Tag Archives: Burroughs

Burroughs & BHS Lower Class Size For Spring, Burroughs Adds Teacher

Burroughs and Burbank High Schools are adding more classes to reduce the teacher to student ratio for the spring semester at both campuses. When students return to school on Monday, January 6, many will have new schedules and smaller classes for core subjects like English, Math, Science, Social Science and Phys. Ed.

The Burbank Unified School District has some money available to reduce class sizes from the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), according to Emilio Urioste, Director of Secondary Education for the district. The money will provide for a full-day English teacher for the spring semester at Burroughs.

“When we found this money was able to be used to reduce class size in grades 9-12, we met with the principals from BHS and Burroughs and asked them to put together a plan to lower class size in the areas most impacted,” commented Urioste.

Burbank High School administrators were able to consolidate some smaller classes and had some teachers offer to add a class to their teaching schedule and thus were able to open up additional sections in English, Social Studies and Phys. Ed. for the spring. Burroughs also was able to find teachers interested in adding a class to their teaching schedule and with the addition of a full-day teacher, who will be a substitute to start the semester, was able to add six English classes, plus three in Math and one in Science.

“With large high schools like BHS and Burroughs, it is not unusual to have schedule changes at each semester,” added Urioste. The additional class sections will be added throughout all grades at the high schools, reducing the teacher to student ratio in the most critical areas, as identified by the schools’ principals.

“Because of these new class additions, students will need to arrive at school no later than 7:30 in the morning on Monday, January the sixth, to pick up a new schedule in the quad, just like we do on the first day of school,” Burroughs Principal John Paramo stated on the high school’s website, as all 2700 Burroughs students will receive new schedules – some with changes and some without. “Zero period classes will not meet on Monday, January the sixth, to accommodate students picking up schedules.”

Shenanigans Abound For BIG GAME Tonight

Photos By Ross A. Benson

Photos By Ross A. Benson

Burbank’s ‘B’ on the hill was mysteriously turned red on Thursday and when sunlight hit it on Friday, it was now blue.

While no one has officially taken credit, the prank is a long standing tradition in Burbank when the BIG GAME in football approaches.  Before the ‘B’ on the hill was resurrected, different items at both schools would be vandalized and even in the past there was a report of one of the pools being dyed.

Tonight’s game will decide second place in the Pacific League.

Make sure you follow our sports Twitter feed @myBurbankSports if you can not make it to the game for live highlights and scoring updates as they happen.

Sports Editor Dick Dornan has also prepared a history of all the BIG GAMES played over the years along with Facts and Figures.

May the best team win!

Alumni Association Will Attend First Cross-town Rivalry Game

The big football game Friday night against cross-town rivals Burbank and Burroughs high schools has an exciting new element this year with the newly formed Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Association.

Graduates from both schools will watch the game together, one of many social events planned by organizers.

Founders have recruited 850 members on Facebook and recently held an inaugural party at D’Argenzio’s Wine Tasting Room in Burbank owned by Richard D’Argenzio, Burroughs grad, and his wife, Kathy “Rhoads” D’Argenzio, a Burbank High grad.

Alumni members will be going to the homecoming game together this Friday night following a tailgate party beginning at 5 p.m. in the parking lot across the street from the school district office at Olive Avenue and Parish Place.

Members can bring a chair, picnic, snack, and/or cooler, but no alcohol as this is considered a school event. After reconnecting, the group will move over to Memorial Field to see the game that begins at 7 p.m. Burbank is the home team this year. The alumni association will sit together in a reserved section on the home side. The first 50 grads to check in at the Tailgate Party will receive a wristband allowing them to sit in that section.

Register on Facebook or email Joanne Miller at bhsjbhsalumni@gmail.com.

Burbank / Burroughs Alumni are All Friends Here

Burroughs and Burbank high school alumni have proved time and again they are the party animals around this town.

