Wall of Excellence
Lake Orion Community Schools has a rich history of achievement and success.
Now there is a visible sign of the best and brightest.
The Lake Orion High School Wall of Excellence debuted in the fall of 2017 with a number of events, recognizing the six inductees in its inaugural class: astronaut Andrew Feustel, Col. Daniel Choike, musician John Upton, teacher Blanche Sims, CEO Fritz Henderson, and judo champion Dr. Ronald Tripp.
The second class featured broadcaster Greg Bowman, Air Force commander James Ramirez, footwear designer Caroline Swierszczyk and innovator Bo Zhao.
The third, in 2019, included businessman David Carlson, athlete Jeff Heath and actress Cynthia Watros.
“Lake Orion High School has a really proud tradition of honoring its alumni and career-focused education is a big part of what we do here,” said LOHS associate principal Kyle Meteyer, who spearheaded the project. “So we decided it would be great to have Lake Orion High School focus on its alumni who have achieved the pinnacle of success in their chosen career field.”
A committee meets over the preceding year to sift through nominated candidates and decide on the group of inductees.
2019 Wall of Excellence ceremony
2018 Wall of Excellence ceremony
2017 Wall of Excellence ceremony
Nominations for the 2019 induction class were accepted until June 1. Here is the nomination form.
The school would like like to thank the sponsors who helped make the Wall of Excellence possible: Mike Macy MEEMIC Insurance, Kohl’s, Pine Tree Elementary, Dr. Ron Tripp and the Lake Orion Education Foundation.
David Carlson is a business executive and author. He successfully led adoption of international technology standards. He was a senior executive for several NYSE companies. His book on entrepreneurial startups is used in business schools. He earned awards from the Smithsonian Institution, Wharton School of Business, and the California State Senate. He served in the Army twice, then earned Bachelor's, Master's, and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan, where he also taught psychology and engineering. At LOHS, Carlson was a member of the Chemistry and Physics Clubs, was sophomore Class President, and ran Track and Field.
Jeff Heath is a defensive back in the National Football League. Heath is known for his work ethic. He attended college on a partial football scholarship at Saginaw Valley State University, where he studied Criminal Justice, then signed as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, working hard to earn a starting position at safety. Heath returns to Lake Orion every summer to run a youth football camp, with all proceeds donated to LOHS Football. He is a role model to all student-athletes. At LOHS, Heath was a multi-sport athlete and an exemplary academic student with tremendous character.
Cynthia Watros is an accomplished actor on multiple major-network TV shows. A winner of a Daytime Emmy and a Screen Actors’ Guild Award, she has held leading roles on shows such as Guiding Light, General Hospital, Titus, LOST, The Drew Carey Show, House, and Finding Carter. Watros attended Macomb Community College and Boston University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. At LOHS, Watros found her calling in an acting class with Ms. Zelaya. She advises students to use setbacks not as an excuse to quit, but instead as a source of inspiration and motivation.
Greg Bowman has served as Afternoon Anchor at WWJ Newsradio 950 in Detroit since 1990. Career highlights include covering the Bill Clinton inaugural celebration in 1993 and the Republican National Convention in 1996. In 2012, he was honored with the Michigan Associated Press Lifetime Achievement Award. Bowman started his radio career at WCBN, the student-run station at the University of Michigan. He credits his work on the LOHS student newspaper, yearbook, and speech teacher G. Brett Saunders for inspiring him to pursue the field of Journalism and Communications.
James “Jimmy” Ramirez achieved the rank of Commander in the U.S. Navy. He received an ROTC scholarship to Florida State University, earning a bachelor's degree and an appointment to Naval Aviator training. CDR Ramirez served for 29 years piloting the P-3 “Orion” aircraft, earning a Distinguished Service Medal and two Air Medals while completing missions for the Pentagon and NASA. He later flew a jet for actor Tom Cruise. He credits LOHS for the academic preparation he received in Mr. Mahoney’s physics class and the leadership capabilities he gained from football and wrestling participation with coaches Frazier and Fagan.
Dr. Bo Zhao is a scientist, inventor, and business executive in the oil, gas, and manufacturing industries. Dr. Zhao has achieved four US patents and has been recognized by the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. She has studied and conducted research in the U.S., England, Sweden, and China. Dr. Zhao earned her BS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D. from Northwestern University, and MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. At LOHS, she enjoyed choir, theater, and robotics.
Caroline Swierszczyk's career in women's footwear spans both coasts, from Coach in New York City to Seychelles in Los Angeles, culminating as Design Director at Cole Haan. Ms. Swierszczyk believes in elegant innovation through thoughtful design and storytelling with a balance of form and function. Ms. Swierszczyk graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design (NY). Her training began at LOHS, where she thrived in art courses, receiving multiple Scholastic Gold Key awards, and participated on the swim and tennis teams.
Daniel Choike (Class of 1977)
Choike became a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, the highest rank of a known LOHS grad in the U.S. military. His final assignment was as a commander at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va. An Olivet College grad where he played football and was a wrestler, he also earned an MBA at National (Calif.) University. He currently works as an executive manager in the defense contractor industry.
Andrew Feustel (Class of 1983)
Feustel is a NASA mission specialist. He has already flown on two Space Shuttle missions, one to the Hubble telescope in 2009 and to the International Space Station in 2014. With degrees from Oakland Community College, Purdue and Queen’s University in Ontario, his physics and chemistry classes at LOHS set him on a path to outer space. He will commander the International Space Station, leaving on his mission in 2018.
Frederick “Fritz” Henderson (Class of 1976)
Henderson was the General Motors CEO in 2009 after serving as GM’s vice president, chief operating officer and president. Henderson has a business degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s in business from Harvard University. Henderson was a baseball pitcher at LOHS and then at U-M as well.
Ronald Tripp (Class of 1971)
Tripp was the 1994 SAMBO world champion and a national and Pan-American judo champion. He ascended to become president of USA Judo and served on the U.S. Olympic Committee. Tripp became a chiropractor and won Arvidson Award as the nation’s highest honor in the field in 2010. A multi-sport athlete at LOHS, he held school track records in the 880-yard run, cross country and mile relay.
John Upton (Class of 2008)
Upton is the principal oboist in the Florida Orchestra. Previously he was a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the New World Symphony, plus playing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Switzerland, and then the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada. Upton attended The Julliard School and the Eastman School of Music. While attending LOHS, he thrived in the band and graduated third in his class.