Alumni Relations’ first regional association event in late February brought together local Harker alumni in the rustic atmosphere of San Francisco’s The District wine bar. Amongst brick walls and exposed wooden beams, alumni, faculty and administrators reminisced with each other about their times at Harker.
Regional associations reconnect Harker alumni in a given area – at least ten alumni live within two blocks of The District – adding strength and richness to the Harker alumni network. The Harker alumni office links alumni through class years, geographical regions and affinity groups.
Bob Torcellini, a 1966 graduate of the Palo Alto Military Academy, Harker’s predecessor, reminisced about his time at the Academy: “There was a lot of camaraderie among the students because everyone was so strict.” Torcellini came to the alumni event armed with an old photo album hoping to find classmates John and Matt Brooks to show them a picture from a past alumni event where a banner had displayed their father’s name. Out of his teachers, Torcellini remembers Eugene Renaghan and English teacher Trevor Morgan. Of his friends, he remembers Dwight Haldan, Robin Beaty, Dean Riskas and Eric Lane.
Though Harker has changed, Torcellini embraces the differences. “It’s good that it’s evolved away from the military and pushed the academics and actually flourished in that. I’m proud that it’s evolved and survived,” he added.
Tala Banatao ’93 lives in San Francisco and runs a successful children’s clothing line. One of her friends is Christina Yan ’93, Harker’s current director of alumni relations. Banatao said, “It’s rare that so many kids remember and have such fond memories [of high school]. Harker was instrumental in laying the foundation for us in school and really contributed to a lot of our successes.” She remembers several faculty members from her days at Harker including history teacher John Near, who passed away last fall, former coach and dean of students Jack Bither, former history teacher and volleyball coach Howard Saltzman, current math teacher Pat Walsh, and current K-Gr. 8 athletic director Theresa Smith.
Finding that history teacher and Coca-Cola fanatic John Zetterquist is still at Harker, Eric Wu ’97 recalled Zettterquist “plunging [his] hand into an ice-cold cooler for Cokes” during class.
Longtime Harker student Maheen Kaleem ’03 says she “spent more time at Harker than anywhere else in [her] life.” Some of her memorable moments are “every dance production and every moment with [dance teacher Laura Rae], and staying until 11 o’clock at night making decorations for spirit rallies the next day.” She expressed her admiration of Laura Lang-Ree, performing arts department chair, whom she described as a “second mother.”
Coming to alumni events is an exciting experience for Kaleem, who has spent time visiting Harker in the past. “I affiliate Harker so much with my childhood that I think it’s nice to be grown up and see how people have evolved,” Kaleem said. “Seeing them as adults is really cool.”
To enrich networks in other areas, upcoming alumni relations activity will include a March event in Manhattan, an April event in Southern California and gatherings in areas such as Washington, D.C., and the Midwest next year. Visit www.facebook.com/HarkerAlumniAssociation for exact details on events in your area, or contact Christina Yan, director of alumni relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.