School Gym Renamed In Honor of Dushan Angius

This past weekend, on Saturday, May 3, a ceremony was held at the school gym in honor of Dushan “Dude” Angius, after whom it has been renamed. Though seemingly not very well known among the current LAHS community, Angius is a key figure in the school’s history, and is an extraordinary individual whose character and actions command the respect and admiration of all those who worked for him, and attended school during his tenure. Angius served a plethora of roles throughout his career as a faculty member. He started out as a basketball coach and athletic director when the school opened in 1955, where he had great success, leading the “lightweight basketball team,” to league championships two years in a row, before the school even had a senior class. He then went on to guide the varsity basketball team to championships in 1960 and 1962. In 1964, when Angius was athletic director, every single one of the school’s varsity sports teams won their respective championships. However, no mementos of these astounding accomplishments remain, as the trophies won had to be removed when LAHS changed its sports teams’ mascot from “The Knights” to “The Eagles.” He then moved on to positions including counselor, student activities director and finally became principal, a position he held from 1966 to 1976, before becoming superintendent of the Lassen Union High School District. During the ceremony, though, it became clear that Angius acted as far more than just a colleague or an authority figure for the faculty and students with whom he interacted, as former students and colleagues shared stories about how he affected their lives. Over 1200 people signed the petition to get the gym renamed after him, and over $27,000 has been raised for the scholarship fund established in his name. When Superintendent Barry Groves spoke, he addressed Angius as his “role model,” while describing the absurdly high standards the district must have for naming buildings to have delayed the honor as long as it did, and at the same time confirming that Angius does live up to, and indeed exceeds these standards. Groves then went on to describe how Angius “set the standard” for what LAHS would become: a public high school in the top 1% country-wide, and one which emphasizes strength of character and leadership. Andrew Tink, a former Australian politician who served in Australia’s New South Wales Legislative Assembly, was a transfer student at LAHS during Angius’s tenure as principal. Tink described how Angius managed to unite the people who worked for him: during that time, the Vietnam War was ongoing, and caused factions to arise among people here in the U.S., based on one’s political beliefs, and opinion of the War. These divisions even expressed themselves in places seemingly as mundane as the workplace at LAHS. But according to Tink, Angius managed to quell these conflicts by being a shining example of strong personal character, and encouraging mutual respect, if not agreement. In so doing, he united the faculty to work toward common goals in education. Tink also described how Angius affected him personally, and influenced his career in politics. Tink cited Angius’ drive, motivation to act, rather than just speak, and his ability to get people with differences of opinion to work towards common goals as equals as qualities which he tried to emulate as a politician. He also said that Angius’ way of dealing with personal struggle, with which Angius was well acquainted, served as an example for him. Angius, despite being a beacon for those who worked with him, dealt with extreme personal tragedy during his life. His son, Steve, died of AIDS in 1989. In spite of the sorrow and grief Angius no doubt experienced, he took action, and spoke out for AIDS victims and their families. As president of the Los Altos Rotary Club, he set in motion the production of an educational video about HIV/AIDS called “The Los Altos Story,” which garnered unexpected success– being translated into several languages, distributed to Rotary Clubs worldwide, reaching over 1.1 million members and even winning a Peabody Award in 1991. This is exactly the kind of action which characterizes Angius: he is a man who follows through, who doesn’t merely “talk the talk,” but “walks the walk,” as many speakers pointed out at the ceremony. But even more impressively, Angius had to swallow his grief, and experience seeing his ailing son in his darkest time, whenever he was in attendance at a showing or public event. But his desire to help others, and advocate for action and education on a subject in spite of how sensitive it was at the time, pushed him to put others before himself, as he did throughout his tenure at Los Altos, and his life generally. At the end of the ceremony, Angius spoke. After briefly discussing his now failing health (while still cracking jokes), he said “I consider myself the happiest luckiest man alive,” while trying to hold back tears. There really couldn’t be a more worthy recipient of any honor, particularly the naming of the gym at the school which he called home for over 20 years.