Back to Tam Day
Giving Back to Tamalpais High School Through Back to Tam Day
Back To Tam Day's Genesis:
While serving on Willamette University's Alumni Board, Bill Sefton, '61 returned to the Tam Campus in 2001 for the Class of 1961's 40th Reunion. Back in the 1950s, Tam had 4 full-time gardeners and was a photo stop for the sightseeing tours to Muir Woods. Now, in 2001 there were no full-time gardeners - just a traveling crew that serviced all of the District's campuses and the campus looked dead, even trashed.
With his experience on Willamette University’s alumni board, perhaps Bill could create a college-type alumni association at Tam? So, he called Tam's principal's office and asked for the alumni contact. He was directed to George Cagwin, '56 who invited Bill to an Alumni Board meeting with Steve Bogel, '58 and others. Bill called Jeff McCreary and in February, 2002, Bill and Jeff were elected to the Tam Alumni Board. Shortly thereafter, members from Tam's Class of '61 joined in: Karen Baukol Burzdak, Pam Tresnon Strong, Sita Dimitroff Milchev, Tom Dugan, and Ellen Canet Boring.
At this first meeting, Bill and Jeff presented what would become to be known as Back to Tam Day, an annual campus cleanup - kind've like opening a mountain cabin each spring. We would invite alumni and other Tamites to spend 3 hours one Saturday morning cleaning, painting, pressure washing, weeding, planting, and otherwise cleaning and refreshing the campus. At noon, as projects were completed, we'd gather for an old fashioned California BBQ of hamburger, hot dogs, and soft drinks. We'd share legendary Tam stories and ask questions like, "Where was the campus rifle range?"
As Jeff - who has spent his professional career working in the Mt. Diablo School District - rhetorically asked, Imagine the attitudes of current administrators, teachers, custodial staff, parents, and students, as they see alumni coming back to Tam each year and refreshing their campus?
For over 10 years, Reed Dillingham, '61 (a well known and accomplished Landscape Architect) was our Project Planner and Supervisor. Reed would decide what we would do and how much money that we needed. Bill circulated the alumni with emails and postcards and money started to flow in. About 80 workers arrived at our first Back to Tam Day.
Bill spooked then Principal Chris Holleran by suggesting a promotional headline in the Marin IJ that would read: Tam's Class of 1961 Returning to See How Their Grass is Growing. Bill was referring to the dead front lawn of the campus; but, the double-meaning was not lost on Chris. The Ivy Pull that you will see was at the request of Chris. After over 10 years, the ivy has made no attempt at coming back. You can see the impact that Tam's Alumni Association has had on the School District as we start with a trashed campus to a campus of splendor and beauty.