Top of the Hill

Placer High Hall of Fame welcomes 2008 members
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Placer High graduates head out into the big world destined for great things. After they achieve these great feats, some end up right back at Placer. The Placer High School Hall of Fame aims to honor alumni and faculty whose accomplishments serve as inspiration for current and future students. Jenny Justus, a 1993 Placer graduate, began Hall of Fame efforts as her senior project. “This has become something very big for us,” said Gary Pantaleoni, Placer High assistant principal and longtime hall-of-fame committee member. “We have a lot of people in this community that are really strong at one thing. But this was to acknowledge people who are well rounded in the community.” The committee, consisting of staff, students and community members, goes through an annual process, soliciting and deliberating over nominations before choosing three individuals. This year’s nominees, honored over the weekend at the first Placer High football game and at a special dinner, are Jane Hamilton, Janice Forbes and David Rose. To highlight all the contributions of these three community members would take volumes —nomination letters for each of these recipients span over a couple pages — and somehow all those accomplishments have been scaled down to brief biographies, which are printed on plaques, along with each person’s photo. These plaques will soon hang in the foyer of the Placer High School auditorium. “The most special thing about it is, it’s a reflection on the community and the school and the type of people that are here in Auburn,” Pantaleoni said of the hall of fame. “It is a reflection of what we can do.” Jane Hamilton Jane Hamilton is a foothill native — she lived in Newcastle the first eight years of her life, but is an Auburnite for life. She graduated from Placer High in 1960, and has many family members who are also Placer grads. “When I was a student at Placer, during that time Del Oro and Colfax were opened and the student bodies were split, so we stopped going to school with a lot of our friends our sophomore year,” she recalls. While attending Placer, Hamilton participated in the band, sports and academics. “I really made the most, I think, of my high school experience,” she said. Five years after she finished her studies at Placer, after pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of the Pacific — she later earned two master’s degrees — Hamilton returned to the school, but this time as a teacher. “It was very strange, because all the teachers who I had were still there, but now they wanted me to call them by their first name, which was strange,” she said. Hamilton taught English, Spanish and Latin at first, tacking on French later. After earning her second master’s degree in education administration, Hamilton split vice-principal duties at Placer High for one year before taking over the job in 1989. “I really hoped I could make a difference with the teachers and make the school a better place,” she said. Hamilton served as a Placer High vice principal until 1994, when she took a position as principal of alternative education at Chana High School, returning to a campus she’d taught at from 1980-82. She rounded out her educational career at the North Auburn campus, retiring in 2001. Her community involvements include serving on the PEACE for Families and Auburn Boys & Girls Club boards, among others. Hamilton is also a member of the Placer Hall of Fame board, which caused a predicament once she learned friend Gayle Danfourth submitted Hamilton’s nomination. Hamilton opted not to vote for the inductees, and said she appreciates even being nominated. “I’m proud of it,” she said. “I personally don’t enjoy the public spotlight, but I’m happy Placer has a hall of fame. So often, people do really great works and maybe don’t receive much recognition because they’re not a star. In a way, the Hall of Fame at least gives a little credit to people who have made a difference in some way.” Janice Forbes Janice Forbes grew up in Auburn, and graduated from Placer High in 1956. Forbes was a cheerleader her sophomore and senior years, and was also a ski team member. “I thoroughly enjoyed my high school years,” she said. “We had wonderful teachers, we had a lot of fun, we had long-lasting friendships. It was a nice time of my life.” She left Auburn to attend Mills College in Oakland, later earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Forbes returned to Auburn in 1981. She is owner and publisher of both Sierra Heritage magazine and The Sentinel newspaper. Highlights on a list of her community involvement include serving as president of the Placer Community Foundation, as well as president of the Sierra Business Council. Placer Land Trust named Janice Forbes the recipient of the 2007 Placer Conservator Award for enriching the Placer County quality of life through conservation. “Janice’s other attainments, involvements and entrepreneurial achievements point to the fact that she is fulfilling her leadership qualities and visionary thinking for all of us,” Fred Haswell, a longtime friend of Forbes, wrote in a letter nominating Forbes for the hall of fame. Forbes just thinks she’s a product of her surroundings. “I think it probably stems from, when I grew up in Auburn, it was the volunteers who did so many things that gave us the quality of life,” Forbes said. “So I just feel that, if you are going to be a successful community, you need to have people willing to give up their time, their ideas and their energy.” David Rose Rose’s résumé of accomplishments, like those belonging to Hamilton and Forbes, are extensive, and peppered with community involvement. One huge way Rose impacted the community was serving as the English-language development coordinator not only for Placer High, but also the Auburn Union, Rocklin Unified and Placer Union High school districts. Rose also worked supervising the district administration on bilingual and multicultural issues for more than 16 years. “I tried to do my part to get those programs established, not only at Placer High School but at schools throughout Northern California,” he said. “One of the challenges, when it first started to evolve in the 1980s, is there was no true curriculum at that time.” Rose, the proud father of three Placer High graduates, taught English-language development from 1985 until retiring from the Placer Union district in 2000. “I was always a thorn in the administrator’s side, because I was pushing for the rights of my students,” he recalls. Rose’s contributions extend outside of the classroom as well. He helped establish and co-chair the Old Town Cinco de Mayo celebration, and he’s been manager of the Black & White Ball since its inception. Since leaving Placer, Rose has gone solar — he established and currently owns 1 Star Energy, installing solar-energy projects. Being named a hall-of-fame recipient was a shock to Rose. “When you spend all your time in community service and education you’re not doing it for the accolades,” he said. “It’s an honor because, when I look up there and see all the people and all their accomplishments, I feel kind of miniscule, because I’ve got a lot of life left.” The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at