17th Annual USC High School Halls of FameThe 2016 Halls of Fame Induction ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016, at Upper St. Clair High School. The purpose of the Halls of Fame is to identify and to honor those who have distinguished themselves in academics, the arts or athletics at the high school or professional level and who, in so doing, have contributed to the pride and prestige of Upper St. Clair High School.Academic Hall of Fame:
- Karen Ho, Class of 1988
- Mahesh Krishnan, Class of 1988
- Joseph (J.J.) Plecs, Class of 1988
- Todd Ollendyke, USC Staff
- Chelsea Baratz, Class of 2004
- Benny Benack, III, Class of 2009
- Anthony Jeselnik, Class of 1997
- Michael Kopp, Class of 1978
- Earl (Bud) Marlett, USC Staff & Volunteer
Karen S. HoKaren S. Ho, Class of 1988, had such a sterling record in high school that she was named a United States Presidential Scholar. Some of the achievements that earned her this honor were being the Editor-in-Chief of The Montage, being a member of National Honor Society, being a valedictorian, and National Merit Scholar. When she graduated from USCHS, Karen was named the Compton Scholar – earning her full tuition for all four years at Washington University. She was an Elie Wiesel Essay Competition Finalist, the Harrison D. Stalker Prize winner, and she was named to Phi Beta Kappa. Karen was graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Biochemistry and she was awarded the British Marshall Scholarship for graduate study. Karen chose to study Genetics at Cambridge University in England. After earning her MS in Genetics, she moved to Stanford. In 2002 she earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Biology. For the next three years, Karen was at the University of Pennsylvania doing postdoctoral studies on sleep and on neuroscience. She has written extensively about the genes associated with autism, developmental delay, and other neuropathies of children. Karen’s interest was piqued when both her sons were born premature and had to overcome some typical challenges. Karen currently is a Principal Scientist and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at the University of Utah. Karen is the Chief Officer of the NGLY 1 Foundation, a non-profit organization to help children with a rare genetic disorder. Karen Ho describes her roles as a wife, mother, and scientist.Mahesh Krishnan
Mahesh Krishnan, Class of 1988, was a member of the National Honor Society and salutatorian of his class. He was the Editor-in-Chief of Clairvoyant and very active in the National Forensic League. Mahesh won numerous awards in the fields of chemistry, physics, and computer competitions through the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science and the Westinghouse Science Program. He was a National Merit Scholar. Mahesh went to Penn State and enrolled in the Jefferson Six Year Accelerated Medical Program. Mahesh was the president of the Medical Student Support Society, an officer in the American Medical Student Association, and a co-founder of the Jefferson Association of Indian Students. He volunteered in a homeless shelter and in a clinic for the indigent. He became a resident in nephrology at Georgetown University Medical Center. He also earned a MS in Public Health and a MS in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. Since his formal training ended, Mahesh has become a recognized expert in Anemia of Renal Disease, End-Stage Renal Disease Payment Policy (US), and Medical Data Analysis and Systems. Mahesh has been a member of the National Kidney Foundation, on the Board of Directors of the Kidney Health Initiative with the American Society of Nephrology, and the FDA. He has published more than 55 peer-reviewed articles and three books. Currently, Mahesh is an International Chief Medical Officer and Group Vice President for Research and Development for DaVita Healthcare Partners, which oversees medicine in 12 countries. Mahesh lives with his wife and two children in McLean, VA.J.J. Plecs
Joseph J. Plecs, Class of 1988, was a member of the National Honor Society and valedictorian of his class. He was a class officer, and a member of the rifle team, fencing, and the Westinghouse Science Program. J.J. attended Governor’s School, was honored by the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, won the Bausch and Lomb Award, and was a National Merit Scholar. After high school, J.J. attended Princeton University where in 1992 he earned a BA in Physics and graduated Magna cum Laude. J.J. went directly to the University of California at Berkeley. In 1995 he was awarded a MA in Physics and in 1999 a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. While he was studying at Berkeley, he worked as part of the Aber Group as a graduate student researcher and later as a postdoctoral researcher. From 1999 to 2003 J.J. was a postdoctoral researcher with the Mayo Group at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He returned to Berkeley where he was a Beamline Scientist for the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. For the next 12 years, J.J. returned to the East Coast. First he was Senior Associate for McKinney and Company in New Jersey and then a Senior Manager for Pfizer in New York City. After two years as an independent consultant for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, J.J. returned to San Francisco where he is the Director of Product Strategy for Roam Analytics.Mr. Todd Ollendyke
Todd Ollendyke graduated with Honors with a B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University in 1978. He was first hired as a middle school substitute and then as a high school science teacher. In the early 1980s as the USC student enrollment declined, Todd shifted his attention to computers. He became the first computer teacher at USCHS. From that point on Todd focused his attention on being a computer science teacher. In this capacity he changed the acceptance and the use of technology for the students. In addition to training the students, he also taught the faculty and staff through a variety of in-service programs. Todd extended his services and became the grade book administrator for the high school. Early in his career, Todd was the Rifle Coach for three years. Then he developed the Computer Programming Club, which he sponsored for 15 years. The last nine years of his tenure, Todd was the adviser of Clairvoyant, the high school yearbook. He led the staff to design and layout the pages strictly on the computer. Mr. Ollendyke valued the opportunity that he had to work with students, teachers and administrators and to make them comfortable with the use of technology. In his time away from USC, Todd was an active supporter of the Central PA Food Bank and the Huntingdon S. D. Backpack Program. Todd lives with his wife in Upper St. Clair where they reared their two daughters.
