FaceBook  Twitter

The Maroon & Gray Society Banquet committee and the entire Education Foundation board are grateful for your support for this annual event. Now in its third year, the Maroon & Gray Society Banquet has raised more than $100,000 for students, including $60,000 for new marching band uniforms and $50,000 for student mental health services.

We look forward to celebrating with you as soon as we can and to honoring our Maroon & Gray Society Class of 2020!

Masi Asare ’96: A Rising Female Leader in Theatre

Masi Asare is a composer/lyricist, playwright, voice teacher, and performance scholar. She is assistant professor of theatre and performance studies at Northwestern University, and divides her time between New York City and Chicago.

Masi was named in the 2021 list of rising female leaders in the theatre from the Broadway Women's Fund, Broadway's first impact investing fund. The theatre professionals on the list were selected by the Broadway Women's Fund leadership and advisory board.

Her shows include: THE FAMILY RESEMBLANCE (book/music/lyrics; Theatre Royal Stratford East commission, Eugene O’Neill Center NMTC); RISHVOR, a new musical about racial passing (book/music/lyrics) commissioned by Barbara Whitman/Grove Entertainment; MONSOON WEDDING (lyrics), the London bound adaptation of Mira Nair’s film; MIRROR OF MOST VALUE (Samuel French), a one-act play for Marvel about super hero Kamala Khan; a new musical commissioned by Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre and the Toulmin Foundation; and the secret agent musical SYMPATHY JONES (music/lyrics/concept; NYMF; Playscripts). 

Her songs have been heard at venues across NYC from Playwrights Horizons to Lincoln Center can be heard on the streaming site Broadway on Demand. A voice instructor and coach with two decades of teaching experience, Masi specializes in popular vocal styles. Her voice students have performed in regional and touring shows, and on Broadway. 

Masi holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a PhD in performance studies from New York University. She is a member of ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild, and serves on the membership committee of ASTR and the advisory board of MAESTRA.

1976 Boys’ Soccer State Champions Made History

The 1976 Little Lions were something special. The team will go down in history for securing State College High’s first (and still, only!) PIAA state soccer championship. Ken Fogleman was the team’s head coach.

The team went 15-4-1, finishing second to Middleburg in the Tri-Valley League. After defeating Altoona 2-0 for the District 6 championship at Jeffrey Field, State College went head to head with Middleburg, the District 4 champions, in the state quarterfinals at Selinsgrove.

Legend has it that “a lucky penny, found by Coach Fogleman, sparked the team to a stupendous win over arch-rival Middleburg, 3-2,” according to the 1976 yearbook.

That victory earned the team a place in the PIAA play-offs held at Reading Municipal Stadium. There, the boys defeated WPIAL (District 7) champion North Allegheny 3-2 in the state semifinals. The team beat District 11 champion Bethlehem-Freedom 2-0 for the title.

Congratulations to the 1976 Boys’ Soccer Team for being such a big part of State High history!

Joyce Lee: Dedicated to Helping All Children Succeed

There wasn’t a truer calling for Joyce Lee, than to help all children succeed. State College was fortunate to have her as a long-time educator.

Now retired, her lengthy career made an incredible positive impact on students and the district.

Her colleagues say Joyce is the type of teacher that was not only effective at her life’s work, but also put a smile on children’s faces when she taught and interacted with them.

Joyce started out teaching English at State High before moving to the elementary level where she was a Title I reading teacher throughout the ’70s and ’80s. During this time, she developed a simple and effective composition technique she taught students, as well as an exceptional elementary reading program and curriculum that is still being used today.

Later on, in the early ’90s, Joyce became the K-6 Language Arts/Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator. She was assigned the immense task of leading a team of teachers to create and implement a standards-based, cohesive district-wide Language Arts/Social Studies curriculum for grades 1-6, in a condensed timeframe. Joyce took the task in stride.

“Until that time, each of the eight elementary schools had devised their own curriculum,” explains Nancy Baumrucker, a friend and colleague. “This was quite a challenge and no easy task that Joyce willingly undertook, working with her small staff of reading specialists and classroom teachers to develop an exceptional curriculum to meet the needs of all students.”

