The Class of 2023 Inductees

Congratulations to the 2023 Inductees!


H C ThomasHeather Cayward Thomas – A class of 1989 graduate, she ran Cross Country and Track for 4 years, being named captain junior and senior years. As a freshman cross country runner, she was the first female from SWHS to qualify for All-States, where she placed 12th and broke the school record. In Track & Field, she broke and set multiple school records in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m events. During her four years, she earned All-Conference and All-State honors on multiple occasions, winning several All-Conference championships, as well as winning the 1989 State Open Championship in the 800m, qualifying her to compete in the All-New England Championship. Heather also participated in Vocal Ensemble and Choral Spectrum (competition show choir). Additionally, she served on the Executive Board during her Senior year. She was a member of the National Honor Society and graduated 6th in her class.

 Heather then attended Springfield College from 1989-93, earning Bachelor’s Degrees in Rehabilitation and Psychology and graduating magna cum laude. She competed all four years on the Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track & Field teams, she was captain her junior and senior years, focusing on the 800, 1600m, 4x400m and 4x800m relays. She set the school record in the 800m, which stood for 20 years. Heather competed in the NCAA Indoor & Outdoor Track and Field National Championships, as well as at the prestigious Penn Relays.

 In 1994, Heather decided to go back to school to the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. She worked at Johns Hopkins University for 21 years, where her dedicated focus was caring for people with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C. She coordinated dozens of clinical trials, which resulted in the FDA-approval of new and more effective treatments. In 2017, after experiencing the deaths of her parents and numerous friends from cancer, she changed her focus to the field of oncology research, where she continues to work today. 

Heather lives in Maryland with her husband of 21 years and two daughters.

