Alumni reflect on their most memorable moments

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Alumni reflect on their most memorable moments

Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

Suvee Ranasinghe

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Taking a look back down memory lane, Foothill Technology High School has fostered a diverse group of individuals since its first graduating class in 2003. From introverts to extroverts, to quiet and focused students, to social and carefree students, Foothill was, and still is, a place many could call home.

In order to see where the original first couple graduating classes are now, the Foothill Dragon Press sent out a survey via Facebook and contacted those who were willing to respond. Between the graduating classes of 2003 to 2012, a total of 245 took part in the survey. Interviews were then conducted based on the responses given, followed by profiles on a select few featured individuals from each graduating class.

Where are they now?

Of the 244 alumni surveyed, 77 of them reside in Ventura, California. Many of them attended universities in other cities or states, but returned back to the area after completing their education. While Southern California is the most popular region for Foothill alumni, there are multiple alumni living in other states and even countries. A few alumni are currently living abroad in Europe and Asia. 

Former Dragons’ field of occupation range from the most artistic to the most science-based jobs, as expected. From working at Disney World to engineering to being a filmmaker, Foothill graduates are proving to be successful in many different fields.

Piktochart Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

Piktochart Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

57 respondents attended graduate school and approximately 35 alumni are currently pursuing high level education.

Involvement on Campus 

Alumni were asked which activities and clubs they were involved with on campus. Eighty-one of the 244 participants were not involved in any activities. Seventy-three alumni were leaders for the Foothill Intervention, Reinforcement and Enrichment (FIRE) program as a way to aid a helping hand to incoming freshmen.

“I joined FIRE because of my positive experience I had as a FIRE student when entering Foothill and I wanted to be a point of reference and mentor to others,” Lizbeth Molina ‘11 stated.

Thirty-four of the 244 had participated in the BioScience Academy. Ariana Johnson ‘11 felt that the Bioscience classes she took “shaped my career path and happily introduced me to some of my best friends, who I am in close contact with to this day.”

Various former Yearbook staffers joined the program as a way to involve all students on campus.

“I tended to gravitate towards the clubs that involved a large majority of the student body (I.e. Yearbook, ASB) where I felt I was able to have an impact in serving the entire student body,” Trevor Scott ‘07 said.  

Former Speech and Debate members credited the program for improving their public speaking skills, expressing their thoughts and providing an intellectual challenge. Multiple of the 29 Speech and Debate alumni claimed it to be the highlight of their experience at Foothill.

Steven Ellison ‘10 asserted that it was a family. “The fellowship and in-jokes we enjoyed will last me a lifetime.”

Sam O’Donnell ‘11 felt that the program introduced him to a diverse group of friends. “It gave me skills that, quite literally, have changed the way I think about the world,” O’Donnell added.

Of the 23 alumni who had participated in Associated Student Body (ASB), they had only positive words to say of the program.

Nicole Buckner ‘03 joined ASB because she had always been interested in leadership. “I wanted to develop relationships with my peers, but also be a part of a community,” Buckner mentioned. She further added that her favorite part of ASB was the ability to coordinate events.

Alejandro “Alex” Castillo ‘08 believed he was forced to be more responsible in comparison to his peers. Through his time in ASB, he “learned how to interact with adults, manage stress and work through difficulties,” Castillo said.

Twenty-one out of the 244 alumni chose to take center stage and participate in acting through the Drama Department.

“I will never forget the day [a fellow peer] farted in the middle of Drama class right as he was about to give a monologue. We all died laughing,” Nicole Guemsey ‘05 mentioned.

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is known for preparing students for college readiness. Charles Tran ‘08 is one of the 20 AVID alumni who upheld that AVID prepared him for success. “AVID not only really motivated me to go to college and gave me the tools needed to ensure I did well, but also taught me how to apply those skills to the environment outside of the classroom,” Tran said.

Involvement of alumni in clubs was more difficult to account for. Several respondents stated they could not recall the clubs they took part in. Furthermore, because of the diversity of clubs that had occurred over the 12 years the surveyed alumni had attended Foothill, the list of clubs was long. Alumni were involved in diverse clubs ranging from community service-based to gaming-based, such as the Dungeons and Dragons Club.

