Alumni Spotlight

Kahdijah Ali (Class of ’06) and her son Antuan (Class of ’26)

Beechwood is not only a school but also an extended family, supporting and enjoying one another throughout the years. Beechwood Alumni now number over 300 young people. They have demonstrated commitment to family, community and lifelong learning.

Keith Garner (Class of ’00) and Keith Garner (Class of ’26)

Beechwood employs a full-time Graduate Coordinator to keep in touch with alumni. Mrs. Connolly works closely with Beechwood eighth graders and their families to help them prepare for their high school experience, arranging onsite visits to schools and assisting them in the application process. She also helps alumni connect with support and enrichment programs.

John Damon (Class of 1998) and Sanai Damon (Class of 2026)

Beechwood graduates remain an active part of the Beechwood community. They often return for informal visits in addition to participating more formally in the classroom, sharing principles and experiences with current students. We are proud of our growing family of alumni and applaud their hard work, determination, and willingness to give back to the community.

Konstance Kirkendoll (Class of 2001) and her daughter Monte (Class of 2022)

Alexis Jenkins (Class of 2005) and her daughter Genessis (Class of 2025)

Corey McGee (Class of 2003) and his daughter Mia (Class of 2028)

Alumni Spotlight

Joshua Nickings

Joshua is a true scholar, who consistently demands the best of himself .   As a ninth grade student at Eastside Prep, he is putting in many hours of studying and states, enthusiastically, “I am really getting ready for college!” This summer he will be enrolled in a college level psychology course. Joshua is a ninth grader who decided to brave the dorms and he is enjoying living on campus.   He appreciates homework help from the counselors. Dorm life has facilitated making friends, enjoying new experiences and becoming more independent.  Joining the volleyball team has provided a balance to academic life.

Along with his two older siblings, Joshua graduated from Beechwood School and enrolled at Eastside.   At Beechwood, he learned how to establish relationships with his teachers, which is a skill he finds helpful in high school. His favorite memories include whole-class volleyball games and hanging out with friends.

Joshua’s advice to Beechwood students: “Aim high, work hard and you will get to where you want to be.”

Addy Palacios

Congratulations, Addy! A 10th grade student at East Palo Alto Academy , Addy has won full tuition ($4000) to attend the Intensive Law and Trial program at Stanford University.  She will participate in a ten week program that exposes high schoolers from around the country to the theory and practice of law.  Addy states, “Once I become a lawyer, I would like to make sure laws protect human rights and create a just society.” Addy and her three older brothers graduated from Beechwood School.  Noel Cruz is
a college graduate and an engineer. Andrew Cruz is a teacher in Menlo Park and is headed for graduate school, working toward a Masters in school counseling.  Jordan Palacios is in the Year-Up program, sponsored by Facebook. We look forward to following their life journeys.
As Dr. Suess proclaimed, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

Jackey Wilson

Jackey grew up in East Palo Alto, graduated from Beechwood in 1996, and became an alumus of Menlo Atherton High School. He earned a B.A. in Interpersonal Communication from Long Beach State . His career path began in finance and real estate and moved on to social service work in 2009. Jackey continued his education and in 2015 earned a Masters in Social Work from San Jose State University while working full time.   Presently he is employed by Santa Clara County Child Protective Services, helping to support, educate and strengthen families. His goals for the future include becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

Family life is of the utmost importance to Jackey. He and his wife Navita own a home in East Palo Alto where they are raising three lively young boys. They also have close ties to their parents and siblings.   Jackey says, “Fatherhood is the greatest gift ever.”

Vivid Beechwood memories include “Jake-The-Snake” in Mr. D. Laurance’s room, the science fair with Mr. Umbarger and a 7 mile hike led by Mr. Willoughby. Jackey’s advice to Beechwood students includes, “Follow heart-lead goals and use frustration and pain as fuel to push through hardships.”

Ruth Carias

In 2011, Ruth moved on from her small comfortable home, Beechwood School , to become a citizen of the world, traveling in Vietnam, India, Costa Rica and Ghana. Not only did she experience other cultures but she volunteered in schools, farming projects and environmental clean-ups. Because she dared to “venture out of her comfort zone,” Ruth says her life changed in many positive ways.

