Six Alumni Inducted into the SPFHS Hall of Fame


Reina Makimura

photo by Reina Makimura

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees feature a group of impressive and diverse alumni, who have built successful careers since leaving Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School.  

One of the first inductees was Cynthia Sayer, class of 1974 and official banjoist for the New York Yankees. She was joined by Dr. Christian Lambertsen, class of 1934, Michael Antal Jr., class of 1965, John Bernard Riley, class of 1971, Marc Shaiman, class of 1974, and Moria Cappio, class of 1998. They were all nominated and inducted through the Alumni Association.

Lambertsen was a graduate from the oldest class in this group of inductees. He is known for inventing an early design of the SCUBA diving model. He started working on the SCUBA model during World War II, as an addition to the amphibious attacks that were common during the time period. Lambertsen taught and trained troops in using the model, and led many attacks on Japanese ships with his men. He died in 2011.

Antal was a leader in environmental science. He had always had an aptitude for science, and left SPFHS to study at Harvard University. Antal created and patented the flash carbonization process with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, which was one of his proudest accomplishments. He died last year.

Riley, “The Master Drummer,” is a talented jazz musician, and his work is widely respected. His recordings included 13 Grammy nominations, and three Grammy-award winning pieces, including one with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. He also published several books on the art of drumming.

He reflected, “The musical experiences I got helped to prepare me to succeed in future endeavours.”

Another musical success is Shaiman, who was the pianist on “Saturday Night Live”, and wrote the music and lyrics for famous and successful musicals such as “Hairspray” and the soundtracks for movies such as “Sleepless in Seattle.” He also received special thanks on the iconic “Bee Movie.” Along with these writing credits, he has been nominated for several Academy Awards, Emmys, and Grammys. Among his many nominations, he has most notably won an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Variety or Music Program.”

Sayer is also a successful musician. In 2006, she was inducted into the National Banjo Four-String Hall of Fame, and is one of the few solo women to ever do so. She broke into the industry after graduating from SPFHS, again becoming one of the few women to first do so. She currently travels internationally, touring with her bands and performing as a jazz singer and banjoist.

“I was really into all the arts,” Sayer said. “I think it got me interested in performing, which is part of what I do today, so it was important for me.”

Cappio, the youngest to ever be inducted, has already been named one of New York Non-profit Media’s top under forty rising stars. She works in education as the Vice President for Early Childhood Programs at the Children’s Aid Society.

“I’ve been able to work with lots of different people because of all the different students and friends and people I met in high school,” Cappio said.

Despite worries that she’s peaked at her young age, she appears to have a bright future ahead of her as a dedicated educator and leader.

As shown by these six inductees, SPFHS hosts an incredible group of alumni. “It’s pretty impressive to be among such great company,” Cappio said.

SPFHS is proud to have helped all of these alumni along their individual paths to success and is honored to induct them into the Hall of Fame.