We had a wonderful evening on November 28th in the High School auditorium celebrating these four outstanding individuals. These awards are given to honor Owen J. Roberts residents and alumni who enhance the quality of life by preserving, promoting and carrying out positive and quantifiable traditional community values and traits. We are very grateful for the positive impact each of them has had on the OJR School District and community.
The honorees accepted Wildcat statues to commemorate the event, and their plaques are now displayed on the Wall of Fame in the OJR High School. PA State Rep. Tim Hennessey presented each of the honorees with a citation from the PA House of Representatives. To end the evening, the recipients attended the OJR School Board meeting where Dr. Stout introduced them to the Board of Directors and they were once again honored with a well-deserved round of applause.
RALPH BOZORTH, Class of 1956, was honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was a member of the very first Owen J. Roberts graduating class. Upon retirement from the Philadelphia Electric Company after 31 years of service, Mr. Bozorth took the initiative to develop, maintain, and host a reference website to preserve the history of the OJR School District. The website contains photos of old schools, current schools, and churches. Some thirty township maps dating from 1690 are on the site, along with history of the seven townships comprising the school district. In 2021, the U.S. Library of Congress selected https://www.ojrsdhistory.com/ for inclusion in its web archives considering it to be “an important part of this collection and the historical record. The web archives are important because they contribute to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost.”
According to Ralph’s daughter, Adrienne Doran, her father likes to keep busy! He has volunteered for Meals on Wheels and Angel Flight East. In addition, he has volunteered with the Delaware Chapter of VBOB, Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Although not a veteran himself, he joined as an associate and became actively involved helping to enroll all chapter veterans in the WWII Registry of Remembrances. Later he was elected as a Trustee on the Executive Council of National VBOB. Ralph helped to collect battle stories from the veterans, and through his efforts, the book called The Battle of the Bulge: True Stories from the Men and Women Who Survived was printed. The VBOB receives royalties from the sales of the book. Ralph also became Editor of The Bulge Bugle and with the help of his step-son, Kevin Diehl, revamped their website. According to an article written by Lou Cunningham (past president of VBOB), Ralph’s “accomplishments on behalf of VBOB have been too numerous to list here. Our best way of summing up is that Ralph brought VBOB into the 21st Century. We at VBOB thank him for that.”
Lastly, Mr. Bozorth established a scholarship for an Owen J. Roberts graduate pursing a degree in Engineering. Ralph received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Villanova University, and created the scholarship to further the study of engineering. It is quite clear that Mr. Bozorth preserves the values of the Owen J. Roberts School District and community in many ways.
DAWN HOUCK, Class of 1975, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. One of Dawn’s interests is the history of our region which led to the creation of a private Facebook group in 2019 called History of Owen J. Roberts School District and currently has 914 members. On this page, Dawn shares a collection of articles and photographs of schools that were established in the area prior to September 1958 and the establishment of the school district. According to classmate, Dr. Susan Rambo, this Facebook group “provides a space for all OJR graduate group members to learn, to contribute, and to see their families’ contributions to education in Bucktown honored. “
Dawn is also the creator and administrator of two additional private Facebook groups which started in 2010. Owen J Roberts-Gone but Not Forgotten Memorials currently has 3,300 members and is a space to remember students and teachers of OJR High School who are no longer with us. I Used to Go to Owen J. Roberts High School has 3,000 members and is a site for alumni to share their favorite memories of OJR.
Dawn spends a great deal of time researching for each of these Facebook groups to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date. We are all very grateful that Dawn provides a place for OJR alumni to learn, share, and connect with each other.
KAREN FOSTER was honored with one of the Owen J. Roberts Education Foundation’s Community Service Awards. “During the COVID-19 shutdown in March 2020, Karen volunteered her time and used her personal business, Positively Pasta, to operate an emergency food bank for the OJR community. She accepted donations and organized volunteers to sort donations and prepare daily and weekly boxes for food insecure community members. Throughout that school year, Karen organized the distribution of 1,389 pantry boxes, 77 Thanksgiving meals, 55 holiday meals, and 44 Easter meals to OJR residents in need. Karen took on this role during a time when the world was uncertain and supplies were limited. Her courageous and generous actions greatly impacted the OJR community in a positive way during very uncertain times.”
Karen has been working with Chartwells K12 since 2017. She started as a food service worker in the OJR Middle School kitchen, preparing and serving food. She was promoted to the Middle School Kitchen Unit Lead for four years. Karen and her husband, Chris, opened Positively Pasta in June of 1987. It remains a family owned and operated business as the second generation has joined the team. We appreciate that the Owen J. Roberts School District community is a clearly a priority to Karen Foster.
DR. KATHLEEN HOCKER was honored with one of the OJREF Community Service Awards. Dr. Hocker served as the Executive Director of the OJR Education Foundation for over 12 years, retiring in 2019. She “worked tirelessly to support the students and employees of the school district. During her tenure, she applied for and changed the status of the organization into a tax-exempt foundation so that all funds raised supported the students and teachers of the district. One of the first projects tackled was to help fund the TV studio in the high school.” In addition, Kathleen has raised funds to provide innovative programming and materials, obtained EITC money to support STEAM projects, managed scholarship funds, and much more. She says, “It is and always has been about the students. They are our future.”
Dr. Hocker received her Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University in 1990. She went on to become the Director of Curriculum and Assessment at Computer Curriculum Corporation and later the Vice President of Strategic Accounts with Scientific Learning Corporation. In recent years, Dr. Hocker was responsible for securing a grant to start the Fast ForWord adaptive reading and language program at Immaculate Conception Academy. Currently she goes to the school every day to work with approximately 26 students. The staff at the school find Kathleen to be an “invaluable asset to their school community. She is a wonderful and giving person”. We thank Kathleen for the dedication and service she has given to the Education Foundation, the school district and the community.