Arts Hall of Fame
Chelsea Baratz, Class of 2004, must have played first tenor sax for 24 hours a day when she attended USCHS. In the Marching Band, she was a tenor saxophonist who became a field captain, then a member of color guard, then a musician section leader, and finally a featured soloist. Chelsea also played tenor sax as a member of the Concert Band and the Wind Ensemble. She also played in the Jazz Combo, the Jazz Ensemble, and the Wind Ensemble. Chelsea was in the PMEA Honors Jazz Band from 2001 to 2004 and in the PMEA District Band from 2003 to 2004. She won the Mellon Jazz Fest Outstanding Soloist Award and the Slippery Rock Jazz Outstanding Soloist Award. When she was attending Slippery Rock University from 2004 to 2006, she performed with a local jazz legend and trumpet phenom who later ran the Duquesne Jazz program. Upon winning a scholarship, Chelsea transferred to the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. While she was there, she studied part-time and took time off to perform. She was mentored by Grammy award-winning trumpeter Maurice Brown, who helped her produce her first album entitled, “In Faith.” She has been touring with him ever since. While living in New York City, Chelsea has appeared in the most famous venues such as Birdland, Lincoln Center, and the Rainbow Room. She has performed on Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman. Chelsea has appeared in some of the world’s largest music festivals from South Korea and Indonesia to good, old Pittsburgh.Benny Benack III
Benny Benack, Class of 2009, is an accomplished trumpet player, pianist, singer, and male lead. He was a trumpet player and soloist in the Marching Band, the Jazz Ensemble, Concert Band, Wind Symphony, and Wind Ensemble. He won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and performed in the PMEA All-State Jazz Festival. Because of his exemplary achievement as a trumpet soloist and ensemble performer, Benny was admitted to the Manhattan School of Music. He earned a BA in Music in 2013 and a MA in Music in 2015. Benny was the recipient of the William Borden Award of the Manhattan School of Music for Jazz Excellence in 2011. Despite his youth he has been a finalist and winner in several prestigious jazz trumpet competitions and several jazz vocal competitions. In the Aug. 1, 2011, issue of Jet Magazine, Benack was featured on Wynton Marsalis’ list of “The Next Generation of Jazz Greats,” and recently the Benny Benack Band filmed “A Masterclass with Marsalis,” for the National Young Arts Foundation. Because he is in demand as a recording artist, live performer, composer, and educator, he performs in many famous NYC jazz clubs. During this summer, Benny performed at Lincoln Center in New York, at Caton Castle in Baltimore, and at the Grand Prix Gala in Pittsburgh. Many people will frequently hear the name Benny Benack III in the near future.Anthony M. Jeselnik
Anthony M. Jeselnik, Class of 1997, began to develop his comic career at USCHS. He demonstrated his quick sense of humor in the classroom as well as in his activities. He was a member of German Club and Multi-Cultural Club. He was the president of SAAD as a senior. Anthony played lacrosse for four years and was voted to the Conference All-Star Team as a senior. In 2001, he graduated from Tulane University with a BA in Literature. He went to Los Angeles to begin his career in comedic writing and performing. A few years later when Anthony moved to New York City, he met with almost immediate success. He was the first writer hired by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He also began to perform his own comedy in venues around the United States, Montreal, Dublin, and Australia. After he gained recognition from Comedy Central Roasts of Donald Trump, Charlie Sheen, and Roseanne Barr, Anthony was hired to host two seasons of his own show The Jeselnik Offensive. In 2015, he hosted NBC’s Last Comic Standing. Anthony has appeared on shows hosted by Jimmy Fallon, Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and Carson Daly. Lately, he has shifted his focus to writing and pursuing other television opportunities. Anthony’s most recent work is Thoughts and Prayers, a Netflix special, which reveals his comedy and its impact on the art and his philosophy of comedy.Mike Kopp
