Weekly Feature

2011-06-08 / Local News

Kenmore West inducts trio to the “Corridor of Honor”

Milner Milner Kenmore West High School inducted three individuals into its “Corridor of Honor” at the school on May 31.

The school’s faculty/staff Senate established this distinctive honor for Blue Devil graduates and staff in 1990. Those who are honored have “exhibited those values, qualities, and characteristics traditionally held and encouraged by Kenmore West High School. Nominees for this honor exhibit those traditional Kenmore West values and qualities in an unusual and sustaining manner, and in so doing, have not only influenced others, but have also contributed in a significant way to his or her community.”

The 2011 Kenmore West High School “Corridor of Honor” inductees are former Kenmore West teacher John Milner, Class of 1953, comedian and author Bob Smith ’76, and state and federal law enforcement official and intelligence analyst Ronald Wheeler ’64.

Smith Smith They will join CNN television news anchor Wolf Blitzer, NASA astronaut Edward Gibson, Antarctic explorer Walker O. Smith, local historian John Percy, and many other distinguished alumni and former staff on the Kenmore West High School “Corridor of Honor.”

Milner graduated from Kenmore West in 1953, and his life has centered on all aspects of education ever since. “Education makes future of the past,” says Milner. He returned to Kenmore West where he spent the next 30 years teaching English. During his tenure at Kenmore West, he served on numerous committees and in many positions including Vice Chairman of the Faculty Staff Senate, Humanities Club Chair, and KTA representative.

Even after his retirement in 1990, Mr. Milner is still extremely active in the Ken-Ton District, helping drive the direction of education through the District’s Literacy Initiative Committees, Lindbergh’s School Planning Team, and the Budget Advisory Committee.

Wheeler Wheeler Outside the classroom, Milner has self-published five books: Like Networks, Schoolbook, A Teacher’s Memoir, Ramschacklebook, And Yet…, and Getting There from Here. These books represent a collection of essays, poems, stories, memoirs, travel commentary, and a hundred-page confession. He frequently will do public readings at both schools and local clubs.

Recently, Milner was honored to have Kenmore West’s annual non-fiction writing award named after him.

Smith graduated in 1976 from Kenmore West, a time much different from today. Social norms and expectations in a small, working class suburb like Kenmore were vastly different then they are today. There were no gay role models on television, in the movies, in our community, school or families. Smith’s life work has played a significant role in breaking that cycle and helping free his and future generations from the chains of internalized hate, bias, misinformation, and fear.

Smith has the distinction of being the first openly gay comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and also have his own HBO Comedy half-hour. In addition to his numerous television appearances on Politically Incorrect, The Late, Late Show, and Comedy Central’s Out There. He is an accomplished author. His collection of essays Openly Bob (Lambda Literary Award winner) was published by Rob Weisbach Books/William Morrow, and his most recent book, Way to Go Smith! (Lambda Literary Award nominee) was published by HarperCollins.

In addition to his literary work, Smith has written for MTV Video Awards, Dennis Miller, Roseanne, and MAD-TV. He is a regular contributor to Out magazine, and has appeared in numerous programs and documentaries on Logo, Comedy Central, and HBO. His forthcoming novel, Remembrance of Things I Forgot will be published in June 2011.

Wheeler graduated from Kenmore West in 1964 and took the lessons he learned here in everything he has accomplished since.

Wheeler served two years of active duty in the US Army, 18 months of which were spent in Southeast Asia. A majority of Wheeler’s career has been spent as a financial investigator working for the Law Enforcement Division of the U.S. Treasury Department in Rochester, the N.Y.S. Attorney General’s office of the State-wide Organized Crime Task Force, and at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Western New York. For nine years, Wheeler served as an Intelligence Analyst with the anti terrorism unit of the U.S. Attorney’s office in both Western New York and Northern Virginia. He has received numerous awards for his service in the Attorney’s Office, and a special recognition from the director of the FBI.

In addition to teaching in the Hilbert College Economic Crime Investigation program, Wheeler has been a certified football official for 32 years. He has officiated all levels of youth, high school, and college football, carrying an NCAA Division I schedule for the last five years.

Most recently, Wheeler serves as Kenmore West’s Alumni Association Treasurer and serves on the Scholarship Foundation committee. Last year, the committee awarded $30,000 to Kenmore West seniors. Wheeler cites Kenmore West as the place that gave him the inspiration and drive to find new experiences and to enjoy doing what he does everyday.

Those who are interested in nominating a former staff member or graduate of Kenmore West for a future “Corridor of Honor” induction, contact Philip Jarosz at 874-8401 or email pjarosz@kenton.k12.ny.us.

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