2017 Hall of Fame Inductees
Wissahickon High School honored seven alumni for outstanding contributions in athletics, academics, professional or lifetime achievements and/or community service in the Wissahickon community and beyond at the 2017 Alumni Hall of Fame Induction on October 6, 2017. Inductees included:
- Robert Boudwin - Class of 1992
The day was filled with opportunities for our students to engage with our alumni. In the morning, Mr. Robert Boudwin '92 accompanied by fellow alumnus Mr. Patrick Hunnicutt '92, hosted an assembly for the students at Lower Gwynedd Elementary featuring Newtown the Dragon and his Magic of Learning Show. At the high school, Mrs. Jennifer Finn '90 spoke to choral students about working and performing in the music industry.
In the afternoon, the seven inductees spoke to eighth grade students in the middle school. Student Council representatives – Kevin Lynch, Devin Boatwright and Emma Baker - asked each alumni about their experiences and advice for success.
The seven alumni were honored during the 2017 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony surrounded by family, friends and community members at Wissahickon High School. During the ceremony, State Representatives Kate Harper, Todd Stephens and MaryJo Daley presented a citation approved by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Wissahickon School District.
Following the ceremony, attendees gathered in the Audion lobby for the unveiling of the Wissahickon Wall of Honor. The Wall of Honor is an interactive display containing biographies about the Hall of Fame inductees including the 143 previous inductees; staff alumni profiles; alumni career spotlights, and, in 2018, a veteran alumni memorial. All members of our Wissahickon community will be able to learn about the impressive and important contributions of our alumni.
A special thanks to the Wissahickon Educational Opportunities Foundation for providing a grant to fund the Wall of Honor for our school community.
Robert Boudwin - Class of 1992
In his senior year, at Wissahickon, Robert Boudwin was asked to be the Trojan mascot which launched an incredible 30-year career as a professional mascot, producer, director, coach, author, motivational speaker and community activist. After graduation, Mr. Boudwin attended the University of Delaware and became YoUDee, the University mascot. Three years later, he auditioned with the NBA Team, the Houston Rockets, to create and portray Clutch the Bear, leading to a 21-year career with them.
During this time, Mr. Boudwin performed as Clutch at more than 1,500 games and 6,000 events in Houston and around the world. He has performed in over 1,700 schools to highlight the importance of education and authored seven children’s books. Mr. Boudwin also created and portrayed the mascots for the Houston Comets and other minor league teams throughout his career.
In 2017, Mr. Boudwin created and is portraying a new mascot, Newton, Houston’s Smartest Dragon, whose mission is to teach elementary school students about the importance of education.
He has received countless industry and civic awards including 2006 inductee into the Mascot Hall of Fame, 2 time NBA Mascot of the Year and Houston Chronicle Hometown Hero.
Out of costume, Mr. Boudwin volunteers and speaks for nine non-profit organizations, five of which he sits on the board for, but he is best known for his work with organ donation awareness. He has also inspired tens of thousands as a public speaker through his motivational “SMILES” presentation.
Jennifer Carnahan Finn - Class of 1990
An inspired music student at Wissahickon, Ms. Jennifer Carnahan Finn continued to study music at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she received her Bachelor of Music in vocal performance summa cum laude in 1995. She started her career as a professional dramatic coloratura soprano who performed in major opera houses in the United States and Europe. Between those engagements, she performed for patients in veterans' hospitals and nursing homes. Sensing the palpable difference that these personal, live concerts made for those she was reaching, she wanted to do more.
In 2009, Ms. Finn founded Concerts in Motion which provides high-quality, live music to elderly, disabled, isolated, and homebound residents in New York City. Over the last 7 years, the organization reached more than 20,000 New Yorkers. CiM enlists professional musicians for their performances and partners with over 80 agencies throughout the five boroughs,
With a commitment to education, the Concerts in Motion Youth Series allows students, ages 4-18 to use their talents in service to people in need. CiM leaders and partners teach young performers how to engage an audiences before, during, and after concerts, including those who have Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, or other challenging conditions.
