06/26/13 Last Friday evening nearly 100 alumni from Plymouth High School converged on Christo’s Banquet Center for the annual Alumni Banquet. The honorable Judge Dean Colvin, class of 1970 served as Master of Ceremonies.
After a family-style dinner where members of the Red Strings Quartet from PHS serenaded every settled in for the main event, comments from the 2013 valedictorian, Gabe Vervynckt and the naming of the 2013 Distinguished Alumni.
Aimee Portteus, Director of Guidance introduced Vervynckt who graduated in June with a grade point average of 12.25 on a scale of 12.0. He will attend Grace College and major in accounting. He also was awarded the prestigious Lilly Scholarship. One interesting fact noted at the dinner, Gabe comes from a family of scholars. His mother was the 1978 valedictorian and his grandmother was one in 1947. Gabe has two brothers, Jacob and Todd who were Valedictorians at PHS and his sister Stacy was a Salutatorian.
Gabe talked about all the changes in PHS including computer usage where for the last two years students have used Mac books. He said, “It’s very beneficial to students, not having to carry around books and being able to turn in assignments by email.” He said they use “flip instruction” meaning that student listen to the teacher’s lesson on podcast at home in the evening and then the next day practice what they learned in class. He also listed out the many accomplishments of the academic organizations and athletics this past school year.
Judge Colvin then introduced the 2013 Distinguished Alumni winners. He said, “This year’s nominees traveled a great distance to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.” He then introduced Don and Evelyn Heim, 1958 graduates of PHS traveled from California to receive their recognition.
The list of accomplishments his husband and wife team is a long one. Both had acclaimed careers in the aerospace industry, even with the high pressure demands of their jobs also raised three daughters. For the era in which they achieved both, they were a non-traditional family indeed.
Don worked in the rocket industry for Rocketdyne as a instrumentation engineer testing engineers. While working for Rocketdyne he received numerous awards from NASA for contributions to the space shuttle program, various high energy laser programs and was considered an expert in precision measurement of temperature, high vacuum measurements and dynamic measurements which include very high frequency vibration and pressure.
Don said, “PHS prepared us well for college. We got a good education and I wavered between being an electrical engineer, a chemist or a physicist. I finally decided to major in physics at Purdue and graduated in 1962.” He said he had two job offers, one on the east coast and one on the west coast. He and his bride looked at the rain fall for each, 44 inches in Connecticut and 11 inches in California. You know where they choose.
Evelyn Heim started her career at Rocketdyne as an analytical chemist quite a different path then most of the girls in her graduating class. She quit her first job to raise her daughters but when their oldest entered high school she went back to school in a program designed for unemployed or underemployed women. Evelyn took a job at Hughes Missile Systems in 1979.
Instead of the traditional calling of the roster of graduating classes Colvin passed the microphone around the room and event one was able to introduce themselves with their graduation year and where they are living.