Quick! Which one of the following people is not an alumnus of Berkeley High?

  • Thornton Wilder,  playwright, novelist, 3-time Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Ursula K. LeGuin, science fiction writer
  • Philip K. Dick, science fiction writer
  • Jack Lalanne, fitness expert and bodybuilder
  • Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead bass player
  • Billy Martin, manager of New York Yankees
  • Galen Rowell, nature photographer
  • Timothy Hutton, actor
  • Rebecca Romijn, actor
  • Andy Samberg, comedian on Saturday Night Live
  • Don Barksdale, NBA basketball player, Olympic athlete
  • Ariel Schrag, graphic novelist
  • Je’Rod Cherry, NFL player
  • Sandra Gulland, novelist
  • George W. Bush

Of course, it’s George W. Bush. There is no way he grew up in Berkeley. But the rest of the people on the list did attend Berkeley High and have distinguished themselves in American arts, letters, and sports. (For more accomplished alumni, look here).

Thornton Wilder, BHS alumnus

On Sunday, March 14, the Berkeley High School Development Group will honor the school’s distinguished alumni at their second annual fundraiser, Berkeley High Live! John Sasaki, a reporter for KTVU, will emcee the event, which will take place from 5 to 8:30 at Berkeley Honda on Shattuck Avenue.

The evening will showcase all things Berkeley. The nationally recognized Berkeley High Jazz Combo will play. Restaurants like Picante, Chaat Café, Bette’s Ocean View Diner,  La Note, Poulet, Peet’s Coffee, and Kermit Lynch wines will provide food and drink.

The evening is the Berkeley High Development Group’s major fundraiser, and its organizers hope to bring in $80,000 – double what it netted in 2009 – to augment many of the school’s programs.

Phil Lesh, BHS alum

Every year, the development group hands out around $450,000 to teachers, students, and student groups to enhance the educational experience at the school.

Some of the grants are bricks and mortars, like projectors for the math program or graphing calculators that can be loaned to students.  The group has also purchased equipment for the football team, cameras for photography classes, and CD players for students with learning disabilities.

Every year, the development group gives small discretionary grants to every teacher so he or she can buy anything they want for their classrooms. It also has given funds to students to help them pay for standardized tests, has subsidized some students’ college tours and college application fees, and paid for after school tutoring.

The development group also brings in artists, dancers, and writers into the classroom and has helped school clubs and teams travel around the country for various conferences and contests.

With looming budget cuts, the work of the development committee will be more crucial than ever.

If you can’t make the event but would still like to support the school, you can bid online for items in the silent auction or donate here.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...