil 2022 Football Schedule

HOME GAMES can be seen live on the WBDN, YouTube, and Facebook!

Friday, 8/19 - 7 pm - Brookside - Home
Friday, 8/26 - 7 pm - North (Akron) - Home
Friday, 9/2 - 7 pm - Harvey - Home
Friday, 9/9 - 7 pm - Fairport Harding - Away
Friday, 9/16 - 7 pm - Brooklyn - Home*
Friday, 9/23 - 7 pm - Lutheran West - (Rocky River) - Away*
Friday, 9/30 - 7 pm - Crestwood (Mantua) - Away*
Friday, 10/7 - 7 pm - Independence - Home*
Friday, 10/15 - 7 pm - Trinity (Garfield Hts) - Away*
Friday, 10/21 - 7 pm - Cuyahoga Hts - Home*

*Conference Game
Gone but not Forgotten
by Susan Skufca Bell '82
Since our last newsletter the Wickliffe Schools’ community has lost some dedicated and well-loved staff.
Mr. Charles Fatica passed away in March 2019. Mr. Fatica was also a beloved music teacher in the Wickliffe School System for over 30 years. Mr. Fatica raised his family in Wickliffe, and he passed his love of music and teaching to his son, Jim who is also a long time teacher in Wickliffe. Mr. Fatica was very involved in the Wickliffe community especially at Mt. Carmel Parish. Mr. Fatica was recognized for his achievements by being inducted into the Wickliffe Hall of Fame.
Mr. Michael Lenenski passed away in February 2022. Mr. Lenenski was the first music department chairman for Wickliffe High School and held the post from 1955-1981. He organized one of the finest choirs in the state; these choirs even sang on radio and television. Many will remember his choirs’ rendition of “Hallelujah Chorus.” He also organized many musical tours to New York City which inspired many students to become involved in musical theater. Mr. Lenenski’s love of the school inspired him to pen the words to the Wicklffe High School alma mater. 
Mrs. Virginia Mlakar passed away in April 2022. Mrs. Mlakar was also a beloved teacher at Worden Elementary School. Mrs. Mlakar was also awarded as a Martha Holden Jennings Award Scholar. The Jennings Foundation recognizes the excellence of teachers who have demonstrated outstanding work. Mrs. Mlakar lived right on Franklin Avenue in Wickliffe and was active in the Wickliffe community. After retirement, she was active in the Lake County Retired Teachers Association and at Mt. Carmel and St. Noel’s parishes.

Mrs. Irene Theodore passed away in February 2022. Mrs. Theodore was a passionate educator and is remembered with great fondness especially by her former Worden School students and colleagues. While in the Wickliffe Schools system, Mrs. Theodore received the prestigious Martha Holden Jennings Award for her outstanding contributions in the field of education. Well after retirement, Mrs. Theodore stayed in contact with many former students, attended many Wickliffe Schools’ events, and was active with the WSAA. Mr. Gordon Gerber, WMS Principal from 1982-2000, had these words to say about Mrs. Theodore. "Irene Theodore was a very special educator. She had a passion for teaching, a belief that every student could succeed, and Irene was willing to put in the time and effort to see that no opportunity for success was missed. Irene had a strong faith, which I believe, carried over to her mission to reach every student. I never heard Irene raise her voice, never saw her angry, and never a disparaging word regarding her students. I was pleased to call her my friend as well as fellow educator. Irene arranged to lunch with Marilyn Shields and me the summer before she passed.... it was a celebration of many years in education for all of us. A warm and wonderful lady in education, outside of education, with friends, and with her family."

Mr. Donald Zalud passed away in April 2021. Mr. Zalud was the principal at Worden Elementary School for almost 30 years. His booming voice over the PA system every day is remembered by all. Each year he played Charlie Brown in the faculty play “You are a Good Man Charlie Brown.” He loved driving his orange corvette to school every day. He was very proud that, except for the days his own children were born, he never missed work in all those 30 years. He was dearly loved by the teachers, parents, and students. 
Thank you to all these wonderful people who gave of themselves to make Wickliffe schools and community a special place for all.
Annual Alumni Golf Outing
by Tim Reid '62

The annual Wickliffe Schools Alumni Association golf outing was held August 5, 2022 at Pine Ridge Country Club. 

In the past we have had alumni from as far back as the class of 1947. This year we had a number of alumni and a number of friends of alumni compete. The winning foursome was from the class of 1961—Ron Bixel, Bob Berlocker, Tony Marano, and Frank Pecjack. They will keep the trophy until the next event. 
2022 Winners
Shown are some alumni and guests from past outings. We anticipate
this event will take place again next year the first week of August, 2023. Cookie (Debiase) LoSchiavo again helped with organization. 
Get a group together and join in the fun next year!
Anyone interested in participating can contact
Tim Reid, Tom Rosneck, or the WSAA for information.
Meet Evan Slomovitz, new band director at Wickliffe High School & Middle School
by Scott Tennant '88

Before you ask, Evan Slomovitz knows exactly what you’re wondering:
(1)   Yes, the Wickliffe Swing Band will remain just that – a marching band that
“swings.”
(2)   No, “Aquarius” isn’t going anywhere.

As generations of Blue Devil alumni breathe a collective sigh of relief, it turns out there’s quite a bit more to know about the new band director at Wickliffe High School (and Wickliffe Middle School).