Attending the Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn. kick-off party are, from left, Roberta "Grande" Reynolds, Burbank High Class of 1972; Debra "Chew" Atherton, Joanne "Lento" Miller and Barbara Austin, all from Burroughs Class of 1972. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Attending the Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn. kick-off party are, from left, Roberta “Grande” Reynolds, Burbank High Class of 1972; Debra “Chew” Atherton, Joanne “Lento” Miller and Barbara Austin, all from Burroughs Class of 1972. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)

Case in point, after the combined reunion in August, a group of classmates had such a great time they decided to start an official group and the Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn. was born. About 20 grads stopped by Friday night for a kick-off event at D’Argenzio’s Wine Tasting Room in Burbank to meet new people, talk about old times and catch up with those they haven’t seen since graduation.

The location seemed appropriate since co-owners are Burroughs grad Richard D’Argenzio and his wife, Kathy “Rhoads” D’Argenzio, Burbank High School alumna. They were introducing fellow graduates to vintages just released last weekend during a party at the winery in Santa Rosa, run by Richard’s twin brother Raymond.

Debra “Chew” Atherton and Tony Verdugo, from the Burroughs Class of 1972, were active in theater classes while in school.

“My senior year in high school was wonderful! So was my junior year,” Verdugo said. “I had a blast! All afternoon was theater. We just had a lot fun! And we hung out afterwards–at Bob’s and Copper Penny.”

Atherton remembered the plays they performed.

“We did ‘Wait Until Dark’, ‘Mid Summer Night’s Dream’, which was my favorite, and ‘Guys and Dolls’,” she said.

“One of the minor ones we did was ‘Cinderella’ with the choir,” Verdugo added.

Seeing familiar faces was the best part of attending the party, said Randy Arrington, Burbank High School Class of 1972.

“It’s exciting to come and recognize faces I saw 40 years ago, talk to them, find out what their lives have turned out to be, if they have done something special or the sad things they have been through,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many people’s lives seem to take similar paths.”

Bringing graduates of the two schools together is the reason for starting the alumni association, said Joanne “Lento” Miller, a founding member. She graduated from Burroughs In 1972 and her son, Jeremy, graduated from Burbank High in June.

“I am passionate about the Burbank schools — both Burbank and Burroughs– and I’m passionate about the community and the city we live in and I think everyone should be one big happy family,” Miller said. “And nowadays many families have kids that went to one school and they went to the other, so this is a natural move to bring us all under one happy umbrella.”

In creating an alumni association, the group is committed to “giving back” to the alma maters by offering scholarships, mentoring programs and having a bigger presence within the community, Miller said. In four weeks, the group has grown to 740 alums on its Facebook page.

“That’s a sign of school and community spirit!” Miller said.

One of the upcoming everts for the alumni association to get together is the Burbank Burroughs homecoming football game, she said.

“One idea is to have a section of the bleachers reserved for members of the alumni association,” she said. “We want to pattern the association after the USC alumni association.”

Creation of the alumni group has support from the district office, said Roberta “Grande” Reynolds, Burbank High Class of 1972 and vice president of the School Board. Supporters include Superintendent Jan Britz, Director of Secondary Education Emilio Urioste, Burroughs Principal John Paramo, Burbank High Principal Mike Bertram and School Board President Dave Kemp.

Being a Burbank High grad, Reynolds said she loves the idea of an alumni association.

“We have a strong, cohesive community,” she said. “We have so many people that have ties to both of the schools and I really hope we can have ties to one another.”

Burroughs’ Alumnipaluzza Is a Doozah

By Greg Simay
Entertainment Editor

In most other cities, from Twin Falls to Toledo to Tupelo, last night’s “Alumni Pop Show 4” music extravaganza at John Burroughs High School (JBHS) would be the highlight of the summer season.  But for the Vocal Music Association (VMA) alumni, it was more like a jam session of joy, proclaiming to a delighted audience that VMA talent, teamwork and enthusiasm gloriously endures.

