By Norma Richman
Artist Recounts His Years at High Point Academy
“I remember my first dance at High Point. My mother had to give me instructions on how to dance properly, complete with some basic steps to the song ‘Get Down Tonight’ by KC and The Sunshine Band. My first dance with my junior high crush, however, was to the most awkward song you could dance to, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin. Not really a dancing type of song!”
My Brief Bio—
Currently I am working as an artist—my passion, my reason outside of my family life for existing on this planet. My career is unique in the sense that I learned how to draw caricatures during and after college. Over a 40-year time period, as a self-trained caricaturist, I developed a huge market in caricature entertainment for private parties and corporate events. This unique career afforded me the ability to entertain on cruise ships over a 12-year span and enabled me to see the world and to fall in love with my wife Tori who worked onboard as a junior activities director. We were engaged within a year of meeting each other. Caricature has also afforded me opportunities to be on television and rub elbows with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Most recently I appeared on Netflix interviewing Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, and Gal Gadot. I’m very proud to say that my work appeared as a ‘Political Caricatures’ category on three separate episodes of Jeopardy. My most recent claim to fame isn’t really caricature-based, but my design was chosen as the 2023 Sierra Madre Rose Parade float. So when you see the float rolling down the street on New Year’s Day 2023, with a giant bear riding a Vespa, that was all created in my head.
I attended High Point from fourth through eight grades. After graduating I attended La Salle High School and then I started my first two years of college at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California. I spent the next three years at California State University at Long Beach as an art major, and I left there with a bachelor’s degree in art.
I am currently living in the city of Sierra Madre with my wife Tori, who works at High Point Academy as a second grade teacher, and my son Jackson, who is attending third grade.
My High Point Experience—
I have a lot of fond memories from High Point. I specifically remember the musical performances we did at the church across the street—a tradition that has lived on. The bleachers did not exist on the field; there was only a hillside of shrubbery. I remember the track events after school, which were coached by my math teacher Mr. Kosmicki and my science teacher Mr. Strong. At the time I attended, Mrs. De Petra was the Head of School. I remember we had a great English teacher who I absolutely loved, Mrs. Wilson. And a Spanish teacher, Miss Morelli. It’s funny, these names stuck with me more than any of my college instructors. I honestly couldn’t name most of the instructors I had at the university level because they didn’t have the impact or provide the tools and foundation that my High Point teachers had. I have two lifelong friends from High Point that I am still very close to, Bryan Biggerstaff and Scott McCue.
While I only spent four years at HPA, I can imagine what attending K-8 would have been like. The friendships and education I experienced from attending 4th-8th grade were amazing. If I had to do it all over again, I would never have gone to any other school. Having my son attend there and my wife teach there, we really have come full circle, and the quality of education that High Point still offers has not wavered.
I have not attended any alumni events; however I have come back to demonstrate how to draw caricatures for Jackson’s third grade art class led by Mr. Zack Davis. We all had a blast, and the kids loved watching me draw Mr. Davis. They also all learned how to draw a caricature of Mr. Bean! I feel proud to come back and see the school and to be known as an alumnus.
In Mr. Davis’ 4th Grade Art Class.
Personal Observations and Reflections—
When Tori and I came to High Point with Jackson for an admissions interview, I remember Mr. Gary Stern, Head of School at the time, asking us what makes us suitable—or something along those lines—to be a part of the school. This was before he knew I was an alumnus. I told him that what makes us suitable is that I held the title of Freestyle Frisbee Champion of 1978 at the school intramural frisbee competition. Fortunately, he seemed both amused and impressed. My future is really all about watching my son grow up and creating new adventures with the entire family. Just like my son, I will always be a student of life Inspired by all of what the world around me has to offer. I feel that the leadership of Kris Haines is outstanding. The school is incredibly lucky to have her, and I think she truly embodies all of the High Point qualities and standards that have existed since my days as a student at the school. I should also note that the second grade teacher, Mrs. Dohlen, is my favorite!
You can find him at: www.Linetweaker.com and Instagram @gregdohlen