Ms. Finn successfully cultivates funding from individuals, corporations, and foundations to support CiM programs, oversees the staff and consultants, and works closely with the Board of Directors, Parent's Council, and Youth Leaders to fulfill their mission.
Ms. Finn received a Certificate of Achievement from The Fordham University Center for Non-Profit Leaders Program in 2012 and completed the Columbia University Business School Senior Leaders Program for Nonprofit Professionals in 2015. In 2013, she was named New Yorker of the Week for her work singing and organizing concerts, by NY1, a local TV station in New York City.
William Freas - Class of 1997
William Freas began his work in the arts and entertainment industry at a young age studying creative writing and music. A state champion musician at Wissahickon High School. Mr. Freas also performed professionally in the Philadelphia area with ensembles such as The Black Eyed Peas Jazz Band. He won numerous music awards including the prestigious John Philip Sousa Award, and earned top positions in major ensembles including sweeping first-chair tuba distinctions in PMEA District 11 Band and Orchestra, Region 6 Band and Orchestra, and Pennsylvania All-State Band, He earned tuba seats in a total of eight PMEA band and orchestra festivals and was chosen in back-to-back years as the bass trombonist for the elite Cavalcade All-Star Jazz Band. As his musical interests peaked, Mr. Freas studied intensive music theory and composition while learning to play every instrument. Following graduation, Mr. Freas continued his musical studies at West Chester University while maintaining his professional career as a performer, composer and arranger.
In 2000, Mr. Freas was hired to compose the musical score and theme for a Philadelphia-based television pilot. That opportunity branched out to positions as head writer and cast member for the project, which garnered interest from networks such as TBS and Comedy Central. Following his involvement with the project, Mr. Freas began writing for film full-time and soon secured numerous deals for his projects with various international film companies. Over the next few years, he expanded his technical, business, and creative capabilities and began producing, directing, and acting. In 2011, his first major directorial debut "Ain't So Funny", which he also wrote and produced, made its world premiere at the popular Blue Snowman Film Festival in Montreal, Quebec to rave reviews. In addition to writing for film, he has authored a satirical comedy book and a number of acclaimed short fiction works.
In 2010, Mr. Freas founded a production company, Crazy Owl Films, that provides development and production services for film and television projects. In 2014, Crazy Owl Films expanded to include a music division known as Crazy Owl Entertainment that composes and produces original music for established professional musical artists and for placement in film, television, and assorted multimedia projects.
Andreas Gaynor - Class of 1989
Andreas H. Gaynor is recognized for his contributions to Wissahickon high school, it's athletic programs, entrepreneurialism in the restaurant business, and accomplishments in coaching and mentoring future student-athletes. Mr. Gaynor honed his athletic abilities early in life with annual presidential physical fitness tests, school recess, gym class, and "Friday Night Rec" at Shady Grove. He played football, basketball and track in middle school and high school. He competed internationally in track and field for the United States Maccabiah team in 1985 in Tel Aviv, winning two golds and a silver prior to starting his freshmen year. As one of the stand out student-athletes in high school, he was honored to receive a full football scholarship to play football at the University of Virginia (1989-1993).
After graduation in 1993, Mr. Gaynor became a restauranteur, opening several businesses, including a coffee shop and an authentic Philly style deli, with all of his favorite menu items from his childhood. Each business was successful and Andreas received awards for service and quality.
In 2008 Andreas moved to Southern California to pursue his passion to coach lacrosse and developed one of the premier club lacrosse programs, Tribz Lacrosse, with camps, training, teams and leagues. The Tribz Lacrosse California Showcase hosts thousands of players, family and friends for a two day tournament each summer that focuses on playing the game the right way.
Mr. Gaynor is the long time head coach at University high school and volunteers at University California Irvine and devotes much of his time to coach at the youth, high school and college levels.
