The writers who told the untold story of one of the community’s black ancestors and America’s obsession with body image, a Paralympic athlete, a triathlete and nutritional health researcher, and a tech entrepreneur are this year’s Upper Arlington Alumni Association award winners.
In addition to organizing fundraisers for Upper Arlington Schools projects and programs, the Upper Arlington Alumni Association helps connect Upper Arlington High School graduates and shine a light on their accomplishments.
The latter part of these goals has been made difficult over the past two years, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the UAAA to cancel annual festivities coordinated with the July 4 celebration.
This year, UAAA has planned a full slate of activities, including an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. on July 2 where UAHS guests and community members are welcome to tour the new school. Upper Arlington Secondary School, 1625 Zollinger Road, and to recognize the achievements of past graduates.
A centerpiece of the planned activities is the UAAA Alumni Awards Ceremony, which was scheduled for July 2 at 2:30 p.m. at the high school.
The 2022 UAAA Alumni Awards will:
• Distinguished Alumni Award: Leslie Lehr, Class of 1977, and Chris Gladwin, Class of 1982
• Outstanding Alumni Award: Kim Shoemaker Starr, Class of 1973
• Inspiring Young Alumni Award: Blake Haxton, class of 2009, and John Lowrey, class of 2010.
According to information provided by the UAAA, Lehr attended Windermere Elementary School, where her passion emerged writing poetry and continued at Hastings Middle School, where she wrote the Hastings Hotline for a weekly. She was also president of WARL-TV, writing and producing shows for local cable channel UAHS.
Today, Lehr is the award-winning author of seven books, personal essays and screenplays, and has taught for more than a decade in the Writer’s Program at UCLA.
Her memoir, “A Boob’s Life: How America’s Obsession Shaped Me…and You” is being developed into a comedy television series for HBO, produced by Salma Hayek. Lehr will serve as executive producer. The book was a #1 bestseller on Amazon in Feminist Theory, called a “must-read” by People magazine, and combines memoir with research and cultural analysis. In it, Leslie shares her own experiences with breast envy, breastfeeding, breast implants and breast cancer.
Reached by phone June 27, Lehr said she was surprised when told she would be honored by the UAAA, but was looking forward to returning to Upper Arlington from the Los Angeles area to be recognized.
“It’s a lot of emotions,” Lehr said. “For me, it feels good to be recognized for trying to do something really good in the world.
“I write to entertain, but also to inform and inspire.”
Although she envied the “beautiful girls” in her class who were popular and received attention throughout high school, Lehr said she was touched by the access to books in her schools growing up.
“Looking back, that was a huge plus for me,” Lehr said. “I think the encouragement from the teachers there made a huge difference and the access to books, I think it really encouraged a love of reading.
“I never intended to be a writer. I always wrote to let off steam and have a voice. It’s like magic to use words and create a story. It’s just amazing when it can really touch people.”
Gladwin graduated from MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering.
According to the UAAA’s website, he has since launched “several tech start-ups, including CleverSafe, which he sold to IBM, making many of his longtime employees multi-millionaires.”
In addition to Gladwin’s professional success, his philanthropy includes co-founding The Forge – Adventure Park, a public/private social enterprise providing authentic, community-driven outdoor experiences for urban and suburban audiences. He volunteers for Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit environmental organization.
Honoring Starr as its outstanding alumni, the UAAA recognized his collaboration with Diane Kelly Runyon for co-writing “Secrets Under the Parking Lot,” which was released in 2017 and tells the story of Pleasant’s life. Litchford.
According to the Book and Upper Arlington Schools, Litchford was a master blacksmith born and raised in Virginia as a slave. He later purchased his freedom, moved to Ohio in the late 1820s, and purchased land that now houses UAHS, Northam Park, and Tremont Elementary.
“I’m extremely grateful to have won this award, after all the hard work I’ve put in,” Starr said. “(Diane and I) are continuing to work on this story.
“We’ve sold over 5,000 copies of our book, given over 200 presentations across the country, WOSU won an Emmy on The Life of Pleasant Litchford in 2019, and now we’ve changed the Upper Arlington Schools curriculum to include his life.”
As for UAAA’s Inspiring Young Alumni recipients, Haxton, reportedly overcame necrotizing fasciitis and amputation of both legs and later graduated from Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law.
In 2020, Haxton competed as a Paralympic athlete in the Tokyo Olympics and won a silver medal in the men’s canoe sprint.
In addition to establishing a career in finance, the UAAA website says Haxton also prioritizes giving back, devoting her time and resources to generously support Upper Arlington’s rowing program, “making it stronger and accessible to every student”.
Lowrey graduated from UAHS in 2010 and had a guaranteed spot in medical school in Northeast Ohio Medical University’s accelerated six-year Bachelor of Science degree program in medicine. He completed his Bachelor of Science in two years, with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, then retired from his medical career to pursue his other passions.
He enrolled at Ohio State, where he spent the eight years earning a master’s degree in food science, business administration, and applied economics, as well as a doctorate from OSU Fisher College of Chain Business. supply.
Since 2012, Haxton has qualified for the United States Triathlon World Championships three times. In 2020 he turned to road cycling and is a former Haute Route Ambassador.
Lowrey is an assistant professor at Northeastern University in Boston, with a cross appointment at the Business and Health Sciences School.
“His research focuses on the role of food banks, both in the food retail and health care landscape,” according to UAAA.
A list of past UAAA Alumni Award winners and information about this year’s selections can be found at bearalums.com/.