A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beechwood kicks off new alumni association with red & white alumni gala; ‘Mr. Jim’ Procaccino to emcee

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By Vicki Prichard
NKyTribune reporter

When the newly formed Beechwood Alumni Association holds its celebratory kick-off gala on Friday, April 21, from 6:30-11 p.m. at the Drees Pavilion in Devou Park in Covington, one of the school’s most beloved teachers, Jim Procaccino — aka Mr. Jim — will hold court as master of ceremonies.

A photo of Jim Procaccino, aka Mr. Jim, from his teaching days. Procaccino will be the master of ceremonies for the Beechwood Alumni Association Red & White Gala on April 21 at the Drees Pavilion at Devou Park in Covington (provided photo).

Odds are his former students won’t miss the chance to revisit his keen wit and perhaps share a few of their own memories.

“My favorite Mr. Jim story involves a lesson he taught us on flight,” says Beechwood alumna Rachael Cullison Fait, who is now a first grade teacher at her alma mater. “He convinced us that we could run down the hill behind the football field holding on to a piece of cardboard and fly.”

Procaccino’s lesson in speed and velocity was a bit of a legacy.

“Our older brothers and sisters who had also fallen victim to this tomfoolery in years past joined forces with him as they helped further his ploy by sharing their own false stories of taking flight in Mr. Jim’s class,” says Fait. “My own brother told me that he took off and flew over the football field and into the bleachers.  I believed every word.”

Fait recalls the disappointment when not a single student in her class took flight, but acknowledges the clever lesson.

“We then were able to join the other side and come up with our own stories about our flying adventures for the classes younger than us. It was a tradition which is what Beechwood is all about.  Mr. Jim is Beechwood and Beechwood is Mr. Jim.”

The Beechwood alumni gala will include dinner, live music, entertainment, and a silent auction.

“We are excited to sponsor our first alumni event and expect to have a large crowd of Beechwood supporters at the Red & White gala,” says Alumni Association Chair Jim Eck. “Our many loyal supporters include alumni and their multi-generational Beechwood families. We look forward to seeing them on April 21st.”

Carol Beirne, a graduate of the class of 1963, is the alumni association director and has been instrumental in planning the Red & White gala.

“Beechwood has approximately 3,900 living alumni across the country and our goal is to connect with each one, maintaining contact with our Beechwood familes well into the future,” says Beirne. “Tables and individual seats are available but are filling quickly for the gala. We look forward to welcoming back alums from all ages to an evening of festivities and entertainment.”

With a mission of advocacy and philanthropic support for Beechwood Schools, the alumni association was founded in 2016 with support from the Beechwood board of education and Superintendent Mike Stacy. The association’s board of directors include 20 alumni spanning seven decades.

Alumni, along with Beechwood friends, parents and supporters, are encouraged to purchase advance tickets online here .

Beechwood School was founded in 1860 and since 1912, has operated as an independent public school district, currently graduating nearly 100 students each year. Twelve-time Kentucky High School Athletic Association Class A State Champions, Beechwood excels in academics and the arts as well.

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