By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette — Every October, the Lewiston-Porter Alumni Association gets together for a little party. Then they honor four of their own with Distinguished Alumni awards.
This year's program is expected to recognize a new batch of graduates from years past, though for the first time in a while, they're all local products who've remained in Western New York.
"It's a bit unusual," Harold Shippy, a member of the selection committee, said. "But it's a good group this year. They're all people who've done well in the community."
Recognitions of the group of four individuals recognized this year will be made during a public ceremony at 10 a.m. Oct. 10 in the auditorium of the district's high school.
This year's group includes a music instructor, a retired iron worker, a West Point graduate and a woman who went to work for the school district she graduated from.
Thomas Pryce, a member of the class of 1972, served 12 years as a member of the Lew-Port School Board. He retired from Iron Workers Local No. 9, out of Niagara Falls, after a lengthy career as business manager and financial secretary of the trades union for more than 20 years. He's was also associated long-term with the Iron Workers District Council of Western New York Pension, Welfare and Annuity Funds and has served on the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, a position he was appointed to, since 2008, where he has served as both treasurer and chairperson.
Nancy Diez Orsi left Lew-Port after graduating in 1963 and pursued her teaching degree from Buffalo State College. She started teaching at Lew-Port until she was afforded an opportunity to enter the district's administrative team as the district's curriculum and instruction coordinator. She's also been involved in Town of Porter business, as a member of the town's planning board before securing her own spot as a town councilwoman for four years. She was named the town's citizen of the year in 2010.
Claudia Tower Andres, class of 1976, has music running through her blood. She left Lew-Port much like Diez Orsi did, looking for her education diploma, which she found at the Crane School of Music and Arizona State University. She returned to Western New York and has been the choral director at Wilson High School for the past eight years. Outside of school, Andres has taken a leading role in the musical happenings at the Youngstown First Presbyterian Church, including organizing the Tri-Nation Choir of Canadian, American and Tuscarora singers, which performs for the first time on American soil Sunday in Lewiston. She was named Youngstown's 2013 Citizen of the Year.
Patrick Roemer, a member of Lew-Port's class of 1981, received his bachelor's degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.. He was commissioned as an engineer officer in the army in 1985 and in the state's Air National Guard in 1994. Now ranked as a Lieutenant Colonel, Roemer's duties have included tours in Panama, both Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations in Iraq and in Operation Restore Hope, a United Nations effort in Somalia, Africa.
While this year's group is set, Shippy said the committee still needs to see more nominations for distinguished alumni in the future. There's only one qualification nominees need to meet, which is being an alumni of Lewiston-Porter.
"There's no age requirements," he said. "We try to keep it to people who've been out of school a few years, but there's no rule. One of problems with this is getting people to put (names) in for this. We don't get a large number of nominees. There are a lot of people out there, but a lot of them are on the board with us already."Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.