Mehlville honors 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame inductees

By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville School District held its second-ever induction ceremony for its Alumni Hall of Fame in October.

Inductees serve as role models for generations of students who aspire to be productive citizens and demonstrate traits that align to the district’s Portrait of a Graduate. 

The 2021 Hall of Fame inductees were honored at a ceremony at Mehlville High School Oct. 8, alongside the 2020 inductees, whose ceremony was postponed because of COVID-19.

Honorees were chosen by a selection committee including members of the Mehlville-Oakville Alumni Association, Mehlville National Education Association, Missouri State Teachers Association, OHS, MHS and district employees.

“This group has really made a lasting impact on our community, on our state and our nation. And their accomplishments are really in line with … this Portrait of a Graduate,” said Superintendent Chris Gaines at the induction ceremony. “These alumni that we are going to recognize really demonstrate these traits that we’d like to see in all graduates. … We hope that as we’ve pushed out stories about these distinguished alumni … that their stories have resonated with our current students.” 

The 2020 inductees were:

Abdul-Kaba Abdullah, MHS ‘97

Civic leader and executive director at Park Central Development. An esteemed civic leader, Abdullah is committed to improving St. Louis through community development and government affairs. Through Park Central Development, Abdullah strengthens St. Louis’s urban neighborhoods by attracting investments and maintaining equitable and vibrant neighborhoods and districts.

 Lt. Cmdr. James B. Brendel, Jr., OHS ‘97

Supervisor of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Cincinnati, Ohio. After enlisting 20 years ago, Lt. Cmdr. Brendel climbed the ranks in the U.S. Coast Guard while receiving numerous awards for service. He is currently responsible for port safety and enforcement in a three-state area including the Port of Cincinnati. 

Dr. Desmond Kirchhofer, MHS ‘89

Superintendent of Northwest School District, Kirchhofer started his education career as a teacher and coach at Mehlville High School. The highly respected superintendent previously served as an administrator at three schools and deputy superintendent at Parkway Schools. Kirchhofer has been a mentor to countless students and educators.

Bridgett Riley, OHS ‘89

Bridgett “Baby Doll” Riley has made a name for herself in the world of boxing, kickboxing, martial arts and Hollywood. A pioneer and mentor in female combat sports, Riley won the International Female Boxers Association bantamweight world championship title, is a five-time world kickboxing champion, is in the Black Belt Hall of Fame, and has numerous Hollywood stunt and acting credits.

Dr. Jason Wang, MHS ‘05

President, owner and pharmacist-in-charge of Medicine Shoppe, Pevely and co-owner of Medicine Shoppe Affton. An award-winning pharmacist, Wang works to break barriers to care for underserved patients in his community. He is involved in numerous organizations including Pevely Lions Club and St. Louis College of Pharmacy Alumni Association. 

Dr. Kristy Weber, MHS ‘83

Chief of orthopaedic oncology at Penn Medicine and director of the sarcoma program in the Abramson Cancer Center. Weber is an innovator in diagnosing and treating bone and soft tissue tumors in children and adults. She has also served as the first female president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, an organization that advances the highest quality musculoskeletal care for patients.

The 2021 inductees were:

Meghann Burke, MHS ’99

Executive director of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association.

After a professional career as a goalkeeper in women’s soccer leagues both in the U.S. and in Europe, Burke became a criminal defense and civil rights attorney. The award-winning attorney was lead counsel for the Campaign for Southern Equality, fighting for the rights of LGBTQ individuals. Burke is currently the executive director of NWSLPA, where she bargains on behalf of today’s professional women’s soccer players. 

Dr. Matthew Kroenig, OHS ’96

Political scientist, author and national security strategist, Kroenig began his career as a military analyst for the CIA and has become a trusted policy adviser on national security issues. Kroenig has advised for the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Congress and the intelligence community. He is an award-winning author, a regular commentator on news shows and is a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. 

Patrick Maroon, OHS ’07

Professional hockey player for the National Hockey League.

Maroon became a hometown hero in 2019 when he helped propel the St. Louis Blues to their first Stanley Cup win. The power forward would go on to win two more Stanley Cups, this time for the Tampa Bay Lightning, becoming just the fourth American player in history to win three consecutive championships. Maroon routinely gives back to the St. Louis community through his support of children’s health and first responder organizations.

Ernie Perrica, MHS ’88

Perrica spent his 30-year career in education at his alma mater where he built lasting relationships with students. The dedicated teacher and coach played a key role in making those who attended MHS through the desegregation program feel welcome and at home in the halls of Mehlville High School. Perrica has served as a mentor for countless MHS teachers and coaches.

Dr. Aletha W. Tippett, MHS ’69

 Chemical engineer, physician and author. After beginning her career as a chemical engineer for Procter & Gamble, Tippett left the workforce to care for her two children and 12 foster children before beginning medical school at age 42. She would become a renowned expert in palliative wound care, organizing a conference for medical professionals around the world and authoring a book about her decades of experience treating patients with severe wounds and amputations.