Following  graduation from Summit Prep Charter High School, she moved to southern CA and is now completing her senior year at UC Irvine . Ruth is majoring in environmental science and some day hopes to pursue a career in environmental law.

She maintains middle school friendships and remembers her committed teachers and the “ solid academic foundation” she received at Beechwood School.   We are proud of you, Ruth and are anxious to see what comes next!

Ivan Carrillo

Ivan is not only a distinguished Beechwood Alumnus, but in May of 2019, he will be an alumnus of Eastside Prep High School.  Eastside has  high academic standards and Ivan has had a successful  four years, earning good grades and participating positively in many aspects of campus life.  Along with four years of soccer, he is a member of the cross country and track teams.  Physical fitness and a healthy diet  are very important to this high school athlete.

Family life  takes center stage and Ivan is a devoted son and big brother to his two younger siblings, one of whom is attending Beechwood School.
AP Physics is his favorite subject.  He says “It helps me understand how the world works.”  Ivan is applying to UC Universities and will major in mechanical engineering.

He advises 8th graders to stay close to families, have conversations with  teachers, and keep an open mind.  “Appreciate Beechwood  School because it prepares you well for high school.”

Celeste Aguilar

Celeste graduated from Beechwood School in 2017 and transitioned smoothly  to Menlo School’s ninth grade.  After attending Beechwood for nine years, starting out at a new school “felt  a little like being out of the nest.”  Her friendly personality quickly helped her make new friends.  Celeste feels particularly well prepared for Menlo’s challenging math classes. She also enjoys conceptual physics and French.  Celeste  joined Menlo’s water polo team, played goalie and earned an award acknowledging  her  as “The Hardest Working  Team Member.”  To improve her skills,  she also joined Stanford’s  water polo club team.  Among her fondest Beechwood memories are paddling to Angel Island, 4 square games, camping at Pigeon Point and her enduring friendships. Celeste advises  Beechwood students  to cherish days with classmates and maintain  friendships.

Brandon Drayton

Always a top student, Brandon joined Beechwood in kindergarten and graduated  with his eighth grade class in 1984.  He enjoyed playing basketball in middle school and continued playing at Woodside High School.  At Cal State University East Bay, Brandon earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies.  Married in 2008 to Cassi,  the couple purchased their own home and now enjoy parenting two children, Sydney and Cameron.  We are happy they are Beechwood parents!  Brandon has worked for over 11 years as Assistant Manager/ Consultant at Space Systems Loral.  To quote his parents, “Brandon is patient, disciplined, kind, a good citizen, father, husband and son. Beechwood helped him be the man he is today. This community will always hold a dear place in our hearts.”

Theo Kirkendoll

Beechwood School is proud to introduce Theo, an alumnus who is known for his winning smile, thirst for knowledge and a positive outlook on life.  After completing 8th grade, he graduated from Redwood High School and then attended Canada College.  He married, started a family and is now the father of five beautiful girls.  During 26 months of service in the U.S. Marines, Chief Warrant Officer, Theo Kirkendoll, completed three deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  His professional goal is to retire as Lt. Colonel by the age of 45 and then develop a new career.  Theo values his lasting friendships born at Beechwood School and continues to feel an important part  of the school family.  His advice to students: “Never give up, see things through, and make sure you are doing things for yourself and others.”

Latricia Simon Uba

Latricia lives by her golden rule which is, “Pursue what you love to do and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  A member of Beechwood’s first graduating class, she is doing just that. After a long challenging journey, “Trisha “ enjoys her profession  as a Registered Nurse in Maternity at Stanford Hospital. Her keen intellect, kind nature and willingness to work long hours make her ideal for this  position. After graduating from Menlo Atherton High School, Latricia attended  Foothill and Canada Colleges, while working full time in retail. Her dream of becoming a nurse began at the age of six and  at 33 years of age, after much hard work, out-of-state moves, set-backs and finally triumphs, she earned her B.S. in Nursing!Her grandmother settled in East Palo Alto in the 1960’s and raised 8 children.  Family is a key element in Latricia’s life and she enjoys her large extended family.  In 2015, she married a “lovely Nigerian man” with whom she likes to travel, dine out and enjoy Trisket, their dog.Memories of Beechwood include  “feeling at home and being part of a family,” great field trips including Ano Nuevo, SanFrancisco museums and attending theatre productions. Beechwood School is inspired by Latricia and grateful for the loving care she provides to so many in our community.

