Every school has it’s own legend. When looking at West’s previous graduates, one can see a variety of success stories have left the crowded halls of High School West. From movie and Internet stars to film directors and professional athletes, a fair share of famous and successful people have once sat in the very same classrooms as current students.
When one thinks of notable people to have emerged from West, there are two examples that almost immediately come to mind. The first and most recent is basketball prodigy, NBA player Tobias Harris who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Harris recently graduated in 2010 and ever since then, has been flourishing into the real world. The second example one may consider would be the original Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio, who graduated back in 1979. However, they didn’t provide all the talent that learned the High School West building.
Like most actors, Ralph Macchio began his acting career, in the late 70’s, by simply doing commercials. He would not appear in his first feature film until 1980, debuting with the youthful comedy Up the Academy. That same year, he also landed a regular role on the 1980 dramedy series Eight is Enough. In 1984, Macchio would land what is arguably his most successful role to date, which to this day maintains a landmark in coming of age films in American cinema. The Karate Kid went on to gross over $90 million in the American box office, with its two sequels grossing $115 million and $38 million respectively. Macchio would later take his career and attempt to toughen up his image with films like A Good Night to Die and My Cousin Vinny, but his role as a high school underdog on a quest for wisdom in The Karate Kid is what stuck with him, and will remain a major part of his legacy. To this day, The Karate Kid remains on film critic’s lists of best coming-of-age and inspirational films.
For movie fans out there, High School West has also given the world several filmmakers who have had very successful careers. Todd Phillips (Formerly Todd Bunlz, Class of 1989) both wrote and directed the two Hangover films, which revealed the massive blockbusters that could potentially come of R rated comedies. Phillips has also directed other comedy films such as Old School and Due Date, along with The Hangover Part III, which is due in theaters next spring. Another comedic director to emerge from West would be Greg Mottola (Class of 1982), who made both Adventureland and Superbad. Mottola also wrote Adventureland, basing the location of the film the Adventureland in Farmingdale where he worked back in the 80’s. For the sports fans,West has also given the world Gavin O’Connor (Also Class of 1982), director of the hockey drama Miracle and the 2011 MMA drama Warrior.
Speaking of sports, it would be illogical to not address the legend of Tobias Harris that our school got to live through only two years ago. Tobias showed signs of incredible potential as young as in the 8th grade, when he played for the varsity basketball team. He continued to play for the Colts throughout his entire high school career, taking time off transferring to Brookville for only his junior year. In his senior year, Harris was named the 2010 Mr. New York Sports Basketball, the only student at West to ever achieve this. After attending Tennessee his freshmen year, Harris entered the NBA draft and would eventually be chosen to play for the Milwaukee Bucks. Tobias Harris still remains a name labeled with greatness in high school basketball in the Hills West hallways, showing that he was more than just a 2010 topic of interest.
However, Harris is not the only professional athlete to emerge from West. NFL center for the Buffalo Bills, Melvin Fowler, graduated back in 1997. Ten years ago, Stephen Bowen, Defensive End for the Washington Redskins, also graduated with the class of 2002.
Half Hollow Hills has produced a number of famous and successful people in both the arts and athletics over the years. These stories remain important to our school history, and also serve as pretty neat fun facts to those from out of town schools. Afterall, only those from West can brag about having gone to the same high school as the original Karate Kid.