2019 Awardees of the Cultural and Athletic Halls of Fame

2019 Awardees of the Cultural and Athletic Halls of Fame
February 4, 2019 sphsalumni

South Philadelphia High School’s Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 2019 inductees of the
Cultural and Athletic Halls of Fame Banquet.

Cultural Hall of Fame:

  • Dr. Rocco Gigante Class of 1946
  • Derrell Lawrence Class of 1993
  • Anthony Pirollo Class of 1975

Athletic Hall of Fame

  • Jim Angelo Class of 1967
  • John Angelo Class of 1968
  • Larry Sechuk Class of 1977
  • Betty Jean Holmes-Brown Class of 1965 (deceased)


Dr Rocco Gigante graduated from State Teacher’s College with a B.S .in 1950. He went on to earn his Masters from Temple University and Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gigante started his career in 1955 as an Elementary teacher M. Hall Stanton School, one of first teachers trained as Elementary School Guidance Counselor. Offered fellowship to Harvard University to continue studies in Problems of Urban Education. He began his administrator career in 1965 being appointed Administrative Assistant at the Youth Development Center, 1967 Vice Principal Andrew Jackson Elementary School, 1970 Principal at Sharswood Elementary School, and in 1972 Principal of O.V. Catto Remedial Disciplinary School for Boys. During his tenure he changed the name to O.V. Catto Service Center when he considered the designation “remedial disciplinary school:” to be offensive. He was an active member of Phila’s social, civic, and ethnic communities helped He also organized a Walkathon for the March of Dimes, Alzheimer Foundation. And was Commissioner of the Youth Services Commission of the City of Phila. Dr. Gigante served as a member of the S. Phila. Citizens Committee and Human Relations. He chaired a statewide fund raiser for the WWII memorial located in Washington, DC. Rocco held various positions in several Lodges. He was one of the founders of the Columbus Forum Educator’s Lodge and was the organizer of the Millennium 2000 Lodge and the St. Mary Magdeline Lodge. In New Jersey he was the principal organizer of the Marie Rossi Lodge.


Anthony Pirollo, Cellist, attended the Philadelphia Music Academy where he studied with William de Pasquale and George Harpham and Claus Adam. Mr. Pirollo has performed as guest principal cellist with the Houston opera for Jose Carerras as well as for its world premiere of Meredith Monk’s opera “Atlas”. He has appeared as principle cellist for many artists including Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Joshua Bell, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Sammy Davis Jr and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zepplin to name a few. In 1990 he co-founded Bel Canto Opera Company in which he serves as associate musical director and conductor. Mr. Pirollo has composed for various groups in the Philadelphia area and is currently principle cellist of the Ocean City Pops Orchestra as well as President of the Atlantic City Music Union. He is also the Co-Founder and President of the Alfonzo Cavaliere Memorial Fund. Anthony is a sought-after cellist, conductor, composer, and teacher. His prolific versatility, with the ability to play in the genres of classical, R&B, international, rock & roll, and more, provide a broad horizon of opportunities to work with him. For over 40 years, this Italian-American cellist from South Philly has been making priceless connections with leading musicians in a wide-range of genres, all while giving back to the community in offering cello lessons at the Conservatory of Musical Arts in Audubon, NJ


Derrell Lawrence, born and raised in South Philadelphia, is an American actor, filmmaker, writer, director, executive producer and upcoming author. Derrell has earned several awards including, The Highest Achievement for New Filmmaker at the Jokara-Micheaux Video and Film Festival in Georgia, as well as both The Silver Award and The People’s Choice Award from the Philadelphia International Film Festival and Market for his first movie, “Life Isn’t Fair.” He produced another film, “Happy Holidaze,” and performed in numerous independent films and stage plays. “Derrell Lawrence’s Do you Trust Your Best Friend?” is the first play Derrell has produced which already made a successful stop in Phoenix, Az. He has also produced and wrote two other hit stage plays. When Heaven Calls in Richmond and Paying it Forward. He is the president and founder of Aja Music and Film Production Company in NY, and Chief Creative Officer. He has written produced and directed countless Fortune 500 Companies television and radio spots. Contributed to major motion picture soundtracks and co-produced an animated children’s series for “Nick-Junior.”

