Hall of fame

Mercy Watkins

In the theatre on May 28, four alumni students and a past staff member were inducted into the Hall of Fame, each of them associated were with making Downey legendary.

Allen Layne, a past Downey principal, Fox 11 news reporter Suzanne Marques, Lash Stevenson founder of “a haircutting experience”, Kennard McNichols, MD of Renton, Washington’s Valley Medical Center and Daved Van Stalen, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics for Loma Linda University.

A staff member, close friend, or teacher represented each honoree. Honoree’s and their families arrived dressed for the occasion and greeted staff members and old classmates. The ceremony began at 10:30AM with the awarding winning Jazz Band singing The Star Spangled Banner, followed by a peppy tune called “Just in Time.”

First to be inducted was Kennard McNichols, MD. Donna Boose, a Hoff committee member and Hoff Inductee in 1999, represented McNichols. McNichols graduated in 1966 and was a medical officer in the Navy from 1974- 1979. McNichols has been practicing family medicine for over 21 years. Although McNichols was not present for this event his mother accepted the award on his behalf.

“I’m truly proud of this recognition for Ken; every mother believes their child is deserving of it but Ken works hard and he really deserves it,” Ms. McNichols said.

Next honoree was Suzanne Marques presented by Lisa Lucke. As a senior, Marques attended Lucke’s English class. Marques graduated in 1995 and since furthered herself in journalism. She has worked in Eureka, CA, Atlanta, GA and was awarded her first Emmy in 2005. In her acceptance speech she recognized Downey as producing “some of the best people” and the English teachers being the cause of it.

“Downey has a lot of inspirational teachers and if you look at other schools, you’ll notice they don’t get a lot of them,” Marques said.

Jim Finch a former classmate of 1971 represented Daved Van Stralen, MD. Stralen worked for Los Angeles City Fire Department and has made over 7,000 rescues. In 1959 he assisted Ronald Perkin, MD, in creating a pediatric intensive care unit for Loma Linda University Medical Center. Finch described Stralen as a person who sets no limitation on what he can do.

“When he’s doing anything, he refuses to see the box. It’s how his personality is and anyone that knows him, knows that,” Finch said.

Classmate Arvin Wenzenburg represented the fourth inductee Lash Stevenson. Stevenson was part of the 1956 “Dream Team” his senior year. He developed a love for cutting hair and football. In 1976 he founded “The Haircutting Experience” in San Mateo where he lives with his wife and two children. In 1985 he organized the first of many Viking sport reunions that he conducts every year.

“Every time we look back. We wish we can go back to that time, but now we know, how much history we make when we leave,” Stevenson said.

Mr. Houts represented the last inductee: Allen Layne. Layne served the Downey School District for forty years. Layne was promoted to principal in 1994 and retired in 2004. Layne continues to serve the community and recently completed a year on the Orange County Grand Jury.