Hinsdale Central’s No. 1 fan

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Vinaya Sharma didn’t win re-election April 5 to the Hinsdale District 86 school board. The 23,549 voters ranked Sharma fourth in a race where the top three receive a seat to the board.

Sharma received 3,938 votes (16.72 percent) and fell shy of re-election by 76 votes.

Sharma served one term. His four years on the board was likely enough for the 1989 Hinsdale Central graduate, who served because of his sense of civic duty rather than endorse some kind of agenda that inspires many others to run for a school board post.

I’ve known Sharma for at least 10 years and I can’t imagine meeting anyone who loves his former school and community more. The longtime Hinsdale resident is a familiar face in the stands at Hinsdale Central sporting events.

As a school board member, Sharma added another allegiance as a fan of Hinsdale South events as well. He attended the school’s production of “Grease,” performed by its hearing-impaired students and was severely tested every year during the Doings Cup rivalry football game between Central and South.

Sharma had a custom jersey made featuring the colors of both schools and would even switch sidelines at halftime to make sure everyone knew that he maintained his objectivity, although privately I’m sure he rooted for the Devils.

“It was neat seeing their students’ performance [of ‘Grease’],” Sharma said. “It was unique. In a way, it was something of a new experience for me.”

The idea of the jersey came from other types of jerseys he has seen at the many sporting events he has attended, mainly college football games. The jersey reminded me of legendary WGN-TV personality Ray Rayner, who wore a half Cubs-half White Sox cap when giving the scores and highlights from the previous day’s game. Sharma’s half Devils-half Hornets jersey will likely be retired soon.

“It was a conversation starter, if nothing else,” Sharma said.

Sharma, who is an actuary, will remain active in various Hinsdale Central groups. In the past, his house has been full of boxes containing Hinsdale Central souvenirs awaiting storage by the booster club.

Sharma’s next project is one of his most personal. Each year, Sharma awards a scholarship to a deserving Hinsdale Central student hoping to pursue a “mathematics-oriented career.” As school enters its final quarter, Sharma works with the math department in selecting a worthy recipient.

It’s one of Sharma’s many ways toward giving back to his beloved Hinsdale Central.

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