Former students thanked their teachers for being mentors during their formative years when the Burbank-Burroughs Alumni Assn. hosted a mixer Wednesday night at Once Upon a Page scrapbooking store.
The suggested donation of $5 will go into the scholarship fund for graduating seniors of both high schools.
Alumni association member Gilbert Tobon introduced Ken Tada, a Burroughs grad who also taught and coached at Burroughs. Tada had been Tobon’s Young Life leader throughout high school and after high school was his boss at Burbank Aircraft.
“Ken is a man of honor, integrity and all good things to model one’s life after,” Tobon told the more than 40 people attending. “He has gone on to reach millions around the world with his wife through their special needs ministry.”
Tada thanked the association for being considered for the honor and said how his greatest gift was meeting his wife, Joni Eareckson Tada. She is founder and chief executive officer of Joni and Friends International Disability Center as well as an international advocate for people with disabilities.
A diving accident in 1967 left her a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, without the use of her hands. During her two years of rehabilitation, she learned how to paint with a brush between her teeth. Her fine art paintings and prints are collected by art lovers around the world.
School board member Roberta Reynolds and Connie Barron Trimble, who works in human resources at the school district, were students in Carolyn Bailey Grogan’s first class at Luther Burbank Junior High.
Trimble was brought to tears recounting how Grogan helped her through some very difficult times as a teenager.
Reynolds said having the alumni group honor Grogan was a perfect fit because she has touched the lives of so many students who are graduates of both Burbank and Burroughs.
Trimble also introduced third honoree Mary Kolegraff Rago, who planted the seed that grew to become the highly successful choir program at Burroughs. It continues today under her former student Brendan Jennings. Rago still volunteers with the choir program and works with students as a Burbank substitute teacher in music and English. She also conducts the Burroughs Vocal Music Assn. Alumni Choir.
Trimble teared up again because her daughter, Katie, is a product of the Burroughs’ choir program and after graduating from a four-year university is following her dream to sing professionally.