Former teacher Arne Lim brings new vision to alumni group

No single moment defined former math teacher Arne Lim’s decision to take over the Alumni & Friends of Palo Alto High School. For Lim, it was rather a desire to give back to the community and share his love for the school that paved the way for him to become the new chairperson of the alumni association.

Former math teacher Arne Lim will lead Palo Alto High School’s alumni association, the Alumni & Friends of Palo Alto High School. Lim has laid out ambitious plans for the association to connect alumni and recognize the achievements of former students. According to Lim, his accumulation of experience and appreciation for the school’s history was a part of what motivated him to become the new chairperson. “The more I stayed on the board [of the association], the more I learned, [and] the more people started to look to me as sort of an unofficial historian who was still on staff,” Lim said. “I was in a very unique position with both my background and teaching and counseling and coaching positions that were going on here.” (Photo: Daniel Garepis-Holland)

“I’ve really come to embrace everything that I’ve learned throughout the years and want to pass it on to the point where people will feel comfortable to come back home here and do the same thing,” Lim said.

As the new head, Lim looks to create an alumni presence in the community by highlighting their achievements around campus — notably in the Tower Building and the Viking Stadium — and by reconnecting alumni with school events. His main goal is to reignite the same love and appreciation for the school’s history between generations of Paly students.

“The mission of the alumni association … is to be a communication place, as well as a place where people can find other people, specifically for reunions,” Lim said. “Also, to find out a little bit more of what’s going on here on campus — some people have not been back to the campus since they graduated, and sometimes we’re talking people who graduated in 1953!”

Lim attended Ellwood P. Cubberley High School, now Cubberley Community Center, for three years, before transferring to Paly, after Cubberley closed down as a result of declining high school enrollment.

“I’m actually Paly class of 1980 — part of the first wave of students who had schools closing on them,” Lim said. “I came back and started teaching [at Paly] in 1985. I was a math teacher here for 36 years, a teacher advisor for 27 [years] — I started the program, very proud of that — and then badminton coach for 18 years.”

According to Lim, his mission is to prioritize engagement with the wider community, including those who did not attend Paly, but live in Palo Alto and are interested in contributing to and learning about the school community.

“My vision is to be able to have a stronger presence in the community, because we do have people who really care about this place, even if they didn’t attend here,” Lim said. “I know there’s really a good subset of the community that would love to partake in the things that the students do here, whether it be going to a football game or a basketball game — they can ride the wave of winning streaks. They could make a donation to a team — it could even be the debate team or a club at Paly.”

As with most organizations and activities, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the association to cancel many of its years-long traditions, such as welcome-back dinners and alumni reunions, which have not been resurrected since the pandemic threat has faded.

“Every August, we [the association] used to have a welcome-back dinner for everybody, and that’s when a lot of alumni would come back to get a flavor for what’s going on in the school,” Lim said. “One class even used that as their annual reunion — they’d have like 50 people from their graduating class here, but that got cut because we weren’t on campus.”

Another focus of Lim’s will be transforming the meeting room in the Tower Building into a hall of fame to highlight alumni achievements, once the renovations for the building finish next spring. 

“One of the two projects that I am going to be working on is to restore the main room that’s in the tower building to its original glory,” Lim said. “It [the room] will be a meeting room, because there was a dire need for a meeting room in the tower building. But I’d like to set it up with displays, museum-like if you wish, to give a little bit of history of this place and to give examples of ‘Paly in’ and then fill in the blank for the discipline – ‘Paly in entertainment’, ‘Paly in education’, ‘Paly in medicine’.” 

As a part of this initiative to recognize alumni, Lim will be partnering with a group of community members to rename Paly’s football stadium, the Viking Stadium, to the Earl Hansen Viking Stadium. The stadium will be named after former football coach Earl Hansen who worked at Paly for 26 years, notably leading the football team to a state championship victory. 

“We’re going to be adding Earl Hansen to the Coaches’ Circle at the football field, who was a beloved football coach and PE teacher here,” Lim said. “He was the coach for the state championship in 2010-11, when Davante Adams was here, and the year before, when Joc Pederson was the first receiver — but those names are celebrities. Earl Hansen? Not necessarily.”

Lim said anyone who wishes to get involved in the alumni community should sign up for free on their website, which hosts information about upcoming events and allows alumni to connect with one another.

“The first thing you can do is just register at, and even if you don’t register, you can still look on the website for information,” Lim said. “That enables you to not only be found but also stay connected with whoever might be trying to locate you for whatever reason and to find out what others are doing.”

With a new perspective and vision for the association, Lim said he hopes to motivate others to revisit Paly and relive moments of nostalgia from their formative years.

“I’d like to see some things restored to the way they were, as well as be progressive in honoring this place with our presence and keeping alive the stories that kept this place going strong for over 100 years,” Lim said.