AAHS to honor Distinguished Alumni

Events planned Oct. 11-12

The Altoona Area High School Alumni Association has announced the winners of its Distinguished Alumni Awards that will be presented the weekend of October 11-12.

The awards were established in 2000 to honor graduates who have achieved greatness in their chosen fields and through public service. The four persons chosen this year include:

n Cheryl L. McDonald is a 1964 Altoona High School graduate who resides in Kansas City, MO. McDonald was President and General Manager of WDAF TV/FOX 4 in Kansas City, MO, a position she held since 2002.

McDonald has been a trailblazer throughout her career. She began as an Account Executive for WTAJ-TV in Altoona as one of the few women working in sales at that time.

Her success and tenacity in sales propelled her to executive positions, positions not traditionally held by women, of several stations before being named president and general manager of WDAF TV/FOX4.

She has distinguished herself both professionally and personally demonstrating strong leadership and integrity.

n Joseph N. Servello of Altoona, PA, graduated from Altoona High School in 1950. Servello, a very gifted visual artist, has had a distinguished career as a graphic artist, muralist, teacher, and illustrator of over 50 published works.

Servello has painted murals in New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Penn State, Sarasota and Altoona. His paintings can be found in many private and public collections.

After graduating high school, he served in the U.S. Navy before attending Penn State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in art education.

n G. Robert Sheetz of Boca Raton, Fla., graduated from Altoona High School in 1952. In 1952, he purchased his first store from his father, Sheetz Dairy Store, working diligently to build the store into a retailing success and locally brand name.

His dedication and drive to succeed from a small corner store has inspired a family operated business that has grown to 600 stores with more than 18,500 employees.

He had a dedication to the customer, the community, and the drive to succeed along with a vision for the family business that inspired subsequent generations to continue to grow and develop a legacy, a family and a brand.

After retiring from the day-to-day operations, he continues to play a very important role in company strategy and makes sure that each generation of leadership at Sheetz understands and supports his original strategy of delighting customers through outstanding shopping experiences.

n Betty L. James, a 1937 Altoona High School graduate who passed away in 2008, is the deceased alumnus who will be recognized this year.

James attended Penn State University for only two years where she met her husband Richard James. Together they ran James Industries. After her husband invented a spring-inspired toy, she was credited with naming it the Slinky. After her husband nearly ran the company into bankruptcy. She took over the management in 1959, moving it from Philadelphia to Bellwood, and then to Hollidaysburg in 1965where she operated the company until she retired in 1998. In 2001, James was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame.

On Oct. 11, the honorees will spend the day at Altoona Area High School. In addition to touring the school, they will visit classrooms and talk with students.

They will also have the opportunity to visit the AAHS Alumni Association Museum in the Altoona Public Library.

An awards dinner will be held in the Tuscany Room at the Cesare Battisti Club the evening of Oct. 12.

Tickets are $40 and can be purchased in the Alumni Office of AAHS, 1415 Sixth Ave., Altoona, PA 16602 or visit www.aahsalumni.org.

There have been 45 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Awards.

For more information, contact Paula Foreman, AAHS Alumni Association executive director, at 946-8424.