The High Point Legacy: Alumni Spotlight: Leanne Macdonald (class of 2000)

Welcome to “ The High Point Legacy: Alumni Spotlight,” a series celebrating the lives of Pasadena’s High Point Academy graduates. Alumni will share their journeys, showcasing the transformative impact High Point Academy’s nurturing environment has made on their lives. Each story will provide insights into the values and opportunities that define the HPA experience.

Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of HPA alumni, revealing the essence of what makes High Point Academy exceptional.  For more information about HPA, please click here.

Poor eyes limit your sight; poor vision limits your deeds.”—Franklin Field

After I graduated from LaSalle High School, I went to Citrus College for a year and then to Pasadena City College to finish out my credits before transferring to Cal State, LA.  There, I majored in Sociology and graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree.  While in college I also worked in the pet care industry, so shortly thereafter, I decided I would become a pet groomer. I received my Pet Grooming certification in 2015 and a year later opened my own business in Pasadena, Roch & Gertrude Pet Spa. I am happy to report that we have a very busy and successful pet grooming salon (with a full waiting list!). In fact, 2016 was an eventful year for many reasons: I married my husband Garens, and my first son John was born. My second son Elam came along in 2019.  While it might seem like a daily grind to run a business and raise a family, my job is a lot of fun, and my staff and I have creative ideas that we will be implementing soon. Stay tuned for that!

My High Point Experience—

High Point Academy is special to me because it holds so many memories of my childhood: all of my classmates—many of whom I’ve kept in touch with throughout those years and into adulthood as parents—and also all of the teachers that I cherished. I cannot think of one teacher that I didn’t love or any administrator or staff member who wasn’t kind to me. I even have fond memories of Mr. Cates and Mr. Ower, our facilities managers! My sister Audy and I also lived around the corner from our first-grade teacher, Mrs. Carol Leis. We grew up with her grandson, and we still continue a good relationship with the Leis family. My sister and I also both worked for Mr. Mejia at El Ranchero Restaurant (Audy, more famously!), and we likewise still have a close relationship with the Mejia clan. The High Point family is just woven into our lives.

I think back to all of the school plays and productions and how fun it all was. And when I reflect on them as an adult, I stand firm that I was more challenged at High Point than in high school and most of college. High Point prepared me so well for my future.

I returned to High Point this year for the Sandi Brune Art Room dedication and once prior to that, for our class reunion back in 2004, when we all had just graduated high school. We held that reunion in the lunch area—now called the “Heart of the Campus”— and I remember that most, if not all, of my classmates were there, as well as several of our teachers.

My Personal Observations and Reflections—

Thinking back, I realize I learned a lesson from each and every teacher I had. For example, in Mrs. Ann Zeiss’s fifth-grade class, I recall being in trouble for something (I’m not sure what after all these years), and I had to go in and apologize to her face-to-face. I remember being so embarrassed and Mrs. Zeiss, being so gracious, but it taught me the proper way to genuinely apologize, and that moment has always stuck with me!  A very cherished memory of mine is in Mrs. Richman’s sixth-grade class when, at the end of the day or sometimes after lunch or P.E., she would read to us. I just loved listening to her voice; it was so soothing after coming in from running around on the playground or after a long day of school work. I often think of her when I read to my kids at night. If I really had to name a favorite teacher out of all nine years at HPA, it would be Mrs. Brune because she was SO present in our lives for so many years. I’m positive that having Mrs. Brune in my life enriched me and instilled a love of music, art, and creativity. She was just so wonderful and loving.

Returning to High Point this spring, as a graduate and a professional, was like coming home. As you move into the adult world, you’re faced with various challenges, and coming back to a place that felt safe and consistent for so many formative years is very comforting.

I also have to say that my appreciation for the school has deepened since my children are now school age.  I continue to realize how lucky I was to have had a warm and loving community like HPA growing up, and I hope that my children are able to have that special experience as well.


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