Superintendent Kevin Smith has announced the names of the Class of 2018 inductees into the Wilton Public Schools Hall of Fame: former Solicitor General Donald Verrilli (WHS Class of 1975), soccer great Kristine Lilly (WHS Class of 1989), Army Pfc. Nicholas Madaras (WHS Class of 2005/posthumous award), and beloved music teacher and director John Rhodes (faculty member).
The Wilton Public Schools Hall of Fame was established in 2016 to recognize members of the Wilton community who have distinguished themselves in ways that bring great honor and pride to our community. This includes teachers, students, and staff members who have in some way achieved distinction in their chosen area of expertise. Such individuals may have attained national recognition, or in some way been recognized by their peers for outstanding achievement. Those fields may include, but are not limited to education, business, legal service, politics and government, military service, athletics, theatre and the arts, philanthropic endeavors and community service.
“Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor the Wilton Public Schools can bestow on an individual,” Smith says. “Clearly these individuals have met – even exceeded the criteria for Hall of Fame eligibility, and it will be my privilege to see they get the recognition they so deserve.”
Army Pfc. Nicholas A. Madaras (deceased) – A 2005 Wilton High School graduate, Madaras served our nation with honor and gave the ultimate sacrifice while deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A true soccer aficionado and former member of the WHS varsity soccer team, Pfc. Madaras discovered a shared affinity with local Iraqi children for the sport, and noticed they would use anything they could find to play because they had no soccer balls. Pfc. Madaras wrote to his family and asked them to send soccer balls, which he then distributed and used to generate good will with the Iraqi children. To honor Nick’s legacy, his family established the Kick for Nick Foundation whose mission is to fulfill his wish of serving underprivileged youth by giving them the opportunity to experience the joy and camaraderie of the game of soccer. To date, the Kick for Nick Foundation has distributed more almost 50,000 soccer balls to children located in more than 30 countries.
Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. – Verrilli is a 1975 graduate of Wilton High School. Upon graduation Verrilli attended Yale University and the Columbia Law School where he received his J.D. with honors and served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review. In 2011 he was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Solicitor General of the United States. In this position he argued numerous cases before the Supreme Court of the United States representing the federal government. Verrilli retired from this position in 2016 and is the 7th longest serving Solicitor General in United States history
Kristine Lilly – Lilly is a 1989 graduate of Wilton High School. Throughout her high school career she was a member of the FCIAC championship girls basketball team and multi-year FCIAC and state championship girls soccer team. During her junior year at WHS, Lilly was selected as a member of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Upon graduation, she attended the University of North Carolina where she served as a two-year captain and her soccer team won the NCAA championship four consecutive years. Over the course of her 23 years on the national team, Lilly played in five World Cup games (winning the championship in 1991 and 1999). She was a member of three U.S. Olympics teams, winning gold in 1996 and 2004, and silver in 2000. Lilly was named U.S. Soccer Player of the Year in 1993, 2005 and 2006. In 2012 she was placed in the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and in 2014, was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame.
John Rhodes – A 39-year veteran of the Wilton Public schools, Rhodes has led the development of one of the strongest music programs in the state. Over the course of his career, Rhodes introduced to Wilton the Gilbert & Sullivan Operetta, established the first high school jazz symposium in the state (which is now in its 42nd year), grew the WHS Marching Band into one of the largest in the state, and along the way inspired a passion for music in countless youth. One such beneficiary of Rhodes’ tutelage noted, “…I went on to a 30-year career as a middle and high school band director in Savannah, GA. I also worked as a musical director for theatre shows on the side. I was living the professional life of my mentor, John Rhodes. He took a kid with a dream and guided that dream into reality. I could not be more grateful. I would not be the musician I am today without Mr. Rhodes.”
These four individuals will be officially inducted into the Wilton Public Schools Hall of Fame in a ceremony scheduled Wednesday, June 6 at 7 p.m. in the Zellner Gallery. The ceremony is open to the public.