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Alumni of the Year

Each year we honor a former student of Burlingame High School as the Alumni of the Year.

A brief overview of the criteria for nomination: All who are graduates of Burlingame High School for at least ten years at the time of their nomination. Graduates in all walks of life are included, such as the armed services, athletics, business, education, engineering, electronics, fine arts, government, law, literature, media, medicine, non-profits, performing arts, science and any other areas of contribution.

Click here to open detailed nomination criteria in a new window. 

Recent recipients have included BHS teachers, judges, politicians and tv personalities and many others. You may submit your candidate by printing out and submitting the form to the Alumni of Year Committee at BHS Alumni Association, 1 Mangini Way, Burlingame, CA 94010.  

Click here to open and print the Alumni of the Year nomination form.

Honorees

If you have information on the achievements of any of the honorees please contact the site administrator.

2020 - Dennis Zell, Class of 1986

Dennis Zell '86

Dennis Zell '86

Our 2020 Alumnus of the Year is Dennis Zell from the class of 1986. Dennis is the son of Carol Kerns (class of 1962), brother of Deborah (class of 1982), step-father of Jade and Stefanie Garcia (classes of 2004 and 2007), and father of Elizabeth and Matthew (classes of 2018 and 2019). At Burlingame High School Dennis appeared in eight school plays, participated in student government and Junior Statesmen of America, and played two years of varsity baseball.

Dennis holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and a Doctorate in Jurisprudence from Golden Gate University School of Law.

Between college and law school, Dennis volunteered at a non-profit foundation in Washington, D.C. and then spent several months living overseas promoting democracy and capitalism in newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union. Dennis helped conclude a Sister-City agreement between Kaunas, Lithuania and Los Angeles, helped mediate an oil pipeline dispute between Lithuania and Russia, and consulted on the restructuring of local government in Lithuania and Latvia.

Dennis has been practicing law in California since 1995, primarily in the areas of real estate and trust litigation, though Dennis has also successfully litigated election law and First Amendment cases in the California Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit, and United States Supreme Court. Dennis has volunteered as a judge pro tem in the counties of Solano and San Mateo.

During the past twenty years, Dennis has contributed to Burlingame High School in many ways. He began giving back by serving as advisor to the Interact Club on behalf of Burlingame Rotary. He was then appointed to the Board of the Burlingame Alumni Association and served several terms as liaison to the Burlingame High School Advisory Committee on behalf of Rotary and the Alumni. In 2010 under Dennis’ leadership as President of Burlingame Rotary, the service club made Burlingame High its main beneficiary in the community, both in terms of volunteer counseling hours to at-risk students and financial support to needy students (more than half a million dollars in scholarships over the past ten years). In more recent years, Dennis has chaired the annual Little-Big Game luncheon and served as the head coach of the mock trial team. Finally, as a publicly elected member of the Peninsula Health Care District, Dennis conceived of and achieved funding for the Teen Mental Health Program, a highly-lauded reform initiative whereby Stanford University was brought in to help implement evidence-based best practices to modernize the way mental health services are provided in the entire high school district.

2019 - Al Facchini, Class of 1949


Al Facchini '49

Our 2019 Alumnus of the Year  was raised in Burlingame, attending Washington Elementary School and BIS Intermediate.  Al was a terrific athlete and excelled in all sports.  At age 14, he became the Northern California Bicycle Champion (his father was the bicycle champion of Northern Italy).  In 1946, Al entered Burlingame High School. 

He was a two-sport athlete and started for both the BHS baseball and basketball varsity teams each of his four years.  Baseball was always his 1st love however.  During WWII, high school baseball was not played in the Bay Area.  It resumed in San Mateo County in 1946.  Money was tight and the school district did not have enough money for new uniforms, so players had to use the uniforms from the 1939 team, the last organized team to play.  Al vividly remembers "the moths and the smell" after opening the metal trunk where they were stored for seven years.  The uniforms weren't in terrible shape, but because the fabric had deteriorated a little, they tore easily when sliding into a base.  New uniforms were purchased in 1947, which brought a whole new vitality to the program. 

Al was one of BHS’s two starting pitchers as well as their shortstop.  He was chosen to the All-County team three consecutive years.  Al played in the Babe Ruth American Legion All Star game at Seals Stadium in 1947 with Babe Ruth in attendance.  In 1948, Al was chosen the MVP of the Examiner All Star game and was awarded a trip to New York to play in a top prospect game at Yankee Stadium.  While there, he got to personally meet the World Champion New York Yankees.  As a senior, his outstanding play attracted many scouts to Burlingame High School. 

