When theater producers Pierson Blaetz and Whitney Weston established Friends of Fairfax to help Fairfax High School in 1998, they came up with the Melrose Trading Post, a flea market held every weekend in the high school’s parking lot. But the annual $200,000 from the Trading Post has not been enough to help Fairfax High cover the shortfall it’s currently facing due to statewide cuts in education spending.
On Oct. 6, the Friends of Fairfax held its inaugural Legacy Gala and Hall of Fame Induction at the vintage Wilshire Ebell, where 500 people, including Fairfax alumni such as L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, attended to give back to the school that enriched their education and their lives. Honorees included philanthropists Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer and Annette Shapiro, Broadcom founder Henry Samueli, and the patron saint of Fairfax High’s music program, Herb Alpert.
Following dinner, the auditorium presentation saw Eisenberg-Keefer, who has supported myriad Jewish and medical institutions, and Shapiro, president of the board of Beit T’Shuvah, receive their medals of honor.
During his turn, Marconi Prize-winner Samueli spoke about how Fairfax helped put him on the path to becoming an electrical engineer. He credited Fairfax with “having good teachers who are passionate about what they teach” for furthering his education,” and urged people to support the school and make sure “they continue that tradition.”
After receiving his medal, Alpert, 77, was joined onstage by pianist Bill Cantos, drummer Michael Shapiro, bassist Hussain Jiffry, and Alpert’ wife, singer Lani Hall.
Alpert performed a full-length concert for attendees, playing standards such as “Fever,” “Moon Dance” and “Mas Que Nada.”
Seeing Alpert perform brought back memories for Yaroslavsky, who as a Fairfax student in 1966 saw Alpert return to Fairfax with his Tijuana Brass at the peak of his success.
“They had to play two assembly concerts because they could not fit all the students in,” he recalled.