Wheeling High School will host its 16th Annual Hometown Celebration on Friday, Sept. 21. The evening will begin with a tailgate party from 5:30-6:45 p.m. at the north end of the football field; in the event of rain, the party will move to the cafeteria.
The Wheeling Wildcats will be playing Rolling Meadows High School Mustangs with junior varsity football beginning at 5 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m. During the half time show of the varsity game, there will be a ceremony to acknowledge this year's Distinguished Alumni and Honoree. This year's Distinguished Alumni are Melissa Thal (1998) and David Tuber (2000); the Honoree is Greg Crocker, former District 21 principal.
Dr. Melissa Thal was a member of the Girls varsity basketball and volleyball teams as well as the captain of Color Guard, while at Wheeling. She attended Indiana University and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry with a minor in mathematics. Thal continued on to graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and obtained a PhD in microbiology with a focus on stem cell biology and their differentiation into B cells (immune cells that make antibodies). Thal moved back to Wheeling to be close to her family and to start a new position at Northwestern University's Feinberg Cardiovascular Research Institute, where she continued to research adult stem cells that can promote regeneration of the heart. She currently holds the position of Research Scientist at Baxter Healthcare and is working on Baxter's phase III clinical trial using bone marrow derived adult stem cells to improve blood flow in hearts of patients with CMI (chronic myocardial ischemia).
David Tuber was voted by his peers at WHS as "Most Artistic" and "Most Creative." Those prophetic titles are still applicable, as Tuber is now a television animator whose best-known work appears on the Cartoon Network’s late-night Adult Swim shows. He is also a writer and director of stop-motion cartoons. While at WHS he was a member of the Student Council, where he was responsible for the design of their posters, banners and T-shirts. Upon graduation, Tuber attended Harper College and Collins College in Phoenix, Ariz., and continued his college experience at Columbia College in Chicago, where he majored in Film and Television with a concentration in Traditional Animation. After graduating from Columbia, he moved to Los Angeles with hopes of landing a job in stop-motion animation. Today he remains involved with multiple projects that keep him actively storyboarding, writing, directing, animating, illustrating, and character designing in 2D stop-motion, CG and live action. Tuber is currently wrapping preproduction on the upcoming "Lego" feature that will be released in February 2014. Tuber is the owner of Chi-Town Toons LLC and is in the process of expanding his studio with the hope to someday create animated cartoons back in Chicago.
This years' Honoree is Greg Crocker, former Principal from District 21, who has been very active within the schools that feed into District 214. He has been very instrumental in setting up tutoring programs within the area. Crocker continues to recruit tutors from WHS, and helps bring them together with those students needing the most help.
Invited guests to this year's Hometown Celebration include Wheeling Village President, Judy Abruscato; District 214 Superintendent, Dr. David Schuler; and dignitaries from District 214, Village of Wheeling, and the Wheeling Park District.