High School Musical director honored

March 27, 2009 7:05:27 PM PDT
What do the micro-processor Dolby digital surround sound and the "High School Musical" movies have in common? The answer is Sequoia High School in Redwood City.

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Sequoia High School alumni have made their mark.

Gordon Moore was a co-founder of Intel, which made the first microprocessor, Ray Dolby created noise reduction and surround sound systems and Kenny Ortega, class of 1968, directed the three "High School Musical" movies.

Ortega was thrilled to be back where teachers inspired him to become a choreographer and film director.

"It really was because of the incredible mentoring and teaching that allowed that to come to the surface," said Ortega.

They're among three of the eight inducted at the school's first Hall of Fame ceremony.

However, their principal, Morgan Marchbanks, is herself a hall of famer. She was inducted last week into the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame, recognized for transforming an underachieving school nine years ago into one where 97 percent of the graduates now go on to college.

"It always had sort of a reputation of being, not to be mean, sort of a 'loser' school. It's really great to see how the school has changed, and I would really credit Morgan Marchbanks for a lot of that," said Sequoia High School senior Jimmy Daggett.

"The students know I'm a high school dropout, and they know that I bring to education a passion for not having no one experience what I experienced -- to be alone, in a hostile environment, where no one seemed to notice," said Miss Marchbanks.

That's not easy when the school has 1,650 students.

"Like I see Miss Marchbanks out on campus saying hi to all the people, you just don't get that anywhere else," said Sequoia High School senior Nicole Ligh.

She's leaving in June to pursue a Ph.D. While the spotlight was on distinguished alumni on Friday, the students have a role model on campus every day.

The Hall of Fame will now become an annual event, and who knows -- Perhaps in a few more years, there will be members of the graduation class of 2009, maybe 2010, who will someday grace this Hall of Fame.

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