Friday, November 22, 2013

JFK (1917-1963) Fifty Years and Not Forgotten

Fifty years ago today, those of us who were alive remember exactly where we were when we got news that our President had been shot.

I was 14 years old and at school at John Muir Jr High in Burbank. We were standing in the hall going between classes when the announcement came over the loud speaker. Some girls began to cry as this confused teen wondered what this all meant.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), commonly known as "Jack" or by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from January 1961, until he was assassinated November 22, 1963.

Thank you to BHS alumni, former yell leader and retired teacher, Jay Chris Peterson, class '67, who sent these photos yesterday and today.


June 7, 1963: President John Kennedy visits the grand ballroom at the Beverly Hilton where graduating seniors from John Burroughs High School were holding prom. The President had come downstairs to the prom from a $4,000-a-couple Democratic Party fund-raising dinner. This photo was published in the June 8, 1963 Los Angeles Times.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ATTN: BHS Class '66 Lunch Dec 14, 2013

Class of 1966 Lunch
Dec 14
Taste Chicago
Please RSVP
Need to make reservations.

Hope to see everyone.
Pass the word !

Gregory J. Alaimo


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Michael Lee Robb, BHS '71 (1952-2002)

Received this touching note today from Mike's sister, Debi...

It is 11 years now. Michael Lee Robb. Born October 26, 1952. Left us November 11, 2002. BHS 1971.

Mike passed away from a seizure in his sleep. Mike had a severe head injury at 10 years old that left him with grand mal seizures.

Mike is dearly missed by his sister Debi Robb Funck, BHS 1970, his brother, Gary Robb, BHS 1969 and is forever missed by his mother Dolores Robb Kussman.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Great Article about BHS '68 Alumni, Mark Covert!

True grit: Why we need athletes

November 8, 2013 — Features

"A good number of people came to look on this as something very special, and at some point I began to realize this was going to be much bigger than I was."
“A good number
of people came to look on this as something very special, and at some point I began to realize this was going to be much bigger than I was.”

On July 29, 2006, Mark Covert, M.A. ’78, eclipsed what had been up to that time the nation’s longest running streak at 38 years and five days. And he didn’t stop there. He would keep the streak going another seven years until this past summer, covering in total some 150,000 miles over 16,437 days.
To put it in perspective, that distance is more than halfway to the moon or the equivalent of more than six laps around the earth at its equator.

To keep the running streak alive, Covert, 63, put in at least one mile per day despite a broken foot, arthroscopic knee surgery and kidney stones. He ran through everyday challenges and every milestone in life – his marriage and the birth of his four children, through job changes and holidays and family vacations.
“Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t put on your shoes and go for a run,” said Covert, a stellar collegiate cross-country competitor who started running in high school because he was too skinny to play football. “I was not the most talented guy and I knew that in order to be as good as the guys around me I was going to have to be tougher and train harder. The streak grew out of that.”

Hobbled by a structural collapse in his right foot that will require reconstructive surgery, Covert chose to end the streak on his own terms last July 23, exactly 45 years from the day it started.

Lindsey (Benson ’09) Valenzuela, a three-time All-American and captain of the Regals volleyball squad, wasn’t born yet when Covert was getting his master’s degree in education at CLU. She hit a different kind of sports milestone this year, on her road to becoming one of the most well-rounded athletes on the planet.
Fresh off of being crowned Southern California regional CrossFit champion, Valenzuela took the silver medal in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit World Games. She made a late push in the four-day, 12-event competition to climb onto the podium at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., the last week of July.

Lindsey (Benson ’09) Valenzuela won the silver medal in this year’s Reebok CrossFit World Games.
Lindsey (Benson ’09) Valenzuela won the silver medal in this year’s Reebok CrossFit World Games. (Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.)

CrossFit has boomed in popularity since it emerged more than a decade ago, drawing competitors to its range of devilishly demanding events.

The silver-medal finish was a breakout performance for 5-foot-6, 154-pound Valenzuela, who started competing in CrossFit only four years ago and whose previous best World Games finish was ninth place.
“I wasn’t expecting second,” said Valenzuela, who lives in Moorpark with her husband, former Kingsmen football player Arsenio Valenzuela ’06. “But I knew I wanted to be somewhere on the podium, and I put in a lot of time, effort and hours in the gym to get there.”

Tales of grit and determination in sports are legion. If anything, our culture places too much emphasis on the mental qualities of athletes, and such stories wear thin amid revelations about performance-enhancing drugs and insider gambling, not to mention poor sportsmanship, in team and individual competition.
Given all that, this summer’s accomplishments by CLU alumni are reminders of what we love about athletes and why we want them to succeed. A running streak is as pure a victory of mind and body over everyday obstacles as you could wish for, as well as a fantastic metaphor for life.