Slomovitz, who replaced the retiring Pam Graves as director in July, may be young (28), but he brings an impressive resume as both a musician and educator. Early in his tenure, he has shown an ability to connect with students and help them perform at their absolute best.

It doesn’t hurt that he also maintains a healthy balance between Wickliffe’s musical traditions and his desire to teach new things.

“When I got to the second round of interviews for the job, Dr. Leyrer (Brad Leyrer, Director of Operations and Human Resources for Wickliffe Schools) emailed me eight essay questions to respond to, and one was very specifically about how I planned to learn about and honor the traditions in the program,” recalls Slomovitz, a native of Solon.

Slomovitz took to YouTube to watch videos of the Wickliffe Swing Band and immediately recognized it to be “very different from a traditional marching band.” Once he got the job, it also didn’t take him long to realize how much the community cares about the Swing Band.
“I didn’t know, for example, how many parents were alumni of the program,” he says. “That says a lot. It’s important to honor traditions while still maintaining a progressive curriculum and teaching the kids something new. As an educator, it’s hard to justify doing something the same way year after year.”

One example: If you watch the band perform at halftime of a Wickliffe football game this year, you’ll see that Slomovitz has kept the traditional “run-on” entrance from the end zone at the start of the show. But whereas you might expect to hear the familiar strains of “Skybird” as the group marches toward midfield, instead you’ll hear a variety of different songs throughout the year while the band gets itself into position for the rest of its performance.

Such an approach allows the band to perform four songs instead of three during its allotted nine minutes of halftime, which Slomovitz says is “standard in Northeast Ohio and something most bands do.”
The new director is a man who loves both music and the art of teaching it. He tells the story of attending a Cleveland Orchestra concert at a very young age. The Orchestra played Gustav Holst’s famous piece “The Planets.”

“Everyone else fell asleep, but I was on the edge of my chair,” he says.
That concert was also when Slomovitz discovered the French horn, his eventual instrument of choice along with the piano.

During his sophomore year at Solon High School, his former middle school band director approached him asking if he would be interested in helping to teach beginning French horn players in the district. At that point he knew he wanted to teach as a career and that he could benefit greatly from the experience.

“From the first day I taught those kids, I loved it,” says Slomovitz.
From there, music would increasingly fill his days. He started teaching private lessons and playing with the Solon Philharmonic. Later he would join the Cleveland Youth Wind Symphony before being accepted as a member of the prestigious Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra.

Slomovitz received his music education training at Case Western Reserve University, where he played in brass and woodwind quintets, brass choir, the school’s band and orchestra, the Cleveland Institute of Music’s band and orchestra, and the Case jazz band – all in addition to conducting two musicals.

He went on to do his student teaching at West Geauga before landing his first job as a music educator in Westfield, Indiana. That job, incidentally, was the 200th position for which he applied after graduating from college. He stayed at Westfield for six years teaching different levels of 7th- and 8th-grade band and developing various music curricula.

Eventually, though, the desire to return to his native Northeast Ohio overtook him, and Slomovitz came across the open Wickliffe band director position. His online research repeatedly turned up the fact that Wickliffe is considered to be one of the kindest cities in Ohio, which he says was important to him.

He was offered the new job on July 13th and had all of one week to prepare for the Wickliffe Swing Band’s pre-band camp, followed immediately by its first away-from-home week of band camp in three years at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania.

There were a few initial bumps as the band got to know their new director and he got to know them – including some disgruntlement on the part of students who mistakenly thought Slomovitz was looking to end the band’s half-century tradition of performing its famous “Aquarius” routine. But director and band fell quickly into sync, and the results so far have been convincing.

In addition to a successful marching season, Slomovitz has two additional goals for his high school bands this year:

  • Participating in the Ohio Music Educators Association large-group contest and receiving straight 1’s (superior rating)

  • Reviving the pep band for Wickliffe basketball games

In the meantime, he continues to learn about – and marvel over – the Wickliffe community of which he is becoming such an important part.
“These are truly special, kind and nice kids with whom I get to work,” Slomovitz says. “They’re teenagers, so you’re going to get some drama and disagreements throughout the year. But I can look at them and say they’re good kids, which is something you can only teach at home and that speaks volumes about Wickliffe.

I’ve also been so impressed by the extent to which the community loves this band and is so engaged with it. It’s part of the culture, and as someone who has taught elsewhere, I can tell you that’s uniquely Wickliffe.”
WSAA Website

Our website is still being updated. We are planning to partner with classes at WHS to have students help manage the website .

Visit www.WickliffeAlumni.org to watch the progress!
WSAA Board Members
  • Susan Skufca Bell,
  • Class of 1982, Secretary, Newsletter
  • Gail Shindly Bencina,
  • Class of 1981, Social Media
  • Mark Cline
  • Class of 1975
  • Frank Foti,
  • Class of 1974, School Connection, WWBD Network
  • Dave Hintz
  • Class of 1982, Chairman, Achievement HOF
  • Dave Krych
  • Class of 1971
  • Chris May
  • Class of 1977, Treasurer
  • Nancy Krihwan Perlic
  • Class of 1966, Social Media, Newsletter
  • Connie Kosanovich Powall
  • Class of 1983, Legal Counsel
  • Leah Reese
  • Executive Director
  • Teri DiMattia Shine
  • Class of 1972, Memorabilia
  • 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]
PO Box 195 Wickliffe, Ohio 44092