REENFIELD — The executive director of a local nonprofit that supports families of children with special needs. A professor at Oxford University. A newswoman anchoring a South Carolina evening television news station.
This year’s inductees into the Greenfield Central School Foundation Alumni Hall of Fame are making a difference close to home and oceans away, nominators say. Since 2013, the school foundation has annually honored outstanding graduates of Greenfield-Central High School, Greenfield High School or Hancock Central High School at the foundation’s signature event, the Red Letter Gala. This year’s three inductees will be honored at the Sept. 24 gala.
Those chosen for the honor represent professionals from across the country who foundation officials say have made a difference in their communities and represented Greenfield schools well along the way, said director Ginny Brown. Over the years, 21 honorees have been inducted into the hall of fame.
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Here’s a look at this year’s honorees:
Denise Arland Greenfield-Central High School Class of 1983
Denise Arland of Greenfield was the young mother of quadruplets who were born prematurely with varying special needs when she and a friend launched a support group for families who shared common challenges. Four years later, Families United for Support and Encouragement grew into a nonprofit, providing families with children who have special needs resources and companionship. This year, the organization is celebrating 20 years.
Arland and her husband, Andy, both graduated from Greenfield-Central. Their quadruplets — Jacob, Zachary, Lucas and Matthew — graduated from the school in 2012. The couple’s youngest son, Nick, graduated last May and started college at Ball State University this fall.
Through the organization Arland created, she’s helped more than 800 area families. It started as a long-term volunteer project that has grown into the most rewarding career, Arland wrote to the school foundation in her award acceptance letter
Over the years, FUSE and Arland have been honored with many community awards. In 2013, the organization was named Nonprofit Community Service of the Year by the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, Arland was awarded with the Sertoma Service to Mankind Award for significant and meritorious service. In 2003, she was awarded the Purdue Inspiring Families Award.
Her interaction with others is always professional and fair, and she’s maintained a large work load, including raising five sons and starting a nonprofit with ease, the nomination letter states.
Dawndy Mercer Plank, Greenfield-Central High School class of 1984
Dawndy Mercer Plank began her writing career at Greenfield-Central High School, where she joined the yearbook staff, but she had known for much longer she wanted to be on television. She’s always been intrigued by what’s happening in the world around her and grew up watching the evening news.
A 1984 Greenfield graduate, Plank went on to Ball State University, where she majored in telecommunications. Since graduating, she’s held jobs in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; Houston, Texas; and Columbia, South Carolina.
She now anchors NBC affiliate WIS News in Columbia, South Carolina, where she covers health and medical stories. There, she serves on the Oliver Gospel Mission’s board of directors, helping to lead an effort to build a women’s center for women and children battling homelessness, unemployment and addiction. She’s also a member of Crossover Communications International, an organization focusing on starting churches in areas of the world lacking places to worship.
She’s been named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of South Carolina.
Plank has made it her life’s passion to impact her community, according to a nomination letter. She believes in working hard and remaining true to her values and beliefs and does whatever it takes to do her job well, the letter goes on.
Her education at Greenfield-Central High School helped open doors to the opportunities she’s had in her professional life, Plank wrote in an acceptance letter to the school foundation.
David Wark, Greenfield-Central High School class of 1976
David Wark, a 1976 graduate of Greenfield-Central High School, has lived in Britain since 1990. He graduated from Indiana University in 1980 with a degree in physics and later earned his master’s degree and doctoral degree in the same field.
He’s a fellow and professor of experimental particle physics at Oxford University and has served as the director of the Particle Physics Department at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. He’s been a professor at the University of Sussex and the Imperial College London.
Wark is an accomplished physicist who is a Nobel Prize winner for his work in physics. He’s been honored with dozens of other awards for his work. He’s devoted time to helping the public better understand science by speaking in schools, museums, science festivals, conferences and on television and radio. He has also assisted the United Kingdom government as an adviser for the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council.
Greenfield Central School Foundation’s annual Red Letter Gala is slated for Sept. 24.
The event is the foundation’s signature fundraiser and helps raise money to fund projects that advance learning in Greenfield classrooms.
Annually, outstanding graduates are honored at the event and inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame.
This year’s honorees are Denise Arland, Dawndy Mercer Plank and David Wark.
For ticket information, visit gcschoolfoundation.org.