Meanwhile, CrossFit is not only an extreme test of stamina, but as unpredictable as a rough week at the office: The athletes do not know exactly what events they will be asked to do until the competition starts.
In addition to swimming and rowing and good old-fashioned weightlifting, Valenzuela’s specialty, CrossFit offers events with names like The Cinco (a combination of deadlifts, weighted one-legged squats and an 80-foot handstand walk) and Naughty Nancy (a 600-meter run up and over a berm followed by 25 weighted overhead squats).

To win silver this summer, Valenzuela finished in the top 10 in six of the 12 events. A weightlifting specialist, she had her best performance in the Clean and Jerk, finishing second among the competition’s 48 female athletes. She totaled 821 points for the competition and earned more than $65,000 for the games.
When Covert began his streak with a 15-mile run through and around Griffith Park on July 23, 1968, the running craze of the 1970s had not yet swept the country, and he wasn’t thinking about being a trendsetter.
Freshly graduated from Burbank High School, he had simply set out to lay a foundation for his college running career. The plan worked to perfection. Logging more than 100 miles a week, he became cross-country champion at the community college level and then national champion in 1970 running for NCAA Division II Cal State Fullerton. The next year, he would help lead Fullerton to an NCAA title.

In 1972, Covert placed seventh in the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, and in that race became the first person to cross a finish line wearing a pair of Nike’s “waffle” racing shoes.

Following college, Covert kept running and the streak kept growing. When it reached 10 years, he started to realize that it was a big deal, and when it reached 20 years he was regularly hearing from people around the country who drew inspiration from his dedication.

“A good number of people came to look on this as something very special, and at some point I began to realize this was going to be much bigger than I was,” Covert said. “I never thought about how long it would go. I knew it would end somewhere down the road, but I didn’t want it to end because I had gotten sick or hurt. I wanted it to end when I wanted it to end.”

On the last day of the streak, this July 23, Covert completed a single, slow mile outside the stadium at the community college in Lancaster where he coaches and teaches, surrounded by family, former teammates, friends and admirers.

In the end, his streak ranked as the world’s second longest, runner-up to the ongoing 48-year streak of Great Britain’s three-time Olympian Ron Hill. It drew praise from all corners of the globe and, days before it ended, special recognition on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Not only has he run through history, he has made it,” Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer read in a proclamation. “Nevertheless, Covert’s true impact has been on the many hundreds of students he’s coached over the years. He instilled in them not only the skills needed to be successful athletes, but perhaps more important, the skills needed to be successful in life, especially dedication and perseverance in the face of obstacles.”
Covert hopes that anyone who paid any attention to the streak learned something about commitment and the need to do your best at all times, whether it’s at play or at work.

“Our sport is all about training, about who puts in the work and who doesn’t,” said Covert, who woke up the day after ending the streak and went for a bike ride. It surprises no one that he is now putting in 100-plus mile weeks on the bike.

“For me nothing has changed,” he said. “And I’m still getting a few emails a week from people who have just learned that the streak is over. I’m shocked that so many people were touched or inspired by this. All I did was go for a run.”

Valenzuela (then Lindsey Benson) celebrates during the NCAA Division III Volleyball West Regionals at La Verne in 2006. Cal Lutheran won the regional event and advanced to the Elite Eight in Virginia.
Valenzuela (then Lindsey Benson, right) celebrates during the NCAA Division III Volleyball West Regionals at La Verne in 2006. Cal Lutheran won the regional event and advanced to the Elite Eight in Virginia.

For anyone who knew Valenzuela, then Lindsey Benson, at CLU, her continuing commitment to excellence comes as no surprise. She was a four-year varsity letter winner, three-time All-American, volleyball team MVP and CLU Female Athlete of the Year who was twice named to the First All-SCIAC Team and in her senior year earned a spot on the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American Second Team. After she graduated with a degree in exercise science, she was named to the University’s Volleyball 2000-09 All-Decade Team.

During college, Valenzuela began performing Olympic weightlifting as part of her off-season training regimen, and that naturally lent itself to the strength aspect of CrossFit, a mix of high-intensity exercises that test everything from balance to speed. With college behind her, she came to enjoy the camaraderie and challenges of her new sport.

“She still has all that ferocity and relentlessness that she had as a player,” said CLU volleyball coach Kellee Roesel, who remains one of Valenzuela’s biggest supporters and who has watched with great interest as her CrossFit career has blossomed.

“She’s absolutely perfect for that type of competition,” Roesel added. “You have to be a total athlete. You’re trying to beat somebody else, but I think Lindsey’s biggest competitor is herself. That’s why she’s so good. She is never satisfied.”

Valenzuela said she owes much to her teachers and coaches at CLU. She works out and coaches at DogTown CrossFit in Culver City, where she puts into action the lessons she learned on the court and in the classroom about health and fitness.

