March 26, 2012
Wyandotte Distinguished Graduate

Candela, James J. -1960
McFarlane, Mary (Serowik) - 1966
Oakley, Carol B. (Monroe) - 1961


James J. Candela - Class of 1960

James Candela distinguished himself as a dedicated educator, school administrator, Wyandotte School Board Member and community activist in his lifelong effort to improve opportunities for children and adults in the Downriver Area.

James graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1960. He participated in football, basketball, and Glee Club. He also enjoyed Student Government Day activities for the City of Wyandotte.

James attended Eastern Michigan University, where he earned both his Bachelor and Master's Degrees in Education in 1964 and 1966 respectively.

He began his teaching career in the Riverview Schools in 1964. Recognized for his teaching skills, James joined the Southgate Community Schools in 1968. He served as principal at three Southgate Schools - North Pointe, Davidson, and Allen. James also managed the construction of a TV production facility in Southgate and began producing the High School Challenge Bowl, which continues to operate its academic competitions currently.

Following retirement in 1999, Mr. Candela began his work for the Michigan Department of Education as a managing consultant for a major federal grant program in Comprehensive Reform in Michigan Schools. He spent 6 years at this important assignment working at both the State and National levels on school reform issues.

James is a lifelong resident of Wyandotte. In the 1980's he became involved with a rebirth of the Wyandotte Public Schools and their quality programs. His efforts as a Board of Education Member from 1987 - 1994 helped reinvigorate academics, sports, and extra-curricular activities for Wyandotte students. He was instrumental in the re-opening of the Wilson Middle School in 1986, returning the middle school concept for Wyandotte students and their parents.

These changes in the Wyandotte Public Schools reinvigorated the school system's work and elevated its reputation in the view of Downriver Communities and the Michigan Department of Education.

James was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Wyandotte Public School's Scholarship Foundation for 12 years. Together with his brothers, John and Mike, they sponsored the Candela Family Scholarship, an annual two-year scholarship awarded to a graduating senior.

Mr. Candela also has an abiding interest in City Government. He was elected to the Wyandotte Charter Revision Commission in 2000, and in 2010 his work with the Strategic Task Force resulted in the first-ever Vision and Strategic Plan for the City of Wyandotte to permit the City Government to better construct Wyandotte's future.

Throughout James' public career, he always placed the interests of children and residents first. He has worked to influence improvement in our city and in many schools locally and around the state.  

Mary (Serowik) McFarlane - Class of 1966


Mary (Serowik) McFarlane graduated from Roosevelt High School in June, 1966. She earned her Masters Degree from Nova University and her Bachelors and Education Specialist Degrees from Wayne State University. She taught at Walled Lake Western Nigh School in Walled Lake, Michigan; Basic High School in Henderson, Nevada; and Exeter High School in Exeter, New Hampshire, before returning to Wyandotte. She became Assistant Principal of Roosevelt High School in 1990 and served as Principal from 1994 - 2010. She currently lives in Wyandotte with her husband, Hugh, and enjoys visiting and spending time with her two daughters and sons-in-law, Lisa (George) Mawle and Anne (Craig) Petitpren.

Mary McFarlane contributed to the improvement and success of Roosevelt High School, Wyandotte Public Schools, and the Wyandotte Community with her influence being felt throughout the State. She was a chair or co-chair for five millage and bond campaigns for Wyandotte Public Schools; and chaired the Bacon Library Millage Campaign. She has been an active member of the Wyandotte Public Schools Scholarship Foundation through which she spearheaded the Roosevelt High School Walk of Honor. The WPS Scholarship Foundation contributes thousands of dollars of scholarships to deserving RHS students every year.

As a Principal, Mary encouraged and built leadership capacity in her staff and students.

Under Mary's leadership, staff members have received two National Teaching Awards and thirteen State or County Teaching Awards; as well as much local recognition for innovation and commitment to excellence. Roosevelt High School earned State and National recognition for successfully implementing the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). In 2006, Time Magazine, Time.com, honored RHS with an article entitled, Building a New Student in Michigan. In 2008, Mary, Superintendent Dr. Patricia Cole, and Mathematics Teacher Joanna Secco, presented to the Michigan State Board of Education and the House and Senate Education Committees. In 2010, Governor Jennifer Granholm visited RHS to acknowledge the success of our students meeting the demands of the MMC.

Mary McFarlane has been a member of the Committee on the Larger Secondary Schools through the National Association of Secondary School Principals and served on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. She has presented at conferences for both organizations and at Michigan State University's Aspiring Administrators Conference. She has been awarded the AAUW Woman of the Year; the G. Harold Martin Fellow through Kiwanis; a finalist for Administrator of the Year from the Michigan Science Teachers Association; and was awarded the Wayne County Administrator of the Year in 2010. 

Carol B. (Monroe) Oakley - Class of 1961


Carol B. (Monroe) Oakley has distinguished herself through her longtime community service to the Downriver Area. While Carol has been involved in multiple volunteer and community activities, she has long-term commitments to two organizations - the Trenton School District Board of Education for 28 years; and the Soroptimist International for 25 years.

As a Trenton School District Board Member, Carol is recognized for her careful analysis of each issue that comes before the Board. Her decisions have always been based on what is truly in the best interest of children. Carol's long tenure speaks to both her effectiveness as a Member of the Board and her commitment to public education.

Carol is also an involved member of Soroptimist International Trenton Area. Soroptimist is an organization of business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls throughout the world and in local communities. Carol currently chairs the Awards Committee within the Trenton Area Chapter. At this time, her Committee garners and provides educational opportunities for women who have lost their jobs and wish to return to the work force. Carol served as President of Soroptimist International Trenton Area from 1996 - 1998. She was honored as "Soroptomist of the Year" in 1998.

In addition to these two primary community service activities, Carol has been a member of the Michigan State Waterways Commission for seven years; is a volunteer for Travelers Aide Society at Detroit Metropolitan Airport; and is a member of the Downriver Council of the Arts.

Carol also worked as a Legislative Aide for three Michigan Representatives, assisting them in making sure the needs of the Downriver Area were included in legislative decisions.

Carol and her husband enjoy their two adult children and four grandchildren. A lifelong resident of the Downriver Area, she has given much time, talent, and hard work to improving the quality of life for the area communities and their residents. She has shown, through example, that one person can make big differences improving the lives of others and the communities in which we live.