Log In

Reset Password

WCSD honors Graduates of Distinction

Whitehall-Coplay School District recently celebrated its next round of Zephyr Graduates of Distinction, recognized for their personal and professional achievements. The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted this recognition in the past, so extra alumni were honored this year.

Gregory P. Fritze, Class of 1972, earned a bachelor’s degree in music composition from Boston Conservatory of Music in 1976 before attending Indiana University Bloomington for a Master of Music with Distinction degree in music composition in 1979.

He is a prizewinning composer, educator, performer, lecturer and conductor. His work has been published in the United States, South America and Europe. His works have been recorded by Musica Nova, Mark Records, Crystal Records and CRI Records.

While a professor at Berklee College of Music, Fritze was the chair of the composition department for 14 years and conducted the concert wind ensemble for 15 years.

He has performed with Ray Charles, Itzak Perlman, Gunther Schuller, Mel Torme, The Moody Blues and more.

Fritze has won more than 70 composition awards, both nationally and internationally, including Brookwright International Brass Ensemble Composition, first prize; World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles International Composition Contest 2017, first prize; Renee Fisher Composition Prize, first prize; Concurso Bienal de Composicion de Musica para Banda, Ciudad de Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), first prize; T.U.B.A. International Etude Composition Competition, first prize; and more.

Fritze and his wife, Linda Marie Slampyak Fritze, WHS Class of 1972, reside in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., where he continues to compose music.

Britt J. Carpenter, Class of 1985, earned a bachelor’s degree in English, secondary education from East Stroudsburg University. His career in postsecondary education spanned 18 years, and he held roles such as campus director, Career College; vice president of admissions, Corinthian College, director of recruitment, ITT Technical Institute; and the director of community relations, Career Education Corporation.

In 2015, he founded the Philly Unknown Project, a community betterment-based nonprofit organization that works closely with homeless and addicted individuals by offering food, clothing and assistance to find housing. He is also a co-founder and CEO of Triumphant Transitions, which assisted with transition recovery homes for recovering addicts.

Carpenter has served as a talk-show host at USALA Radio, Philadelphia; narrated the 2020 documentary titled “The Damage Done, The Unwanted,” filmed in Philadelphia, Miami and Nashville; and was a freelance writer for many publications.

He was awarded The Associated Press Award for best public awareness documentary and won a Philadelphia Film Festival Award for his Philly Unknown documentary.

Carpenter lives in Philadelphia and has dedicated his life to assisting the homeless and addicted.

Susan A. Gibson, Class of 1989, studied criminal justice at the University of South Carolina. She finished the executive leadership course at Notre Dame and the senior leadership course at University of Virginia.

She began her career as a police officer and narcotics detective with Mount Pleasant Police Department in South Carolina in 1993 before joining the Drug Enforcement Agency in the high intensity drug trafficking unit in New York City in 1997 where she conducted both domestic and international narcotics investigations. In 2005, Gibson was promoted to group supervisor for the NYC Drug Enforcement Task Force where she supervised DEA agents and NYPD detectives and investigators.

She joined the DEA Office of Professional Responsibility in 2010, was assigned to an executive priority investigation targeting corruption among international units, was promoted to assistant special agent in charge of NYC Drug Enforcement Task Force in 2014, was selected to the senior executive service as deputy assistant administrator of DEA’s Diversion Control Division’s Regulatory Program and led programs responsible for regulations of controlled substances in the U.S.

Gibson also testified before the U.S. Congressional House and Energy Committee on dangers of synthetic drugs and the DEA’s efforts to combat the import and distribution in the U.S.

Gibson received the Essex County Opioid Task Force Recognition Award in 2019 for her efforts in drug education and combating drug overdose deaths, the Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Award in 2020, the Bergen County Certificate of Commendation for saving a child’s life in 2021 and more.

She also appeared in a 2019 National Geographic documentary, “World’s Most Dangerous Drug.”

Gibson lives in New Jersey and works as special agent in charge of the DEA’s New Jersey division.

Lt. Col. Bryan J. Walter, U.S. Air Force, Class of 1997, earned a bachelor’s degree of meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and master’s degrees in aviation safety from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and strategic studies from Air War College. Walter is currently completing a degree program at the Air War College in Montgomery, Ala. He will be pinned in November and was recently appointed director of operations of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Haughton, La.

He served as commander for 451st Flying Training Squadron, 479th Flying Training Group, 12th Flying Training Wing and the Naval Air Station, in Pensacola, Fla.

As commander, Walter oversaw the safety, supervision, training, curriculum development and standardization of more than 125 instructor CSOs, airmen and civilians.

Walter’s honors include a Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; an Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters; was named a distinguished graduate, Combat Systems Officer Training; an Ira J. Husik Award, Top U. S. Air Force Graduate, Combat System Officer Training; and others.

He lives in Haughton with his wife, Leslie, and two children, Cora and Aiden.

Dr. Nicholas J. Gidosh, OD, FAAO, Class of 2007, received a degree in chemistry at Muhlenberg College before getting his Doctor of Optometry degree at Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. He completed a cornea and contact lens residency at the Michigan College of Optometry, Ferris University. He also served as assistant professor and chief of cornea and contact lens services for Salus University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry.

