Saturday, June 2, 2018

SHSAA names 2018 Honored Guest

Each year, the Springfield, Vermont High School Alumni Association (SHSAA) selects an individual as “Honored Guest” for its annual festivities. This individual is honored to recognize the contributions and positive differences he or she has made in the lives of our citizens, students, schools and community.

We are pleased to announce that the Association has named Gary McKenney, retired Marketing Teacher, as our 2018 honored guest.

Springfield High School had the privilege of Mr. McKenney’s unorthodox and creative teaching style for 25 years (1970 – 1995). Not only did he instruct Marketing in the Vocational Center, he was also known for his Advisory role in the DECA program. Upon completion of college in 1969 at Salem State University in Massachusetts, Mr. McKenney relocated from upstate NY with a plan to teach for 5 years in Springfield, Vermont. A plan that was extended an additional 20 before then teaching another 17 years for Claremont High School in New Hampshire.

For those not familiar with the DECA program, it prepares students to be emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools around the globe. During Mr. McKenney’s reign, they were VERY successful State winners. They earned Chapter of the Year in 1977, Student of the Year, and in 1974 Mr. McKenney received Teacher of the Year. Their projects took them out of the school environment to apply their learned skills in public. Their field trips to the largest malls around, at the time, included pre-Christmas and post-Christmas season promotions, allowing the opportunity for the students to document the trends and promotions in Marketing strategies. The Holyoke Mall allowed the students to survey consumers and benefited from the free marketing analysis received from the students results.

Although Mr. McKenney did not have any favorite students, he did recall the mall Security Team embracing a young student’s enthusiasm towards security and safety. With the approval of Mr. McKenney, Mark Phelps was granted permission to go behind the scenes of the store front shops in Holyoke. He was allowed the opportunity to walk the hallways and roof tops with the security staff, not seen by the public. His interest in police and fire department safety was apparent even then, in the DECA program. This program continues today.

Some of you may recall the tell-a-thon fundraiser in 1973. Young’s Cable generously provided television equipment to be set up at the Riverside Middle School. This 12 hour tell-a-thon had 16 and 17 years-old students earning between $1,400 - $1,800 on live tv. All his projects had educational interaction with exposure to more than just Marketing. The field trips were life-lessons with a detour through historical battle locations or college campuses.

His enthusiasm drew in other teachers with group dynamic activities. Tom Liveston, in Electronics, worked with Gary McKenney to foster positive management techniques and assist in emerging the leadership traits in their “kids”. Even Ms. Miller, in the English Department, was a “big time supporter” of their program, quoted Mr. McKenney. The mock interviews conducted throughout the school prepared the students for job interviews. Both the Sophomore and Senior classes benefited from this life-learning project.

For some, Mr. McKenney was not their school teacher but a Master Sensei at the Dojo. He started with Shotokan then became an Okinawan Kenpo Karate Dojo, according to long-time friend and student, Robin Lull. As a 5th Dan Master Black Belt, Master Sensei, was a huge mentor in our community. He stepped in to provide guidance in and out of the Dojo.

Gary and his wife, JoAnne, still reside in Springfield, Vermont where they raised their son, Tommy. When not at their grandson’s baseball game, he may be seen at the Springfield Health Care facility providing serves with his therapy and obedience trained dog, Lady. Good luck to you, Lady, in your competition at the end of the month, for another title. This Dalmatian competes in relay obedience and agility courses in addition to providing comfort. Mr. McKenney has even trained his family pet to provide service to the community.

Mr. McKenney will be honored at the Annual SHSAA banquet to be held on Friday, June 15th, at the VFW in Springfield, beginning at 6:00 pm. Please join us as we honor and share memories with Gary, recognize this year’s top SHS graduates, crown the 2018 SHSAA King and Queen, introduce scholarship recipients, recognize Malcolm Fowler as Pastor of the Day, and enjoy a delicious dinner. For banquet reservations contact Jean Patoine at 802 591-7230 or Donna Jacobs at 802 463-9572. Please don’t miss the parade on Saturday the 16th, beginning at 10:00 a.m. (rain or shine)!

Our mailing address is:
SHS Alumni Association
13 Fairground Rd.
Springfield, VT 05156


  1. Congratulations, Gary!

  2. He was my absolute favorite teacher. Congratulations Mr. McKenney!

  3. Bonus shout out to Mr. Liveston from the electronics program. Helped get me where I am today. Great class.

  4. Julie (Hunt) Lovell6/7/18, 9:36 PM

    Congratulations Mr. McKenney!!! You will always be my hands down favorite teacher!! Lest us not forget seeing Meatloaf in concert up at Stowe, you inspired me always to do my best. I always bring you up when the topic of High School comes up in conversation. Thank you for all of your kind words, hysterical stories and being an all around genuinely kind, amazing human :)


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