The Taste for Los Al is a major fund-raising activitity for most parent booster groups at Los Alamitos High School and for OUR Los Al, a grass-roots organization started by some Los Alamitos High School parents who wanted to help support activities and improve facilities at Los Alamitos High School.
In late 2000, at the request of athletic director Cary Brody, Larry Strawther invited a group of parents who he felt had been true do-ers in the local sports community. The group included Steve Escovedo, Ron Kahraman, Jim Montemer, Dennis Courtemarche, Mike Worthington, Kevin Dolan, Mike Trotter and Mary Ann Locklin, all very successful professionals and businesspersons who held multiple leadership positions in local youth sports leagues. The group candidly told Brody what they felt needed to be done and could be done, and the challenges they faced in terms of cooperation with the local high school and the school district.
Randy Frisk undertook a thorough survey of activities at Los Alamitos High School — school and non-school-based. This led to a set of priorities, based on what would benefit the largest number of students, and thus get the most people involved.
In 2001 OUR Los Al’s Larry Strawther — with the help of the girls basketball boosters leadership of Lisa Rakusin, Kristal Cheek and Linda Padilla — organized the first Taste for Los Al – based on the idea that by working together all groups could raise more money than by going it alone. And for restaurants — who basically were besieged by hundreds of requests for donations from small groups each year — it was a welcome single event where they could reach more people with their generosity.
In that first year, the booster clubs sold over 800 tickets and were extremely happy wiyth the event. In recent years the Taste has averaged ticket sales of over 3,000 and gross revenues over two hundred and twenty five thousand.
Overall, cince 2001, the Taste has raised nearly $3 million to support Los Al High activities, and while booster parents have come and gone, the same four core people have been involved in every single Taste. Kristal Cheek, a Rossmoor parent and Long Beach teacher, has overseen “game day management” for every Taste, Diana Hill, a Los Alamitos business women and former booster club President and current school board member, has been the booster club liaison from the beginning. Nancy Strawther has handled restaurant logistics and the books for every Taste, and Larry Strawther has overseen it all, receiving credit for work usually done by his incomparable fellow workers