Published in the June 14, 2016 edition.

WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Independence Day Committee is proud and happy to announce the Grand Marshal for the 2016 Fourth of July Parade. The honor this year goes to Wakefield Memorial High School Assistant Principal Dennis O’Leary.

Mr. O’Leary has been an integral part of the Wakefield Public Schools for the past 31 years, and for the past 21 years, Mr. O’Leary has made Wakefield Memorial High School (WMHS) his home away from home. In his role as assistant principal, he has played a significant part in the education of thousands of Wakefield students. Named assistant principal in 1995, his involvement in school, at school events, and in the Wakefield community assured students of a constant presence that they could rely on throughout their four years at WMHS.

Prior to assuming the assistant principal’s position, Mr. O’Leary was a Moderate Special Needs teacher and taught in the Wakefield Public School’s Alternative Program located in the original Woodville School from 1985 to 1995. Also during this 10-year span Mr. O’Leary coordinated and taught in the evening GED Prep Program. Through this program many young students and adults earned their state-issued High School Equivalency Diploma. Finally, named director of the Summer School Education Program, Mr. O’Leary was the administrator for the successful academic credit recovery/summer arts programming for 10 years.

Mr. O’Leary has been honored on several occasions by the Wakefield Education Foundation during their Celebration of Learning night for his contribution to the Wakefield Public Schools.

Mr. O’Leary holds a C.A.G.S. in Moderate Special Needs Teaching from Lesley College. He earned two master of education degrees (Guidance & Counseling and Educational

Administration) from Salem State College. In addition, he earned a bachelor of arts degree from Salem State College with a concentration in Psychology and Education.

Following is the statement from WIDC regarding their choice as Grand Marshal.

“As education is one of the cornerstones of the many freedoms that we enjoy as a nation, it is fitting that we focus our appreciation for the work of the faculty, staff and administrators of the Wakefield Public Schools (WPS) during our Fourth of July celebration.

“Our choice for Grand Marshal for the Fourth of July Parade celebration is someone who has spent the last 31 years making a difference in the lives of many, many students.

“He represents the many excellent teachers at all levels that make a difference with their students.

“He represents the paraprofessionals who assist our faculty with the student that needs support.

“He represents the lunch ladies who feed our children at least two meals a day, five days a week.

“He represents the custodial crew that cleans thousands of square feet of a building only to have to it again 24 hours later.

“He represents the school nurses who assist and treat hundreds of students each week.

“And lastly, he represents the administrative assistants, those front line office staff that are the unofficial gate-keepers of the school. They have the pulse of the students and interact with many people each day, keeping the ebb and flow of the high school day in a positive, safe, rhythm.

“Mr. O’Leary has been an influential force in our community, coining the phrase ‘It’s a great day to be a Warrior,’ which is further demonstration of the great pride that he has brought to the students of WMHS.

“We find it very fitting that our choice for Grand Marshal for the 2016 Fourth of July parade celebration is Dennis O’Leary.

“This year, July Fourth will be a great day to be a Warrior!”