Back in the 1950’s, Ms. Costabile was one of three young ladies from the Brush Class of ‘57 who performed in the Brown and Gold Review at Brush High School as the Toni Trio, (Toni Cistone, Karen Topinka and Patti McCabe). The Brown and Gold Review was an annual or semi-annual student variety show. After graduating, Toni was prepared to go to college for a degree in education but instead, spent what would have been her “college years” as a professional singer with the Poni-Tails.
While performing at school functions, the group was spotted by an attorney who introduced them to music publisher Tom Illius. Illius liked the soft style of the high school trio and took them to the local Point Records, which issued their first single Your Wild Heart in January 1957. Illius had connections with ABC Paramount Records and was able to get an executive, Don Costa, interested in the group. ABC Paramount Records wanted to sign them to a three year contract. Upon graduation in 1957, Ms. Topinka (and her parents) decided that college, not a music career, was in her future and the decision forced her to leave the group. In need of a soprano, they held auditions and hired Regina High School graduate, LaVerne Novak. Toni, Patti and LaVerne received a contract from ABC Paramount Records, their name was changed to the Poni-Tails, because of the hairstyle they wore at the time, and in three years (1958-1960) they went on to make ten records. Their most successful record was Born Too Late, which is still widely played on the radio and for which Toni is still receiving royalties 59 years later! The success of Born Too Late led the group to international travel, taking them to Ireland and Germany to perform. While in Germany, they spent some time at the home of a young soldier by the name of Elvis Presley. They also performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
In 1960 ABC wanted to renew their contract for another five years, but the Poni-Tails decided to say good-bye to the music business and settle in to family life.
According to Ms. Cistone Costabile, “The three years were fun, but I just wanted to get out of the record business and get back to normal living.”
After leaving the entertainment field, Ms. Costabile worked as an administrative assistant at Babcock & Wilcox and a paraprofessional in special education for the Mayfield City Schools.
Donald P. Lewis Jr., DDS - Class of 1968
Donald P. Lewis, Jr., DDS, CFE is a Diplomat of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and is currently in private practice in Cleveland, Ohio. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University with a major in chemistry, he received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) from Case Western Reserve University and did his post-graduate residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at The University Hospitals of Cleveland.
He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at CWRU School of Dental Medicine as well as serving as a guest lecturer at Kent State University, Bowling Green University, and Lakeland Community College in the departments of criminology, sociology and business ethics. He has given numerous presentations on all aspects of oral and maxillofacial surgery and contributed several articles to the surgery literature.
Dr. Lewis is the chairman and originator of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Committee on Software Development and Computer Technology, which has developed and produced OMSVision®, the practice management software recommended by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). He has served as Chairman of this committee since 2001. Due to his voluntary commitment to this project, he received the first ever Special Citation Award in October 2007 for his many years of expertise devoted to the successful launching of OMSVision®.
In 1996 he became the second dentist in the world to earn the designation of “Certified Fraud Examiner” (CFE) from the Board of Regents of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He is a highly sought after and respected lecturer on the subject of white-color crime. He has presented over 800 seminars to healthcare professionals, accountants, and legal professionals across the U.S. and Canada.
Dr. Lewis has published over 25 articles dealing with white-collar crime in local, state and national publications and authored two books on the subject.
He is also the founder and originator of Practice SafeGuard®, the first and only computer software for the detection of errors and potential fraud in the dental profession.
Dr. Lewis was the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award. This award is the highest award bestowed upon a graduate of the CWRU School of Dental Medicine. It recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has shown dedication to the School of Dental Medicine, excellence in the profession, and whose work has made a significant mark in the field of Dentistry. The award recipient must have notable community involvement and contribute to the practice and continuing study of dental medicine and the dental profession.
In his spare time Dr. Lewis is a high school basketball official and in 2019 was honored with the Bud Ruland Award from the NE Ohio Basketball Officials Association for his 25 years of high school basketball officiating.
Other accomplishments of which he is most proud include being Senior Class President at Brush, and lecturing in all 50 states on White Collar Crime and the Management of Medical Emergencies. However, his greatest accomplishment and the role he is most proud of playing is that of father to Todd, Jeff and Kristin!
Looking back while reviewing his accomplishments Dr. Lewis states, “Oh my...I am really old!! But my life has been exciting”.
Constantina Tsolainou – Class of 1977
After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from The Ohio State University (1982) and a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College (1984) Constantina Tsolainou has gone on to hold conducting positions at Southern Methodist University, Westminster Choir College, New England Conservatory, McGill University (Montreal), Oregon State University, and Oklahoma City University. Ms. Tsolainou has also served as Artistic Director of the Canterbury Choral Society (Oklahoma City), Aria Chamber Chorus (Dallas), SMU/Dallas Vocal Arts Ensemble and Anima Musical (Montreal), and also as Director of Music at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church. At the end of 2018 she retired from her position as Director of Choral Activities in the Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, where she held the Paul S. and Jean R. Amos Distinguished Chair in Music. Most recently she retired from her position as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Arts District Chorale in Dallas, Texas.
As the pre-eminent authority on diction for choirs and one of the leading proponents of Group Vocal Technique in this country, Ms. Tsolainou is recognized as a consummate professional. She blends her high-level artistry and vocal techniques with her exceptional people skills and personal integrity to inspire, energize, and build enthusiasm in the musical organizations she conducts. As a result she has been in demand for over three decades to serve church, community, and academic organizations as seminar leader, workshop clinician, master teacher, and conductor throughout the United States and in Australia, Canada, China, and Europe.
