DOWNEY -– Three former students were inducted into Warren High School's Hall of Fame on Friday.
The alumni -- Roger Emerson, Hanford Rants and Herb Welch -- were enshrined during a ceremony in the school library hosted by Principal Laura Rivas. It was the school's fourth annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Roger Emerson, a Warren High graduate Class of 1968, is a professional composer. He is also an arranger with over 900 choral titles in print and over 30 million copies in circulation.
Emerson is the most widely performed composer/arranger of popular choral music in the world today. His works include the choral arrangements of Josh Groban's “You Raise Me Up,” “Seasons of Love” from Rent, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, “Joyful, Joyful” from Sister Act, “Don't Stop Believ’in'” from Glee, and most recently, “My Shot” from Hamilton.
Emerson has been the recipient of ASCAP's Standard Award for 20 years running and his works have been performed at the White House, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He is in constant demand as a lecturer on pop music and the changing voice, and has appeared at numerous National Education of Music Education and American Choral Directors Association conferences.
The second inductee, Hanford Rants, was born in 1923 in a small house his dad built for $500 for their family in Ahtanum, Washington. He had two brothers, Lauren and Coe. When he graduated from high school, his goal in life was to become a foreman at the local warehouse, but there were bigger plans in store for him.
At the age of 20, Rants joined the Army, beginning with basic training in Hawaii and in Australia, then spending two and a half years overseas in the infantry in New Guinea and the Philippines. Rants later wrote a book about his adventures and experiences during his time in the army.
While overseas, Rants became pen pals with a young woman named Shirley Viken. When his ship docked in Tacoma, Washington, in 1945, he met Shirley and they got married shortly after. Rents attended Washington State College and after graduation, he decided to become a teacher.
In the summer of 1945, Rants moved to Norwalk, where he became the vice principal and principal at South Junior High until opening West Junior High in 1956. In 1961, Rants became the principal at Warren High School and after seven years decided to transition to Gahr High School in the fall of 1968. Retiring in 1981, Rants later became principal at Brethren High School and eventually had to step down because of health reasons.
Herb Welch, the third and final inductee, graduated from WHS in 1979. A former NFL player, Welch played for the New York Giants for five years, one for the Washington Redskins and three years for the Detroit Lions. He then went on to play and coach for the Sacramento Surge in the NFL’s World Football League.
After graduating from WHS in 1979, Welch attended Cerritos Junior College for two years, playing football and running track while receiving his AA degree. He then accepted a football scholarship to UCLA where he played and won two Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl Championship and graduated with a degree in History.
Welch was then drafted by the New York Giants in 1985. In his first season, he was named the starting nickel back, also played strong safety, free safety, corner back and special teams. In his second-year, Welch became the starting free safety for the Giants and started in Super Bowl XXI (21).
After his football career ended, Welch eventually relocated to Southern California, ultimately settling in Santa Barbara with his lovely wife Katie and their four boys. He is currently the CEO of Santa Barbara Orthopedic Associates; a position he has held for the past 12 years. In addition to managing medical practices for the last 20 years, Welch has also overseen the design, development and opening of over a dozen medical facilities with a combined workforce of over 150 employees.
He has also continued to follow his love for football by volunteering as a coach for the last 25 years at the local high schools where he has affected the lives of hundreds of young men. Welch also participates in hundreds of football camps and charity events, including the NFL’s “Play 60” Movement, President Ronald Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign and as an Ambassador for the Special Olympics.
In its fourth year, Warren High School’s Hall of Fame monument was built in the shape of a compass with four paths that lead to and from the school’s academic seal. The compass represents directionality. The past and present students of Warren have come from many places; some were born in the city of Downey and others a world away. Not only have the students come from various locations, but they leave Warren to make their mark on the world, each in their own unique way.
The academic seal, which represents WHS, is positioned in the center of the compass because Warren is what unifies all the inductees. In every direction Warren graduates have gone, those who have left a significant positive impact are being brought back to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
The pavers represent those that have contributed to the lives of students along the way. Engraved into the stones will be the names of retired faculty that have helped pave the way to success for the graduates of WHS. Each year, one former faculty member will be honored for the significant impact they made to the culture of WHS and the students that walked its halls.
“The Hall of Fame monument has been strategically placed where thousands of students and teachers pass each day,” expressed Principal Rivas. “May this monument be an inspiration to all of Warren’s staff and students, and may they strive to work hard and dream big so that one day, they too might find their name engraved in the Hall of Fame.”