Carolyn Shaner - Class of 1972
Carolyn Stowe Shaner is recognized as a WSD student, teacher and coach. She was an active scholar athlete who played Field Hockey, Basketball and Tennis in Junior High and High School. She participated in Concert Band and Chorus where she served as piano accompanist and was an all-Bux-Mont/ District flautist every year. Additionally, she was a member of Honor Society, FTA and Varsity Club. Upon graduation, she received an academic scholarship from the Wissahickon community. Carolyn then attended West Chester University as a double music major in Flute and Piano and played on the women's tennis team, graduating with honors.
Carolyn was hired by Wissahickon in 1977 as a full time substitute for Elementary Band. She was contracted later that same year as a general/choral music teacher working in Springhouse, Shady Grove, Mattison and Blue Bell schools. She composed school songs for both Springhouse (for the 50 year celebration) and Mattison Ave. Throughout her career, Mrs. Shaner taught private music lessons in both flute and piano. In 1986, She earned her Masters and additional certifications in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
In 1980 Carolyn was asked to coach the WHS girls’ tennis team. During her tenure, the team earned many league championships with some of her student athletes winning state recognition. In 1984, Carolyn became a certified member of the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) with a Pro 1 status. She has coached and taught tennis at all levels in many local clubs and camps. She ran the Wissahickon Summer Enrichment Tennis program for 20 years. For many years she has coached the WMS boys and girls tennis teams with over 17 undefeated seasons. In 2015 she was recognized for her exemplary coaching by the USPTA as Middle States Division ‘High School Coach of the Year’.
For the last ten years, Mrs. Shaner served as an adjunct Education professor, supervising student teachers at Arcadia University. She also volunteered for twenty years as youth choir director at First Presbyterian Church of Ambler and as a summer organist.
Krista Simkins - Class of 2005
Krista Simkins is recognized as one of Wissahickon’s fastest sprinters – a talented athlete used to making headlines as she claimed numerous championships at the high school and collegiate level. In high school, Ms. Simkins was the 2005 Pennsylvania State Champion in the 200-meters. During her senior year, she earned All-America honors and set a record for the fastest times in the state in the 100-meters, 200-meters and 400-meters races.
Simkins was a two-time Big East Champion for Seton Hall University Track and Field and a 400-meter National Champion
and six-time Atlantic Coast Conference Champion for University of Miami Track and Field. In 2006, Simkins earned All-America honors as a member of the 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay during the NCAA Outdoor and Indoor Championships. In 2008, Ms. Simkins was named the ACC Indoor Track Performer of the Year.
Simkins received her Masters in communication from Seton Hall University and B.A. in Sociology/ Communication from the
University of Miami. She currently works as an Executive Recruiter for WellStar Health System.
Kevin Witchey - Class of 1981
Kevin Witchey has served the Wissahickon School District as Home and School Visitor since 1994 where he has had a direct impact on at-risk students. He works directly with students who are experiencing truancy, discipline problems, academic failure, as well as those who are involved in the Juvenile Justice System.
Mr. Witchey took a lead role in Wissahickon Safe Schools program where he demonstrated the skills to help students who experience serious difficulty in school. He was Montgomery County’s Counselor of the year in 1990 and has served on the Montgomery County Youth Center Board of Directors (2001) and the Montgomery County Children’s Roundtable Board of Directors. He has been the chairman of the Ambler YMCA Youth Development Committee since 2010. He was also an Ambler Gazette Citizen of the Week recipient (1996) and is an Adjunct Professor at Widener University from 2000 to present.
As a student at Wissahickon, Mr. Witchey was a three-year varsity letterman in football and also a track athlete. He earned First Team All League Honors in Football and Track and also set the high school shot put record in 1980. He earned a full athletic scholarship to play Division 1 football at Temple University and was a 3 year starter for their offensive line.
He earned his Bachelors of Science in Education, Certified Health & Physical Education and was on the Deans List in 1986. In 1995, he earned his Masters of Education from Widener University and is a Certified Home and School Visitor.