Walk of Fame is set in stone
It didn’t matter that rain forced the official dedication of Johnston High School’s Brick Walk of Fame indoors Saturday morning; enthusiasm was still bubbling over inside the Edward L. DiSimone Gymnasium.
Roughly 60 crammed into the lobby, where Athletic Hall of Fame founder and former teacher and coach Gary Mazzie thanked the people who made the Walk of Fame a reality.
One person, in particular, whom Mazzie heaped praise upon was Jerry St. Angelo, a Johnston resident who installed each of the original 86 bricks.
“And to think that a former Falcon laid all the bricks,” Mazzie quipped about St. Angelo, who owns his own brick laying company. “Oh well, he married a Panther.”
St. Angelo graduated from Cranston High West in 1983, and was a standout in football and wrestling for the Falcons. Although it isn’t his alma mater, St. Angelo says he bleeds Panther Blue. He said he “enjoys living in a small town where you can walk down the street and bump into people you know.”
Back in 1983, St. Angelo met Melissa DiLorenzo at a place called “Fun and Games” on Atwood Avenue. Today, Jerry and Melissa, a former JHS cheerleader, are the proud parents of four children, three of whom have gone through the Johnston School system and another who is at Ferri Middle School.
“I love Johnston schools,” St. Angelo said. “I love giving back to Johnston for the great education and experiences my children have enjoyed.”
St. Angelo’s oldest daughter, Toni-Marie St. Angelo Achilli, graduated from JHS and is expecting her first child in May. She went on to receive a scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, where she graduated in 2004, and is now at Brown University in a five-year academic studies program.
His daughter Victoria is a 2011 graduate and played sports for the Panthers. She is now at CCRI, as is her brother Gerald who graduated in 2010 and attends CCRI part-time in addition to working with his father. He played soccer and wrestled for the Panthers.
Once Gerald graduated, Jerry and Melissa St. Angelo had a void in their lives.
“Every day was about Johnston High and the sports,” Jerry said. “We never missed a beat. We went from the soccer field to basketball court to softball field. Now our youngest daughter Katarina is beginning to follow in her brother and sisters’ footsteps of going through a school system we love.”
St. Angelo was thrilled to give back to that system and create something that will be at the school in perpetuity. He looks forward to the ongoing expansion of the Walk of Fame, and in order to draw attention to the space, came up with the idea for a granite plaque that Mazzie later designed.
Chris Corsinetti, the JHS girls’ basketball coach, donated the plaque. He owns Hartford Materials, the same company that donated the stone-dust and polymer used to seal the bricks in place.
“Chris is also a great guy,” Mazzie said. “Without people like Chris, Jerry ... and lots of other people, there would be no Brick Walk of Fame.”
Mazzie kept Saturday’s ceremony brief, inviting attendees to enjoy coffee and pastry afterwards. Before the group dispersed, though, he reminded supporters that a portion of the proceeds from the Brick Walk of Fame would be used to support the Robert A. Smith Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship goes to a graduating male and female at JHS.
“We don’t ever want to forget about Smitty,” Mazzie said of the late basketball and baseball coach who also served as assistant athletic director with DiSimone. “Smitty was another gentleman whose blood was Panther blue.”