She also has co-opted the one-word motto that came to define and drive the CLU volleyball squad – believe. In fact, the word appears on her shorts and other workout gear to remind her of what can be accomplished with focus and effort.

“I learned from my teammates, my teachers and my coaches that you have to believe in what you are doing in order to be successful,” Valenzuela said. “If you work hard, have determination and believe in what you are doing, whatever dream you have you can accomplish.”

In October, she headed to Berlin as a member of Team USA to take on Team World in the CrossFit Invitational.

When she dreams big, Valenzuela envisions a gold medal finish at next year’s World Games. And she dreams about the possibility of spreading the gospel of CrossFit by bringing it to university campuses such as CLU and serving as role model – much like Mark Covert did the early days of running – to bring new converts to the sport.

She has earned a master’s degree in coaching and administration from Concordia University and is deriving as much satisfaction from working with clients in the gym as she does pushing through her own workouts.

“All I’m doing is working out,” Valenzuela said. “But if I can help someone make themselves get up in the morning and want to make themselves better just by seeing me compete or seeing me do a workout as an example, that’s great. Knowing that I can help somebody else is going to help me get up in the morning.”

Fred Alvarez is a high school history and journalism teacher who lives in Ojai. For more than two decades, he was a staff writer for daily newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

--- end ---



Real-Life Forrest Gump To End Streak


Mark Covert, shown here in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, was the first person to finish a race wearing Nike shoes.
Mark Covert will voluntarily end his 45-year streak after a run on July 23.
The last time Mark Covert took a day off from running Lyndon Johnson was President, The Doors had just released the soon-to-be-No. 1 hit “Hello, I Love You” and Mickey Mantle was winding up his final summer with the New York Yankees.
Believe it or not, Covert, a 62-year-old community college teacher and coach from Lancaster, Calif., has run at least a mile (and has averaged more than 9 miles per day) every single day since July 23, 1968.
Think about that for a moment.
In the summer of ‘68, the U.S. was deeply entrenched in the Vietnam War, The Beatles were back in the studio working on the record that would become known as “The White Album” and Neil Armstrong was a year away from becoming the first man to set foot on the moon. Covert was doing Forrest Gump proud decades before the movie came out.
Covert’s running streak, which reached 16,426 consecutive days on July 12, is the world’s second-longest, according to the United States Running Streak Association and Streak Runners International.
But, in part due to a nagging right foot injury, he plans to end the streak voluntarily after a run on July 23, the 45th anniversary of the streak’s inception.
“I could have ended this years ago and recently, I could have ended it a few months ago,” says Covert, who has run more than 151,000 miles during his streak. “I can’t really run hard and train anymore because of my foot, so that’s why I’m OK with ending it. At some level, what’s the difference if it’s 16,420 or 16,430 days? It makes no difference, but getting to 45 years was significant to me, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
In running perspective, Covert started his streak a month before the inaugural U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon was held and five years before Haile Gebrselassie, perhaps the greatest runner of all time, was even born. Meanwhile, as Covert’s streak began, a skinny 17-year-old kid named Steve Prefontaine was preparing for his senior year at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Ore.
Covert was also 17 when the streak started, freshly graduated from Burbank High School in Southern California. He was a good high school runner who continued his competitive career at Fullerton State College, where he would run a 4:09 mile and win the 1970 NCAA Division II cross country championships.
He also placed seventh in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon in Eugene, Ore., a race that launched Frank Shorter on a path to winning the 1972 Olympic Marathon in Munich. In that race, Covert ran a personal-best 2:23:34 and became the very first person to cross a finish line wearing a pair of Nike shoes.
He continued racing recreationally into his late 30s and continued training into his 50s. In recent years, he’s spent more time on a bike because he’s still able to push hard with less stress on his foot.
Two-time British Olympic marathoner and former marathon world record-holder Ron Hill, 74, is credited with the world’s longest streak, which dates back to December 1964. However, his span includes workouts on crutches after a car crash and bunion surgery in the 1990s that limited his normal running routine.
The next longest streak among U.S. runners belongs to Jon Sutherland, a 62-year-old writer from West Hills, Calif., who has logged at least a mile every day since May 26, 1969. Six other American runners have run every day for at least 40 years and 80 have streaks of 25 years or longer.
The top woman on the current U.S. streak list is Barb Latta, 71, a retired librarian from Raleigh, N.C., who has logged 10,802 straight days over the past 29 years. She took over the top spot last year after Minnesota’s Julie Maxwell slipped on ice and broke an ankle, ending a streak of 12,212 consecutive days dating back to 1978.
Covert has run through illness and several injuries, including a torn meniscus 10 years ago and occasional bouts of plantar fasciitis.
“I’ve always said that it’s not something that I have to do, but something I get to do,” Covert says. “As much as it is about going out the door every day, there’s a whole lot of luck involved, too. You can’t step in a hole or get so sick you can’t get out the door, but I’ve been very fortunate with my health in general.
“It’s obviously been a lot of fun, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. I’ll keep running after the streak ends. I really like putting my shoes on and getting out there, even if I’m out hobbling for 3 miles.”