Trained first as a singer, Ms. Tsolainou has prepared choruses and conducted collaborative performances presented by Ballet Oklahoma, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony Orchestra (GA), Columbus Symphony Orchestra (OH), Empire Brass, Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, Opera Columbus, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Tulsa Opera, and Voices of Change. Conductors with whom she has worked include Leonard Bernstein, Charles Dutoit, Eric Ericson, Joseph Flummerfelt, Carlo Maria Giulini, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and Robert Shaw.
“In a male-dominated world of conductors, Constantina Tsolainou has carved out her own niche in the musical scene and has rightly earned the rank as one of the greatest choral conductors of our generation.”
~ Andrew Skoog, tenor/Professor of Voice/The University of Tennessee
“Any genre, any language, and any style...a consummate professional, and a great influence in my career.” ~ Ian Derrer, Rehearsal & Music Coordinator/New York City Opera
Sheila Murphy Crawford - Retired Language Arts Teacher
The Alumni Association is excited this year to honor retired Brush English teacher, Sheila Murphy Crawford. Sheila’s contribution to our school system and to the community are astonishing. All of her efforts have been to further the excellent reputation of the school system and those community projects she supports and believes in.
For over 29 years she taught in the English department at Brush High School. Over the years she taught a variety of courses including Junior English, Contemporary Communications, Expository Writing and American Literature. She was involved in the John Carroll Intern Program and served as a mentor teacher for numerous students/JCU interns. After retiring from Brush, her love of the English language took her to the Beaumont English department where she taught for several more years.
Her involvement in extracurricular events at Brush is legendary. There were times her students thought she lived at Brush, as she never seemed to leave the campus. She was the majorette coach for 19 years, and served as the choreographer of the fabulous Brush musicals. Many adults (former students) are moving with grace and ease because of what they learned under her direction.
She is the owner of Murphy Irish Arts which just celebrated its 40th anniversary. Her Irish dancing students have competed and won numerous awards in state, regional and international competitions. The dance dramas she has choreographed and directed have won world competitions. This is astonishing as competition at the international level is fierce and only the best dramas are recognized with medals.
She has been inducted into the Irish Dance Teachers Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Gradham Award, which is usually given only to Irish dance teachers in Ireland and England. Sheila has been deeply involved with the Irish community in Cleveland her entire life. She has been Hibernian of the Year, Inside Co-Chair/Outside Co-Chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and was the Grand Marshall of the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, an honor rarely given to women. Her dancers have won countless first place awards as the Best Marching Unit in the parade with both the adult dancers and the children’s unit.
Sheila has a deep commitment to the Cultural Gardens in Cleveland. She has served as President of the Federation, organized the 100th year anniversary of the gardens and was in charge of the Cultural Gardens Gala. For the last four years she has chaired One World Day, a celebration attended by tens of thousands to tour the gardens, to indulge in delicious ethnic food, and to attend various ethnic performances. The highlight of the day is the naturalization ceremony in the gardens, when new U.S. citizens are sworn in.
Finally, in her spare time, Sheila can be found in the audience as a dedicated “roadie” for her husband Bob’s band, No Strangers Here. According to good friend Candy Clemson, “everyone should know that Sheila requires little to no sleep. That is the only way to keep this schedule”.
Seymour (Sy) Levine - Retired Language Arts Teacher
Retired Brush English teacher, Sy Levine, was selected as a Wall of Achievement recipient in the spring of 2018 with the intention of inducting him at the banquet/ceremony held in November of 2018. Sadly, the summer of 2018 saw Sy’s health declining and he passed away in September of that year. The Alumni Association would still like to honor Sy with a position on our Wall of Achievement.
Sy was born in 1928 and joined the Army after graduating from John Adams High School. Serving our nation as a staff sergeant in Japan, he received the World War II Victory Medal and Army of Occupation Medal, 1948-49. Following the Army he received his Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from Ohio University. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and his Masters Degree in Guidance Counseling from John Carroll University.
“Uncle Sy” as he was often affectionately known began his career in the SEL School District as an English teacher at Greenview Junior High School. He was then moved to Brush where he taught English and Journalism for thirty-one years, from 1968 to 1998, becoming part of the fabric of the schools, serving as a teacher, mentor, and friend to all that knew him. He believed strongly in a meaningful education. He shared countless hours, far beyond his regular work week, ensuring that students felt comfortable and empowered by language and had the ability to express themselves effectively. It was his ability to speak the truth and support his students and the staff that will be his legacy for generations. Until the day he died, many alumni stayed in touch with him.
Many knew Sy because of his dramatic flare and acting ability. He brought many of life’s experiences to the classroom. His love of the arts provided additional opportunities for his students to learn in a colorful and creative way. At Brush he served as an advisor and pillar to the Brown and Gold Review, the performing arts, and the school newspaper. His presence meant that students who may not have found opportunity because of their perceived limitations could shine as he helped them discover the talents that were within them. After leaving Brush, Sy taught at Lakeland Community College.
Sy was a card carrying actor who entertained a lifetime of years at Chagrin Valley Little Theater, the JCC and several other community theaters. He was interviewed by Cleveland Magazine and the Cleveland Jewish News for his CVLT Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sy lived his best life married for 50 years to his best friend, Noreen.
Also honored were the top seniors (class of 2020) based on GPA for six semesters of academic work.