Caitlin Ary singing Stairway to Heaven with the Alumni Choir (Photo Courtesy Connie Trimble)

Caitlin Ary singing Stairway to Heaven with the Alumni Choir (Photo Courtesy Connie Trimble)

There were stunning solos, gorgeous guitar work, touching father/daughter duets, engaging trios, and hugely effective song-and-dance ensembles.  The show’s momentum rocketed through the roof and to the summer stars with a “Stairway to Heaven” that The Who would gladly tread upon.

“The first Alumni Pop Show was a tribute to [former VMA Director] Mary Rago on her retirement,” said Brendan Jennings, current JBHS VMA Director.  “But the idea of a reunion event had been floating around for a decade.” Jen Oundjian, JBHS VMA Artistic Director, tracked down the VMA alumni and made it happen. Now the Alumni Pop Show has settled in to a once-every-two-years tradition.

“You have to be very judicious with their time,” remarks Jennings. There’s only three days of rehearsal, with maybe an extra day for the choreography. “But luckily,” continues Jennings, “our faith in their past training has always been vindicated.” As it indeed was last night, with performances that suggested far more extensive preparation.

Alumni Dance Ensemble performing Thift Store  (Photo Courtesy Connie Trimble)

Alumni Dance Ensemble performing Thift Store (Photo Courtesy Connie Trimble)

So what makes the JBHS vocal program special enough to command such fierce loyalty from its alumni? “Two big things,” explains Jennings. “One, our program provides an incredible sense of family. Students form bonds and make friendships that are life long. And two, working yourself as hard as you can in a supportive and safe place, and then achieving something absolutely brilliant that you’ll never forget.”

In their high school years, many teens have their first serious romances, in spite of their parents wanting them to wait until 30 before dating. But how many high school students know what it’s like to reach a level of excellence that commands respect from the real world, a world that consistently demands excellence in sports and entertainment?

VMA students know.  And it’s not just from garnering a whole forest of first-place competition trophies, which lined both sides of the auditorium entrance last night.  “In the last several years, we’ve done a lot of work for corporate events including conventions,” explains Jennings. “We appeared on Oprah back in 2010, and we even did recordings for The Voice during its first three seasons.”

The VMA program is attracting international attention. Visitors from countries as diverse as Australia and China have dropped by to see how they can duplicate VMA’s success. “I went to Singapore for a week,” said Jennings. “And I’m working with Christine DeMore [director of the Jordan Middle School choir] on an educational program for teachers that we’ll roll out June of next year.”

Small wonder that VMA alumni feel grateful for having been in the VMA program.

The Burbank community should feel grateful as well. Come to the concluding performance Sunday, August 25, at 2 p.m. in the JBHS auditorium. Proceeds from the tickets (on sale at JBHSVMA.org) will support VMA’s scholarship program.

* * *

If you want to see how amazing are the current crop of JBHS VMA students, mark your calendar for Burroughs on Broadway, October 11 and 12 at 7 p.m., and October 13 at 2 p.m. Order online at www.jbhsvma.com.

And, you may want to give the Jordan Middle School choir a listen. “They’re one of the best middle school choirs in the county,” remarks Jennings.

Burroughs VMA to Celebrate 35 Years With Special Concert

The John Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association will host a special Alumni “Pop Show” Concert on Saturday, August 24th at 7:00pm and Sunday, August 25th at 2:00pm, in the John Burroughs High School Auditorium.

This year’s event, which has become a biennial tradition, pays tribute to the 35th Anniversary of the JBHS VMA and will feature over 50 VMA alumni performers, including current VMA director Brendan Jennings and artistic director Jen Oundjian.

In addition to a concert, the event will also provide guests with a chance to tour a “museum” of VMA artifacts, including photos, competition costumes, posters and much more from the past three decades.  Attendees will even have an opportunity to take home some of VMA’s coveted trophies as many are retired in order to make room to showcase more recent awards bestowed on the nationally-acclaimed choral program.

