July 21, 2012 in Washington Voices

WVHS honors notable alumni

Reunion will celebrate 12 hall of famers
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Among their ranks is a hot rod driver, a Washington State Supreme Court justice, a local businessman, a former Millwood mayor, a chief flight surgeon and a man who designed and built the only undersea hotel in the world.

Their backgrounds may be diverse, but they all have one thing in common – West Valley High School.

On Aug. 11, the West Valley Alumni Association will induct 12 new members into its Hall of Fame during an all-class reunion at West Valley High School, 8301 E. Buckeye Ave.

Wally Heidenson, president of the alumni association, said former principal Cleve Penberthy helped to organize an alumni association for the school in the mid-1990s. Heidenson said he was a substitute teacher back then and remembers contacting all the class presidents to get mailing lists together. What came from that is a database of more than 8,000 former students.

The Hall of Fame grew from there.

“We wanted to have something to connect past students and alumni with current students,” Heidenson said.

There are 24 former students in the Hall of Fame. There is Del Blake, class of 1961, who Sammy Davis Jr. once called the “greatest drummer in the world.” Joel Daly, class of 1952, went on to be a television journalist in Chicago for more than 30 years before becoming a lawyer. Donald Rapp, class of 1953, developed techniques for teaching blind students.

The all-class reunion will start at 10 a.m., with guided and self-guided tours of the school. Heidenson said he knows many former students may not have had a chance to see the school since it was remodeled in 2006.

Former Superintendent Dave Smith saved several key elements of the original West Valley High School, which used to sit at the corner of Trent and Argonne, where Albertsons is today.

The granite archway welcomes students and visitors. Hidden along the walls near the school auditorium are the masonry owls from the original school.

In the school’s central courtyard is a water fountain made from granite pieces, bricks and steps from the old school.

The induction ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Heidenson, class of 1972, said the event will be very informal.

Heidenson and his family are very much like many in the West Valley School District. He and his wife attended the school, as did her father and her grandparents. Heidenson said when his son was in the fifth grade, the family moved from Spokane to the West Valley district so he could attend the school. His wife’s sister has grandchildren who attend the school – five generations of Eagles.

“I’m sure they’re not the only ones,” Heidenson joked.


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