Upon graduating from BHS, Al signed with the Boston Braves (soon to be the Milwaukee Braves).  He started out in the California League and led the league in stolen bases in 1951.  Baseball was going great until he was drafted into the Korean War in 1952.  He served in the Army with Fox Company.  He was the squad’s BAR man (BAR man was the soldier who was responsible for the unit’s machine gun).  If you know anything about military history, the enemy would always target the flamethrower and the BAR soldiers, as they represented the greatest threat to the opposition.  War is hell and no one should have to experience what Al did while fighting on the front lines.  Like many veterans, it’s still difficult to talk about 67 years later.  In the middle of the war, branches of the military formed baseball teams for the benefit of soldiers’ entertainment.  Because of his athletic background, Al was chosen to join the “team.”  After a year of fighting on the front lines, Al and his new teammates’ responsibilities included loading ammunition onto transport trucks, and other "hands on" work.  One day, Al got the heart wrenching news that his former unit in Fox Company was ordered to take an enemy hill.  The news came back that every soldier in the unit was either wounded or killed in action.  In fact, Hollywood made a movie called Pork Chop Hill starring Gregory Peck about the infamous battle.  Incredibly, the game that he loved since he was a kid probably saved his life.

When the war ended in 1953, Al resumed his baseball career with the Milwaukee Braves.  He eventually made the Major League club, where he played with Brave greats (and Hall of Famers), Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews, Del Crandall, Lew Burdette, and Frank Torre (brother of Joe Torre).  In fact, the great Warren Spahn was Al's roommate.  One of Al's memorable moments was being called to pinch hit in a spring training game and face the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame pitcher, Tommy Lasorda.  It was the bottom of the ninth, and Al's pinch-hit single won the game for the Braves.  He was the last cut that spring, but played seven more years on AAA teams.

In 1957, Al's baseball team went to Cuba to play against the Cuban national team.  Tensions were high between both countries and the team was surrounded with armed guards at all times.  Al led off their first game and singled.  The next batter hit a ground ball and Al slid into second and took the second baseman out with a hard slide.  The fans got riled up and Al was taken out of the game for his own safety.  Because of the threats, he didn’t get into the other two scheduled games.  A few months later, a ballplayer was shot and that was the end of baseball in Cuba for the United States. 

After Al retired from baseball in 1961, he became an extremely successful wholesale liquor distributor.  He also opened a restaurant on El Camino in San Mateo, which many of your parents probably ate at.  It was called Taddy’s Steak House, and was known for serving the best steaks on the Peninsula.

Al had the privilege of being the first baseball player to be voted into the Burlingame High School Hall of Fame in 1997.  Asked about his favorite teacher, without hesitation he mentioned Vic Mangini (yes, that Vic Mangini).  Vic was a Physical Education and Math teacher in 1948.  He took interest in Al and no doubt saw what a special player and person he would become. 

Al has always stayed in touch with his class, organizing and attending his class reunions.  He still proudly wears his colors (red & white) and promotes BHS and his high school experience wherever he goes.  He’s a lifetime member and recently donated all of his yearbooks to us here at the Alumni Association (1946-1949).

Whether in baseball, military, or any other part of his life, He did it the "right way" and always with "passion."  Al's story is an inspiration to all past, present and future BHS students and athletes and one we can all be very proud of. 

The Alumni Association is Proud to introduce, BHS Alumnus of the Year, Al Facchini, Class of 1949

2018 - Terry Naylor, Class of 1959


Terry Naylor '59

Our co-recipient for 2018 Alumnus of the Year is Terry Naylor, a 1959 graduate of BHS and an educator. She is now retired and enjoying time with her family. Even so, she continues to contribute in important ways to Burlingame High School and her community. While at BHS she earned top grades in high school while holding such posts as sophomore class treasurer, co-editor of the freshman section of the yearbook, assistant editor of the yearbook in 1959 her senior year at BHS and numerous other positions. She earned a spot on the Senior Honor Roll, representing the top 10% of the graduating class. Those grades led to a BA, MA, and MS from Stanford University. She also served as secretary and associate justice on the BHS Student Court, which foreshadowed her recent appointment to the San Mateo County Grand Jury.

She is past co-president and secretary of the BHS Alumni Association. As co-president, she was instrumental in updating our by-laws and moving the alumni association to a website to publish the newsletter and to share current events, reunions and other activities. The launch of the website in 2014 has resulted in saving thousands of dollars a year in printing and postage. This savings has insured the future of the BHS Alumni scholarship program.

She worked in the Palo Alto Unified School District for more than 15 years, holding posts as a teacher, school psychologist and school administrator. She ended her career with what she calls “the job of a lifetime.” As the coordinator of a court-ordered desegregation program she worked with 600 children who lived in East Palo Alto and who were bused to Palo Alto. She has maintained contact with a several of the students she worked with.

