Service to community hallmark of 2018 IR Hall of Fame inductees

From left, 2018 Indian River High School Hall of Fame inductees Brandon Donaway, Tracy Handy Hilliard, Peter Schwartzkopf and Bethany Hall-Long.

DAGSBORO – Service to community and beyond was the hallmark calling card for Indian River High School’s 2018 Hall of Fame inductees.

Dedicated “IR Pride” was the theme Wednesday evening as the Hall of Fame welcomed a noteworthy foursome: honored school educator/administrator Tracy Handy Hilliard; State Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf; honored paramedic/firefighter Brandon Donaway; and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long.

“When you are part of Indian River High School you are part of a family,” said IRHS Assistant Principal Will Revels, moderator for the induction ceremonies. “And here at IR we take pride in the accomplishments of our graduates, paying special tribute to those who work to serve others.”

Induction ceremonies were held in conjunction with the IRHS senior class awards festivities at the start of the evening’s program.

“I am very humbled by this recognition,” Ms. Handy Hilliard, a 1985 Indian River graduate who is currently principal at Centerville Elementary School in Frederick, Md. “I walked the halls of the old Indian River High School from 1983 to until 1985. I always had the school pride as an athlete and a student. I have never lost my IR Pride. If I lived in Delaware, I would have purchased a home in this district, so my two children could attend Indian River High School. I credit my career success to my teachers I had at IR. They were always there to push and make sure we achieved. So, IR, I thank you.”

A 1972 IRHS graduate, Rep. Schwartzkopf – the Speaker of the House in Delaware’s General Assembly – was at a loss for words.

“I am honored and humbled, very humbled,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf, who served 25 years with Delaware State Police prior to his current 16-year tenure in the General Assembly. “I am very proud of this honor, considering what I went through and the person I was. I was a mess in high school. And for all of the teachers in the room, I just want to say one thing; just because we don’t pay attention doesn’t mean aren’t listening. Because I was listening all of those years.”

“Thank you very much for the award,” Rep. Schwartzkopf added. “Honestly, I am very … speechless.”

A 1989 IRHS graduate, Mr. Donaway is the Sussex County EMT Supervisor and an active member of the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Department. He sincerely thanked the Hall of Fame committee for this honor and, admitting he is not a great public speaker, kept his acceptance speech brief and to the point.

“I appreciate it. Thank you,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, who grew up on her family’s Sussex County farm, has been in elected office since 2002 following a storied career in nursing and related education.

“I am proud of my roots and I am really proud of Indian River. I can’t tell you enough about how the foundation was made here, whether in the arts program, the music program, with faculty who really helped me to experience things,” said Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, a 1981 IRHS graduate. “Thank you. I am humbled and honored. This is probably one of the few times that you could have me speechless, and keep Pete Schwartzkopf quiet, too.”

Inductees received hand-crafted wooden plaques made by the IRHS shop program.

Tracy Handy Hilliard

Ms. Handy Hilliard was introduced as a prime example of what is possible when one is committed to excellence. Youngest of six siblings, she served as president of the IR student council and was captain of several IR athletic teams.

Peers remember her as a gifted athlete who was always there to lend a helping hand.

Ms. Handy Hilliard received a scholarship to Delaware State University. She taught for nine years in Frederick, Md., before moving into administration, first as an assistant principal and then her current role as principal at Centerville Elementary – a 2017 National Blue Ribbon School.

She has earned numerous accolades, including Maryland Elementary Distinguished Principal of Year for 2018.

Ms. Handy Hilliard holds two master’s degrees and is completing her doctorate at Seton Hall. As a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, she mentors young women ages 14-18.

And now, she joins her brother Terry Handy, a 2013 IRHS Hall of Fame inductee, whom she called her biggest inspiration. “I happy to join him in the Hall of Fame as well. So, we are a brother/sister team,” Ms. Handy Hilliard said.

Peter Schwartzkopf

Mr. Revels, in the introduction, noted that Rep. Schwartzkopf has worked tirelessly for citizens throughout his career both in the House of Representatives and Delaware State Police.

Rep. Schwartzkopf graduated from the Delaware State Police Academy first in his class. He rose to the rank of captain and was a troop commander.

He earned a bachelor’s in science degree in Human Resource Management from Wilmington University and earned another degree from Northwestern University.

In the House of Representatives, he has served on numerous committees, including Joint Finance, Judiciary and Homeland Security.

Rep. Schwartzkopf also volunteers time with non-profits, including Special Olympics Delaware, Midway Lions Club and Delaware State Troopers Association fundraisers.

Rep.. Schwartzkopf was a student during the great school consolidation that occurred in 1969, with the merger of several smaller districts into one as the Indian River School District.

“I wasn’t too crazy about the consolidation at the time, but it made us a better district and made us a better school system. And it made me a better person,” said Rep. Schwartzkopf.

Brandon Donaway

Mr. Donaway, as a paramedic and volunteer firefighter, demonstrates what it means to put others first. In these capacities he provides ongoing training to new firefighters and EMTs.

