My turn

Area high schools have produced some famous graduates

2013-11-10T00:00:00Z Area high schools have produced some famous graduatesCarrie Steinweg Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 10, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I wish I had more time for reading and most of my reading seems to happen in the summer. I’m not big on fiction and what I most enjoy reading are autobiographies and biographies. The last two books I’ve been reading as we moved out of summer and into fall are those of two local people who found success in show business. One is "Happy Accidents" by Jane Lynch and the other is "Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White" by Tom Dreesen and Tim Reid.

Lynch, who has had a long acting career and who appears on one of my favorite shows, "Glee," grew up in Dolton, which is also where I was raised. I enjoyed reading about her high school days at Thornridge High School and her descriptions of local hangouts that I remember.

In the other book Dreesen talks about his upbringing in Harvey and how he and Tim Reid struggled to become a successful comedy duo as a groundbreaking black and white team. Dreesen is a graduate of Thornton Township High School, the same high school I graduated from. Dreesen was one in a large family that he described as “dirt-poor” and overcame a lot of obstacles in his personal life to find success in his endeavors as an adult. I interviewed him a few years ago by phone from his home in California and he is a very inspiring guy who returns to the area often and finds time to help with fundraisers related to the Thornton Alumni Legacy Fund, which provides funding for academic and extracurricular activities.

The Thornton Alumni Legacy Fund held a recent event to rededicate the Lou Boudreau Trophy Room. The Hall of Fame baseball player graduated from Thornton in the 1930s and had an outstanding career in baseball that included being an eight-time All Star, winning the 1948 American League MVP award and a 15-year career as an MLB manager with a 1948 World Series title. He also led Thornton’s basketball team, nicknamed “The Flying Clouds” to the state championship three years in a row.

Attending the event was a great blast from the past. It’s now been 23 years since I graduated. I then spent another dozen years working as an administrative assistant for the school district with many of those years spent working out of the Human Resources office located in the high school. I have fond memories of my time there. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces at the event — former teachers and staff that I worked with. I also saw one of my brother’s former classmates, Don White. In 1976, White, my brother Mike Clark, Steve Ibarra and Bill Moran set a state and national relay record on the track team. I got to go into the field house and see their names still up on the record board and located several photos and news clipping of their team in the Lou Boudreau Trophy Room.

A number of other notable individuals have graduated from the school, including Emmy-award winning actor Bill Hayes, actor Michael Boatman, who appeared on the television series "Spin City," two-time Olympic gold medalist Betty Robinson and Napoleon Harris, who played in the NFL and is a current member of the Illinois Senate.

Here in Lansing where I currently live, Thornton Fractional South High School has many notable alumni, including television journalist Harry Smith, NFL player Pierre Thomas and MLB superstar Curtis Granderson. Granderson is still tremendously connected to the community and attended a Little League event over the summer. Also, new signs went up this month outside the main office, auditorium and gym at T.F. South, courtesy of Granderson.

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