K CooneyKevin (Chief Cooney) is a 1983 graduate and lifelong resident of South Windsor where he has dedicated his life to the protection of his community and also the community where we gather tonight, Manchester, through his work as a firefighter. As a teenager, Kevin followed in his dad’s footsteps and joined the South Windsor Fire Department Explorer Post in 1979.  Kevin graduated from the Explorer Post and became a full-fledged fire fighter with the South Windsor Fire Department in 1983. He worked his way thru the ranks and became the Chief of the 130 member fire department in 2012 and continues to serve in this position. Besides this service, Kevin also was a career firefighter for over 20 years with the Manchester Fire-Rescue-EMS Department (IAFF Local 1579). 
In South Windsor, Kevin has been involved with the Explorer program for many years. Kevin has been a mentor for these participants and many have gone on and joined the department as regular fire fighters.   He is the former Commander of local Honor Guards with the South Windsor and Manchester Fire Departments. He is well known and highly respected for his long tenure of attending Line Of Duty Deaths services throughout New England, supporting the families and brothers and sisters of fallen firefighters. He holds numerous officer/instructor certifications from the CT Fire Academy and National Fire Academy and is also a certified Fire Marshall.
Chief Cooney is active with many fire service organizations. He is a past President of the CT Fire Chiefs Association, past Treasurer and Secretary of the CT Fire Instructors Association, a past Director and Deputy Coordinator of the Hartford County Fire Emergency plan. He serves on the CT Fallen Firefighters Memorial Committee and is on the advisory Committee and Board of Directors for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation along with being a member of the CT Fire Marshalls Association and other fire related groups.
Kevin serves on the Board of Directors for the South Windsor Chamber of Commerce along with being a member of the South Windsor Irish Committee that organizes town participation in the annual Hartford St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Kevin’s service to the South Windsor community as a dedicated and hardworking Fire Chief and volunteer is second to none. Kevin, his wife Christine and their daughters live in South Windsor.
G M KassalGayle Mangan Cassal is a 1986 graduate and well-rounded student of South Windsor High School, Gayle enrolled in every art class, played varsity soccer, track and field, sang in choral spectrum and designed the 1986 yearbook.  She has fond memories of the masterful instruction she received from her art teachers, Geri Maillett, Susi Kinsloe-Byers, and Cynthia Wallace-Bernier. Their encouragement was an integral part of her foundation in pursuing an artistic career. Gayle’s art bloomed into intricate murals and fine art pastel paintings that today adorn corporations, hospitals, and private residencies nationwide. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island and earned her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  She was an adjunct professor at UMass Dartmouth, Salve Regina University and eventually, Anne Arundel Community College when she moved to Annapolis, Maryland in 2002. 
As a breast cancer survivor (2022) Gayle knows all too well the importance of art and healing. She is thrilled her murals can be found in the pediatric units of Boston Medical Center, Rhode Island’s Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and Washington D.C.’s Children's National Medical Center.  They transform the dull clinical walls into a friendlier space, aiding the healing process for patients, their caregivers and medical staff. Gayle’s art also enhances the wide walls of Newport Grand Casino, a few Rhode Island restaurants and several Maryland public schools. Currently, Gayle is a professional artist and visiting educator throughout Maryland public schools, creating murals with hundreds of students. She is a signature board member and co-vice president of the Maryland Pastel Society, a member of the Maryland Federation of Art and Annapolis Art Alliance.  Gayle enjoys living by the Chesapeake Bay with her husband Pete and their two children in Annapolis, Maryland.
J MarchettiJohn Marchetti is a 1961 graduate of Bridgeport Central High School where he was a member of the Men’s Glee Club and winner of the Cervantes Spanish Award. He went on to Southern Connecticut State University where he earned a B.S. in Secondary Education. He later earned a M.S, in Guidance from Fairfield University and a Sixth-Year Certificate in Administration from UConn. 
John began his career in 1965 as a 7th and 8th grade History and Geography teacher in his hometown of Bridgeport. In 1970 John came to South Windsor’s Timothy Edwards Middle School where he continued teaching Social Studies. In the fall of 1975 John moved to South Windsor High School in the Guidance Department where he served as a counselor and Department Chair until his retirement in 2000. During this time he was in charge of the school’s testing program while also serving as a senior class and NHS advisor. John also created and served as advisor to the South Windsor Ambassador Team in addition to coaching freshman football. The class of 1984 dedicated their yearbook to John and described him as “a paragon of excellence…he made our school years better by always being interested in us…he is never too busy to discuss our problems or exercise the skill of listening…throughout the years he has advised us and lightened our spirits…his guidance time and concern will always be remembered”.
In retirement John spent a number of years working as a test coordinator for the department of Education’s No Child Left Behind testing program. Besides chaperoning many field trips for South Windsor High School students, John and his wife Peggy enjoyed traveling to many places including Italy, Hawaii and Cape Cod. Of John a colleague said “John was the consummate professional, and the leading role model for the entire SWHS Guidance Department that he headed for many years. The decades of success attained by our students, and the reputation that our school now enjoys would have been far less likely had John Marchetti not performed his vital services so well and for so many”.
