A Short History of the Fort Hamilton High School Alumni Association
The first school-based Fort Hamilton High School Alumni Association was founded in 1983. David Whitebook, then the coordinator of student affairs, gathered together a number of alumni who were interested in forming an alumni association. The initial group consisted of Lee Alperin ’51, Vincent Gentile ’77, Nancy Grell ’82, Robert Hedlund ’69, Susan Koket ’72, Claire Kristensen ’51, Linda Mollo ’72, Babette Morello ’72, Mary Quinones ’82, Barbara Vellucci ’78 and Barbara Venito ’58.
Recognizing the significant efforts put forth by David Whitebook, our constitution gives him the permanent title of founder of the Alumni Association. Vincent Gentile was our founding president (he subsequently went on to represent Bay Ridge in the New York State Senate and is currently a New York City Councilman, deputy leader of the Council and chair of the Oversight and Investigations Committee, plus he has the longest tenure of any member of the Council).
From its inception, the Alumni Association’s mission is threefold: to help alumni keep in touch with their classmates, to enable graduates to know what is happening at the school and to provide assistance to the school and its current students. Over the years we have pursued these goals in a variety of ways.
Our first All Classes Homecoming was held in October, 1983. Alumni of classes from 1943 through 1983 attended. A formal ceremony was held in the auditorium followed by a dinner in the cafeteria. There were tours of the school which brought back many fond memories. Subsequent homecomings evolved to be beverage and cheese parties or dinners held in various locations in the school or banquet halls outside the school. We have sponsored country picnics, trips to Atlantic City, trips to Grossinger’s Hotel and to Mount Airy Lodge. Most recently, we held a very successful dinner dance to honor our February 2016 Hall of Fame inductees. It was chaired by current President Valerie Hodgson ’73 and held at El Caribe.
In addition to All Classes Homecomings, we have assisted many individual classes wishing to organize their own homecoming or reunion events.
We have cooperated with the school to sponsor an Annual Alumni Dinner/Show where our guests have dinner and then attend the school’s varsity show. With the completion of the Thomas F. Greene Natatorium, we began offering alumni the opportunity to swim in the pool; they are still able to do this through BRAINS, the Bay Ridge Aquatics Institute.
We have always placed a great value on communications with our members and we periodically send out letters, emails and newsletters to them. Our first newsletters were edited by former Fort Hamilton High School English teacher Lee Alperin ‘51 and subsequently by former Principal Alice Farkouh ‘57.
Many alumni have returned to Fort Hamilton to take leadership positions in the school. In 1989, Dr. Alice Farkouh ‘57 became the first alumna to become the principal of Fort Hamilton High School. She served in this position for ten years. Barbara Venito ‘58 served as the assistant principal of Pupil Personnel Services from 1980 through 1996; Judy Halioua ‘62 served as the assistant principal of ESL and Foreign Languages from 1987 through 2005; Barbara Vellucci ’78 served as the assistant principal of Organization from 2004 through 2015; and Doris Munoz served as assistant principal of ESL and Foreign Languages from 2005 through 2015. Currently, John Christakos ‘86 is serving as the assistant principal of Science. Our board member Greg Larsen ’90 and many other alumni currently teach in the school.
The FHHS Alumni Association has also worked for the betterment of the community through its membership in the Bay Ridge Community Council. Over the years three of our presidents and two of our board members have served as president of the Community Council. David Whitebook and Bob Hedlund currently serve as officers of the Kassenbrock Brothers Memorial Scholarship Fund of the Community Council. Each year numerous Fort Hamilton H.S. graduates have received these scholarships.
Many of our alumni have distinguished themselves in various fields (probably the best known member of the FHHS Alumni Hall of Fame is Dr. Janet Yellen ’63, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System). Our Alumni Hall of Fame can be seen in the second floor corridor near the school library. Information about our Hall of Fame members can be accessed elsewhere on this website.
Over the years, the Alumni Association has provided significant financial assistance to the school. For example, we have furnished the school with an electronic message board, purchased equipment for athletic teams (including our city championship football team), bought uniforms for the marching band, showcases for the school corridors, tables and chairs for dinners that all organizations affiliated with the school can use, refurbished the furniture in the principal’s conference room, provided flags for the main lobby representing every country in the UN and supported the school yearbook and the school newspaper. Each year we provide two financial awards to deserving seniors for the leadership and service they provided during their time at Fort Hamilton.
Presidents of the Fort Hamilton Alumni Association
Vincent Gentile ’77
Barbara Vellucci ’78
Susan (Nicosia) Koket ‘72
David Whitebook, Founder
Kent Strickman ‘87
Claire (Bendiksen) Kristensen ‘51
Eli Abdallah, Former PTA
Sandra (Brodish) Bernhart ‘63
Charles Farkouh ‘49
Alice (Cury) Farkouh ‘57
David Whitebook, Founder
Sandy Vallas ‘81
Maria (Tettonis) Makrinos ‘70
David Whitebook, Founder
Valerie Hodgson ‘73