Burlingame High is proud to introduce our newest Alumnus of the Year for 2018, Terry Naylor 

2018 - Judy Falk Chiasson, Class of 1959


Judy Falk Chiasson '59

Our Co-recipient Alumnus of the Year, Judy Falk Chiasson, is a graduate from the class of 1959. She is a most deserving alumna, quietly and consistently dedicated to the furtherance of the ideals and values of the Alumni Association. She is the very example of a proud member of the BHS community.

She held several offices while serving on the Alumni Board of Directors, including: Editor of Panther Postscripts, Secretary, Treasurer, and Co-President. She performed all of the tasks required of these offices with perfection and diligence.

One area she championed for the Alumni was implementing the Burlingame Alumni Website. She tackled this job with enthusiasm and commitment, and saw it through to fruition with hours of work and self-training. She holds herself to the highest standards and integrity, and those serving with her are inspired by her loyalty to Burlingame High School and the Alumni Association.

We are proud to introduce, Judy Falk Chiasson as 2018 BHS Alumnus of the Year.

2017 - ADAM KLEIN, Class of 2009


Adam Klein '09

Our Alumnus of the Year happens to be the youngest alumni to be recognized for this award in its history.

A graduate of the class of 2009, this alumnus excelled at Burlingame High School as Student Body President (all four years), as a senior, he was recognized as the Student of the Year. He was also a Student Member on the District Board of Education, President of the District-wide Student Government, awarded the ‘Best Actor’ award (all four years), and graduated Valedictorian of his class. 

While at BHS, he became the Event Chair for Relay for Life.  He was responsible for growing, (from less than 10 youth teams in 2004) to over 550 in 2008, making it the largest youth Relay in California.  He motivated students to raise money and fight cancer through public speeches, ultimately raising over $135,000 in 2008 alone.  That year, he received the Jefferson Award for Public Service and a Proclamation from the City of Burlingame for outstanding service. 

Other areas in which he found time for, included; Regional Director of Students for Barack Obama, Co-Founder of the Karma Initiative Club, President of the American Cancer Society club, and was voted Homecoming King. 

After graduation, he was selected by the CA Department of Education as one of two delegates from California to the US Senate.  There, he became a Climate Policy Intern for Senator Dianne Feinstein, where he contributed to energy and environmental research and policy recommendations. 

We don’t have time to cover his college achievements but he did graduate from Stanford University, Phi Beta Kappa with Distinction.

He continues to help people by managing a homeless shelter.

Oh and this past year, he also participated in the CBS Reality Show called “Survivor: Millennial’s vs Gen X, which some of you may have seen. He went on to win this game, becoming the only contestant in the shows history, spanning some 33 seasons, to receive a unanimous vote from his peers.

Burlingame High is proud to introduce our newest Alumnus of the Year, Adam Klein

2016 - ERNEST "DOC" SCHLEPPER, JR., Class of 1972


Doc Scheppler '72

Our Alumnus of the year, Ernest "Doc" Schlepper, Jr.,  graduated from Burlingame High School in 1972 where he excelled not only as a student but also in basketball and baseball. Doc was inducted into the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.  His father, Ernest "Doc" Schlepper, was inducted into the BHS Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.  He and his father are the only father-son duo to receive this award.  Doc was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame last year and was named Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year in 2014.

Doc started his coaching career at Capuchino in 1988,  he returned to Burlingame High School to coach boy’s basketball in 1991. In 1995 his daughter transferred to Pinewood School in Los Altos and so did Doc where he has continued to coach the Pinewood girl’s basketball team.   Doc has compiled an impressive record consisting of more than 500 wins and six state championships.

The Alumni Association is proud to induct Doc Schlepper Jr as BHS 2016 Alumnus of the Year!

2015 - LESLIE NICHOLS, CLASS OF 1959


Leslie Nichols '59

Superior Court Judge Leslie Nichols, who graduated from Burlingame High School in 1959, was recently honored with the Alumni of the Year Award for 2015. Judge Nichols was born in Illinois, but grew up in Burlingame, along with his brother Doug Nichols. He went from Washington Elementary School to Burlingame Intermediate School and then on to Burlingame High.

While attending BHS, Nichols was active in student government, including serving as Freshman Class and Student Body President, and played basketball and varsity tennis. He graduated with a BA from Stanford University and went on to University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Nichols practiced law in Palo Alto until 1984, when he was appointed to the Superior Court bench in Santa Clara County. He was twice awarded Trial Judge of the Year by the Santa Clara County Bar Association. He became a law professor at Lincoln Law School. When he retired from the bench, he continued serving in the Assigned Judges Program.

Les Nichols has continued his connection to BHS with ongoing participation with the Alumni Association and all of his class reunions. His contributions to the community include serving on the Mountain View City Council from 1977 to 1984 and as Mayor of the city for two terms. He served for many years as the Class Correspondent for the Stanford Class of 1963 and on the Stanford reunion committees.

