February 15, 2016 sphsalumni


As a senior at Southern, Elaine Cajano served as co-president of the student council and co-editor of the yearbook. Graduating first in the class, she won the history and Italian awards.
Awarded a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, she was on the Dean’s List every semester, the Distinguished List for 2 years and served as president of the Italian Club for 2 years. In her junior year she was elected to Pi Gamma Mu, the social studies honor society and to Phi Beta Kappa. Graduating with Honors, she later served on the Phi Beta Kappa Advisory Board at Penn. In NJ she and her students created an original improv show annually that toured the local schools. She wrote about her approach in an article for Scholastic Teacher.
After earning a doctorate from Rutgers, she taught courses in its Graduate School of Education. At the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, she was director of the Creative Arts Therapy program as well as a trainer for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Office of Drug and Alcohol programs. She also served as director of the tenth anniversary conference of the National Association of Drama Therapy.
At the Cincinnati VA Medical Center she directed the group psychotherapy and psychodrama programs and trained interns and residents to use arts and actions methods with veterans with psychiatric problems. She narrated and edited a documentary about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in which she interviewed former POW’s from WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
In South Korea she conducted on-going trainings for Korean mental health professionals on action methods in group psychotherapy. A long-time Director on the American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociodrama and Group Psychotherapy, she was chosen the first Board representative to travel to mainland China and Taiwan to evaluate candidates for certification.


After graduating, Tom attended Temple University before joining the US Air Force. In 1962 he matriculated at Penn State in the 5-year Architecture program, working summers as an Assistant Architect in New Hampshire and Harrisburg. He was married to Linda McCabe in State College in 1966.

He graduated with a 1967, and then obtained a Master’s degree at Penn State in Regional Planning in 1969. He then worked for the Lehigh-Northampton Joint Planning Commission in Allentown, advancing to being the Chief Environmental Planner. Tom was responsible for planning regional sewer/water and county recreational systems. A son was born in 1971.

In 1972 Tom received a 2-year fellowship in the University of North Carolina’s Ph.D program. Another son was born in 1974, the same year that Linda received a Ph.D. in history from Penn State. With the family expanding, Tom got a job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in its Durham NC office, where he worked on a number of environmental and transportation projects and analyses of new national air standards that affect everyone in the U.S. He specialized in human exposure modeling. Every air standard in this country since 1980 that used exposure modeling has used models that Mr. McCurdy developed or led.

In 1984 Tom quit EPA and managed a hospital-waste incineration company that also had an animal and human cremation subsidiary. That work was not very intellectually satisfying, so he returned to EPA as a Research Scientist, from which he retired in 2014. He then worked as an unpaid guest researcher at EPA until November 2015 to finish two projects that he started before retirement. He is an author or co-author of over 100 publications and 60 presentations at national or international conferences.

Both sons’ families, including 3 grandchildren, live nearby in North Carolina.


When Dr. Peter Nocella attended SPHS, known for its exceptional music program, he was concertmaster of the All-City Orchestra. Upon graduation, Nocella won a Philadelphia School Board Scholarship. While attending UArts, Nocella won a fellowship to the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center. After receiving his Bachelors in Music in composition/viola, he pursued his Masters and Doctorate at Temple U.

Nocella’s numerous commissions include American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, and Philadelphia Orchestra members, Edna Phillips and Anthony Orlando. Notable choreographers for whom Nocella has composed include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Benjamin Harkarvy, Jean-Paul Comelin, Peter Anastos, Robert Weiss, and Lar Lubovitch. Nocella’s music is published by ECSchirmer and is included in the Philadelphia Library Fleisher Music Collection.

He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Philly Pops, Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Opera Philadelphia, and under such conductors as Stokowski, Ormandy, Leinsdorf, and Boult.

In the 1990’s, Nocella composed, among other works, Green Violinist, (Chagall tribute) and Viola Concerto, premiered by Karen Dreyfus at Temple U, establishing the Leonard Mogill Memorial Scholarship. During this time, he served as the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director.

In the 2000’s, Nocella composed Missa Brevis for a special Vatican ceremony celebrated by Pope John Paul II, and Eight Candles in the Darkness for the Swedish Historical Museum. Nocella more recently completed two symphonies, two tone poems, and 9th Street Festival Overture, an homage to his South Philadelphia roots. Nocella also composed four string quartets for the Meiravi Quartet, of which he was a founding member.

An ASCAP and College Music Society member, Nocella is currently working on Grynszpan, an opera based on Krystallnacht. A senior lecturer at Penn State, Nocella also teaches at Nazareth Academy, while maintaining an active composing/performing schedule.