Tickets are on sale now at www.JBHSVMA.org and will also be available at the door.  Proceeds from the event will benefit the VMA’s student scholarship offerings.

In 1978, Mary Rago, who at the time was the vocal music director of John Burroughs High School, launched one of the nation’s very first competitive show choir programs. Rago was succeeded as director in 2006 by her former student, Brendan Jennings, who is assisted by artistic director, Jen Oundjian.  Every other August, for the past six years, alumni gather for rehearsals.  The VMA Alumni group supports the Burroughs’ VMA program with donations and fundraising efforts to provide scholarships for current and future student choir members.

The John Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association includes five competitive show choirs, involving over 200 student choir, tech and musical performers.  The program’s advanced mixed choir, POWERHOUSE, has long been recognized as one of the nation’s finest show choirs. An inspiration for the television series “Glee,” POWERHOUSE was invited to perform on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2010 as a representative of the modern high school show choir phenomenon. In recent years, POWERHOUSE has performed opposite the cast of “Glee,” Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, The Canadian Tenors and Foreigner. Additionally, the group was featured in “Gleeful: The Real Show Choirs of America”, a British documentary as well as profiled on the “CBS Evening News.” The choir has traveled and performed in a variety of cities around the U.S., and has twice traveled to Hong Kong to perform in the internationally televised Chinese New Year Parade as other prominent events.

In addition to being named the 2013 National Champions, POWERHOUSE has accumulated countless awards and accolades on both the local and national levels, including Grand Championships at the FAME Hollywood Show Choir Regional Competition; the 2009 FAME National Show Choir Cup in New York, the 2008 FAME Chicago National Show Choir Competition and the 2007 FAME Orlando National Show Choir Competition.

For more information on the John Burroughs High School VMA Show Choirs, go to www.jbhsvma.org

John Burroughs High Class of 1963 Celebrates 50-Year Reunion

John Burroughs High School has certainly had its share of celebrities as alumni since that first graduating class in 1949, but one class has always stood out because of their Prom.

Alumni from the Class of 1963 celebrating their 50-Year Class Reunion are from L-R, Gyla Benson Bright, Fran Accardi Kahn, Beverly Adams Sassoon, and Harrie Niers.  (Photo by Stan Lynch)

Alumni from the Class of 1963 celebrating their 50-Year Class Reunion are from L-R, Gyla Benson Bright, Fran Accardi Kahn, Beverly Adams Sassoon, and Harrie Niers. (Photo by Stan Lynch)

The Class of 1963 will forever be remembered for President John F. Kennedy attending their Senior Prom back in June of 1963.  Last Saturday night, as the class celebrated their 50-year reunion, the excitement of that night long ago was recalled.  It was a night that none of those in attendance will probably ever forget.

It was an event that almost didn’t happen.  Two years before the prom, the class had signed a contract with the Beverly Hilton Hotel (at the time probably one of the swankiest hotels in town) to hold the prom in their largest ballroom.  With a class of over 500 students, they needed a big room for the event.  A couple of weeks before the prom, it was announced that President Kennedy was coming to town for a fundraiser to be held at the hotel.   The Democrat Party wanted the largest room, so the hotel “bumped” the class of 1963’s prom.   Of course the seniors in the class of 1963 complained.

Some pundits in the media called the seniors “spoiled kids” for wanting the room when the President of the United States needed it.  They sort of glossed over that it was a fundraiser.  Fortunately, the appeals reached all the way to the White House, and Mr. Kennedy told them to let the kids have their prom.  His fundraiser was moved to several smaller rooms, and he simply moved from room to room to great the guests.

It was quite an affair.  I remember arriving at the hotel with my date, and wondering why there was such a big crowd gathered behind barricades as we entered the hotel.  I thought our prom must have be a really big deal, until I remembered that the President was going to also be at the hotel.