To this outgoing, friendly and dedicated gentleman, it is an honor to present Leslie Nichols the Burlingame High School Alumni Association’s Alumni of the Year Award for 2015.

2014 - Linda Vickery McLaughlin, Class of 1967


Linda Vickery McLaughlin '67

BHS Co-Alumni of the Year honors for 2014 go to Linda Vickery McLaughlin, recently retired advisor to the Burlingame “B” as well as language and composition teacher for Advanced English. Linda’s roots at Burlingame High can be traced to 1929 when her grandfather, Sam Beeman, began his 30-year career teaching art to BHS students. Her grandmother, Alice Beeman, taught at BHS from the late 1940’s to 1969, and served a number of years as Dean of Girls. Her mother and father also graduated from Burlingame. Her mother, Elsie Beeman Vickery ‘47, was named Alumna of the Year in 1979.

Linda graduated from BHS in 1967 and took a meandering route back to the school, including studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and the College of Notre Dame in Belmont. In 1979, she ran a clothing store in Burlingame called the Black Sheep and then worked at the writing center at the College of San Mateo before landing back at Burlingame High School teaching a course in journalism.

Linda has been a dedicated English teacher, and for 26 of her 27 years at BHS, she both taught journalism and was advisor to the staff of the high school newspaper, the Burlingame B. During her tenure the paper won many top awards and made the transition to daily digital circulation. She has enjoyed seeing the newspaper grow with the advances in technology. It was a proud moment when two of her students created a computer and mobile app for the B.

As the B advisor, journalism quickly won a place in her heart. From the course and from the students, she said, “you learn so much more about the high school and community.”

For a time, there were two Ms. McLaughlins teaching at Burlingame when Linda’s daughter, Tara, taught a math class at the school. Tara, along with her brother TJ and her sister Erin, graduated from BHS, continuing the family connection, an unbroken line of four generations of students and teachers at Burlingame High School.

A devoted teacher who never turned her back on a challenge and spent every working to enhance the lives of her students. Now, in retirement, she will spend time with her grandchildren and plans on traveling and doing extensive research on the history of BHS. She is also hoping that those grandchildren, the next generation, will have the opportunity to attend Burlingame High School.

In September 2014 Linda was elected to the position of Historian of the Burlingame High School Alumni Association.

2014 - Fred Wolfgramm, Class of 1990


Fred Wolfgramm '90

BHS Co-Alumni of the Year honors for 2014 go to Fred Wolfgramm. He graduated from BHS in 1990. After working in several schools in the San Mateo Union High School District, Fred returned to Burlingame as Dean of Students.

2013 Diane Dwyer '83

2012 Gregory Starr Jensen '54

2011 Peter Cleaveland '58

2010 William Alan Hagen '39

2009 Jo-Ellen Arnaudo Ellis '58

2008 Richard "Dick" Dunbar '49

2007 Irene Simpson Neasham '33

2006 Maxine Kurtz Chesney '60

2005 Richard Hanson '53

2004 Edward Hanson '53 (Hanson brother, twins)

2003 Jim Edwards '69 

2002 Mel Moore '47 

2001 Peter Umland '54

2000 Michael McQueen '53 

1999 Marilyn McClintock Shewbridge '53 

1998 John F. Chiapelone '50 

1997 Bruce Harmon '62 

1996 Mark Harmon '62 (Harmon brothers, twins)

1995 Marilyn Dickman Short '55 

1994 Donald P. Lembi '64 

1993 Joan Selby Bardet '41 

1992 Edward Roberts '59 

1991 Arlen F. Gregorio '49

1990 Ernest 'Doc' Scheppler '34 

1989 Elaine Bjorgan Duxbury '55 

1988 Richard Imus '56 

1987 Dorothy Fowler '25 

1986 Jane Smith Taylor '44 

1985 Robert F. Jane '44 

1984 Ben Eastman '29

1983 Harry Tracy '33 

1982 Anne Lawder Fletcher '46 

1981 Edward L. Alpen '40 

1980 William J. Crosby '36

1979 Elsie Beaman Vickery '47

1978 Blanche Dibelka Duffey '39 

1977 Elizabeth Johnson Winters '41 

1976 Rupert Prohme '32 

1976 Jean Romer Williams '36 

1975 Anna Cook Alexander '31 

1974 Lou Harrison '34 

1973 Bill Bardet '41 

1972 Reginald Moorby '36 

1971 William Key '55 

1970 William Bergsma '38 

1969 Richard Morris '41 

1968 Eleanore Druehl Nettle '31 

1967 William Dauterman '37 

1966 Edward Montgomery '29 

1965 Robert Lee '47