With many high schools these days not having adequate support from alumni to host class reunions, one school is not only having their regular reunions – but for the past nine years has held an “All Class Reunion Picnic” on-site at the one place they used to all call their home school. Belmont High School near downtown Los Angeles held its 9th all class reunion/picnic on Saturday, October 12th.
Opening its doors on September 11, 1923 Belmont (home of the Sentinels) has turned 90 years old. The school at one time (back in my day) was the largest in LAUSD and California with 6,342 students. It was also one of the most diverse student bodies as well, with nationalities and ethnicities representing much of the world. Going to Belmont back in the day was like going to the United Nations. It was a great place to teach and learn. In fact the school motto “Enter To Learn, Go Forth To Serve” are words that I have lived by…..not really understanding their significance until years later?
Some very famous and notable persons have come from Belmont. Faculty: Sal Castro, social studies teacher, and activist who was instrumental in helping students organize and eventually launch the 1968 school walkouts, protesting educational inequity for Mexican students and others. Dentler Erdmann, CA. teacher of the year in 1975, current stadium bears his name.
Alumni: Veronica Porche, (my childhood friend) former wife of Muhammad Ali, and mother of professional women’s boxer Laila Ali, Jack Webb, actor, producer, director who played on TV series Dragnet, Jack Smith columnist and journalist with the L.A. Times, Anthony Quinn, actor, Ricardo Montalban, actor, Loren Miller Jr., L.A. County Superior Court Judge, Robert Lyles, NFL player, Luis (Lou) Gomez (my football team-mate), MLB player, James C. Corman, Congressman, L.A. City Councilman, Ron Botchan, NFL Official, Odetta Holmes, folk singer, activist, Glenard P. Lipscomb, Congressman, Willa Kim, two time Tony & Emmy award winner for costume design, and the list goes on. Then there are the rest of us: not so famous or notable alumni, but great individuals who went on to make invaluable contributions to society.
Yes the all class reunion on Saturday with all living generations of Sentinels represented reminded me of all of those who came before us, and all of those who will follow. Wow what a great day, and what a great school. Go Belmont!