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A Center Celebration is the marquee event each year for the Center Education Foundation. Over $55,000 was raised at the 2022 event, which will support teacher grants for the 2023-22 school year. Purchase Tickets Here!

Highlights of A Center Celebration include:

Presentation of the Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to three graduates of Center High School, Dr. William Baskin (1964), Carol DiRaimo (1979), and posthumously to Tom Apel (1972).  

Dr. Baskin, a renowned gastroenterologist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford, Illinois, recognized the quality of his science teachers at Center High School in his comments to the audience. The quality of instruction and rigor of Dr. Steiner and others exceeded that of many of Dr. Baskin's college courses. Important lessons learned included the value of looking at medical conditions as part of a system and not just isolated symptoms. William also learned the value of always looking to challenge himself by taking the more difficult options in his education and career. 

Carol DiRaimo is an accomplished finance executive who has spent much of her career in Investor Relations for companies such as Applebees and Jack-in-the-Box. She credits her accomplishments, such as winning international recognition for her work in the field, to hard work, attention to detail, and support from a strong network of career mentors. Many in the audience who also learned under the guidance of long-time band director Don Shaffer joined in Carol in reciting his mantra of "early is on-time and on-time is late". Carol believes strongly in "paying it forward" and has been a mentor to many, especially women working in a male-dominated profession. She has endowed a scholarship fund at the University of Missouri and is an active volunteer leader at Rockhurst University.

The final recipient was Tom Apel, who passed away tragically in an automobile accident last August. He was represented by his wife Jeannie and children Laura, Caroline, and Brett. Over 30 extended family members also attended the event to help celebrate and honor Tom's memory. Tom was well-known in the Center alumni community as a person who had a gift for connecting people and making them feel like a valued part of the Center family. He served on the Board of the Center Education Foundation, was a member of the Athletic Hall of Fame selection committee, and a dedicated volunteer for the Center Museum. In her comments to the audience, Jeannie commented on how much joy Tom received from the time he spent with the Center family in all of his different activities. His friends and fellow Yellowjackets certainly will attest that they shared in that joy.

Left to right - Jeannie Apel, Caroline Apel, Laura Apel, Brett Apel, Foundation Board Chair Bill Gotfredson, Carol DiRaimo, and Dr. William Baskin.


The silent auction allowed guests to bid on 116 different items, including from sports memorabilia (including lots of Chiefs stuff celebrating their Super Bowl LVII victory), works of art, dining experiences, wine, party baskets, and kid's activities. The top selling item was a commemorative football autographed by Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

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Center Education Foundation

1221 W 103rd St, Suite 164

Kansas City MO 64114


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