Mike Kopp, Class of 1978, was a four-year member of the choir and a four-year letterman in tennis. He was number one in singles during his junior and senior years at Upper St. Clair High School. At Iowa State University, Mike was number one in both singles and doubles. At Edison College he was first in singles and doubles and was All-Conference. He also earned academic and athletic honors. Mike’s athletic accomplishments led to his becoming a professional tennis player. He was the National Fast Serve Champion with a 141 mph in Maui, Hawaii. Mike also became an actor and a professional voice over artist. Mike has represented such brands as Citibank, Toyota, P. F. Chang’s, Visa, and AT&T. His accomplishments include national network campaigns that have aired on CNN, FOX, NBC, ESPN, ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. He is currently heard on The Food Network. Mike’s first movie credit was opposite Meryl Streep and Steve Martin in “It’s Complicated.” He is a member of AFTRA, SAG, and USPTA. Currently Mike lives in New York City where he conducts Vog Productions.Earl “Bud” Marlett
Bud Marlett began his career as a volunteer adult member of the stage crew in 1978 when he accompanied his son in transporting lighting equipment. For the next 34 years, Bud served as a technical director, a drama director, a producer, and a director of props. He was a scene designer, scenery painter, and master craftsman of all backdrops and all set pieces. Over the years Bud was involved with 56 USCHS stage productions, including spring musicals, fall plays, and holiday musicals. As stage crew sponsor, he was responsible for more than 24 productions per year. As a teacher of the stage crew, he challenged the students and staff with his philosophy, “Strive to do an excellent performance in a professional manner—don’t settle for less.” He inspired students to learn his innovative technological knowledge of stage craft, which enabled him to have flying in Peter Pan, special effects in Guys and Dolls and The Wizard of Oz, and three-story sets in Oklahoma and The Music Man. In addition to his work in the theater, on dance recitals and music festivals, he volunteered in the athletic department. From 1982 to the present, he has been an announcing booth spotter for the football home games. Bud Marlett pursues his love of the theater with an association with the Little Lake Theater.
Athletic Hall of FameOren Eschenasy
Oren Eschenasy, Class of 1987, was a member of the National Honor Society, as well as an exceptional tennis player. He was a four-year letterman and a two time WPIAL team champion. Oren was a state champion in doubles as a junior and a quarterfinalist in singles as a senior. He continued to play tennis at the University of Notre Dame until an injury forced his retirement during his junior year. He majored in marketing and minored in economics. Oren earned a MBA in International Business from Duquesne University. He began his career with Electrolux as a sales manager directing multinational operations in Europe, Central America, and the Caribbean. He worked in the appliance industry for Electrolux and Whirlpool where he led product development, sales, and merchandising. For three years Oren was a country manager for Panama, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Currently, he is based in Miami where he is the country manager for Electrolux in Costa Rica. Oren is a weekend fitness buff. He golfs and occasionally plays tennis, and he supports his wife’s personal training career. Despite traveling and living around Central and South America, Oren remains committed to Notre Dame and to Pittsburgh sports.Michael McHugh
Michael McHugh, Class of 1992, was a three-sport letterman. In soccer he was the Almanac Rookie of the Year and the USC Team Rookie of the Year. Mike lived up to this expectation as the team was a WPIAL and State Finalist and Mike was Section 6 Player of the Year. He was named an All-Star by the Almanac and the Post-Gazette. In basketball he was a point guard who led the team to a Section Championship in 1991 and the State Finals in 1992. In baseball Mike was a centerfielder and pitcher on a WPIAL Championship team and Section Championship team in 1992. He earned the George Bulger Award for Sportsmanship and the USCHS Male Athlete of the Year. Upon graduation, Mike played three years of NCAA Division 1 Baseball at Penn State. In 1995, he was drafted in the 25th round by the Texas Rangers. He had a three-year career with the Texas Rangers. Upon concluding his professional athletic career, Mike transferred his leadership and efforts to business and to his family. He has been a regional business director of the Fujifilm Sonosite since 2007. Mike has been invited six times into the President’s Club and for the past three years has been the Regional Business Director of the Year. He lives in Kirkland, Washington, where Mike and his wife use much of their energy and enthusiasm to care for their six children.
Last Modified on October 3, 2017