They really brought in the heavy-hitters!
Fort Hamilton High School alums inducted four former Tigers — including a fallen firefighter and Jets safety Jaiquawn Jarrett — into their Hall of Fame at El Caribe in Mill Basin on Feb. 13. This year is the school’s 75th anniversary, and the booster club fielded some seriously high-profile honorees, one grad said.
“We picked very special inductees,” said alumni association president Valerie Hodgson (‘73). “Jaiquawn is so down to earth. He is really the most amazing gentleman.”
The association drafted Jarrett (‘07), firefighter Joseph Graffagnino (‘91), funeral director J. Peter Clavin (‘71), and multi-athlete who died too soon Kristi Kvalheim (‘95).
Iron man Jarrett led the Tigers’ offense and defense before playing for Temple University. The Philadelphia Eagles lifted him into the National Football League in 2011. He credited the school with launching his football career — but also with making him a well-rounded person.
“That was a stepping stone for me in life that got my career started,” he said. “I’m very appreciative of Fort Hamilton and for honoring me in such a way. Some teachers there truly helped me grow over the years. They taught us not only about football but life after football, and they groomed us into becoming men.”
Hall-of-Famer and 1977 graduate Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) scored big as emcee, and the whole night was a win, Clavin said.
“I enjoyed myself immensely,” he said. “I was truly honored.”
Clavin owns and operates Joseph P. Clavin Sons funeral home in Bay Ridge. The Salvation Army’s Brooklyn Advisory Board named him Man of the Year in 1999.
Mia Rose and Joseph Graffagnino accepted their late father’s award in his stead. The elder Graffagnino — an eight-year veteran of New York’s Bravest — died responding to a Manhattan fire that exposed the city’s negligence with a 14-story office building damaged in 9-11.
Kvalheim’s family accepted on her behalf. The varsity volleyball captain, tennis ball volley-er, and basketball alley-ooper dreamed of coaching for her alma mater but tragically died of leukemia just months after graduating. The ceremony was beautiful, said Kvalheim’s mother Janet, who attended with her husband and son.
“It is a memory that we will cherish forever,” she said.