Agustin Diaz

A wiz in math and science, Agustin is looking forward to a career in medicine and
one day becoming a surgeon. Presently he is taking several courses in
U.C.Berkeley’s graduate school and working as a medical scribe. He plans to tutorBeechwood math students, as well.Agustin and his two brothers attended Beechwood from kindergarten through 8th grade. They all attended local high schools. Favorite Beechwood memories include memorizing poems in first grade, cooking and gardening in fourth grade and middle school math. In 2012, Agustin graduated from Menlo School and was awarded a full scholarship to U.C.Santa Barbara where he majored in psychology. He has maintained close friendships from his college days. Now living and working in San Francisco, he enjoys the city parks and traveling. He learned a lot about other cultures on his recent month-long trip to India. Agustin’s advice to Beechwood students: “Be true to yourself and surround yourself with good positive people.”

Stacy Abonce

After receiving a warm Castilleja welcome, Stacy is enjoying her first year in high school.The curriculum is demanding and she is more than ready for the challenge.

As well as concentrating on her coursework,  she is playing volleyball and is on the swim team.  Highlights of the school year include the Father/Daughter Dance, spirit week and making new friends.  Stacy enjoys the many traditions of Castilleja school culture. She is very grateful for kind, helpful, dedicated teachers.

Beechwood memories are “feeling happy and comfortable at school, wonderful friends and teachers and the first grade water slide.  Beechwood helped me define my loves: math, writing, history and music.” Stacy’s goals include college, making her parents proud, giving back to family, having a good job and creating a stable life. Ms. Abonce advises her Beechwood buddies to  stay true to their values and keep closely connected to family.”

Andrew Cruz

The Cruz family includes four Beechwood alumni.  Noel lead the way, followed by Jordan, Andrew and Addy.  In 2005, Andrew entered Eastside Prep High School where he completed National Outdoor Leadership School, backpacking 124 miles in the wilderness.  After completing Eastside’s rigorous academic program, he began his advanced studies at the University of the Pacific, majoring in sociology and business.  He also joined a multicultural fraternity. During his college years, he tutored migrant workers and their children. Andrew says he learned a lot from this experience.  His resume includes one year in the Dominican Republic as a member of the Peace Corps, summer teacher aid at Beechwood School and presently a first grade associate teacher at Phillip Brooks School.  Andrew has fond Beechwood memories including painting the ball-wall with his classmates and “having some of the best teachers  in my life. The work I accomplished had purpose and meaning.”

After earning an M.A. in School Counseling, Andrew’s goal is to found a school with a focus on  social/emotional intelligence, combined with relevant academics and an “emphasis on understanding the world and knowing how to respond appropriately.”

Andrew Cruz’ advice to Beechwood students is: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be brave enough to make mistakes.  Your brain will grow.”

Konstance Kirkendoll

Konstance reminds us of a famous quote by Dr. Seuss.  “Life is a great balancing act.” Ms. K’s many life-roles include college student, mother of two and teacher at Beechwood School.  A summer kindergarten teacher, she also coordinates service learning  and teaches 8th grade language arts.   Ready to help out with school projects, she is active with parent fundraising and yearbook production.

The Kirkendoll’s are a Beechwood family.  Both brothers graduated from Beechwood, as well as Konstance.  Her oldest daughter is presently in the fourth grade. After 8th grade, Konstance attended Menlo School and then entered Mills College.  She is now in a teaching credentials program through the University of Phoenix. Fond school memories include Black History celebrations and programs, small classes and a family atmosphere.  She always felt comfortable talking with her teachers. The 8th grade class trip to Santa Cruz  was her favorite field trip. Ms. K’s advice to Beechwood’s students:  “Advocate for yourselves, focus on progress, not heavily on grades.” Her master plan includes earning her teaching credential, owning her own home and raising her children to be confident and kind.

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