Senior Class President Tom Giuffrida added some details to the evening that most had never heard.  He recounted how he almost didn’t make it to the prom on time.

“We double dated with another couple, and of course we had to have pictures taken by four different sets of parents.  By the time we visited all four homes, we were almost late arriving at the hotel,” said Giuffrida.

The class had a large silver platter engraved for the occasion to present to the President.  According to Giuffrida, one Secret Service Agent told him they could not present it to the President.  Later a second agent told them they could.

“We dicided to go with the second agent,” said Giuffrida.  There is a famous photo of Giuffrida and other student government officers presenting the platter to the President.  Mr. Kennedy addressed the students, telling them, “Next to being President, in fact, rather than being President, I’d prefer to be a senior at John Burroughs.”

Jack Benny was there with the President that night.  Giuffrida recalled how the famed comedian, who was know for his frugality, commented that he’d rather be at our prom since we only paid $18 a couple for the tickets, and he had paid $100 a plate to dine with the President.    Just as a side note, the tickets for the 50-year Reunion were $120 per person.

About 150 alumni and guests were present Saturday night at the Sheraton Universal Hotel.  The walls of the room were lined with memorabilia.  Class photos from elementary school, junior high, and high school were on display.  Sadly, there was a large poster listing the names of classmates who have died since that day 50 years ago when the class of 1963 marched onto Memorial Field for graduation ceremonies.

Absent from the reunion was the “bragging” about one’s prestigious job, replaced by talk of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and what one is doing in retirement. Classmate Shirley Dalton Nelson was given a prize for the longest marriage, 51 years to husband Jack. The couple have 6 children, 25 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.  The prize for the classmate traveling the farthest to reach the reunion went to Tim Coleman, who came all the way from Viet Nam, where he works teaching English.

Classmates, Stan Lynch and Beverly Adams Sassoon, talked about the "good old days" at Jordan and Burroughs at the Class of 1963 Reunion.  (Photo by Harrie Niers)

Classmates, Stan Lynch and Beverly Adams Sassoon, talked about the “good old days” at Jordan and Burroughs at the Class of 1963 Reunion. (Photo by Harrie Niers)

Every class at Burroughs seems to have a celebrity, and 1963 was no exception. Beverly Adams Sassoon, who appeared in a “Matt Helm” movie with Dean Martin before marrying Vidal Sassoon, was in attendance.  Beverly looked as beautiful as she did back when she was one of the Varsity Song Leaders at Burroughs.  Her career also included being elected 7th grade Class President at Jordan Junior High, as well as Student Body President in 9th grade.  According to Beverly, she spends her time now hanging out with her seven grandchildren, who are living all over the world.

Tom Giuffrida has had an interesting time since the Senior Prom.  Just days after the prom, he and class vice-president Richard Holbrook, flew to New York to appear on the popular TV show “I’ve Got A Secret.”  The celebrity panel didn’t guess their secret, that they had invited the President to their senior prom.  He jokingly admitted to being infatuated at the time with panelist Bess Myerson.  He went on to a career in journalism with the LA Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and 23 years as publisher of the Palm Beach Post before he retired 5 years ago.

Although most of the classmates are retired or nearing the end of their working careers, “grandchildren” was the hottest topic around the table at the reunion.  All of us remembered the great time we all had at John Burroughs High School.  1963 truly was a great time — and so was last Saturday night.

If it wasn’t for my friend and fellow classmate Harrie Niers, I probably would not have gone to the reunion.  I’m so glad I did.

— Stan Lynch,  John Burroughs High class of 1963

Note:  Burbank High had their Senior Prom that same night at the Beverly Hilton.  Governor Edmund G. “Pat” Brown stopped by and addressed their prom.  Maybe some things are better left not remembered.