Mr. Donaway has twice received the prestigious Phoenix Award, in 2013 and 2017, for outstanding service as well as the Sussex Paramedic Departmental Achievement Award.

He has held the position of Assistant Fire Chief with the Dagsboro VFD.

From Little League baseball to the IR Football Boosters, Mr. Donaway works to help children in the area. He participates in fire safety events at elementary schools and mans the ambulance at IRHS football games.

This Tuesday night, May 29, his son Collin will graduate from IRHS. Collin, by the way, is also a member of the DVFD.

Bethany Hall-Long

In her introduction, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long was described as a glowing example of dedication and perseverance who serves as a role model for today’s students.

Her commitment to the citizens of the community has led to her current role as Lt. Governor of the state of Delaware.

According to her childhood friends, she possessed a high level of energy and sheer determination from a very young age.

During her years at IRHS, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long was selected for Girls State and served as a senior class officer. She was a member of National Honor Society, marching band, and cheerleading squad and finished her high school career at IRHS as class salutatorian.

With a lifelong commitment to education in the field of medicine, Lt. Gov. Hall-Long earned a nursing degree from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and a master’s nursing degree in Community Health from the University of South Carolina. She completed her Ph.D. in Health Policy from George Mason University.

Lt. Gov. Hall-Long was a member of the University of Delaware nursing faculty for nearly 20 years and was the first nursing professor at UD to earn the coveted Excellence in Teaching Award.

Her research in the fields of diabetes, teen pregnancy and mental health have made Lt. Gov. Hall-Long a nationally recognized health scientist.

In the state political arena, she served in the House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming Delaware’s 26th Lt. Governor in January 2017.

Closing thoughts

Ms. Handy Hilliard offered a quick message to the IRHS Class of 2018. “I hope you will keep your IR Pride in your heart as you begin your next journey,” she said.

Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, too, addressed Class of 2018 members in the audience.

“One item I’d like to say to students is, think about the glass as half full, not half empty, and that the best lesson I’ve actually gotten in life that you’ll probably get in life are from failures. Sometimes we have to fail before we succeed,” said Lt. Gov. Hall-Long, who closed with one of her favorite sayings in life. “That is really to risk more than you think is safe. Care more than you think is wise. Dream more than you think is practical and expect more than is possible. Because that is what Indian River has done for me. That is what I learned from Indian River.”

About the IRHSAA

The IRHS Hall of Fame, started in 1990 but dormant and inactive for several periods, was resurrected through the efforts of the IRHS Alumni Association with inductions resuming in 2012.

“That is one of the projects the alumni association has been involved with,” said IRHSAA President Nancy Hickman. “We’re really excited that people are nominating people, and we’re inducting people; great people from the community.”

Signage at the high school’s front and rear entrances, the Hall of Fame board in the high school, in-school support for students and staff and scholarships are among the projects undertaken by the alumni association.

This year, approximately $8,000 in scholarships is being presented to IR students, raising the total to around $40,000 since the alumni association’s scholarship initiative was launched.

“Our goal as the alumni is to give back to our kids,” said IRHSAA member Bennett Murray, former principal at IRHS. “Our biggest thing we always talk about is: give back to the kids. So, in four or five years we’ve given $40,000 back to the kids. It’s not about who’s the smartest. It’s not about who’s in the most clubs. It’s about who has given of themselves to this community, and who portrays IR Pride every day.”

The IRHSAA meets monthly and always welcomes new members, including graduates, parents, staff and other friends of the school. Registration is free online at


1990: Prentiss Adkins – Class of ’69; William B. Chandler III – Class of ’69; Gregory Cobb – Class of ’69; Paula Hudson-Goodman – Class of ’73; Mike Hall – Class of ’74.

1991: Floyd Gray – Class of ’69; Dana Jefferson – Class of ’74; Stanley Taylor – Class of ’70.

1992: Al Jordan – Class of ’71; Paul Schwartzkopf – Class of ’69.

1993: N. Lee Bunting – Class of ’72; Sandra Chisholm Robinson – Class of ’70.

1994: Jay Bunting – Class of ’75; Laura Hickman – Class of ’71.

1995: Lucinda Bunting – Class of ’82; Lori Bunting Hudson – Class of ’83; Mark Steele – Class of ’77.

1996:  Jeffery Bennett; Scott Parker – Class of ’72.

1998: Mark Marvel – Class of ’77; William Keith Marvel – Class of ’80; Charles Murray.

2000: David Givans; Jackie Owens Wilson – Class of ’70.

2001: Tracey Owens Hudson – Class of ’73; Sewall McCabe – Class of ’74; Ray Steele – Class of ’71

2012: Susan Lyons – Class of ’73.

2013: Terry Handy – Class of ’84.

2014: Devi Enerio-Ellant – Class of ’87.

2016: Vincent Mumford – Class of ’83; Victor “Graig” Temple – Class of ’93.

2017: John S. “J.S.” Evans – Class of 1989.

2018:  Brandon R. Donaway – Class of 1989; Bethany Hall-Long – Class of 1981; Tracy D. Handy Hilliard – Class of 1985; Peter C. Schwartzkopf – Class of 1972.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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