“Joyce was a remarkable Title I teacher and also a brilliant Curriculum Developer and leader. State College has not seen anyone as dedicated with a drive as passionate in a leadership position as Joyce. We all wondered when she slept! She wore many hats and her knowledge base was endless. I couldn’t have been mentored by a better teacher,” added her colleague Melinda Cocolin. 

As education psychologist William G. Spady said, “all students can learn and succeed, but not in the same way and not in the same day.” Nancy says Joyce was dedicated to helping each student reach higher levels of learning no matter the pace or setbacks they faced along the way.

“Joyce’s impact on students and on the district as a whole was significant and a force for good, and way ahead of the times,” says Nancy. “Behind it, and behind all that Joyce accomplished in her career, was her dedication to meeting the needs of all children.” 

The SCASD Education Foundation is delighted to add Joyce's name to the Maroon & Gray Society!


Thomas Gentzel ’69: Former Little Lion Mascot has Strong National Voice in Public Education

Thomas Gentzel has an impressive 35 years of experience advocating for school boards and is known as a thought leader in public education. As executive director and CEO of the National School Board Association, he is one of the country’s strongest voices for America’s public schools.

Back in high school though, he was best known for a different role: the Little Lion mascot! During football games, pep rallies and other school events, he transformed from a self-described scrawny kid to enthusiastic mascot.

“I was a scrawny, 115-pound kid — not especially athletic — so having to do pushups after each touchdown was probably the biggest challenge,” he recalls. “Although we didn’t score a lot that season! It was a lot of fun.”

Thomas says his State College teachers were supportive, but made sure classes were challenging. When asked about a favorite teacher, he shares this story:

“One day, I was talking with a group of education professors at Penn State, and I was asked who my favorite teacher had been. I said, probably with a big smile, ‘My first grade teacher, Miss Catherine Carr.’ One professor, Don Willower, turned to me and said: “That’s my wife!” We laughed about that on several occasions. Years later, after Don passed away, David Monk, the dean of the PSU College of Education, set up a luncheon at the Nittany Lion Inn. He invited Catherine to join him, several faculty members who had worked with her late husband, and me. I brought her flowers and we had a great conversation. Later, she surprised me by sending me a picture of our first grade class. It says so much about her that she had kept it all those years. I have it in my study and smile every time I look at it.”

After graduating from State High, Thomas received a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Development and a Master of Public Administration degree from Penn State.

He calls his entrance into the education field “an accident.” He didn’t plan on getting involved in education, he was interested in public service. In fact, as a senior at State High, he approached the mayor of State College, Chauncey Lang, with a proposal to appoint high school students to municipal boards and commissions. Lang agreed and created the Mayor’s Regional Youth Council, which Thomas chaired. 

“A number of us were appointed to planning, zoning, and other panels — some as non-voting advisors, others as full members,” he says. “I was named a voting member of the State College Traffic Commission, a seat I held throughout my college years at Penn State. That really planted the seed of public service for me.” 

His early career involved working in rural development programs and then for county government. One day, he was approached about a lobbyist job at the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA). “I was still in my 20s, with a young family, and it looked like a good opportunity,” he says. “I certainly couldn’t have known then that I would go on to be the chief lobbyist and later executive director of PSBA, and then CEO of its national organization.”

But that’s indeed what happened.

It was 1980 when Thomas became a lobbyist for the association and five years later, he was named head of the association’s Office of Governmental and Member Relations, a position he held for more than 16 years. He became PSBA’s CEO in 2001, directing a staff of 150 people who provide publications, conferences, and seminars, as well as insurance, management, and legal assistance, and advocacy services for local school officials. He served in that role for 11 years before joining the National School Boards Association (NSBA) in 2012.

“Along the way, I have become an ardent advocate for public education and for effective local governance of our schools,” Thomas says. “I see both as being absolutely critical to our democracy. Although I will soon be retiring, I hope to remain engaged in that important advocacy.” 