Ellison recalls back to the short-lived Quidditch Club. In his survey response he explained the process of choosing teams and a Golden Snitch. “The tryouts were simple: a race through campus, followed by trying to find a brick hidden in a soapy kiddy-pool of water,” Ellison stated.

The role of being the Golden Snitch was highly sought. According to Ellison over 20 students “thundered through the campus, causing quite the ruckus, until one lucky guy got the brick and carried it triumphantly back to the rest of the waiting Quidditch club.”

The Quidditch club was then “yelled at by several teachers for the lunchtime disturbance,” Ellison added. Administration claimed that Quidditch was an intramural sport, not a club, and the Quidditch Club ceased to exist.

Kaval Ali ‘11 recalls eating lunch in the quad when tryouts occurred. “I remember seeing a classmate run through wearing gold spandex shorts and wings with a huge crowd of club members chasing him. It was shocking and hilarious to see!“ Ali exclaimed.

Alumni were also asked “How satisfied were you with your time at Foothill?” On average, alumni rated their time at Foothill as a 8.94/10. Only 34 respondents gave a rating of a seven or below.

 

 

Funny stories

Alumni shared funny and embarrassing stories about themselves, peers and their instructors. Ranging from mentions of the famous Zip Disc fight at Foothill to senior pranks, graduates shared stories that added to their high school experience.

Numerous stories were about annual Air Guitar performance by the staff of Foothill. From Melissa Wantz as Miley Cyrus singing Wrecking Ball to Principal Joe Bova as “a giant hatching egg dressed as Lady Gaga,” alumni seem to remember some of the best Foothill moments.

Former students took note of when Melanie “Captain” Lindsey imitated Britney Spears, and when Lindsey and Justin Frazier performed a duet of “Crank That” by Soulja Boy.

Darren Goldsmith ‘04 credits staff performances like these and “the fun spirited people” that made “the culture addictive.” Goldsmith added that it created a memorable experience.

Alumna Madeline Bell ‘11 discussed the former senior wish program that was run by ASB. Seniors could wish for something that was school appropriate and did not exceed five dollars. Bell claims it was one of the “best things we did.”

Bell said one of her fellow classmates’ senior wish that was for teacher Spencer Kellogg to serenade Anthony Villa about his least favorite fruit, the tomato.

“In the middle of class, Mr. Kellogg burst through the door and began singing. And then bit out of a tomato like an apple. Mr. Villa’s face was priceless,” Bell said.

Castillo ‘08 discovered that English teacher Jason Dinkler was a part of a jazz band called “Guy Martin Group.” His sophomore Honors English class decided to “have a ‘Guy Martin appreciation day’ and a pretty big portion of the class made t-shirts with old photos of the band, made stickers and cut outs to put on our binders etc. and we all wore it to class one day,” Castillo stated.

Dinkler didn’t mention the fan memorabilia, and students were led to believe he was angry. “Turns out he was just so focused on teaching the lesson he didn’t notice till the end of class. He seemed to have a good spirited laugh about it,” Castillo stated.

Other alumni shared how senior pranks were some of their favorite memories.

Matthew Williamson ‘12 explains how one day he came to school and “all of the couches were put up on the overhangs of the walk ways.”

The most popular senior prank mentioned was about the failed fish prank. Seniors had come to school overnight and placed live goldfish into a small children’s pool in the quad. Edyn Tarkany ‘10 recalls that “the fish died and a biohazard team had to be called out.”

Although teachers shaped many of the experiences that the alumni remember to this day, many of them noted how they wouldn’t have gotten through this point in time without their friends.

Ellen George ‘06 recalls a fellow peer, Blake, who used to DJ at lunch on Fridays. “He would always play Don’t Stop Believin’ and the entire quad would join in to sing it together. Every Friday!” George remarked.

Piktochart Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

Piktochart Credit: Suvee Ranasinghe / The Foothill Dragon Press

Breanna Cotton ‘06 remembers teacher Josh Dinkler impersonating the attention span of a fellow classmate, Nick Ellis.

