4 to enter Centennial’s Hall of Fame

Three Centennial High School graduates and a longtime Bulldog supporter will be inducted into Centennial’s Hall of Fame Nov. 3.

To be honored are Marine Capt. John A. LaVoo (posthumously), Dr. James C. Swanson, Judy Weaver and Waunita Baccarella.

LaVoo, from the class of 1958, is remembered as an exemplary Bulldog, active in JROTC, National Honor Society and orchestra.

Upon graduation, LaVoo was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he was at the top of his class in both academics and athletics. He graduated in 1962.

It was said of him that while other cadets slept, LaVoo was either studying or exercising.

While serving his country in Vietnam as a Marine pilot, LaVoo earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Meritorious Unit Commendation and a Purple Heart for wounds received in action against the enemy.

On Sept. 19, 1968, he made the ultimate sacrifice when his F-4 Phantom jet was shot down in the Quang Binh Province of Vietnam.

"John LaVoo was a man with no vices, a man of exemplary character, superb physical condition, brilliant intellect," said retired Brig. Gen. and close friend Thomas V. Draude. "He most certainly would have been a commandant of the Marine Corps."

During his years at Centennial, Swanson (class of 1961) was a highly accomplished and awarded Bulldog — he was a three-sport athlete and all-state quarterback — known for his compassionate and caring nature.

After graduation, Swanson went on to earn a doctor of dental surgery credential from St. Louis University.

A lifelong Puebloan, Swanson has spent nearly half a century bettering the lives of others as a dentist and friend. He is the founding member of Southeastern Colorado Dental Study Club and a member of various city boards and organizations.

"His unlimited compassion is most noted after office hours, when on innumerable occasions Dr. Swanson has gone to the homes of patients to render dental service or just listen to ailing individuals," said a spokesperson for the Centennial Hall of Fame.

Another Bulldog who has spent her life working to improve the lives of others is Weaver, a graduate of the class of 1969.

Weaver was both Centennial’s representative to Girl’s State and a Snowball Court attendant. She excelled in academics and earned a gold cord at graduation.

After obtaining a degree in nursing, Weaver’s talent led her to be named to the role of directorship of staff education at the Colorado Mental Health Institute and then manager of provider services for Foundation Health Systems.

Weaver’s service has extended to various city boards and state forums, most notably as president of both Pueblo City Council and of the Pueblo City Schools (D60) board of education.

"Under her unwavering leadership, both the city and school district thrived, touted as the best in the state in numerous categories," the hall spokesperson said. "To this day, her critical opinion is highly sought by all that have witnessed her work."

Baccarella has been selected as this year’s Brian Macartney Service to Centennial Inductee.

Although her children haven’t attended Centennial for years, Baccarella has continued to give of her time and service to the school.

From arranging and maintaining Centennial Museum to cutting out and memorializing any news article concerning Centennial, Baccarella has always been willing to lend a hand, even working as a teaching assistant in order to be more closely involved with students and staff.

Said the hall spokesperson, "Whether selling memorabilia during Bell Week or working on the class reunion committee, Baccarella is always here at Centennial.

"You won’t hear this volunteer say a lot, but her commitment to Centennial speaks volumes."

At 10 a.m. Nov. 3, a recognition assembly is slated at the school, followed by a reception.

At 5:30 p.m. that evening, a banquet will be held at the Union Depot. The cost is $25, and reservations should be called into Rita Romero at 406-

5583 by Oct. 30.

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