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Your Inaugural Class of Maroon & Gray HonoreesThe SCASD Education Foundation is proud to announce the inaugural group of honorees for the newly-formed Maroon & Gray Society. Selected from a pool of 60-plus nominations, the inaugural class includes:

• Steve Gentry, Alum, Track Star and Beloved Coach
• Joe Boris, Teacher of 40 Years, Commissioner of the Intramural Basketball Association
• Rich Victor, Award-Winning Music Educator
• Matthew Berrena, Alum, Honored Veteran
• Bob Drafall, Music Coordinator, Celebrated Choir Director
• The 1979 Baseball Team
• Marion Bressler, Lifelong Educator, Innovator and Author
• Carol Gentry, Beloved High School English Teacher

“State High has been home to so many remarkable alumni, educators, influencers and stand-out teams and groups. We wanted to find a way to honor these individuals while also supporting today’s students,” says Foundation President Doug Loviscky.

Steve Gentry '65

Gentry, a stand out on the track and cross country teams during his State High days, has always maintained close ties with the school. His skill in the sports — including winning two state titles in cross country and the 1965 state championship in the mile—earned him a spot on both teams at Penn State. After graduation, Gentry and his wife Carol made their way back to SCASD, both teaching in the district for 30 years. Gentry was the head women’s track and field and cross country coach at State High for 21 years. During his tenure, he led his teams to five PIAA 3A cross country championships, one PIAA outdoor track title and one PTFCA Indoor Title. The cross country team thrived under his leadership, proven by their 17-year stretch of placing in the top four. Though now retired, Gentry is still an avid supporter of the district and other community athletics programs.

“The personal athletic accomplishments of Steve while a State High student alone could be enough for being honored in the Society, but what he went on to do for the school after his time as a student is even more impressive,” say Steve Shisler and Chuck Loviscky, who nominated Gentry for the Maroon & Gray Society. “His contribution to the improvement of the community is unquestioned.”

Joe Boris

After graduating from Penn State, Boris became a teacher at State High, focusing on Social Studies subjects for the sophomore, junior and senior classes, then adding sociology to his repertoire.

“Joe has been an amazing role model for all of his students,” says Robin Smith Chiavetta ’83, a former student who nominated Boris. “He really gave us someone to look up to! I had a lot of wonderful teachers through the years, but I think he stands out. He continued to make a difference long after I left, and, from what I can see, still does even after retirement.”

Chiavetta’s words ring true. After 40 years of teaching, Joe Boris still hasn’t gotten his fill of State High. Though he’s retired, Boris spends much of his time continuing to work with students at State High School in his role as commissioner of the Intramural Basketball Association (I.M.B.A.), which he’s held for nearly three decades.

Since taking over the team in 1990, Boris transformed the program from a mere 48 players to a thriving program that boasts 270 players and makes up two divisions of 12 teams each. As commissioner, Boris is able to continue to mentor students and keep building his legacy.

Rich Victor

Rich Victor has led a distinguished career in music education history, much of which was spent at SCASD. He began teaching at State High in 1975, eventually becoming the Music Coordinator in 1988 until he retired in June 2011. In that role, Victor supervised the activities of 25 music teachers in 13 buildings. Under his leadership, the district was recognized nine times as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in America, and in 2005, 2006 and 2007, State College Area High School was named a Grammy Signature School. Victor also served as the High School Band Director, heading up four different concert bands, Marching Band, Jazz Band and Musical Pit Orchestra.

Though he retired from the district, his career is still going strong. He is the chair for the NAfME Council for Jazz Education and frequently serves as a clinician, consultant and featured speaker for school districts and music events throughout Pennsylvania.

Other accolades include:

• James R. Stewart Distinguished Service Award from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association in 2007
• 2008 recipient of the Walter J. DeLacy Excellence in Instruction Award given for Outstanding Service to Public Education
• First recipient of the the Penn State School of Music Outstanding in 2009
• 2010 PA State Representative for School Band & Orchestra’s “Fifty Directors That Make a Difference,”
• “Bandmaster of the Year” for the Nu Chapter of Phi Beta Mu in 2011
• PMEA District 4 Distinguished Service Award in 2012

Matthew Berrena '79

Matthew Berrena led a distinguished military career after graduating from State High. He retired in 2001 as a sergeant major after 22 years as an elite Army Ranger.
Berrena’s missions over the years included the invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989, in addition to fighting in Operation Desert Storm against Iraqi forces in 1991 and later that year serving as a rifle platoon leader in Operation Iris Gold along the border between Kuwait and Iraq. In 2013, he was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., taking his much deserved place among 336 other members — from various different eras — honored for
their outstanding and courageous service.

