Highlighting the FHS Alumni Association


Graphic Courtesy of Madelyn Nguyen

Alumni associations are commonly established for universities, but FHS is one of the few high schools with an alumni association of its own. 

On Friday, March 24, 2023, three notable alumni were inducted into the FHS Hall of Fame: Susan Kerrigan Rynearson, Regina Carbajal Legates and Troy Tulowitzki. Legates and Tulowitzki, two accomplished athletes, were contacted by the FHS Alumni Association to attend the Hall of Fame rally and receive their recognition. Legates holds many accolades for her volleyball performance at FHS and at UC Riverside, and Tulowitzki competed in Major League Baseball for 13 seasons. 

Rynearson, the Secretary/Historian/Treasurer of the Fremont High School Alumni Association, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for her dedication to the FHS community of students and alumni through the association. And despite its heavy involvement with the school, the FHSAA is not well-known among the student body.

Not only is the FHSAA responsible for nominating Hall of Fame inductees, but they also work towards fundraising for senior scholarships.

“We all work hard here in the Alumni Association to raise the money for [students] to go to college,” Rynearson said.

The applications for these scholarships are open to all seniors, and Secretary Rynearson urges everyone to apply.

“We’re not interested that your grade point average is 4.0, [or] whatever it is, but rather, what have you done to better yourself, to better your community,”  Rynearson said. “In our scholarship; you don’t have to go to university, you can go to DeAnza College; you can go to trade school.”

The association was founded in 1958, the year that the current president, Judy Whelan, graduated from FHS. 

“The principal at the time, Mr. Colin Haan, had been in another school in Southern California,” FHSAA President Judy Whelan said. “He organized an alumni association there, and then he was at Fremont. And he said, ‘this school has been going for 30 years, and there’s no Alumni Association,’ […] So a number of us were back together, and we organized the Alumni Association.”

There are currently eight active volunteers of the association attending board meetings and assembling mailings.

The FHSAA’s main goal — raising money for scholarships for seniors — is fulfilled primarily by accepting donations and organizing class reunions at their annual barbecue in August. This event also intends to increase alumni engagement. 

“Our big event is the barbecue every August, and we have around 200 people that attend, either they are classmates or related to classmates and alumni,”  FHSAA Vice President Marion Malvini said. “We [also] have a small fundraiser at Armadillo Willy’s in Sunnyvale.” 

In the past, they have hosted golfing events, dinners at restaurants and dinners at hotels, but they have since settled on the barbecue.

“We used to have a dinner,” FHSAA President Judy Whelan said. “The problem with the dinners is that getting a facility [has] gotten very expensive. If we charge too much for the dinners, the turnout will not be so good.”

Members of the association meet once a month where they put together mailings that go out to donors. Part of the association’s work is solely in the hands of Susan Rynearson, who is the Historian on top of her other roles. As Historian, she collects stories from alumni dating back to Fremont’s beginnings. From a teacher’s experience as a prisoner of war in Germany, to a yearbook that found its way to Guam the alumni of Fremont have shared stories and experiences that Rynearson preserves in a collection. 

“There’s generations of people who have gone to Fremont High School, and I try to capture those in history stories, because I want those stories to always be a part of Fremont High School for students going forward,” Rynearson said.

A part of Rynearson’s mission is to keep the FHS alumni community vibrant and well-connected. She regards this as the one of the most fulfilling parts of her job.

“Getting stories is what I love doing most because those history stories are cool for everybody to read,” Rynearson said. “And, when I send them out to alumni, I’m just so pleased when they write back and say, […] ‘You wrote that story, it’s so cool.’” 

The Alumni Association has been going strong for many years thanks to the support of alumni, but as time passes, the association is presented with a new challenge: finding alumni to replace those that leave the team.

“The thing is, we need people to expand our workforce,” Malvini said. “We only have about eight people that attend our board meetings. We have three officers because we’re a non-profit organization. That’s the number of people that do all of the work.”

Despite Silicon Valley’s population growth since the association’s founding, the association has not seen many new members volunteering.

“What happens with seniors is [that] because it’s so expensive to live here, they go away to college,” Malvini said. “They tend to not come back, and so we have not been able to add to our group that does all this work.” 

For decades, FHSAA has been working to support FHS students in their pursuit of higher education. As a result of their efforts, many more alumni have been able to pursue their dreams and aspirations, many of whom continue to give back. However, in order to sustain this effort and continue to send students to college, they need to expand their workforce, and they hope that more alumni can join this organization. FHSAA reaches out to all alumni in hopes that more people will join them and help serve the community.

“We’re celebrating 65 years this year at our barbecue,” Whelan said. “So hopefully you too will be able to join someday [and] be part of the Alumni Association.”