Return to Headlines

NCHS Hosts 23rd Annual Alumni Recognition Program

The Class of 2019 was regaled with stories about NCHS, Naperville and the road to adulthood by four distinguished alumni that came home to be honored. In its 23rd year, NCHS annually recognizes alumni making a difference in the world.


This year’s 2019 honorees included:


Dean Hayes – Class of 1955
A renowned track & field coach in both college and professional circles, Dean Hayes has made a definitive impact in his 49 years at Middle Tennessee State. He earned his B.A. at Lake Forest, where he competed in the 800-meters, the long jump and the triple jump, an event in which he was a national qualifier. After earning his M.S. Ed. at Northern Illinois, Hayes began his coaching career at the high school level in Chicago, then jumped to the collegiate ranks at his alma mater, Lake Forest, before heading to Middle Tennessee in 1965. Hayes led his programs to 29 Ohio Valley Conference titles, 18 Sun Belt championships, and 18 NCAA Top 25 finishes. 48 of his student-athletes have earned a total of 85 All-America honors, four have become national champions and a number of them have gone on to compete internationally in the Olympic Games, World University Games and Pan-American Games. Hayes has been named Sun Belt Coach of the Year and Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year 15 times. He was inducted into the Blue Raider Hall of Fame in 1982, the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, the Illinois Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, and the Mason-Dixon Athletic Club Hall of Fame in March 2005. He has coached several teams sponsored by either the United States Olympic Committee or USA Track & Field. His international experience began at the first Olympic Sports Festival in Colorado Springs in 1978. Since then, he has worked in a number of events, including the World University Games in Kobe, Japan (1985); Goodwill Games in Seattle (1990); World Cup in London (1994); World Championships in Athens, Greece (1997); Goodwill Games in New York (1998). Hayes takes deep pride in the foundation he has set and the community he has built at Middle Tennessee State University.

Melissa Megliola-Zaikos – Class of 1990
Melissa Megliola-Zaikos has long been committed to giving back to her community in diverse and powerful ways. After earning a degree in industrial engineering from Texas A & M in 1995, she took a job with Deloitte Consulting. There she led projects in strategic planning and operational improvement, primarily with large retail and consumer packaged goods, public sector, and non-profit clients. She then worked for Diamondcluster International, where she managed post-merger integration of two global professional services firms before being recruited back to Deloitte Consulting. Megliola-Zaikos earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School in 2000, and served as the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago Statesman Dinner Chairman from 2005- 2007. She spent nine years at Chicago Public Schools leading the Pershing Network, a network of 30 elementary schools. From 2005-2011, she was the Chief Area Officer for a network of 100 high performing schools throughout the city. In 2006, she led a team to secure a $21.3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest grant to date at that time from the Gates Foundation to a public school district. From 2011 to 2012, she was the Chief of Elementary schools, supervising a network of 31 public elementary schools serving 22,000 students. In 2012, Megliola-Zaikos became the CEO of Intrinsic Schools, a charter school network that rigorously individualizes learning by combining technology and teaching, helping students personalize their path to college and career. Through these ideals, they have been able to increase the percent of students meeting standards and have significantly reduced the achievement gap. In this, and all of her endeavors, Megliola-Zaikos lives out an Intrinsic Schools mission: to hold herself “to the highest standards […] as a citizen in our growing community.”

Michael Barton - Class of 1994
As an international award winning visual artist, instrument builder, educator and musician dedicated to revealing the natural beauty in the ordinary around us, Michael Barton has made an indelible impression in the lives of all fortunate enough to know him and his work. Barton’s character studies, children’s portraits, still life, street photography and landscapes have been featured in collections throughout the United States and beyond. A lifelong student of the humanities, Barton received a Master of Music degree from the University of North Texas in 2000 and has studied music for over three decades. He has also been awarded the degrees of Master of Photography, Master of Electronic Imaging, and Photographic Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America and is an Educational Associate and Fellow of the American Society of Photographers. Barton received the American Society of Photographers’ North Central District Regional Medallion in 2012 and has been a PPA Photographer of the Year eight times. Along his journey, Barton has maintained a strong commitment to teaching and academia. Having taught a diverse range of topics including music, photographic technique, photographic software, color management, workflow and astronomy, Barton is able to approach education from many different angles. Barton’s true passion is in connecting with students and mentoring in smaller groups and one on one sessions. Bringing people together while forming personal relationships is at the core of Barton’s teaching. He has been featured in Professional Photographer, Rangefinder, Texas Professional Photographer and the American Society of Photographers Magazine. As an artist, father, husband, and professional, Barton works to both showcase and honor the beauty around and in all of us.

Jessica Fieser Bufort – Class of 1994
Jessica Fieser Bufort loves her work in the world of engineering. Her career trajectory began at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she received a degree in Mechanical Engineering, with a minor in Chemical Engineering. Her deep curiosity and love of learning propelled her to pursue graduate level courses in Metallurgical Engineering and Material Science, and further technical training at Pennsylvania State, the University of Michigan, Northwestern, Program Management Academy, Business Account Management University and the International Trade Compliance; she earned her MBA at the University of New Haven. Bufort worked as a project engineer at Woodward MPC in Skokie from 2003 to 2006 before getting a job at Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Connecticut. At Sikorsky, she has been a Senior Process Engineer, Senior Design Engineer, S-76 Engineering Team Lead, and Staff Project Engineer of Aftermarket Commercial Aircraft Programs. She currently works as a sales engineer, her favorite position, addressing each client’s demands for their ideal helicopter. Driven by passions beyond the workforce, she used her talents to become a licensed teacher of Motorcycle Safety, a post she loved for eight years. Of all of her achievements, she is most proud to be mom to four year-old daughter, Vivian.


Naperville 203 and NCHS are proud to welcome our alumni home to celebrate their success.