Ygnacio Valley High alumni rally for their alma mater
CONCORD, CA (Oct. 21, 2022) — Heidi Coffman Shearer is not just celebrating the 50th Anniversary of her 1972 graduation from Ygnacio Valley High School meeting classmates at a reunion dinner, she’s aiming to make a difference for current students and those attending the Concord school in the years to come.
Nearly a decade ago she read an online article “What Happened to Ygnacio Valley High School?” Her question is “What has been done to help in the decline of this school?” and Shearer is rallying fellow alums and the community to join her effort to spread positive news about her school and retore the campus to its former glory.
She recently created a group called Ygnacio Valley Beautification Project and Shearer already has alumni from 1967 to 2001 who have joined a Facebook group of the same name and are interested in taking the necessary steps to beautify the school campus again.
At the beginning of October they held their first event, a fundraising Alumni Dinner at the school. Among those in attendance were principal Jonathan Pike and Mt. Diablo Unified School District board member Cherise Khaund who represents the Ygnacio Valley area on the board and is a YVHS parent.
Shearer says the group’s initial efforts have been difficult. “Our committee is trying to raise money to help with three initial phases to beautify Ygnacio Valley High School. I strongly believe in paying it forward to all students no matter what their economic status. Let’s spread positive messages and just maybe students will begin to believe in themselves!“
She says the 50 years since her graduation “flashed by in an instant.” She began reflecting on the appearance of the school after attending a Brunch on the Quad in June this year. “It all came back, and it made me nostalgic, remembering how our school looked and how it looks now.
“I know that a lot of us [alumni] that are feeling the same way. I believe attitudes are shaped to some extent by the structures and possibly can affect student, teachers and community attitudes.”
The campus opened in the fall of 1962 as Concord’s third high school after Mt. Diablo and Clayton Valley.
The recent fundraiser was the first opportunity to bring interested alumni together with school staff and current students and parents. Shearer was especially touched by volleyball team members who were on hand to serve food at the alumni dinner.
Pay it forward
The committee is raising funds to help with three projected phases in “paying it forward” to Ygnacio Valley:
Phase One: Promoting student safety with the implementation of a safety lane and walking path on the Northside driveway leading into the Ygnacio Valley campus.
Phase Two: Shade structures on the quad that would replace trees cut down for the installation of solar panels. Additional benches for students to sit on around the campus between the 200 wing, 400 wing and YV Quad.
Phase Three: Murals that promote school pride with positive messaging and public icons that promote qualities that we want our students to aspire to.
The group has created a $1,250 scholarship to be shared among five students who submit artwork and are selected as winning entries. The students would create artwork illustrating school pride, inspirations with positive messaging within a mural that would then be implemented and displayed on the school building walls.
“The students, staff and families of the YV community are very grateful for the re-energized support of our Ygnacio Valley High School Alumni. Their partnership to support our current students with campus upgrades in the three identified projects are all moving forward,” says second-year principal Pike.
He explains that the Student Pedestrian Safety Lane for the driveway entrance to the school is targeted for volunteers workday on Veterans Day weekend.
“We are working with our District Maintenance Director to install permanent shade structures in the Quad to replace the trees that were removed with the placement of solar panels and, lastly, we are starting a campaign for alumni to donate class year sponsored benches in memory of that graduating class to give more access to seating around campus,” Pike adds.
The principal explains, “There are efforts to bring back the Senior Lawn area with a California natives garden and materials support for our art classes to construct murals around the campus. We are excited with the YV alumni support and know their love for our community continues to make YV such an amazing school for the Concord community.”
Those interested in the Ygnacio Valley Beautification Project can contact Shearer by email.
Jay Bedecarré is a long-time resident and writer in Concord and Clayton. He began his newspaper writing career while still a senior at Mt. Diablo High School and he has been part of The Pioneer since its inception in 2003. Jay also operates Bay Area Festivals, presenting events around the San Francisco Bay Area including Bay Area KidFest annually in Downtown Concord.
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