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rob DePerna, BHS 1970 (1951-2013)

Please scroll down for updates

Robert DePerna passed away this morning from pancreatic cancer according to Mike Singorelli.

Rob was retired from the studios and living in Santa Monica at the time of his death.

Rob is survived by his 4 children, 5 grandchildren, brother Ron, BHS 1974 and younger brother, Raymond.

His older brother, Rich DePerna, BHS 1967, passed away in 2003.

We will keep the DePerna family in our thoughts and prayers...

Provided by daughter, Colleen DePerna

Robert James DePerna was pronounced dead at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital on the evening of November 5th, 2013. Robert was born in Burbank, CA on October 20th, 1951 to James J. DePerna and Josephine A. DePerna.

Robert graduated from Burbank High School 1970 and went on to attend L.A. Valley college. He worked for 32 years in the Motion Picture Union as a Gaffer for Warner Brothers. During his career he worked on such shows as; In the Heat of the Night, Something Wilder, That 70’s show and Monk.

Robert was a lifelong musician who played piano, organ and guitar. He was in the psychedelic rock band, The Boston Tea Party in the 1960’s with his late brother Richard DePerna.

Robert is survived by his two brothers, Ronald DePerna and Raymond DePerna. Also his four children, Chelsea DePerna, Colleen DePerna, Camille DePerna, Nicholas DePerna, and five grandchildren. Robert was a father, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend that will be dearly missed. Services will be announced soon. Those who knew Robert are welcome to come and pay their respects.

Provided by Alan Landros and Joyce Starleaf

Robert "Rob" DePerna, BHS '70, passed away Tuesday night, November 5, 2013, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Rob was retired from the Camera Departments of the studios, where he had worked as an Electrician and as a Gaffer. He lived in Santa Monica.

While growing up in Burbank Rob attended Horace Mann Elementary, John Muir Junior High, as well as BHS with all of us. Among suvivors are his four children, his five grandchildren, and his two younger brothers, Ronald DePerna (BHS '74), and Raymond DePerna, also a BHS alum. The oldest brother, Richard "Rich" DePerna (BHS '67), who was a founder of the rock band, 'Boston Tea Party', passed away in 2003.

Funeral arrangements are pending, according to Rob's second daughter, Colleen DePerna. Anyone wishing to contact Rob's family may do so by e-mailing Colleen DePerna at

Some of you have read the news of Rob's death on Facebook in the last two days, but this notice is going to 227 members of the Class of '70 so the majority of our class will be aware of Rob's passing. With Rob's passing there are now 45 of our classmates from BHS '70, that we know of, who are deceased. Our sympathy goes to Rob's family from the entire BHS Class of '70.

NOV 8, 2013 UPDATE

"Photo of Rob and Guy who are both passed. 1974...RIP"
Photo provided by Valerie Giessinger Scott, BHS '71, via Facebook
From left to right:
At left end with glass to mouth is Mike Reilly '71
Just to right of Mike Reilly sitting in rear with thick beard is Steve Severeid '70
On left end of front bench, facing camera is Curtis Woolley '69
On middle of bench in blue and white plaid shirt with long dark hair is Gary Robb '69
In rear with just head showing wearing tinted glasses is Mike Tideback '67 - deceased January 2012
Standing in back and waving is Valerie Giessinger Scott '71 (her wedding reception in July 1974)
Sitting at right end of bench in white pants with long blonde hair is Guy Casagrande '70 - deceased August 9, 2005
Standing in back to the right of Guy Casagrande is Debbie Snow '71
Standing at far right is Rob DePerna '70 - deceased November 5, 2013

"Alan, I found this old article, our bands were friendly competitors back in the day.
Val Tonione"
Photo/article provided by Val Tonione via email to Alan Landros, both BHS '70


Thank you very much for everyones kind words about my Dad. I appreciate the stories and pictures, as I have been sharing them with my sisters. The funeral arrangements are moving along slowly, here there are.

An update on services for Robert DePerna. There will be a celebration of life at the Unurban Coffee house the Saturday, November 16th from 11 am- 3pm. Located at 3301 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404. There will be food and music. Robert performed here for their open mic nights during the last years of his life.

The following Saturday on November 23rd in Burbank, CA we will be having a Memorial service, the location is not set in stone, but I will post the address as soon as I can. Both events are open to all friends and family.

NOVEMBER 15, 2013 from Colleen DePerna

Robert's memorial will be at the St. Francis Catholic Church on November 23rd, Saturday, on 3801 Scott Rd. in Burbank at 10am. All are welcome!