As the Executive Director and CEO of the National School Board Association, Thomas leads a staff of nearly 80 people and is the chief spokesperson for more than 13,000 school boards across the United States plus the Virgin Islands and some of Canada. He routinely meets with elected officials, the Secretary of Education, and members of their staffs. He speaks and presents at his organization’s annual conference to 6,000 attendees, as well as to audiences around the United States, in British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and London.

In 2017, Thomas had the honor of delivering the commencement address at the Penn State College of Education, and he received the Service to Penn State Award from the college the following year.

He and his wife, Sherrin, are parents of three sons and grandparents of two boys and three girls, who he says are his greatest pride and joy. He’s eager to spend more time with them in his retirement.

He has more plans to keep busy. “I love to travel, having visited every state, and enjoy touring state capitol buildings — 44 so far — and have taken numerous river cruises and tours in Europe with friends,” he says. “Much more travel in store, I hope. Walking, bike riding, volunteering, exploring anything to do with history (including a growing collection of old maps), and occasionally hacking at a golf ball round out my interests.”

The Late Ron Pavlechko: Beloved Colleague, Coach, Teacher and Friend

In January, the district and the State College community mourned the loss of not only a great coach, but a great teacher, friend and mentor. Ron Pavlechko had 40 years of service at State College Area School District, first as a teacher, then as the Little Lions head football coach, and later as the full-time director of athletics.

 Ron grew up in the Youngstown suburb of Austintown. After graduating from Austintown-Fitch High School in 1967, he attended Penn State where he received a degree in Secondary English Education in 1971 and also earned three varsity football letters. He later earned a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education in 1973, also at Penn State.

He began working at the SCASD in 1971 as an English teacher and the assistant football coach, then took over as head coach in 1977, leading the Little Lions for the next 19 years.

During his tenure, the team won 116 games and had undefeated regular seasons in 1981 and 1992, with the 1992 team advancing to the PIAA semifinals.

Most importantly, though, Ron was known for his compassion and positive attitude, and for always lending an ear. Just ask any of the players he coached. During practice, he would make his rounds, being sure to connect with each and every player on a personal level. They didn’t just talk about football, but about class, life, and their homes. Winning wasn’t his only — perhaps not even his top — priority. It was taking care of kids.

In fact, Ron once advised a former coach — Chris Weakland, who is the current athletic director — to talk with his players every single day about something other than the sport. Although the concept was new to him and at first seemed unachievable, Weakland quickly became a big believer. To this day, he encourages all coaches to follow Ron’s lead.

Ron and his wife, Barb, raised two sons, both of whom followed in their father’s footsteps. Aaron is State College’s junior high wrestling coach, and Tim is now the deputy director of athletics at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA.

Beyond being an inspiration to his students, players, and fellow coaches, Ron had many accomplishments to be proud of over the years. He was a member of the Austintown-Fitch High School Athletic Hall of Fame, Sigma Pi Fraternity, The Penn State Football Letterman’s Club, the Board of Directors of the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, and the Board of Directors of the Centre County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.

Ron will be sorely missed by the entire SCASD community and the Education Foundation is honored to include him in this year’s Maroon & Gray Society induction.

Mark Roland ’91: Serving his Country & Community with Courage & Humility

Since Mark Roland graduated from State High in 1991, he has served his country and community in more ways than one.

Mark served in the United States Army for 22 years and received recognition for his actions during the Global War on Terror. He earned the prestigious Silver Star for “exceptionally valorous action while serving as the Intelligence Sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 732, Special Operations Task Force-71, Firebase Ripley, Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 11 June 2007,” according to The Military Times. He was commended for both his courage and commitment to fulfilling his battalion’s mission.

Mark’s courageous and selfless actions were essential to the victory that day. He cleared and destroyed enemy fighters at close range, rescued eight Afghan soldiers, led a split team, and “inspired those around him to extraordinary collective valor.” 

Mark is also known in the State College community for his giving nature. Now retired from the Army, he focuses his energy on helping those who are battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He also volunteers at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, where he helps others learn about and make sense of war.

“Mark embodies the best State College High School can hope to give to the world,” says the friend who nominated Mark for this year’s Maroon & Gray Society class. “He is a man of deep conviction, a man who has served others with unimaginable courage and humility. He is so reflective and works very hard to put his service into perspective and to help others who work to do the same.”