Gidosh works in private practice at Lehigh Valley Eye Center Associates, Allentown.

He served as a clinical investigator for studies involving hybrid, scleral, multifocal and orthokeratology lenses to be presented at national and international conferences.

He has held lectures for colleagues, patients and parents at orthokeratology clinics across China and instructs optometrists in China and Scotland on new eye care practices through the American Academy of Optometry.

He co-authored a featured article for “Contact Lens Spectrum” in December 2017.

He has performed community service with St. John the Baptist Church picnic, Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Muhlenberg College.

Gidosh and his wife, Anna Atiyeh, currently reside in Whitehall.

Douglas W. Edelman, Class of 1954, earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Curtis Institute of Music. He had a full scholarship and majored in trombone performance.

He has performed with Allentown Symphony Orchestra, Allentown Band, Macungie Band, Philadelphia Orchestra, American Brass Quintet and American Symphony Orchestra. He was a principal trombone with the Baltimore Symphony and the Metropolitan Orchestra. He was frequently featured as a soloist and performed at Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra.

He played for world-acclaimed symphony conductor Eugene Ormandy. He was a member of the orchestra for the recording of the George and Ira Gershwin musical “Strike Up the Band.”

In December 1973, The New York Times described Edelman as “an expert instrumentalist with an impressive performance of Poulenc’s Sonata, maintaining precision even while relishing the playful brash elements in the score.”

Edelman lives with his wife, Julia, in Little Falls, N.J. They have two adult children, Karen and Douglas Jr., and one grandchild.

Gregory J. Hessinger, Class of 1983, studied political science and government at East Stroudsburg University and earned his law degree at St. John’s University School of Law. He began his law career as an associate with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, where he represented a variety of regional and national employers in all aspects of labor and employment law.

Hessinger served as director of labor relations for CBS Corporation.

He is also the only person and the youngest to serve as national executive director of the two largest performers’ unions in the world - The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He additionally works with the Directors Guild, Writers Guild, IATSE, NABET and the American Federation of Musicians.

Hessinger advises clients on employment contracts, separation agreements, employee discipline, reduction-in-force, union organizing, discrimination and wrongful termination.

He is a member of the Law Review at St. John’s University School of Law and a trustee on the SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans. He is on the board of trustees at Lebanon Valley College and is in the Lebanon Valley College Athletic Hall of Fame.

He was a partner in several law firms before his current position as a managing partner and co-chair of Mitchell Silberberg and Knupp LLP.

Hessinger and his wife, Paula Walgren Hessinger, WHS Class of 1985, reside in Chesterfield, N.J. They are the parents of Sierra, Derek and Chloe.

Jayne Ann Wright Recker, Class of 1983, attended Lehigh Carbon Community College. She began her career in retail management, rising to the regional level where she oversaw operations including new store construction, audits and human resources.

Recker has served as a volunteer for the Celtic Cultural Alliance for 20 years. She’s been the CCA executive director since 2009. In this role, she transformed the organization and helped build the largest free Celtic festival in North America. She oversees the operations of the Celtic Classic Highland Games and CCA educational outreach programs.

She also helped create the Parade of Shamrocks held in Bethlehem each March.

She is a former president and current vice president of the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals and a former board member of the Downtown Bethlehem Association and the Easton PA Arts Alliance.

Recker and her husband, John, live in Northampton.

Barthelomew “Bart” Cooper, Class of 1997, is a multidimensional contemporary artist born and raised in West Africa, Liberia. His family fled Liberia at the outbreak of a civil war and moved to the U.S. where he studied fine art, sculptures and graphic design.

Growing up with customary African values in a westernized American culture, his art merges the traditional with the technological. Cooper’s signature style includes mixed medium and acrylics. His work has been acquired by national and international private collectors and has attracted several celebrity clients.

The fine art collection “Heroes” re-imagines the heroes of Black history and pop culture, casting famous role models in an exciting new light, such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks and Winnie Mandela in T-shirts bearing the insignia of Superman, Green Lantern, Iron Man and Black Panther.

The “Fame” series features Kanye West in multicolor acrylic portraits, reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s photographic silk-screens.

Dedicated to distinctive pop culture figures, his “Purple” series features Rihanna, Janelle Monae, Grace Jones and more.

He recently hosted an educational program for WCSD students.

His work can be seen as the featured art for the Musikfest 2022 posters.

Cooper resides in Hollywood, Calif.

PRESS PHOTO BY JIM WEBER Whitehall-Coplay School District Zephyr Graduates of Distinction gather to celebrate their accomplishments - Susan A. Gibson, Class of 1989; Gregory P. Fritze, Class of 1972; Dr. Nicholas J. Gidosh, Class of 2007; Britt J. Carpenter, Class of 1985; and Jayne Ann Wright Recker, Class of 1983. The honorees not pictured are Lt. Col. Bryan J Walter, U.S. Air Force, Class of 1997; Douglas W. Edelman, Class of 1954; Gregory J. Hessinger, Class of 1983; and Barthelomew “Bart” Cooper, Class of 1997.