It’s become an iconic sight in the City of Sunnyvale. Drive by the front of Fremont High School (FHS) in the spring and you’re sure to see the tulips in full bloom bordering the walkway up to the school’s entrance.
“I think it’s just a neat tradition that looks great when the community drives by and sees the school,” said Bryan Emmert, FHS Principal. “It’s something that’s eye catching and you can’t necessarily say that with a lot of schools…If you’re a resident or have been around Sunnyvale, I think it’s kind of an iconic place in the history of Sunnyvale.”
It’s a tradition that’s spanned decades and was lovingly crafted by a FHS alumnus Bob Stahl. He graduated from the high school in 1963 and then returned in 1981 to begin his tenure as the school’s Facilities Manager.
On the FHS website, there is a history of the tulips written by Sue Larson, who served as the school’s Executive Assistant while Stahl was Facilities Manager.
“Remembering the roses that graced the front of the school when he was a student, Bob dedicated himself to a renewed beautification of the Fremont campus,” wrote Larson. “The front of the school was a particular focus and included the bold roses in the deepest reds exploding through the summer and fall, the glorious tulips in many colors swaying in the breeze in the spring, and the carpet of red and white petunias that peak during graduation week each year.”
Stahl proudly served as the school’s Facilities Manager until 2005, when he was forced to retire after being diagnosed with lung cancer. It was only fitting that after his death, the garden was named the Stahl Gardens in his honor.
“I want them to say, ‘oh my gosh, look at that!’” Stahl said before his passing. “I love the blooms [of the tulips] because of their ability to pick up people’s spirits. I’ve been very lucky in my life to work at something I love doing.”
To make sure that his legacy continued after his retirement, Stahl handpicked his replacement, Carlos Ramos.
“Carlos Ramos, who’s our current Facilities Manager, has worked hard to uphold what was done before,” said Emmert. “It’s quite a project. They get the ground tilled. They get it all fertilized ready to go. They create the furrows where they go in. The idea is that they’re ready to go as we approach the middle of spring.”
“I put the front of our school up against any in our district and any in this area just in terms of the job that our facilities and grounds crew does to really take pride in making it a neat place,” said Emmert. “I think both students and staff really appreciate the type of campus environment that they have a chance to be a part of.”
Emmert is a Sunnyvale resident and says while he gets plenty of comments about the tulips it’s the community’s appreciation that he loves the most.
“I drive by the school sometimes on the weekend and I’ll see wedding parties out taking pictures,” said Emmert. “I see amateur photographers that are out there taking pictures. We get people that are just coming onto campus because it’s such kind of a neat backdrop with this historical campus and all these beautiful flowers that are there.”