Jim Angelo
Class of 1967

Jim Angelo played both Football and baseball 1965,66 and 67.  In 1966 he played for both the baseball city championship at Connie Mack stadium and the football city championship at Franklin field.  In football Jim was a defensive back and returned kickoffs and punts. On the baseball team Jim played second base and center field.  Jim excelled in both sports but baseball was his true passion! In Jim’s junior and senior year his batting average exceeded 550 with no strikeouts.  He stole 24 bases each year with out ever getting caught stealing! Playing in two public league championship games and winning a city baseball championship was truly a thrilling experience!  Jim’s thrilling baseball moments continued after graduating SPHS when he was was drafted and signed by the Cincinnati Reds.

Unfortunately, his professional baseball career was shortened by knee injuries, but his passion for the game continued.  His desire to play quality organize baseball led Jim to the Pen Del League where he won a batting title in 1970.  Baseball still thrills Jim. He enjoys playing the game with many of his high school team mates and loves teaching the game to his grandson. Jim is retired from the casino industry, married   to Dr. Melanie Angelo, and has two children,  Dana and Eric and has a grandson Griffin. Jim worked hard, hustled and had a keen sense of the gam, but Jim believes his accomplishment in sports was mainly due to his family, team mates and coaches!!

John Angelo
Class of 1968

John Angelo played varsity baseball in 1966 and 1967.  He received 2nd team all public honours in 66 and 1st team in 67.  He was named MVP of Southerns victory over West Catholic in the 1966 City baseball championship game (John went 2 for 4 and scored both runs in a 2 to 0 victory).  John also played basketball in 1965 and 66. John was a high achiever in the classroom, receiving several scholar/athlete awards in 1967.  John went to Temple University on a baseball scholarship and was a starter his sophomore, junior and senior year.  After graduation, he played and coach in the Pen-Del league. John is married to Anita Alessandrini  (whose father and cousin also taught at Southern).

John is the  Father of 2 children, John and Melissa and has 5 grandchildren.  John works in a family lighting business.

Larry Sechuk
Class of 1977

Larry Sechuk was a three sport athlete at SPHS playing Football, baseball and wrestling from 1974to 1977.  Larry was the starting varsity quarterback with no interceptions in 1976 and 1977.  He also played outside linebacker and special teams.  Larry was a varsity wrestler at 131 pound weight class, winning all but two matches during his senior year!  Larry continued his wrestling career at Temple University.

Larry is very active in many community athletic and civic organizations.  The list is endless, but to name a few, he is President of the Roman Catholic ice hockey program, Vice President of the Delaware Valley Ice Hockey League, Director of the Delanco Men’s and Women’s Hockey Association, and he developed an ice hockey program for both men and women in the Mid-Atlantic Hockey Association.  Larry coaches Phantom Ice Hockey and he is a board member of the Arthur Ashe Tennis Foundation. Larry is married with 3 children and is a shortage reduction specialist with a major department store.

Betty Jean Holmes-Brown (deceased)
Class of 1965

Betty Jean Holmes was submitted for induction in the SPHS Athletic Hall of Fame to honor and perpetuate her memory.  Betty made outstanding contributions to Sothern’s Athletic program, receiving Varsity letters in three sports:  Basketball, Badminton and Track and Field.  She brought world-wide recognition and distinction to South Philadelphia and Southern.

At the age of 14 Betty was a member of the United States Junior Olympic team, breaking records in the long jump and 75 yard dash.  At the age of 17, at a Madison Square Garden Track and Field meet she set an AAI long jump record of 19 feet.  Betty starred on teams at the Marian Anderson Recreation Center, the Philadelphia Pioneers and the LaMott Track Club.  As a child, she excelled in almost every sport she participated in winning Yo-yo and marble shooting contests and games of softball, gymnastics and roller skating.  Many of Betty’s accomplishments are featured in The History of American Women in Track and Field.