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The City Journals

Ben Lomond High Honors Alumni Activist

Oct 08, 2015 03:31PM ● By Bryan Scott

By Nancy Van Valkenburg

Last month, Ben Lomond High School’s Wall of Fame added two more alumni inductees: Mikel Vause, class of 1970, and Kerry Favero, class of ’72.

Nominator Travis Marker (class of ’94) thinks the honor is long overdue. Vause and Favero find the fuss somewhat awkward. After all, they  created the Wall of Fame in 1994 to honor others.

“It’s nice, but a little embarrassing,” said Vause, a Weber State English professor and author of essay and poetry books.

“It’s very embarrassing,” said Favero, who, with Vause, helped found the Ben Lomond High School Alumni Association, and has stuck with it ever since.

“There are probably a lot more people more deserving than me,” said Favero, an accountant for Rocky Mountain Power. “We are supposed to be finding the people for the wall.”

The idea for a BLHS Alumni Association came more than 20 years ago when Vause learned the Ogden High Foundation had $150,000 in funds and Ben Lomond had $900.

 “I thought there ought to be some way to help them out,” Vause said. So he organized other BLHS graduates, and they hosted a huge reunion fundraiser that raised $40,000.

Marker said to some schools, that wouldn’t sound like a lot.

“If you help with small things, that’s a gigantic resource,” he said. “Ben Lomond is not a high dollar school, and it’s overwhelming when you think of all the ways the school has been touched (by  Alumni Association funding).”

After the reunion, Vause and Favero decided to keep the effort going.

“In founding the Wall of Fame, we wanted kids to recognize their potential,” Vause said. “Sometimes kids who go to Ben Lomond feel pretty much stuck in a blue collar life, and we wanted them to see people who were in their same circumstances who went on to be successful and do interesting things. There are all kinds of successful people who grew up just down the street from them.”

The Wall of Fame features plaques and photographs of honorees, and is located in the main hallway.

Favero, Vause and other alumni expanded a golf tournament started by BLHS golf coach Gene Kunz, who had used profits to buy shirts for the school’s student golf team. The association increased the 9-hole tournament to 18 holes, drawing bigger crowds and raising funds to more fully support the team.

The association supports the school’s bagpipe squad, and has made many one-time donations as needs were identified. It created two senior scholarships of $1,000 each to help one male and one female student.

“It’s for someone who shows promise, but needs help,” Vause said. One scholarship is funded by Wade Bell, an alumnus who ran on the 1968 Olympic track team. “Wade grew up in very humble circumstances, and he wanted to help others.”

 “Ben Lomond has good kids with a ton of potential,” Vause said. “We just need to cultivate that. That’s what we need to do to make the community better.”