Burbank Noon Rotary Announces High School Art Winners

The 13th Annual Burbank High Schools Rotary Art Contest is held to help Kids develop Arts Skills necessary to enter the highly competitive local industry of Graphic Arts in the San Fernando Valley .

The results are as follows:

Burbank High School

Burbank High first place winner David Faizi with Court Warner and Mike Thomas of Burbank Noon Rotary

Burbank High first place winner David Faizi with Court Warner and Mike Thomas of Burbank Noon Rotary

1st Place David Faizi  (receives $200 Gift Certificate to Swains Art Supply)

2nd Place Jee Soo Shin (receives $100 Gift Certificate to Swain’s Art Supply)

3rd Place Joshua Macapagal (receives $50 Gift Certificate to Swain’s Art Supply)

Honorable Mention

Derek Baer, Eon Cheong, Allison Tiegs, Lauren Yu, Tyler Yu


Burroughs High School

Burroughs High first place winner Karyl Dimaculangan with Court Warner and Mike Thomas of Burbank Noon Rotary

Burroughs High first place winner Karyl Dimaculangan with Court Warner and Mike Thomas of Burbank Noon Rotary

1st Place Karyl Dimaculangan  (receives $200 Gift Certificate to Swain’s Art Supply)

2nd Place Daniel Kerkotchian (receives $100 Gift Certificate to Swain’s Art Supply)

3rd Place Joseph Dasalla (receives $50 Gift Certificate to Swain’s Art Supply)

Honorable Mention

Kyle Abcede, Mathew Geronimo, Jason Hamm, John Kim, Kyle Martin


If you would like to see their work up close, their artwork will be on Display at the Buena Vista Library.

rotary art 3

California State PTA Rewards Burroughs High’s PTSA

John Burroughs High School’s PTSA received two coveted Spotlight Awards at the California State PTA Convention in San Jose on Friday, May 4th.


L to R Incoming State PTA President Colleen You and Current State PTA President Carol Kocivar, Suzanne Weerts, Tina McDermott and Sherry Beamer

JBHS PTSA President, Sherry Beamer, received a California State PTA Award for Leadership and the School’s Homework Task Force, represented by parents Tina McDermott and Suzanne Weerts, received an award for Advocacy with the school’s Homework survey and report.

There were only 8 awards given across the state and John Burroughs High School received two of the prestigious awards.

Burroughs High School Vocal Music Association Crowned National Grand Champions


At the Show Choir National Finals in Chicago, both Powerhouse and Sound Sensations from John Burroughs High School were named National Grand Champions following incredible performances before an audience of 4,800 at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. It is the first time one school has swept both divisions in the National Championship Series.

30 of the top choirs in the nation performed, all of whom qualified by finishing in the top of their divisions at 6 regional qualifying events. Awards won by John Burroughs included:

Best Tech Crew (congratulations to Jon King and his fantastic tech students!)

Best Male Soloist – Joe Leone (for his performance of “Nice Work If You Can Get It”)

Best Diction, Best Costumes, Best Female Sound (Powerhouse)

Best Vocals (Sound Sensations)

Best Choreography (Powerhouse)

Capping off an undefeated season, Sound Sensations will bring home the inaugural Women’s Show Choir Cup to JBHS. Although this is the first time the cup has been awarded, Sound Sensations has been the dominant force in women’s show choir for the past five years. Now they are the official #1 women’s group in the nation!

P1100246For Powerhouse, this is the third time they have won the National Show Choir Cup (having previously won it in 2001 and 2008). JBHS is the first school to bring home this honor three times. Powerhouse defeated last year’s champions (Wheaton Warrenville HS, from Illinois) at a competition earlier this season. The students of Powerhouse are proud to represent the City of Burbank and the State of California as National Champions.

If you haven’t seen this award winning shows yet, your last chance is at the JBHS Spring Concert on Thursday, May 16th at 6pm in the John Burroughs High School Auditorium. Tickets are on sale at: www.jbhsvma.com