Freedom Area Educational Foundation 2016 Hall of Fame Class announced

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The Freedom Area Educational Foundation has announced the honorees inducted into its ninth Hall of Fame class.

A banquet will be held Saturday at the Columbian Room in the Wexford area.

The honorees:

Chris Haskell, class of 1989, is a global entrepreneur. After graduating from Geneva College with a bachelor’s degree in physics and applied mathematics, Haskell worked for eight years on a variety of NASA missions with the Bendix Aerospace Corp. as a data analyst, operations engineer, and mission operations manager on the Hubble Space Telescope, Gamma Ray Observatory, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous, and the Vegetation Canopy Lidar. While at NASA, Haskell received the Marvin Demmler Award for outstanding and exceptional service to the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronics.

Haskell earned a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in applied physics with an astrophysics concentration in 1997, and three years later he pursued a masters of business administration at the Imperial College Business School of the University of London.

The scientist remained in the United Kingdom working for Lockheed Martin as business development manager to develop a complex transportation system. He contracted the first major London Underground upgrade project, started a company called Integrated Transport Consulting Limited, and won a contract that led to four years of work for the 2012 Olympics in London.

In 2006, Haskell was awarded dual citizenship in the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2010, he married his wife, Grace, completed his work for the Olympic Delivery Authority, then accepted a senior transportation planning manager for LA Metro in Los Angeles.

The family — Haskell, Grace and their daughter, Calidon Primrose — are living in Doha, Qatar, while he works on the 2022 World Cup and is a project manager for the Msheireb Station Project.

William Hewko, class of 1956, a standout on the basketball court, spent 46 years as a standout educator at his alma mater and beyond. Hewko took his basketball skills to Geneva College and majored in social studies and drivers’ education. In 1962, he was hired as a social studies and drivers’ education teacher at Freedom High School. His master’s degree in guidance and administration from Westminster College garnered him a guidance counselor position in the district’s junior high and senior high schools. In 1972, Hewko was named principal of Freedom Junior High School, then in 1976 became high school principal, a post he held for 17 years.

During his time in the school district, Hewko established a teacher training program with Community College of Beaver County, coordinated Drug Free School monies for the district; initiated an Alternative Education Program; recognized student achievement through initiatives such as Student of the Month and All-Sports Banquet, and was lauded with awards for his work in drug and alcohol awareness projects.

In 1993, Hewko became principal at Shaler Area High School near Pittsburgh. Three years later as principal of the Community College of Beaver County Class Academy, Hewko created alternative student success programs, provided one-on-one counseling for at-risk students and created small class sizes. In 2000, he assumed duties at Longmore Academy at Mars Home for Youth. He retired in 2008.

Hewko is married to Sandra Cohen Hewko and is the father of John, Lynn and the late Alexis. The couple has two grandchildren, Megan and William.

Cicero Lassiter, class of 1968, and his brother James Lassiter Jr., are both inductees this year. Both excelled as athletes.

Cicero Lassiter’s high jump of 6-feet, 3 ¼- inches stood as a school record for 40 years. His excellence on the basketball court garnered him many awards: he was named to the WPIAL’s 1968 All-Star Team, was nominated for the Pittsburgh Dapper Dan Round Ball Classis and nominated as a basketball MVP candidate by The Pittsburgh Press.

Following graduation, Lassiter enrolled in Highland Community College in Kansas, and made first team Interstate League All-Conference while averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.

In 1972, he received a basketball scholarship from Missouri Southern University, and led the Lions of Missouri Southern to two NAIA national tournaments in 1972 and 1973. The three-year letter winner averaged 18.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. For his efforts, Lassiter was a first team NAIA District 16 member and received honorable mention as a Small College NAIA All-American. He did play one year of semi-professional basketball for the Allentown Jets, an affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers.

In 1992, Lassiter was hired as a counselor for group therapy sessions and soon earned his Pennsylvania State Drug and Alcohol certification. For 22 years, he worked as a group counselor with Drug and Alcohol Services of Beaver County. He retired in 2015. The Rochester resident is now a consultant with Addiction and Behavior Counseling Associates. As a licensed minister, Lassiter teaches adult Sunday school at Second Baptist Church in Rochester. And for 19 seasons, he has coached basketball teams in the Big Beaver Falls Area School District.

Last year, Christians United of Beaver County awarded him the Martin Luther King Jr. Reconciliation Award. Lassiter is the father of two daughters, Roleta and Kyra, and grandfather of two grandsons, Jabreel Amere Moye and Azariah Prince Bire.

James Lassiter Jr., class of 1967, excelled in three high school sports. He was a high jumper and runner on the track team and played wide receiver for the Bulldogs football team. His talents on the basketball court were exceptional.

The 6-foot, 2-inch forward and team captain, was the leading scorer, led the team in assists and in rebounding. In 1966, area basketball coaches unanimously selected him as the Most Valuable Player of WPIAL Section 14. He was also named to the All-State Team and played in the Pittsburgh Round Ball Classic.

After graduating, Lassiter played a year at State Fair Community College in Missouri, averaged 18 points a game was MVP of the Missouri Community College Athletic Conference. His next stop took him to Missouri Southern State University where he averaged 13.9 point per game during his year there.

Lassiter returned to Pittsburgh and for two years played semi-professional softball for the Pittsburgh Hard Hats. The team’s travel time took him away from his family and work. So Lassiter opted to play amateur softball, a game he enjoyed well into his 50s. His commitment to basketball continued while he coached boys’ teams in the Big Beaver Falls and Rochester Area school districts. He also made time to coach the Rochester Little Rams football team for five years.

Lassiter has worked for Rome Monument for more than 29 years. He and his wife of 34 years, Patricia, live in Rochester and are the parents of two daughters and four grandchildren.


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