MMI Preparatory School held their 15th Annual Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022 as part of Alumni Weekend.
One group and four individuals were inducted for Athletic Achievement, Service to MMI, and Professional Achievement. Nominees are vetted by a committee and honored with an unveiling of their names on the permanent Wall of Fame plaque that hangs in the Coxe Commons. Honorees and their guests were invited to a cocktail hour and dinner catered by Capriotti’s. The event was emceed by incoming MMI Head of School Theresa Long with remarks by Board Chair Richard A. DiLiberto, Jr., Esq.,’79. MMI’s Advancement Director, Kim McNulty, said “We were so excited to finally be able to host Alumni Weekend and the Wall of Fame Induction Ceremony after two years of cancellations due to COVID. It was nice to be able to have everyone together to celebrate the MMI community and welcome our Alumni back to the campus.”
The MMI 2009 Varsity Girls Volleyball Team was honored for Athletic Achievement for being the first and only girls’ team to win a District 2 Single A Championship. The only small school single A team in the Wyoming Valley Conference, MMI beat much larger AAAA, AAA, and AA schools such as Wyoming Valley West and Hazleton Area High School to earn an overall 12-8 record. The squad qualified for the District 2 A play offs for the first time since the program’s inception in 2004. Members of the team included: Diana Anthony ’10, Ashmeen Bains ’13, Courtney Bogansky ’11, Dana Chippi ’11, Maurina DiSabella ’13, Kelly Duffy, Caitlin Ferry ’10, Katlyn Frey ’13, Sarah Gittleman ’11, Cathy Hood ’11, Kayla Karchner ’13, Alyson Klush ’10, Brone Lobichusky ’10, Amanda Miller ’11, Derya Sari ’13, Alaina Titus ’10, Alyssa Tirano ’12, Shannon Wenner ’10, and Kristen Young ’13. Nursing with a concentration in Education. The head coach for the team was Bruce Young and he was assisted by Dr. Gregg Bluth.
Tyler J. Breznitsky ’09 was inducted as the most prolific scorer in MMI’s boys’ basketball history, ranking as the School’s all-time leader with 1,900 points after averaging 21 points per game over his four-year career as a Prepper. He became the all-time leading scorer after eclipsing the 36-year record of 1,644 set by Jim Lundy ’73 whose career was capped by the 1973 Class C State Basketball Title. Tyler continued his basketball career at Wilkes University, where he played guard for the Colonels for four years averaging 12 points per game and scoring more than 800 career points.
Edward (Ned) McNelis, Esq. was inducted for service to MMI for serving 12 years a volunteer assistant coach in both boys’ basketball and baseball in the middle school and varsity level, as well as the girls’ basketball team. Ned learned from his mother, a teacher, that athletics was important, but academics was the key to success. He always believed that athletics was complimentary to academics and emphasized to the players that their schoolwork at MMI was paramount. Ned is a duly licensed attorney practicing in all Pennsylvania state courts and is licensed to practice in the Eastern and Middle Federal District Courts. He is currently president of the Lower Luzerne County Bar Association. He and his wife former MMI Board Member Florie McNelis, are the parents of Connor ’10, Audrey, and Ryan ’21, all of whom benefitted from his coaching efforts at MMI.
Thomas P. Crofcheck ’73 was inducted for professional achievement for his service to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare where he spent 35 years before retirement. Over his career Tom was responsible for Internal Audit Decisions for the state of Pennsylvania managing a staff of over 30 field auditors, with offices in Scranton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Government Financial Manager and was responsible for performance audits as well as fraud and abuse audits of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare with annual budgets over $14 billion. In 2004, as the Director of Internal Audits, he showed uncommon diligence as resolve as he initiated a state audit of the juvenile detention center at the heart of the kids-for-cash scandal. The audit resulted in a criminal case that drew national attention to a gross abuse of the legal system that victimized unprotected juveniles. In 2010 he was awarded the Governor’s Award of Excellence for his efforts on this audit. Now retired, Tom occupies his time as treasurer for both the Foster Township Fearnots Volunteer Fire Company and American Legion Riders Post 473.
John G. (Jerry) Hludzik ’70, inducted for professional achievement, was a famed musician, song writer, and producer. He spent time in various local bands and attended Luzerne County Community College where he met Bill Kelly, co-founder of the Buoys, and brother of incoming MMI Head of School, Theresa Long. Jerry joined The Buoys and the group vaulted to national prominence when their hit song, “Timothy,” peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Top 40 chart. The song was penned by Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and reportedly was loosely-based on the widely-reported and legendary Shepton Mine Disaster. Their follow-up single “Give Up Your Guns” also made the Billboard Top 100. The group disbanded in the mid-70’s. Following the break-up, Jerry and Bill formed Jerry-Kelly in the late 70’s and eventually morphed into Dakota in 1980 where they had some international success. Dakota reached Billboard’s Top 100 when “If It Takes All Night” reached number 78 and got them the chance to open for Queen during Queen’s The Game Tour. After the partners split in the mid-80’s, Jerry continued to write songs and was signed to MCA Music Publishing in Nashville as songwriter where he scored album cuts by the Oak Ridge Boys. He continued to perform as a solo artist and with Dakota along with the late Rick Manwiller and son Eli Hludzik on drums until his illness and subsequent passing in 2020.
The MMI Wall of Fame Committee consists of seven members and meets at least once a year to identify and recognize alumni, volunteers, non-sitting board members and past faculty and staff of MMI or of the Mining and Mechanical Institute, its former name, who have distinguished themselves in the area of athletics, business, sciences, education, government, public service, the arts or the humanities. This distinction is defined as the achievement of a position recognized to be a major significance in their chosen field, to be part of a team recognized for significant accomplishments in its chosen field, or to someone whose efforts have contributed significantly to the betterment of MMI. The committee will accept nominations to the Wall of Fame; will review and select worthy candidates; and will present those candidates to the MMI Board of Directors for its review and approval. The MMI Wall of Fame is designed to enhance relationships between alumni and MMI, its current and prospective students and families, and the community at large.