Life of a Brave: Alumni Spotlight with Anthony Fierro, Class of ’57
by Andrew Fierro, Managing Editor
For many, high school is a stepping stone to college. But for Mr. Anthony Fierro, class of 57’, St. John Bosco changed his life, and the lessons he learned set him down the path to an incredible and eclectic career.
Mr. Fierro was born and raised in Southern California, and although he ended up loving his time at St. John Bosco, coming to school here initially was not the plan. His mother, who had reached her limit with his antics as a child, actually sent Mr. Fierro to St. John Bosco.
“I was thrown into Bosco by my mother. I was kind of a troubled child and I was always getting into hot water. The last straw was when I was in the sixth grade, when I took the flag from the flagpole and was swinging it all over the place, and it was a mess,” said Mr. Fierro.
Though he may not have wanted to go to Bosco at first, the experiences he had at the school did nothing but good things for him and his future. Before going to Bosco, Mr. Fierro did not have his priorities straight, and the change that Bosco provided for him was something that had and continues to have a significant impact on his life.
“I think that it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It turned my whole life around, and I am so tickled to see youngsters whose parents make the sacrifice to bring them here. That is fantastic,” said Mr. Fierro.
However, when Mr. Fierro was a student, Bosco looked a lot different than it does today. There were far less teachers, with most of the instructors being brothers and priests. One of the biggest changes from his experience of being a student was the fact that he boarded on campus, living on the third floor of the 200 building.
“To wake us up, the brothers would open up all the windows and start clapping, and that’s how they would wake us up every morning,” said Mr. Fierro.
Not only did Mr. Fierro live on campus, but like many students today, he took part in some of the team sports that the school offered. One of these teams was the football team, which at the time was brand new and nothing like what it has evolved into today.
“When I was here in 1956 and 1957, I was on the very first football team for St. John Bosco. I played right tackle on offense and middle linebacker on defense,” said Mr. Fierro.
Mr. Fierro learned a lot from Bosco, and his experiences helped him to have a prestigious career. Following his time here, Mr. Fierro spent time in a multitude of fields, creating an impressive resume for himself.
“I was a scuba instructor. I am a pilot. I hold a commercial rating in instrument single engine land aircraft. I love to hunt and fish. I have had my picture published in various magazine and publications. I love to sail, and I was a wedding photographer for about 25 years,” said Mr. Fierro.
Mr. Fierro has had a wonderful career and life, and he believes that the things he was able to learn at Bosco played a vital role in preparing him to obtain such amazing accomplishments. Though all of these accomplishments in his career are noteworthy, what he feels is his greatest accomplishment was becoming a teacher himself.
“I became a school teacher at 58, and taught school at Pasadena Unified and was put in charge of the bilingual class of the 5th grade. It was so rewarding for me to feel those kids were learning because I felt like I helped those kids get across,” said Mr. Fierro.
Though many consider being a teacher of a bilingual class to be very difficult, he was not worried about the task. He felt that the students didn’t need to have a teacher that was bilingual, but rather someone who acted as a transitional teacher who could help them acclimate to English.
Not only was he a great teacher, but his impact was reflected in the students’ test scores, with many of his students receiving scores showing their comprehension levels being much higher than the average for that class. This led to many parents requesting Mr. Fierro as a teacher for their children, which was a doubly rewarding feeling for him.
“All the parents would come around and ask the principal to please put their child in Mr. Fierro’s class, and that to me was really gratifying and was my best moment in life. Even with all of my other accomplishments, that really sticks in my mind,” said Mr. Fierro.
Having a prestigious career in any field is admirable, but what makes people feel that they are truly making a difference is seeing their influence they have on others. For Mr. Fierro, this is what made his career special and why he feels so accomplished in his life.
Mr. Fierro knows none of that would’ve been possible without Bosco and the sacrifices each parent makes in order to send children to a Salesian Catholic school. Because of this, he believes that the opportunity students have here is extremely important and should not be wasted.
“[Students] have a wonderful opportunity; don’t let it go to waste. Appreciate what your parents are doing for you. It would be a loss for your future if you didn’t take advantage of this. Use this as a base to start,” said Mr. Fierro.
Bosco was the beginning for Mr. Fierro and provided him with a preview of what he could expect in the future. Even though he graduated in the 50s, Mr. Fierro still feels that it could be the same for each and every one of the current students.
“I am very happy that I started here. This was my initial start into real life,” said Mr. Fierro.
Today, Mr. Fierro is happily retired and enjoying his life after a fruitful career. He spends his time with his family and reflecting on his past accomplishments. All of these accomplishments would not have been possible if it had not been for the lessons he learned here at St. John Bosco High School.