Four Dragon grads to join Lake Orion High School’s ‘Wall of Excellence’ on Sept. 15

An astronaut. A teacher. A judo champ. A musician. A U.S. Marine Corps colonel and an entrepreneur.

These are the Dragon alumni recognized last year during the inaugural Wall of Excellence induction ceremony, celebrating those individuals who have gone above and beyond in their post-graduate careers.

Now, Lake Orion High School has announced its 2018 Wall of Excellence class, with four distinguished graduates slated for induction on Sept. 14, said Mark Snyder, district director of communications and marketing.

Broadcaster Greg Bowman, Ret. U.S. Navy Commander James Vincent Ramirez, scientist/inventor Bo Zhao and fashion guru Caroline Swierszczyk will be recognized in the 5 p.m. ceremony at Lake Orion High School.

The group will also be honored that night during the 7 p.m. football game.

Lake Orion High School developed its “Wall of Excellence” in 2017 to recognize the most outstanding Lake Orion High School Dragons, to celebrate their success and provide outstanding role models for the students at the high school, said Associate Principal Kyle Meteyer, who, along with Principal Steve Hawley, spearheaded the development of the wall.

“We’re looking at this as a way to recognize not only the alumni, but also to motivate and inspire the kids who are here now,” said Meteyer. “This is not something that is out-of-reach of any of the students who are here today.”

Alumni of Lake Orion High School who graduated in 2012 or earlier and have achieved exceptional accomplishments in their chosen occupational field are eligible for nomination.

The four Dragon graduates represent a wide swath of disciplines and eras of the high school’s history, combining to show the variety of high achievers who have come through the district, Snyder said.

The class was determined through a multi-step process, which began with community submissions and were evaluated by a committee of district officials and refined to the select class.

The inaugural 2017 class of inductees were astronaut Andrew Feustel, Col. Daniel Choike, musician John Upton, teacher Blanche Sims, CEO Fritz Henderson and judo champion Dr. Ronald Tripp.

The 2018 Wall of Excellence inductees are:

Greg Bowman – Class of 1971

Greg Bowman has served as Afternoon Anchor at WWJ Newsradio 950 in Detroit since 1990.

His 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 and credits his work on the LOHS student newspaper and yearbook and speech teacher G. Brett Saunders for inspiring him to pursue the field of Journalism and Communications.

James Vincent Ramirez – Class of 1986

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.

Commander 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.

Bo Zhao – Class of 2000

Dr. Bo Zhao is a scientist, inventor, and business executive in the oil, gas, and manufacturing industries.

Zhao has achieved four U.S. patents and has been recognized by the Dept. 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.

Zhao earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a 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 – Class of 2004

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.

Swierszczyk believes in elegant innovation through thoughtful design and storytelling with a balance of form and function. Swierszczyk graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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.

Lake Orion Community Schools provided inductee background information for this report.