Tom Alf: Legacy of Hamilton Schools’ icon honored in media center naming

A beloved icon of Hamilton Schools now has his legacy further solidified with this week’s naming of the high school’s media center after him.

Former Hamilton Board of Education member, teacher, school principal and district administrator Tom Alf was among the more popular leaders ever to have worked in the 9,000-student city schools.

Hamilton High School’s media center is now officially the Thomas A. Alf Memorial Media Center after Thursday’s ceremonies.

The event saw current school board members, city officials, Superintendent Mike Holbrook and Alf’s family members gather there to honor him with the unveiling of signage and a large plaque bearing a list of his many contributions to the district.

The amiable, caring and plain-spoken Alf was 70 and had just won re-election to the school board for his latest, consecutive term when he died in November 2019.

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The renaming of the high school’s large media center “is indeed a high tribute,” said Holbrook to the dignitaries gathered for the unveiling ceremony, but more so an honor of Alf’s “enduring spirit.”

“It was the spirit of dedication. Dedication to the education of the students of Hamilton City Schools and also the entire Hamilton community,” he said of the former assistant superintendent.

“Tom was always a champion of students,” said Holbrook, who worked with Alf and to this day remains impressed.

He quoted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous “The Man In The Arena” speech and said the often-cited speech reminded him of Alf’s many personal sacrifices for the school system.

“Tom was in the arena,” he said, adding Alf’s decades of experiences and hard work are still benefiting students today and will into the future.

Alf’s daughter, Sara Burk, said of her father, whom she described as “amazing,” that his beloved home city of Hamilton always held a special place in his heart.

“He faithfully served and represented his hometown of Hamilton until his last day on Earth. On behalf of my family … we thank you for this generous day and this ultimate tribute for our best guy,” said Burk.

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this story.

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