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Colonie Central High School News

Writer, Board Member/Community Leader, and Female Role Model/Firefighter Elected to 2016 Hall of Fame

Colonie Central High School is proud to announce that three new alumni have been elected to its prestigious Hall of Fame. They will be inducted this June with the Class of 2016.

The purpose of the Hall of Fame is to identify role models for CCHS students and to illustrate to them that South Colonie Schools provide the educational foundation necessary to build a successful life. Since 1994, more than 60 graduates have been honored in the Hall of Fame, representing a variety of high school classes and accomplishments.

 

Claudia MarksClaudia Marks (Adams-Kanne) – Class of 1966

Claudia Marks is part of an Emmy-winning television writing team, movie actress, and award-winning playwright and documentary writer/producer, who has used her tragic life experiences to work as an advocate for change.

After graduating from CCHS in 1966, she saved up enough money to attend Hudson Valley Community College and the State University at Plattsburgh. She moved to California to teach but found out her credentials were not valid in that state. After working at odd jobs and supporting her mother, she got a position as a flight attendant on Military Air Command missions that brought U.S. soldiers to Vietnam. During one flight in the 1970s she helped save 252 military families from a burning aircraft at Yakota Air Force Base. The airline presented her with their "Perfection/Not Correction" Award.

Marks’ dream was to be in the movies ever since she had landed the leading role in the CCHS school play, Gramercy Ghost. So she went to Hollywood, but soon discovered there were few roles for women at the time so she tried to change that by writing for television entertainment.

Her first scripts were for the long-running TV dramas Knots Landing and Cagney & Lacey, where she collaborated with other writers on the “Who Said It’s Fair” episode that won an Emmy Award and an NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Television. For that specific Cagney and Lacey episode, she was invited to become a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She is also a member of the Writers Guild of America.

As a playwright, her production, “POW-Police Officers’ Wives/Prisoners of War” about her life married to a police officer exposed spousal abuse on the police force and was nominated for two NAACP Excellence in Theatre Awards and won one. She also wrote the play, “My Client’s a Lunatic” based on the transcripts of her trial when she was beaten and sexually assaulted by a security guard. That play won several awards and was chosen as one of the Top 10 theatre productions that year.

Marks later turned to documentary writing. In 2010, she produced, co-directed and wrote a documentary short, “A Far Off Cry” filmed in Pakistan. It was accepted into 17 film festivals and won awards at six, including the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival and the Walt Ratterman Humanitarian Award.

A second documentary, “Dry Clean Only” documents her efforts to prove that a dry cleaning solvent was killing her and ends with her testifying against the chemical companies, helping to get the first banning of the chemical in the United States. This production won four health and science awards.
Marks is presently in post-production on her third documentary, “Like No Other” about the 2010 Pakistan floods.

Her dream to become an actress came true when she landed a principal role as Madam of the Tortuga Cantina in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with Johnny Depp and later, scoring a role in The Lone Ranger.

Marks has been involved in many other humanitarian efforts over her life such as helping sexually abused children, speaking to at-risk youth, producing Public Service Announcements for No Drugs America, leading Adopt a Highway campaigns, fighting homelessness, and establishing a college scholarship for children who have transitioned through the foster care system.

“As I look back to high school, I remember there was a saying over the auditorium stage that read: ‘Let each man become all he is capable of being,’” Marks said. “The most important thing I took away with me after graduation was a solid set of values and determination to achieve anything I set my mind to no matter how difficult or complicated.”

 

James Tim RyanJames (Tim) Ryan – Class of 1966

As a longtime member/officer of the South Colonie Board of Education and as an activist in local youth athletics and organizations, James (Tim) Ryan – Class of 1966 - has spent countless hours dedicated to the children of Colonie.

First elected to the Board of Education in 1994, Ryan continues in that role today after more than two decades in the governance of South Colonie’s approximately 5,000 public school children. He served as school board President for 12 years (1998-2001), (2005-2009), and (2013-2015), has been chair and/or member of numerous school board committees.

These committees include Academic Achievement, Accountability and Board Operations, Audit and Finance, Communications, Facilities, Graduation/Hall of Fame, Information Technology, Policy, Strategic Planning, and Transportation. During the 1990s he served on former Superintendent Dr. Thomas Brown’s Shared Decision Making Committee, which brought more parents and community involvement to the district.

He has also served as school board liaison for Town of Colonie Planning and Labor Management. He has made numerous presentations at the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) and National School Board Association (NSBA) conventions.

Ryan has also been involved in a variety of activities as a member of the greater Colonie community. This includes serving as an usher, lector and Eucharist Minister (1990-present) at Christ Our Light (St. Francis de Sales) Church, Little League and Babe Ruth coach (1989-1993), coach, manager, and Financial Director of the West Albany Athletic Association (1980s-1990s), Scoutmaster (1988-1990) for Cub Scout Pack 90, Colonie Central High School Basketball Booster Club President (1993-1996), member and Booster Club President of Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs (2002), and the Albany-Colonie Yankees (1994), and Booster Club member of the Albany River Rats (1994-2000). He has also assisted in the yearly collection and distribution of winter clothing items for area needy.

Ryan is a 1970 graduate of Siena College with bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He worked in New York State government for 35 years, starting with the Commission for the Blind and Visual Handicapped, teaching visually impaired individuals business and independent life skills. He went on to manage and administer several statewide programs to help low income families and the aged, including Food Stamp Outreach, HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program), and EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit Program). He retired from state government in 2005.

He and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 44 years. They have three children Scott, Nicole and Tim, and two grandchildren, Katherine and Jack.

“I am proud to have been born and raised in South Colonie, and of what we have been able to accomplish over the past 20-plus years,” Ryan said. “I am confident that the Class of 2016 will continue the Raider tradition of success.”

 

Meaghan SammonsMeaghan Nichols Sammons – Class of 1993

The late Meaghan Nichols Sammons – Class of 1993 – leaves a long legacy as a community humanitarian and as a strong role model for young women.

A three-sport student athlete and team leader while at CCHS, Sammons earned an associate’s degree in Human Services from Schenectady County Community College and attended the State University at Albany.

She started her career as an intern in 1996 at Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital Region, a free after school/summer camp program that inspires at-risk girls in grade K-12 to be strong, smart and bold. She rose through the ranks during her 18-year career at Girls Inc., being named Director of Programs in Albany and Schenectady from 2008-2015.

Through her work at Girls Inc. she influenced many young ladies’ lives and provided them with a positive role model and constant support. In 2007 she was awarded the YWCA Women of Achievement and Reach Award for impacting young women’s lives.

In 2004, Sammons wanted to do something else in her life to help people so she joined the Midway Fire Department. She quickly rose to Lieutenant, then Captain, and then Assistant Chief. Ten years after joining the department she became the first female Fire Chief in the Town of Colonie.

Sammons was known in the firehouse as a teacher and mentor for new members, and she was always one of the top responders each year. During her tenure at Midway, she received many honors. This included being named Midway Firefighter of the Year in 2007, and earning the Law & Order Community Service Award from the Joseph E. Zaloga Post 1520 American Legion in 2011.

In the summer of 2014 she was diagnosed with cancer, but still carried out her duties as Fire Chief during her treatment. She would not let the illness define her, and at the end of 2014 she was still one of the fire department’s top responders.

Sammons passed away in March of 2015. A year later she was posthumously awarded the Everyday Hero for the 2016 Community Impact Awards given by The Stakeholders, Inc. – an organization whose mission is to inspire and equip people to take action in their communities. She will always be remembered as a humanitarian who dedicated her life to assisting others.