M MortensonMaggie began her teaching career with a degree in Elementary and Special Education from Eastern New Mexico University in 1976 on the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico. She followed this with two years teaching English in South Korea as a Peace Corp volunteer. Returning to US, Maggie continued teaching special needs students in New Mexico, Arizona, New Hampshire and eventually in Connecticut at SWHS from 1988-2013.  As a teacher of multiple students with disabilities at SWHS, she developed work programs which included a car wash, a food catering services, bakery, landscaping, weekly lunch menu for faculty and stocking shelves in local businesses. She coached Special Olympic teams and at SWHS started and coached the Unified Sports team. In 2001, Maggie was selected Outstanding Coach of 2001 by CT High School Coaches Association. In 2010, Maggie received an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Maggie has been married to Vance since 1976, has two children, Amberley and Dashiell, and 4 grandchildren. While living in South Windsor, she coached recreational soccer (her son’s team), T-Ball and softball, (her daughter’s teams).  She was a Girl Scout leader for several years and a United States Swimming official (during her daughter’s years). She was also a hospice volunteer, volunteered as a cook at the Cornerstone Foundation Soup Kitchen, and each month packed food boxes and delivered them to shut ins for several years.
Since retiring in Saranac Lake, New York in 2013, Maggie began a new career of volunteering.  She is currently president/cook of the Saranac Lake Community Lunchbox (a twice weekly soup kitchen), has been a volunteer for the Salvation Army in Saranac Lake (writing vouchers for families with rent, utility, heating, or other needs), and volunteers for Grace Pantry (a non-food pantry). She is a board member/volunteer with the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad. She organizes and distributes winter coats for adults and winter clothes for children yearly in Saranac Lake. Vance and Maggie were selected 2018 Tri-Lakes Volunteers of the Year.  
When Maggie isn’t volunteering, she enjoys hiking with her 2 Jack Russell pups, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in the Adirondacks of New York. She and Vance have traveled to 40 states with their dogs and travel trailer, visiting family, friends, and National Parks. 
L RegulbutoLinda graduated in 1977 where she participated in many activities including membership in the National Honor Society, Varsity Cheerleading, Vocal Ensemble and Music department Secretary and teaching assistant, Actress/Dancer in musicals and the American Field Service foreign exchange program. Her affinity for teaching started in high school as a Kindergarten teaching assistant, Sunday school teacher and Youth Fellowship advisor at Wapping Community Congregational Church.
She is the Owner and Artistic Director of Grossi Dance & Performing Arts Academy in Vernon, CT. and was the owner, director and administrator of Steppin’ Up! Dance Studio & Companies for 22 years where she developed dance and performing arts programs for special populations including Manchester Association for retarded Citizens (MARC), Elderhostel, Department of Child and Youth Services (DCYS), Senior Centers, Rehabilitation and Senior Residential Facilities and colleges, produced rehabilitative exercise videos with RSVP Video Productions, and directed and choreographed dozens of musicals and productions for high schools, colleges and community theater groups.
After leaving the studios she joined the staff at The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, CT. as Senior Manager of Education, planning the award-winning PARTNERS® programs, community outreach efforts and new venture arts management initiatives. During that time, she was appointed Associate Producer where she contracted Broadway and non-Broadway programming, developed new producing efforts, coordinated casting for touring companies and Bushnell Productions, and organized master classes with Broadway cast members. She served as production manager for The Bushnell’s premiere producing effort of The Music Man - A 50th Anniversary Tribute in 2008 with Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy, Greater Tuna in 2009 and Warriors Don’t Cry in 2010. In 2007, 2008 and 2010 Linda produced and directed the Martin Luther King Celebration performances and coordinated casting for The Music Man, Greater Tuna, Whistle Down the Wind and High School Musical at The Bushnell.
Her experience as a professional dancer, choreographer and director led her to numerous theatrical and television performances, including her top favorites: A Chorus Line, 42nd Street, and Me and My Girl and choreographing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City for 11 years, and as consultant and choreographer for the Real Ambassadors Jazz Ensemble in the London Olympics in 2012.
Linda is a National Vice President and has served as a chapter vice president of Greater New England for the National Association of Dancers and Affiliated Artists (NADAA), competition judge for NADAA and several dance and talent competitions throughout the country as well as appearing many times in the role of guest faculty. She continues to conduct master classes and seminars and has been a lead consultant with Regal Productions Consulting to several dance companies, performing arts schools and theater organizations in the New England and New York areas. Linda was accepted into the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) for her achievements in the performing arts industry and as an accomplished contributor to the advancement of performing arts education and was awarded Woman of The Year by the NAPW.
J N ThomasJohn N. Thomas attended Brockton High School where he played football with his friend Rocky Marciano, along with being a member of the baseball and track teams.  John loved sports and had interest in golf, bowling, hockey, boating and basketball.  After graduating in 1941, John went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine on a football scholarship. He played intercollegiate football, baseball and track throughout his college career. It was during this time, John chose to serve his country, enlisting in the Army during World War II.  He was stationed in the Pacific Theater as an Army Ranger and was awarded the Expert Infantry Badge, pinned on him by Winston Churchill. After his return, John graduated from Bates in 1948 with a degree in Physics.
After college, John took a teaching job in the math and physics department at Norwich Free Academy (NFA) in Norwich, Connecticut. Later he served as a guidance counselor as well.  For several years, John was the Junior Varsity football coach and briefly served as the coach of NFA’s Varsity football team during the season that they defeated New Britain – the only win against New Britain in a number of years. During this time, John returned to school, earning his Master’s degree from Boston College.  John came to South Windsor High School in the early 1960’s serving as vice principal for nearly 20 years.  After retirement, John taught various courses at New London College, for Norwich’s Alternate High School and, at Griswold High School.

