Standing in the hall of fame

4 alumni inducted into Freedom area hall of fame.


Hall of fame inductees Robert Taglieri, Dave Giordano, Nick Sabol and John Buerkle pose for photo before banquet dinner began.

Each year, several Freedom alumni are inducted into the Freedom Area Hall of Fame. Prior inductees include a NFL super bowl winner, a pro sports agent, lawyers, CEO’s, international labor leaders and former Freedom administration among others. This year’s class of 2018 was just as exceptional. New inductees included John Buerkle, Nick Sabol, Stephanie Shoop, and Robert Taglieri. The banquet was held on Sept. 22 at the Columbian Room in Wexford. Each inductee graduated from Freedom and went on to be very successful in their careers. Because of their success, they were nominated and selected for the hall of fame by the Freedom Area Educational Foundation as a way to recognize them for their achievements.

The first inductee of the evening to speak was Buerkle. Buerkle was introduced by his longtime co-worker/business partner Nancy Lonnett Roman. During his induction speech, Buerkle thanked his friends, family, and parents who had supported him as he went through his years of schooling at Penn State University to become a landscape architect. Buerkle spoke of his memories as a student at Freedom, reminiscing on some of his favorite teachers. Mr. Guzzo, Mr. Fiers, Ms. Mako and Ms. Glass were a few that he named. In 1989, Buerkle received a job from Jim Pashek whom he had interned for while in college. Pashek Associates grew and in 1997 Mr. Buerkle was invited by Mr. Pashek to become a partner in the firm. In 2017, Pashek Associates merged with MTR Landscape Architects and Buerkle was named President of the combined company.

“My Freedom Area education truly provided me with a foundation for which I was able to succeed. So again I thank you very much,” Buerkle said as he concluded his speech and received his plaque.

Sabol, a lifetime golfer, was the second inductee to speak. He was introduced by his brother-in-law Dean Casello, who had touching words to say about Sabol. Sabol was not allowed to play contact sports after the age of 10 due to broken vertebrae in his neck. During his recovery time was when Sabol says he, “found a game that he fell in love with.” That game, of course, was golf. According to Mr. Casello, Sabol spent more time at the golf course than he did at home. He developed a passion for the game and became very good at it. He attended Catawba College where he was considered one of the best golfers in their schools history. Sabol led his college team to NCAA tournaments and competed individually as well, making it to the NCAA Division II Championship. He played one year on the Hooters Mini-Tour and is now a professional golf instructor, working as the pro at Rowan Road Driving Range in Cranberry.

The third inductee of the evening was Shoop, inducted posthumously. Speaking on Shoop’s behalf was her husband Dave Giordano who had positive things to say about her. Shoop began her career in journalism at WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh as an associate producer. She moved to North Carolina in 1998 and was hired at WITN as a producer. By 2000, she was the executive producer and in 2001 became the news director. Shoop was employed at WITN for a total of 19 years. During her time at WITN the station was consistently recognized by the Associated Press and newscasts were ranked number one regularly.

“She was someone who wasn’t just dedicated to her job, but she was dedicated to her employees as well. She cared deeply about people,” Giordano said. Shoop employed young college graduates with little to no experience and turned them into quality journalists who went on to work in places such as Atlanta, Nashville and Pittsburgh.

“They knew that they had somebody that was going to help them in their career but they also had a mentor, confidant, and even a friend,” Mr. Giordano said.  

The final inductee of the evening was Taglieri, who was introduced by former middle school principal and prior hall of fame inductee Robert Gallagher.

“I’m really humbled and touched by this. Especially when I see so many good friends here tonight,” Taglieri said as he began his speech.

Taglieri graduated from Clarion University with a degree in English. He worked as a technical writer in Philadelphia until he left and founded his own company in 1997 called Tag Communication Services. Tag is a marketing communications consulting company that works with global Fortune 500 companies such as SAP, EMC, and Ernst and Young. Taglieri currently serves as the CEO and president of Tag.

Towards the end of Taglieri’s speech, he told a story of an old dog that used to live and walk around Freedom. One day, Taglieri was walking home and found the dog on the sidewalk in bad shape. He went home and called his neighbor, a policeman, and met him by the dog. The policeman brought the dog’s owner with him so he could be with his dog in its final hours.

“He knew what the right thing to do was. That was the Freedom that I remember. Its closeness, its human connection,” Taglieri said. “In that simple act of kindness and respect I understood how important a community can be in shaping who we are and what we become. So tonight I am grateful to receive this recognition, but I am more grateful to have been a part of Freedom, a part of you,” Taglieri said as he brought his speech and the evening to a close.

Each inductee left their mark not only on Freedom but in the world as well. A landscape architect, a golfer, a news station director and an entrepreneur. These men and women have accomplished so much in their lives and have given so much in return. It is important that they are honored and placed in the hall of fame. For they are the examples of people, that we as students, should look up to and strive to be.