Fallsburg Alumni Association Awards and FCSD Hall of Fame Induction
FALLSBURG, August 2021– July 17 was a very special day in the history of Fallsburg Central School District. The Fallsburg Alumni Association (FAA) held its annual reunion and presentation of special awards to graduating seniors, alumni, and former staff members from the school district. The FCSD was also inducting four new members into the school’s Hall of Fame (HOF), including three from last year’s canceled ceremony.
The paths that honorees took to come to Fallsburg were quite divergent, yet there were amazing connections between them and the fulfillment of their life’s purpose. At least four generations of Fallsburg residents were represented in the audience and on the podium. The scene of the ceremonies was the Benjamin Cosor Elementary School(BCES), named in memory of the grandfather of Jamienne Studley, one of the day’s HOF inductees.
FAA President Regina McKenny-Snead welcomed everyone to the school cafeteria at just a little past 11 a.m. Staff Honorees of the FAA were retirees, nurse Lonnie Lindsey, and BCES teacher Leah Exner. Alumnus Awards went to Lisa McAdoo and Stanley Gilmore. Graduating seniors receiving FAA Awards were Ava Anderman (a family going back several generations in Fallsburg), Haddy Gai (born in Gambia), Daniel Milov (whose family came from Eastern Europe), Jamie Rein (whose grandparents were Greek immigrants), and Janelly Santos Lopez (a recent immigrant from Central America).
The Sheryl Kalter Memorial Award for outstanding citizenship and community service went to Daniel Milov and Gabrielle Pantel (whose family goes back four generations in Fallsburg). The Robynne Anderman Award presented by her mom and Board of Education Member Arlene Anderman Hussey, went to her great niece, Ava Anderman. Ava welled up with tears as she remembered her loving and generous cousin, Robynne.
Eileen Kalter presented the FAA Award of Jack Leshner to Dolce McPherson (a track and field star athlete like one of the HOF honorees). The final honor was to Regina McKenny-Snead—the first ever Lawrence Kotin Award for dedication and contributions on behalf of children with special needs. A 1958 FCHS graduate, Mr. Kotin received several awards during his lifetime for advocacy for students with special needs. Ms. McKenny-Snead’s family emigrated to Fallsburg from the South in the 1950s. She knew ever since her early days at Fallsburg schools that her life’s purpose was to be of service to others. For many years, she has been an executive leader of Sullivan Arc, now known as The Arc Greater Hudson Valley.
After receiving the Kotin Award, Ms. McKenny-Snead handed the microphone over to FCSD Superintendent Dr. Ivan Katz for the Hall of Fame Inductions. Dr. Jamienne Studley was first, and she joined the ceremony remotely. She was especially honored that the event was in the school where her grandfather, Benjamin Cosor, devotedly served for over 30 years on the BOE. Dr. Studley’s dedication to education was shaped very much by her grandparents. She served in the administration of three U.S. Presidents, Carter, Clinton and Obama. In the latter service, she was the Deputy Secretary of the Education Department.
One of Dr. Studley’s schoolmates at Fallsburg Central, and a fellow inductee to the HOF, is Myra Young. Her grandparents were among that generation of African-Americans leaving the segregation and economic dislocation of the post-WW II South to seek opportunity in the burgeoning Catskill resort industry of the Fallsburg area. After receiving a PhD. in History, Dr. Myra Young Armstead taught American History and received honors from organizations throughout the world. She has pioneered efforts in the field of education for women in prisons. Currently, she is Associate Professor of History and Vice President for Academic Inclusive Excellence at Bard College.
Dr. Armstead’s book, “Seeking Our Fortune in the North: The African-American Population of Sullivan County, New York from 1930 to 1980,” tells the story of black migration from the South whose descendants are now fourth and fifth generation students in the Fallsburg Central Schools. Names such as Young, McKenny, and Gilmore are very familiar, and on this day, a McKenny, a Young and a Gilmore were sharing the same podium of high honor.
The third HOF honoree of the day was Dr. Louis Lemberger, an MD and a PhD, whose parents were two Eastern European immigrants. He grew up in Fallsburg. His daughter, Margo Lemberger, received the award for her late father. To her, he exemplified the American Dream. Dr. Lemberger discovered and developed many life-saving drugs, including the anti-depressant Prozac, the first drug of its kind. Later he helped develop the anti-psychotic Zyprexa, the anti-emetic Cesamet, and Permax for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. He was the first physician to administer these compounds to humans. Wherever he went, said his daughter, people would shake his hand and tearfully thank him for the drug that saved the life of a close family member. To Louis Lemberger that was his greatest reward.
Dr. Lemberger loved Fallsburg basketball games, and sports was a major connection at the HOF event. Honoree alumnus James Gilmore was one of the stars of FCHS basketball and other athletic teams in the 1970’s. Lisa McAdoo received a basketball scholarship to Clarion University. She thanked the late Fallsburg physical education teacher and coach Esther Grossman for mentoring her. FCSD honored Mrs. Grossman as the lone inductee to the Hall of Fame for 2021.
Growing up in India as a teenager, Esther Lelah was a star on the Olympic track and field team. She had an opportunity to emigrate to the United States and Sullivan County where she earned a full scholarship to Brooklyn College in Physical Education. After graduation, she took a position at FCSD as a physical education teacher and coach.
She became a mentor to thousands of young students over 30 years in the classroom, gymnasium and playing fields. Girls, with no sense of athletic ability, heeded Ms. Grossman’s words to come try out for teams and learn how to play. They became poised and at ease on the volleyball court or field hockey pitch.
Many, like Ms. McAdoo, went on to college and played sports on that level. They also learned to appreciate the games of tennis and golf so they played them into older adulthood as Mrs. Grossman said they would.
Her dear friend up until the day Esther passed away and the person that nominated her for the Hall of Fame, Donna Rae Robataille, received the HOF plaque, with the blessings of the Grossman Family. Esther’s son Jeff, a class of 1979 FHS graduate, spoke lovingly about his mother and how honored the family was.
Many people, many different paths to Fallsburg, and all of them honored for academic achievement, civic contributions and making a difference in the Fallsburg community and beyond.