Downey High adding six to Hall of Fame

DOWNEY – Downey High School will induct six alumni into its Hall of Fame on Friday.

This year's inductees include Alida Bouris, Yanna Bouris, Michael Kearns, Larry Myers, Grant Neilan and Bob Winningham.

Induction ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. in the Downey High theater. Below are brief bios on each of the inductees, as provided by Downey High School.

Alida Bouris (class of 1991): Following an outstanding high school career, which included the unique honor of winning the San Gabriel Valley League Spelling Bee championship and being listed as a Rockwell International Scholar, Alida entered a lifetime of academics. She earned her BA at UC Berkeley and MSSW, MPhil and PhD degrees from Columbia.

Alida, currently an assistant professor at the University of Chicago, is a William Pollack winner for excellence in teaching. At Chicago she also holds several other positions such as co-director of the Chicago Center for HIV Elimination, co-director of an AIDS research center, and a faculty affiliate on three related organizations.

Her overall research agenda is focused on understanding how social context affects the sexual and reproductive health of youth of color.

Yanna Bouris (class of 1991): Salutatorian, National Merit Scholar, and Robert Byrd Honor Scholarship were achievements by Yanna at Downey High School. After graduation, she attended UC Berkeley, receiving a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology with Phi Beta Kappa status.

In 2003 she completed her Juris Doctor at Stanford Law School. Before law school Yanna worked in the biotechnology industry in the areas of genetics, real-time PCR and HIV diagnostics for Harvard Medical School.

Currently, she is working as an intellectual property lawyer as a partner at Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, LLP, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the United States. Yanna has handled the damages case in several high-strakes patent litigation matters.

Michael Kearns (class of 1977): Michael, usually referred to as Mikey, represents the epitome of striving to successfully reach 100% of your capabilities as he overcame Down syndrome. At age 13, Mikey swam in the Special Olympics and continued into his 30’s, winning many medals and ribbons.

Mikey found his perfect niche at Downey High as manager of the football team, earning a varsity letter. After relocating with his family to Escondido, he moved into his own apartment. He became gainfully employed by Palomar Water and was twice selected as their representative to throw out the first pitch for the San Diego Padres.

Mikey belonged to the San Diego Association of Retarded Citizens, appeared in plays, and participated in a training video for the local Police Department. Alzheimer’s disease, resulting from the Down syndrome, hastened his early demise after 54 years of love, laughter, and a legacy of achievements.

Larry Myers (class of 1957): Larry began a lifetime of leadership and volunteerism at Downey High School in Student Council, as senior class president, and in a Key Club polio prevention program.

Larry himself was a polio survivor. When Rotary International launched PolioPlus in 1985, Larry, a Rotary governor of District 5130, led the campaign to raise funds for the eradication of this disease. Eventually, the district raised $1,250,000 and Larry was named Rotarian of the Year for 2003.

In addition to his profession as Director of Pharmacy at Ukiah Adventist Hospital, he has enriched the lives of countless others through his work for the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts, American Diabetes Association, and numerous other local associations.

Grant Neilan (class of 2005): Grant was the high school student every teacher and parent desires. He was on honor roll and a scholarship recipient, played freshman football as well as four years of basketball and baseball. His coach once commented that Grant was the hardest worker he had ever known.

In 2009 he took those qualities with him as he joined the United States Navy hoping to become a SEAL. After completing BUD/S (basic underwater demolition/SEAL training), he moved to SQT (SEAL qualification training), graduating in 2011 as a Navy SEAL. Attached to a SEAL team, Grant has served with distinction on multiple combat deployments.

In his spare time, Grant is working on a BS in Criminal Justice and is contemplating opening a restaurant in Downey after his active military service.

Bob Winningham (class of 1973): After completing his education at Downey High School, Bob became a very successful businessman and much more. The vice president of Downey Vendors, Bob excelled in his professional career, but it was his willingness to give unselfishly of himself for others that left an enduring impact upon the community.

Bob served on the Downey City Council as member and as mayor. He was also vice president of the Independent Cities Association and a working member of numerous vital committees. Further, he served on the Board of Managers of the Downey Family YMCA as chairman, vice chairman, and treasurer, as well as a board member and president of Northwest Little League.

Bob will long be remembered as one of the brightest and most caring and effective civic leaders in the history of Downey.