December 2023 - Alumni and Retiree Impact on GHS
Since 1920, Foothiller alumni and retirees have had a tremendous impact on the students and staff in countless ways. In the past few years, the number of alumni and retirees who have created special scholarships has grown and continues to grow each year.
Alumni Sponsored Senior Scholarships
Class of 1975 $1000 Science Achievement: Senior Sarah Niskey
Alumnus Joy Stovall shares the class’s motivation for creating the scholarship: “We started this scholarship in 2020 due to the Coronavirus stopping our plans for celebrating our 45th class reunion, but wanted to do something to commemorate it. After an email asking the Class of 1975 to contribute to a class scholarship, we received an overwhelming response. We chose Science for the scholarship due to it being a vital part of STEM and there currently wasn't a GHS Educational Foundation scholarship for that.”
Audrey Seidel Backstage Pass $500: Meka Vilallvazo
In 2020, in honor of Grossmont’s historic Theatre Arts Program, a group of former Grossmont thespians partnered with the Tony Award–winning Old Globe Theatre, to sponsor a Grossmont theatre arts student for an in-depth look behind the scenes of professional theatre.
Drama teacher Amity Ecker shares, “This year’s recipient was Meka Vilallvazo, who as a freshman has been involved in both our Fall, Spring, and One Act productions. She is passionate about design and tech theatre and is excited to continue her work in Technical Theatre at GHS!”
Donate to Backstage Pass at foothillerfoundation.com on its “Happenings” page.
Retiree Sponsored $1000 Scholarships
Coach Bill Gray Baseball Scholarship: Brayden Bennett
Bill Gray, GHS Baseball Coach from 1972-1987 and GHS English teacher from 1972-2008 and Department Chairman for 14 of those years, created the scholarship to support a baseball player’s transition to college since Bill himself was a player at Arizona State University. Even after he stopped coaching the team at GHS, his involvement with Foothiller baseball continued with the annual alumni game in December and with his many connections with players, ones he coached and ones mentored.
Jerry L. Lewis Art Scholarship: Yasmim Soares
Jerry L. Lewis taught art at Grossmont High School for 30 years, 28 of which he served as the Art Department chairperson. He also coached the Grossmont High School baseball and golf teams. An artist himself, for three years, beginning in 2020, Jerry has supported an outstanding art student as a way to promote the arts and reward a deserving senior who best exemplifies a commitment to continuing a path in the arts beyond their high school education.
Honoring George Gross $2000 Scholarships: Sarah Niskey and Austin Mitchell
According to organizer Sandia Tuttle, “In 2007, the George C. Gross Memorial Scholarship was established by the Class of 1960 to encourage our fellow Grossmont graduates in their pursuit of successful college and life careers. The scholarship is awarded annually to the college-bound Grossmont graduating senior who best complements a record of superior scholarship with an equally impressive habit of active concern for humanity.
George C. Gross was a beloved teacher and mentor to Grossmont students in the 1950s. After serving in the U.S. Army 743rd Tank Battalion in WWII, George C. Gross completed his education at San Diego State College then entered the teaching profession. While teaching English at Grossmont High School from 1952-1961, Mr. Gross pursued his graduate studies in English literature, earning the Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in 1963. In 1961 he joined the English faculty at San Diego State, where he served as Professor and as Dean of Faculty Affairs. He retired in 1985 but continued to serve the university.
George C. Gross [1922-2009] was an inspiring instructor and mentor to his students. He introduced us to the voices of the past and inspired us to find our own. For all he gave us, we will always be grateful.
We are proud to have dedicated the George C. Gross Memorial Scholarship in his honor. Since its inception in 2007, the George C. Gross Memorial Scholarship – funded by Grossmont Alumni- has distributed a total of $40,000 to twenty outstanding students. We suspended fundraising in 2022 and plan to award two scholarships per year, each in the amount of $3000, through 2026, funded from the remaining scholarship account.
Our thanks to all donors who have made this 20-year program possible.”
Obviously, these Foothiller alumni and retirees have had a tremendous impact on GHS culture and epitomize the gratitude and hope for the future that these scholarships represent.
For information about Foothiller history and the GHS Museum, email Connie and Lynn at