Dinkler “got down on his knees and was running from side to side in the classroom catching butterflies. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house after class that day,” Cotton said.

Foothill, the unique school that it is, was full of quirky stories regarding students on campus.

“Only at Foothill did I ever see kids bring their own gamecube and TV on campus so they could play ‘Super Smash Bros. Melee’ outside during lunch,” exclaimed Korinne McKinley ‘07.

Lyndsay Peterson ‘08 recalls a moment in health class freshmen year, when they were discussing drugs and doing anti-drug skits.

“One of the groups used a sports drink mix [] for the ‘drugs.’ One of the kids in that group snorted the drink mix. He went to the nurse and the girl with the mix went to visit the principal to verify the substance,” Peterson said.

While countless alumni shared stories of their friends and teachers, others shared their most embarrassing moments.

Julia Culbertson ‘10 remembers swinging on a tree branch in the quad when it broke. She was sent to Bova’s office where he stated “that he loved trees and not to do it again.”

Alumnus Wesley Barton ‘09 reflected on when he “got caught making waffles in the hallways using a waffle iron from home which got confiscated. It was always a good sign when Dana Eaton comes into the class to take you to the principal’s office swinging his lanyard.”

Barton was grateful that former assistant principal Glen Grey wasn’t too hard on him and “wanted to make sure next time to come to the office first and make some for the staff,” Barton added.

Heather Luscombe ‘11 said she had “no idea how to communicate with dudes, so I made this elaborate painting of a mini horse and gave it to a friend to deliver to this guy in his Calculus class.” She didn’t think about the painting for several years, but a friend of hers was at its recipient’s house when they discovered the painting hanging in his living room.

Why Foothill was unique

According to alumni, the uniqueness of Foothill came from the people on campus. Their peers and teachers drove them to success and created an environment for them to thrive in. The overwhelming majority credited their happiest moments in high school to their strong friend groups and instructors.

Hannah Zaehringer ‘10 emphasized how the climate of Foothill allowed her to grow as a person. What made her time as a Dragon enjoyable were the “teachers who really, truly, deeply cared about teaching me. And, retrospectively, a non-judgemental environment to grow out of my really weird phases in,” Zaehringer said.

Other alumni mentioned how teachers had helped them become stronger through periods of struggle with mental illnesses and eating disorders. Many felt that their teachers were invested, passionate and loved their jobs.

Kyra Bauman ‘08 stated the “kid who dressed up as Batman sometimes” made her Foothill experience memorable.

 

How would you describe your teenage self?

High school was a time of self-discovery. The ways in which alumni would describe their teenage selves ranged from outgoing to reserved and from edgy to awkward. While some preferred to stand on the sidelines, others chose to stand out.

“I was quiet, shy, dedicated to my work, art, and future, afraid of my home life, and uncomfortable with and in my body (identity, physically, emotionally). I was not very confident within my own sense of self worth or being, however I was highly motivated and achieved,” Rachel Ashley ‘10 mentioned.

“I was very involved, very intense, and very social! But I tried to use my weird sense of humor to help alleviate the stress my friends and I felt from being so busy. I really enjoyed high school, particularly being involved with so many organizations,” Castillo ‘08 said.

 

[alert type=yellow ]See the graphic above for a cloud of these responses.[/alert]

 

While looking back at their high school experience, many alumni mentioned how they would have encouraged themselves to “break out of their shell” and experience new things, as well as “treasure the time that they had.”

Numerous alumni stated that they wish they worried less about the future, and focused more on their relationships with others. Former Dragons also spoke of how they were insecure in high school. Some regret how hard they were on themselves, and how often they compared themselves to others.

The surveyed alumni overall expressed gratitude towards their teachers and peers for creating an academic environment that was fun and enjoyable. They credit the small population and relationships with instructors for the atmosphere at Foothill.

While Foothill has gone through some changes, the college readiness, interactive staff and peers still continue to create a legacy on the departing seniors.

 

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