Jane Snowdon ’77: Excellent Education Leads to Exceptional Career

“I am truly honored to be recognized by the SCASD and the Maroon & Gray Society to benefit the Student Opportunity Grant program in 2020,” says 2020 honoree Jane Snowdon. “The talented and dedicated SCASD faculty afforded me many enriching experiences to learn and grow intellectually, creatively, and socially. I made many treasured and dear friends along the way through common interests in mathematics, science, Girl Scouts, dance club, home economics, choir, majorettes, and band. These friends have been with me through college, career achievements, family milestones, and travel adventures, and are an important part of my life to this day.” 

Jane attended Corl Street Elementary School for kindergarten through 5th grade, Fairmont Avenue School for 6th grade, Westerly Parkway Junior High School, and State High. She says she is thankful she had the privilege of obtaining an excellent education and learning many life skills and values from her teachers, and from her parents.

“My father was a physicist at Penn State’s Applied Research Lab and encouraged me to pursue the field of industrial engineering, and my mother was a nurse,” she explains.

One elementary school teacher stands out in Jane’s memory. Her third-grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Miller, challenged her students to see how many books they could read and to write the titles on strips of colored construction paper to create a bookshelf. 

“I was an avid reader of Happy Hollister mystery books at the time,” she recalls. “Much to my surprise, I won first prize and was awarded the book Pollyanna. I continue to love reading and currently participate in a book club.” 

At State High, Jane also found that she was surrounded by caring, supportive teachers. She recalls that her Advanced Placement calculus teachers, Mr. Dwight Mostoller and Mr. Mike Patrilak, invested extra time to help her master derivatives and integrals, which are essential skills for her career as an engineer and researcher. Both helped pave the way for her bright future.

After graduating from State High, Jane received a B.S. from Penn State, an M.S. from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, all in Industrial Engineering

She went on to work for IBM and is now a renowned leader in the field of health and human services. Through her 38-year career, she has had the opportunity to work on a variety of challenging research initiatives and learn new industry domains.

“Solving complex business problems from manufacturing, to travel and transportation, to energy and utilities, to healthcare and life sciences, all rely on the same underlying laws of mathematics and physics,” Jane says.

She has also been instrumental in laying the groundwork for partnerships between universities, businesses, and government agencies. In 2011, she joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg on stage to launch a New York City Urban Technology Innovation Center in partnership with Columbia, NYU-Poly, and the City University of New York (CUNY) for research in sustainable technologies. In addition, she and President Barack Obama announced an Energy Innovation Hub led by Penn State and a 23-member consortium for energy efficient building design and operations.

Jane is currently the Associate Chief Health Officer in the Center for Artificial Intelligence, Research and Evaluation at IBM Watson Health, where she is responsible for the overall strategic direction and global leadership of designing, conducting, and disseminating results of rigorous scientific research related to Watson Health life sciences and genomics offerings. She also facilitates collaboration between IBM research scientists and academic institutions including Johns Hopkins and Vanderbilt, whose research is then published in academic journals and shared at conferences.

Most recently, Jane led a corporate pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery core team to address COVID-19. She is passionate about her work an

nd remains optimistic about the future of healthcare. She expects that artificial intelligence and precision medicine will help personalize diagnostics for patient, ultimately leading to prevention, earlier detection of disease, and improved prognoses.

Jane resides in Connecticut. Travel and experiencing new cultures are among her many passions.

“Last year I took a trip of a lifetime to Egypt and explored antiquities from Cairo and the Great Pyramids to Abu Simbel and Luxor, rode a camel, took a hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings at sunrise, and cruised the Nile,” she says.

When she’s not traveling, she enjoys swimming, spinning, attending concerts and theatre, or enjoying walks in the woods and the beach. She is active in her community and church and is a volunteer at her local homeless shelter. 

She also serves as a mentor at the high school, collegiate, and corporate levels. Over the years, she has provided guidance to university advisory boards — including CUNY, George Mason, Georgia Tech, Penn State, Stony Brook — and not-for-profit boards ranging from iGiant to Intelligence and National Security Alliance Council on Technology and Innovation.