By Connie and Lynn Baer
On Friday, Oct. 16, Grossmont High School will celebrate its 95th anniversary. In honor of that celebration, we present the third in a series of five columns sharing pieces of our amazing history, this time focusing on our Hall of Honor.
This year, six alumni and two teachers will join the 31 members of our Hall of Honor, an illustrious group that includes three astronauts, judges, retired military personnel, diplomats, artists, musicians, physicians, educators, businessmen and Pulitzer and Emmy award winners, to name a few. These honorees have brought honor to Grossmont High School after their graduation or through their years of dedicated involvement with Grossmont. (Please contact us for a complete list of their achievements.)
The eight 2015 inductees are: Jean Landis (class of 1936), a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) during World War II; Timothy Miller (class of 1956), a reconstructive plastic surgeon who works with Operation Mend to help veterans wounded in combat; Bill Woolman (class of 1962), a Grossmont High School benefactor; Brian Sipe (class of 1967), MVP quarterback for the Cleveland Browns; “Woody” George Clarke (class of 1969), San Diego Superior Court judge and national expert on DNA evidence; Julia Stewart (class of 1973), chairman and CEO of DineEquity, Inc., one of the world’s largest full-service restaurant companies; Merle Donahue, GHS Choral Director from 1929 to 1962; and Jim Nichols, GHS Instrumental Music Director from 1959 to 1988.
These Hall of Honor inductees are an important part of Grossmont High School’s culture. For example, Jean Landis spoke about her life experiences to Don Ginn’s Advanced Placement U.S. History students last May.
After high school, Jean attended San Diego State Teachers College, graduating in 1940 with a degree in physical education. In 1940, Jean’s passion to fly planes led her to join the Civilian Pilot Training program. When World War II began, Jean was chosen for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), a paramilitary organization in which women pilots flew military aircraft on non-combat missions within the United States. Stationed in Long Beach, Jean’s primary assignment was to fly P-51 Mustangs from the factory in Inglewood, California, to Newark, New Jersey, where they were shipped to the European fighting front. In bad weather, this arduous 3,000-mile flight could take two weeks.
After Jean’s talk, the students were eager to tell her of the impact of her story. Many said that she had inspired them to realize that they could achieve their goals. To document the moment, many students and staff wanted a selfie with her. Everywhere Jean went on campus, students and staff applauded her for her resolute courage to carve for herself the life she wanted, one that was not the norm for a woman at that time.
Plan ahead to join us Friday, Oct. 16, when we honor these eight illustrious Foothillers and the bonds that Foothillers have shared since 1920.
Visit the museum to learn more about GHS, past and present. The museum’s summer hours are noon to 4 p.m. on August 12; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Aug. 21; noon to 4 p.m. on Sept. 2, or by appointment.