Today, Berrena is an active member of Good Shepherd Catholic Church and Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church and generously donates his time to their religious education programs. Other contributions include serving as a leader in the Boy Scouts of America, financially supporting the Wounded Warrior Project in State College and participating in the local schools’ celebration of Veterans Day. He has an Associate of Arts degree in business and management and is co-owner of Joseph T. Berrena Mechanicals Inc. He and his wife, Marcia, have two sons, Matthew and Luke.

Bob Drafall

Bob Drafall's name often brings a smile to the faces of his former students and those who know him. In 2015, Drafall retired from the district after a 19-year career as the director of choirs, plus a four-year stint as Music Coordinator following Rich Victor’s retirement in 2011, and he left behind a legacy.

“Bob’s talents as an educator touched the lives of so many music students in SCASD, yet he is the most humble man I’ve ever met,” says Alison Geesey, who nominated Drafall. “The legacy he built for the choir program at State High is one of the best in the state of Pennsylvania.” Serving as director of choirs certainly brought a lot of joy to Drafall, but it was quite the time commitment. As the story goes, some days, he didn’t even see the sun — arriving at 7 a.m. and staying until 9 p.m., leading musical rehearsal and fulfilling other after-school duties.

These long days inspired what has become a famous State High anecdote. One of Drafall’s graduating classes — grateful for his commitment and sacrifice — raised the money to have the first window installed in his classroom just so he could catch a glimpse of the outside world during long days.

“His amazing gift was caring about every one, and establishing a safe and nurturing environment that brought diverse young people together into a common goal,” says Patrese Huff. “Students under his direction came to a powerful unity of purpose as they worked hard toward musical excellence and harmony of spirit.”

The 1979 Baseball Team

State College Area High School won its only state title in 1979, under Coach Ken Barto, but the accolades weren’t the only thing the members of this team walked away with.

“Coach Barto instilled a strong work ethic in our team. His standards for behavior and attitude served us well during our high school years and throughout our lives. When the team got together for a benefit game, you could see that the bonds created among these teammates were still as strong as they were in ’79,” said nominator Robin (Stump) Bastress.

Marion Bressler (Posthumous)

Bressler taught History from 1960 to 1983 and was credited with introducing AP History to State High. She also served as SCAEA President for several years.

Moving to State College in 1951, Bressler taught American History at Penn State until 1959, when she started working at State College Area High School. After introducing the AP program to SCAHS, making it one of the first public high schools in the country to adopt the Educational Testing Service curriculum, she joined ETS as a consultant. While still a full-time SCAHS faculty member, she additionally taught in the Penn State Continuing Education program, and a PSU summer graduate course. She co-authored two books with her husband and, in her free time, tutored members of the PSU football team.

Bressler retired in 1983, but continued on as a regular substitute teacher and ETS consultant. She also designed and taught courses for the Community Academy for Lifelong Learning, through her 90s. In 2000, she was honored as a Central Pennsylvania Living Legend in education, by the Centre County Bicentennial Committee.

According to former student, Woodrow Deitrich, who nominated her for inclusion in the Maroon & Gray Society, “Mrs. Bressler was an outstanding and memorable teacher of AP History for decades. Among the many students she influenced was the famed political scientist, Francis Fukuyama (Class of 1970). Mrs. Bressler accepted any student interested in attempting college-level work in history, not just the elite students. She graded huge numbers of written blue-book exams, reading all of them twice to determine a fair grade for each student. She was the most devoted teacher you could imagine.”

Carol Gentry 

Carol Gentry taught English in the High School from 1969 to 1999, and was beloved by her students and fellow teachers.

“Mrs. Gentry had a huge impact on all of her 10th-grade English students.  She went above and beyond to make class interesting, exciting, engaging and applicable to our lives,” says one former student. “Though I had her 21 years ago, the lessons she taught about language and life are still with me. As a teacher myself, I carry with me the examples of all of the great teachers that I had at SCASD. Her example of humor, caring and high expectations is one that I think back to often with great fondness.”