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Life and Arts

On the Town: 60-year tradition is learning experience for students

A light and festive afternoon was enjoyed by supporters at the 60th annual Tour of Homes presented by the Hoover High School PTA.

Each of the four homes fascinated guests for different reasons.

One home drew raves for its view, while another showcased rustic southwest touches.

The home on Stocker Street had a wonderful collection of Hoover memorabilia including cheerleading and band uniforms, a homecoming queen cape, yearbooks and a football from 1951 when Hoover won a game against Burroughs 21 to 7.

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“We are really celebrating our history and our alumni,” said Kirsten Hersh, president of the Hoover PTA. “Our honorary chair is Roxanne Ouweleen, and she is an assistant principal at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and a Hoover alumna. She has been working in the district since the mid-1990s — just a couple years after she graduated from high school.”

Ouweleen is recovering from a life-changing illness, but throughout it all has shown a tremendous amount of character and strength within herself, Hersh said.

“She’s come back to work and been that same faithful, loving, caring person that she was before, so we wanted to honor her for all that she’s done over the years and more recently with her illness in the recovery process,” Hersh said.

All of the funds raised by the tour go into the PTA budget for school programs and improvements, Hersh said.

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“This year, we’ve decided to focus on improving the weight room and gym, and we give out scholarships at the end of the year to seniors who have shown leadership and participation at Hoover throughout the four years,” she said.

There were 90 volunteers helping with the home tour and 60 of those were students.

“We are doing this for the students, so we want to make sure that they have ownership in it,” she said. “And also it’s a real neat opportunity to raise the bar and give them an exercise where they have to dress up, learn their script, speak in public to groups of people — mostly adults — loudly and clearly, things they don’t necessarily have to do day to day.”

What’s gratifying for Hersh, she said, is seeing the students rise to the level that is set for them.

“I’ve heard great feedback from people about how well they have been speaking,” she said.

Iffat Alan, 16, an 11th-grader at Hoover, greeted guests in the entry hall of the Central Avenue home built in 1927.

Iffat explained that the staircase had been changed from concrete to traditional oak and the side wall has woodwork paneling that keeps the home true to its English-Tudor style.

The wood floor has a herringbone pattern, different from the rest of the home, which has straight floor boards.

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Judy Chayah, 17, a senior, showed guests the family room. She said she enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer as a docent because it introduced her to some historically significant homes in the city.

“What I like about the tour is learning about the homes in Glendale and learning about the historical elements in each house, which is very interesting because I never knew [these homes] existed,” she said.

“I think it’s important for students to volunteer for the tour because you meet new people and learn more about the community you live in, so I think it’s important to volunteer and give back,” Chayah added.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.


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