Honorable Rev. Darius G. Pridgen

Honorable Rev. Darius G. Pridgen

Darius Pridgen ‘81, is an Air Force veteran who received his B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Buffalo State College and his M.A. degree in Organizational Leadership from Medaille College.

To be nominated for the Msgr. John Zeitler Memorial Award, individuals must possess an extraordinary dedication to Community and Family Life as well as an outstanding reputation as a spiritual leader in the community. This year’s nominee, Bishop Darius G. Pridgen, certainly manifests these fine qualities.

Bishop Pridgen is a mentor, community leader and organizer as the Senior Servant of True Bethel Baptist Church located in Buffalo. This church provides the community with food, clothing and shelter through their Taste of Faith Pantry and the Clothes Closet which extends help for individuals in need during difficult times. In 2015, under the Bishop’s leadership, a Mobile Outreach Van and Information Opportunity Bus were created to serve multiple areas
in the city. During the same year, Darius led the effort to build a Dollar General in the neighborhood.

Bishop Pridgen is also known as Buffalo Common Council President Pridgen. He is the first known cleric to be elected to public office in Buffalo’s history. He was first elected to the Buffalo Board of Education, where he served as Chairperson of the Big 5 School Districts and the Student Support Committee. He also served as Chair of the Rules Committee on the Council and currently is a member of the Board of Trustees at Medaille College.

To quote Bishop Pridgen, “I am called to build people who will build a community and who will change the world.”

Nicholas “Nick” Costantino

Nicholas “Nick” Costantino

Nicholas C. Costantino, this year’s recipient of the Earle Y. Hannel Award, graduated from Bennett in 1962 and was awarded his Bachelor’s Degree from U.B. in 1967. Nick cherished the education he received from BHS, weaing our orange tiger logo in his lapel at all times. Football was his chosen sport and he played for the Tigers from 1959-1961. During his undergraduate years at U.B., Nick, the passionate football player, was a defensive end for the Lackawanna Lancers semi-professional football team.

Upon graduation from U.B., Nick entered the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and received his law degree in 1971. In his final year of law school, he taught science in a Chicago inner-city middle school.

Upon returning to Western New York, Nick began to work in the Erie County D.A.’s office in 1974 and was chief of the Major Violent Offense Bureau until 1985 when he ran for mayor of the city. He then entered private practice and, for more than 30 years, his office was located down the street from Bennett at Main and Fillmore. During this time, Nick was involved in the Butler Mitchell alumni, supporting youth activities on the West Side.

Along with being an honorary football coach for the Bennett Tigers under head coach Steve McDuffie, Nick was most active as a Board Member in our Alumni Association. He was a loyal Sports Hall of Fame Committee member and a valued participant on Bennett’s Redesign Team, which formed in 2014. His family stated, “Nick worked passionately with others to keep Bennett High open when it was in jeopardy of closing”. Nick also worked very hard to develop a weight room adjacent to the Gym so our students could properly exercise with modern equipment that was not present before its inception.

Nick’s wife Karen, daughter Nicole, sons Justin, Andrew, Eric and Nicholas, his 20 grandchildren and one great grandchild are extremely proud of Nick receiving this prestigious award posthumously.

And, on behalf of the entire Bennett Alumni Association family, we will miss you, Nick.