Ceremony celebrates Woodland history, community

Former Woodland Regional High School football coach Chris Anderson speaks during the Woodland Hall of Fame’s first induction ceremony Nov. 22 at Aria Wedding & Banquet Facility in Prospect. -KATIE MINUTILLO

PROSPECT — A lot can happen in 16 years — two state football titles, one Connecticut teacher of the year, 14 graduating classes, an endearing tradition of the spirit shovel competition, and a number of graduates returning to their alma mater to work as teachers.

Woodland Regional High School, which aims to empower students and community members, has accomplished all that and more in its short history. The Woodland Hall of Fame, which was founded in 2011 following the school’s tenth anniversary, celebrated those feats and the people that made them possible Nov. 22 during its first induction ceremony at Aria Wedding & Banquet Facility.

Woodland alum Kyle Brennan, who played a vital role in establishing the Hall of Fame, emceed the ceremony.

The ceremony, which the Hall of Fame committee plans to hold every five years, was a night for the Woodland community to look back and be proud of its accomplishments.

“Woodland is a family, and we’re trying to start a new tradition with this Hall of Fame ceremony and I think we will carry that on,” Woodland Principal Kurt Ogren said.

As the night began, inductees, teachers, alumni, local dignitaries, and community members mingled, sharing glances at a slideshow — complete with archived photos from Woodland’s early years — that commemorated the school’s finest moments.

The 2016 Hall of Fame class honored All-State softball player and current assistant coach Alice (Levinsky) Kinne, The Susie Foundation founder Ryan Matthews, PTO member and honorary athletics photographer Steven Montambault, and Woodland’s first principal Arnold Frank.

Frank expressed how proud he was of what the school has accomplished and how he misses the community.

“Woodland gave back to me much more than I gave to it,” Frank said.

The evening also honored the inductees from the hall’s first two classes.

Three-sport athlete and current assistant coach Shane Kingsley, Woodland’s 2005 Teacher of the Year and founding faculty member Joan Krantz, and the 2001-02 Board of Education, which aided in Woodland’s success in its first year, make up the class of 2012.

Kingsley thanked Woodland for pushing him in the right direction. Upon returning as a coach, Kingsley added, he realized that there was no other community like Woodland.

“When I graduated, I hoped that someday kids would care about the jersey as much as I did,” Kingsley said.

Honorees inducted in the class of 2011 were Woodland’s first football coach Chris Anderson, founding faculty member Maureen Carroll, Woodland’s 2010 Athlete of the Decade Gina (DellaRose) Syndomin, three-year football captain Patryk Krakowski, the 2004 Woodland football team, which was the first team to win a state championship, and the Region 16 High School Cooperative, which helped pass the 1998 referendum to approve Woodland’s formation.

The honorees were all incredibly grateful for the opportunities provided by Woodland and recognized the school’s role in pushing them to achieve their goals.

“One thing I know Woodland has taught me is that you make your own miracles happen, through passion, perseverance, and the commitment to excellence,” Anderson said.