John was an avid gardener and a certified Master Gardener. He was a carpenter, building homes during summer breaks from school and, with the help of his father, built his own home in Norwich in 1952.  He was a Freemason for the majority of his adult life and a devoted member of Central Baptist Church in Norwich for almost 60 years.  John was devoted to his family – his wife of almost 60 years, his 3 children and especially, his 6 grandchildren.

John passed away at the age of 87 in 2010. Today, March 4th would have been John’s 100th birthday. John truly was the embodiment of the “Greatest Generation” that defeated Nazism and Fascism to ensure for all of us the freedoms and blessings that we enjoy. A faculty member that worked with John for his entire career at South Windsor High School said of John, “He was the rock of stability serving under many principals during his long tenure. He created an underlying discipline despite some difficult changing times. He was a legendary figure, respected and admired by both the faculty and student body. 


S WirtaShane is a 1992 graduate where he was a three year varsity starter on the soccer and baseball teams and was named co-captain of both teams his senior year. Among the honors Shane received while playing for the Bobcats, he was an all CCC East selection in both soccer and baseball, he helped lead both teams into deep runs in the state tournaments and was selected to the All-state baseball team his Senior year. Shane’s athletic excellence was recognized by being awarded the Hugh Greer award as the top male athlete in his senior class. Outside of athletics, Shane was on the honor roll all 4 years, President of his Junior class, a member of the Prom committee, the Future Business Leaders of America and a Booster club volunteer.
Shane took his talents to Seton Hall University in New Jersey where his accomplishments on the baseball diamond continued. Shane was the first recruited walk-on player in Seton Hall history to be elected as a captain in his senior year. He earned a baseball scholarship and was a three year starter at third base where he led the Pirates to the Big East Tournament in his Sophomore and also Junior years, losing to UConn by a run in the championship game as a Junior. As a Senior Shane was twice the Newark Star-Ledger player of the week, hitting for the cycle against Lafayette and Providence Colleges in the same week and finishing his career with a 315 average, being selected as All-New Jersey third base and picked to play in a postseason showcase game.
The success Shane experienced at South Windsor High School and Seton Hall University has carried on to his business career. Over the past 27 years Shane has advanced up the company ladder at a number of firms. Among his accomplishments in the Marketing field, he grew Wireless Zone from 75 to 300 franchises. For Bob’s Stores he built partnership agreements with the Red Sox, Yankees, Patriots and UConn while negotiating for Bob’s to be the first brand placed on the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Becoming one of the youngest chief marketing officers in the country with revenue over 100 million dollars annually at Country Curtains in Lee MA. Perhaps it was just fate that took Shane from South Windsor, with a tobacco plant as the centerpiece of the town flag and the finest cigar leaf wrapper in the world, to Cigars international where as the head of marketing he was responsible for marketing 6 e- commerce brands with revenue of over a billion dollars.
Shane is now President and CEO of Shane Wirta Consulting where he provides complete and comprehensive marketing strategies and implementations. Shane, his wife Ali and their daughters Natalie and Elin reside in Pennsylvania.