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1/29/2014 12:15:00 PM Gym will forever honor Dr. Sellett's work for L-P High (video)
The La Salle-Peru High School gymnasium was officially named for Dr. A.J. Sellett on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. There was no school that day due to dangerously frigid winter weather in the morning, but the Pep Band volunteered to attend the evening ceremony to perform the school's fight song.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus La Salle-Peru fans clap as the La Salle-Peru pep band plays the school fight song during a naming ceremony Tuesday for the newly christened Dr. A.J. Sellett Memorial Gymnasium at L-P. A game between L-P and St. Bede was postponed because school was canceled. But members of the L-P band contacted the school and volunteered to come to the ceremony to play the school fight song, superintendent Steve Wrobleski said.
Considering there was no game and school was canceled due to subzero wind chill, it was a decent-sized crowd that showed up Tuesday night for the naming of a gym that went decades without a moniker.
At the start of the ceremony, in front of a half-full lower section of bleachers, La Salle-Peru Township High School superintendent Steve Wrobleski said the school has a tradition of naming things after influential people. There’s Howard Fellows Stadium, McCormick Library, Matthiessen Memorial Auditorium, and, Wrobleski added, “Who could forget: west gym.”
A committee of teachers, board members, parents and staff members took nominations from the public last year, put together a ballot for a public vote on a name for the west-side gymnasium, and then made a final decision for a name for the gym.
On Tuesday, school officials unveiled a sign above the west-end bandstand making it clear, in bold, red letters, that it is the Dr. A.J. Sellett Memorial Gymnasium.
“I think it was well-deserved, and I think he’d be happy about it,” Sellett’s grandson, Brian Sellett, told the audience. “But I think if he was here, I don’t know if it would have happened. He wasn’t about that (gaining fame).”
Sellett said his grandfather’s passions were for his family, his practice, his patients and the high school, and if he wasn’t talking about the first three, he was talking about L-P.
The ceremony was supposed to take place between the sophomore and varsity basketball games when St. Bede came to challenge the L-P on the Cavaliers’ home court, but rules prevented L-P from hosting a game on a day when school was canceled due to weather.
School board president Tony Sparks said since the Sellett family made reservations and altered their schedules to be at L-P on Tuesday, the school held firm to the ceremony date. About 25 family members attended, including a niece of the doctor and her husband, who live in California and cut short a vacation in Hawaii to attend. Some family members from Charleston didn’t risk the drive, Brian said.
In the audience before the program began, attorney Anthony Raccuglia said Sellett gave an unbelievable amount of energy to the school, to the teams at L-P and to his patients. As a board member, Dr. Sellett handed Brian Sellett his diploma in the gymnasium and handed Brian’s dad his diploma. Sellett served on the board when the gym was built, too. Raccuglia said he was honored to have served on the L-P board for 18 of the years Sellett served, and they both retired from the board at the same time.
“He was generous to a fault,” Raccuglia said while sitting on a front-row bleacher. “He was one of the finest board members I ever had a chance to be involved with.”
“I was to pleased he got this,” Raccuglia said. He said some of the nominees were coaches, but “they’re transient.” Coaches come and go, he said, “but he was forever L-P.”
He asked how many of the people in the bleachers were delivered by Dr. Sellett. About one-third of the people raised their hands. He asked how many had him show up at their home with his black bag for a house call; almost half of the people’s hands went up.
He remembered it too, but he also remembers that Sellett wasn’t very rough when he gave a shot.
“I would much rather have Dr. Sellett give the shot than Marlene,” he said, drawing a laugh from people in the crowd and referring to a nurse.
Wrobleski said he, his mother, brother and aunts and uncles all were delivered by Sellett.
“When I was 11 or 12, I almost severed the tip of my finger in my grandfather’s junkyard and Dr. Sellett actually saved the tip of my finger,” he said. “Thousands upon thousands of student-athletes had their physicals done here at no cost to the school or their families.”
He said Sellett served in the military, finished medical school and them came home to make a career and donated his time and energy to the entire school — “because he believed so much in the community.”
“It seems very fitting that his name will forever be linked and connected to this gym and school,” Wrobleski said.
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