TAMPA — King High Principal Mike Rowan rates the school’s alumni association the strongest among the Hillsborough County School district’s 28 high schools.
A prime example of the group’s dedication to its alma mater, he said, unfolded in 2010 during festivities celebrating the school’s 50th birthday.
The alumni made a commitment to do whatever it took to breathe some new life and fresh air into the school’s odiferous and dilapidated weight room that’s been part of the campus since the school’s opening in 1960.
Through donations of their own, their places of business, and from several other King High supporters, the group’s three-year endeavor is now a done deal.
Close to 50 KHS alumni and other supporters recently gathered in the school’s media center for dinner — donated by Brocoto’s Restaurant and served by students in the school’s culinary arts program — coupled with the dedication of the newly renovated workout facility.
Rowan, a KHS class of ’87 graduate; Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura, a 1986 graduate; Jimmy Macluso, a 1966 KHS graduate and retired KHS teacher and continuing baseball coach; and Gwen Mora, a 1966 King graduate who spearheaded the restoration initiative, were among those present.
Fundraising events associated with the school’s 50th year celebration yielded about $7,000. It was used as seed money to fund the project, which Rowan estimated cost a total of $150,000.
“This community is astounding,” Mora said. “All you have to do is ask.”
Macluso said it’s unfortunate King High oftentimes gets a bad rap, considering its many positive happenings.
“It’s because of you and other good people that these good things are happening,” Macluso said.
Rowan gave special kudos to Joey Affronti, a King High 1984 graduate, for his major donation of time and effort to the project.
“Joey was one of our most valuable contributors,” Rowan said. “He picked up every piece of equipment and took it to his shop (American Sleeper) where he sandblasted and painted it and brought it back. No way could we have bought all new stuff.”
Affronti in turn credited Jimmy Fisher, a class of ’73 graduate, with replacing the leather cushions and padding on much of the equipment.
“The overall condition of this place was really pretty bad,” Affronti said. “Even if you were in here for just a couple of minutes, when you left your felt like you needed to take a shower.”
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.