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High School Commemorates 150 Years of Graduates’ Success With AM-School-Honor Roll

June 12, 1992

BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) _ Brookline High School has churned out its share of talent - and some of its legions of famous faces are returning this weekend to mark its 150th year.

The alumni have made their mark in business, government, sports, medicine, the military and the arts and entertainment. What ties them together is a red- brick campus that opened in the fall of 1843 in Brookline, now a Boston suburb.

″It was something in the water,″ said journalist Mike Wallace of ″60 Minutes″ and the Class of 1935.

The sesquicentennial celebrations get under way Sunday, with a string of symposiums attended by such luminaries as Wallace and actor Alan Rachins, who plays the fall-on-his-face attorney Douglas Brackman on NBC-TV’s ″L.A. Law.″

″It’s not something that you leave behind. It’s something you take with you,″ said Rachins, Class of 1960. ″It had a central place in people’s lives.″

John D. Spooner, author of ″Sex and Money″ and ″Confessions of a Stockbroker,″ plans a new book he says will be based partly on the school he left behind in 1955.

Brookline High was opened to complement a private all-boys prep school, mainly at the urging of an influential minister with four daughters.

″Once they made up their minds to build it, they decided it was going to be the best,″ said retired headmaster Bertram Holland, who also is working on a book about the school.

Brookline has historically attracted immigrants who earned enough to leave the crowded neighborhoods of Boston: Eastern European Jews and Irish in the middle 1900s, Russians and Asians today.

″Brookline tended to attract first- or second-generation Americans who sacrificed a lot to live there because they cared so much about their kids,″ said Michael S. Dukakis, Class of ’51, who did win a presidential election - of the student council.

More than 60 nationalities are represented at the high school and nearly a third of students come from homes whose primary language isn’t English. Yet standardized test scores have continued to go up and nearly 80 percent of graduates go on to four-year colleges.

″Parents still move to Brookline because of the schools,″ said Headmaster Mary Athey Jennings. ″The schools then benefit because those parents care so much about the education of their children.″

Some of the most prominent and loyal alumni graduated in the middle decades of the century.

″At that time, the high school was the focus of their lives,″ said Marcy Kornreich, ’74, chairwoman of the sesquicentennial.

″By the time I got there, there were lots of other distractions: There were jobs after school, there was television. People’s attitudes toward high school changed, and I think that’s kind of sad.″

But Brookline High’s legacy is still an encouragement to the 1,750 students enrolled this year, Jennings said.

″The message has been, from all of our alumni, that you can do whatever you want to,″ she said. ″You just need to discover your talents. And many of our alumni discovered their talents at Brookline High School.″

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