We are proud to claim Eddie Vedder as an alumnus; he would’ve been a member of the Class of 1982 and was a a staunch supporter of the Clayton E. Liggett Theatre.
Your Intrepid Alumni Coordinator has always believed that if someone attended San Dieguito, then they are alumni. Period.
It doesn’t matter if they didn’t graduate. There happens to be a huge list of reasons why some students didn’t receive their diploma; reasons that range anywhere from “I was interned in the Poston War Relocation Center” to “I got pregnant” to “I got sent to live with my dad” to “I was way better at surfing better than math…” and so on.
Therefore, as long as you 1) once were a student, and 2) you have an emotional connection to the school, then I will add you to the mailing list if you ask me to. I may not refer to you as “a graduate of San Dieguito”, but in my mind you are an alumnus (or alumna, if you are female) and I will describe you as a member of the Class of [whatever year it was].
Before I take any flak from purists, I’d like to say in my defense that I am not alone in this inclusive policy; that most of our class representatives invite non-graduates to their class reunions.
Nevertheless, it may be prudent to check some dictionaries for the definition of the word alumnus.
The MacMillan Dictionary: someone who was a student at a particular school, college, or university.
Example: Yale alumni
- a graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university.
- a former associate, employee, member, or the like
Example: He invited all the alumni of the library staff to the party.
- a person who has attended or has graduated from a particular school, college, or university
- a person who is a former member, employee, contributor, or inmate
Example: Her parents are alumni of the state university.
The Oxford Dictionary: A graduate or former student, especially male, of a particular school, college, or university.
Example: a Harvard alumnus
Note that most sources seem open to the idea that merely attending a school qualifies former students to be alumni and frankly, that’s a relief. Do you know how difficult it is to determine if someone really received a diploma from San Dieguito?
Sure, we’ve got our commencement lists (not a complete set, by the way; you can see what years are missing elsewhere on this site) but commencement lists are never considered proof of graduation. In fact, most of them have a little disclaimer (in tiny print somewhere near the bottom) along the lines of, “The above is a membership listing of the senior class. It is not a list of graduates…” or “Inclusion in the above is not proof of graduation.”
In other words, just because a name is on the commencement list doesn’t mean that person actually graduated.
So if we can’t go by the commencement lists, how can we prove that you graduated?
Well, we can always go to the District Office, where former students may apply for their transcripts. A transcript will prove conclusively that a former student actually graduated or not.
Good to know, but should an alumni coordinator apply to the District Office for a transcript for every person who asks to be considered an alumnus? That would be expensive and time-consuming, not to mention an invasion of privacy. I hope that all of us would rather spend our spare resources on more useful things, like preserving memorabilia.
So where does that leave us when someone feels a connection to the school but did not actually receive a diploma, and other alumni say, “Wait! No way! They’re not really alumni! They didn’t graduate!”
Before you decide, I’d like to point out that there’s a bit of a double standard when it comes to “notable” alumni. Most of us are quick to hitch onto notable alumni and say, “He’s a Mustang! He’s an alumnus!” even when that person did not graduate from the school.
Case in point: Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder is internationally famous. He attended San Dieguito High School and would’ve been a member of the Class of 1982–if he’d stayed through his senior year and graduated with the rest of his class. Yet Mr. Vedder not only holds a strong emotional connection to our school, he also is a major supporter.
Sheila Durkin, SDAF Executive Director, and Eddie Vedder after the July 2006 Performing Arts Center benefit concert
Drama teacher Clayton E. Liggett was such a beneficial influence in Eddie’s life that when Mr. Liggett passed away in 1995 Eddie composed the poignant ballad “The Long Road
” as a tribute. And when several alumni asked that the new theatre in the Performing Arts Center be named after Clayton E. Liggett
, Mr. Vedder stepped right up and held a benefit concert on behalf of the school
. He raised $10,000 for the theatre’s construction.
Yes, most are proud to claim Eddie Vedder as an alumnus and rightly so. I think that most of us also would agree that if we can claim notables that haven’t graduated as alumni, then we should be able to claim the “non-notable” non-graduates as alumni, too. It’s only fair.
Currently the San Dieguito Alumni Committee is working on a Mustang Hall of Fame. The committee would like to include the names of our many notable alumni — including those who did not graduate from the school — and I anticipate that there will be some sticklers who’ll protest the inclusion of former students who did not receive diplomas. I can hear the complaints already: “What, if they drove past the school a couple of times, you’re gonna call them alumni, too?”
Goodness, I doubt it. But what do you think? When it comes to deciding if someone is an alumnus or not, should we take a hard line or an inclusive one?
Send your comments to email@example.com and we’ll print what we receive if we can include your name and class year (whether or not you graduated).
For me, my experience at San Dieguito could never be summed up by that compulsory graduation ceremony at the end of the four-year stay. Plenty of people didn’t walk with my class in 2005, but they are still class of 2005 to me.”
-Justin OConnell, 2005
I am the 4th child in my family to graduate from San Dieguito Academy. I believe my oldest brother, Gil Franco, graduated in 1979 and my second older brother, Glen Franco, graduated in 1982. Both attended SDA when it was still a high school and both were a part of the football team. My older brother, Aaron Franco, graduated the year of 2007.
Each one of us has a special memory and are proud to have been a part of SDA. In my opinion, it is important to be recognized as an alumni, regardless of wether you graduated or not because an emotional connection was established during the time that you did attend. There are events in a high schoolers life that will remain embedded forever and to be recognized as a part of SDA makes the memories that more special.”
-Genesis Franco, 2010
I can’t believe this is even controversial. Of course yes. Include them all.”
-Rick Hall, 1981
Eddie was there at San Dieguito long enough for me to photograph him for our senior yearbook after being voted “Most Talented” in 1982…. so I’d definitely say he’s an alumnus whether he graduated or not.”
-Stephanie Fairbanks, 1982