More than 100 friends, relatives and colleagues gathered at Nino's on Lake Tiogue on May 31 to honor the Coventry High School Alumni Association's first four Hall of Fame inductees.
Guests were greeted by Ernest DiMicco, CHS Alumni Association President before being entertained by members of the CHS Jazz Band and enjoying a dinner of salad, pasta, stuffed chicken breast, roasted vegetables and dessert.
CHS Principal Michael Hobin and Coventry Public Schools Superintendent Michael Convery welcomed guests and thanked them for being part of such an important evening in Coventry High School history.
The evening's inductees were nominated and chosen for their achievements while at Coventry High School and post graduation, the obstacles that they overcame in pursuit of their goals, how well their achievements inspired others in the school community, service to the community, honesty, integrity, concern for others and outstanding character. Each of the following inductees demonstrated the standard of excellence that is encouraged at Coventry High School:
Andrea Hopkins is a graduate of CHS and the University of Rhode Island with a major in political science and double minors in history and journalism. She recently retired as the liaison for state and federal government relations for URI and previously held leadership positions at AAA Southern New England, Meeting Street School and A.T. Cross.
Among her involvements with Kent County Hospital, the Government Relations Advisory Committee and Women's Development Council, Ms. Hopkins is also President of the Coventry Public Library Foundation and the first woman to hold the position of Centreville Bank Trustee.
Her daughter Kathryn spoke of how the qualities that Ms. Hopkins showed as a CHS student are still with her now and described her mother as "very skilled and generous with her time and talents."
"Anyone that knows her knows the great amount of talent, personality and skill that she possesses," said DiMicco. "She can fill all of these positions and there aren't many people who can do that."
Bob Peltier was born in 1935 and raised in the Harris section of Coventry. He attended LaSalle Academy and proved to be an exceptional football and baseball player. After graduating in 1953, he attended Dean Academy where he continued to play both sports. Peltier then went to URI and graduated in 1959 with a degree in physical education. After spending time teaching at Westerly and West Warwick high schools, he began at CHS in 1964 and soon became the head football coach, leading the team to two state championships and a 24-game winning streak over two and a half years.
"Bob was an excellent football coach," said DiMicco. "His impact on the kids and on the Coventry football program has been amazing."
Peltier's son, Steve, gave an emotional speech in his father's honor, focusing on his solid relationships with his players.
"My father cared about his players and I haven't met a football player who was coached by him that didn't say what a great guy my dad was," he said. "This moment tonight means a lot to all of us and to my father."
"I want to thank all of the people that made this day possible," said Peltier as he accepted his plaque.
Anne Proffitt Dupre graduated from CHS in 1970 and then from URI with degrees in history and psychology in 1974. After teaching for five years, she found her passion in the law and decided to attend law school at the University of Georgia where she graduated first in her class in 1988 and served as editor-in-chief of the Georgia Law Review. She served as a judicial clerk to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun following her clerkship with Judge J.L. Edmondson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Ms. Dupre then practiced law with the Washington, D.C., firm of Shaw, Pittman, Potts & Trowbridge.
In 1994 she joined the faculty at UGA, School of Law where she was a teacher, researcher and mentor until her untimely death in June 2011. Ms. Dupre was nationally recognized as an expert in education law and policy and she published two books, numerous articles and book chapters. She also received the Blue Key Young Alumnus Award and was honored by law students with the 2011 Faculty Book Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Her husband Bill shared a story capturing his wife's unique and spirited take on law and freedom of speech, telling of how she would bring her clarinet to a speech and would not say a word - simply play for two or three minutes, then ask her audience if she had the right to play her instrument instead of giving her speech. The tactic would always open up meaningful discussions on the topics at hand.
He also explained that she wished to be known for having a scholarship in her name to support non-traditional students at UGA.
"She brought so much to Coventry High School and had said so many times what a foundation it had given her," said Ms. Dupre's father, George.
James A. DiPrete, Principal Emeritus of Coventry High School came to CHS in the Fall of 1972 as its fourth principal. As a new principal, DiPrete worked hard to get a new bond passed to complete construction of a new building, leading to the end of the dreaded double sessions and the beginning of a "golden age for CHS".
"He was really goo with people and really good at running the school," said DiMicco. "He was just the embodiment of Coventry High School in the time he was there and he always made sure the faculty had what they needed to make certain that the students did also."
While principal, he worked to revise and strengthen the curriculum and extracurricular programs, chaired a number of NEASC visiting committees and served a term on the National Association of Student Councils. After retiring after 21 years in 1993, DiPrete served as chairperson of the RI Board of Regents for 10 years as well as numerous interim positions around Rhode Island.
He was nominated for the induction by Coventry Schools Liasion and former CHS student Mary Vandervelde, who explained that DiPrete had an immediate impact when he became principal and was completely invested with the school despite its multiple problems at the time including double sessions and jeopardized accreditation.
"James built a climate that was inclusive, positive and kind," she said. "He always made me and others feel that we were special and important."
DiPrete commented on how proud he was to be inducted alongside the other three Hall of Fame members and accepted his plaque after explaining his philosophy.
"Schools are not simply about academics," he said. "They are about the people and the kids and the further you get away from that, the further away you get from your focus."
DiMicco concluded the ceremony with a quote from Louisa May Alcott: "Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
"I believe that is what tonight's inductees have done," he said.
Take a look at the attached images for individual inductee profiles and association information.