Student Life

Crystal’s Most Famous Alumni

By Ryan S. ’22

A premier high school institution, Crystal Springs is a conglomerate of some of the most talented and intelligent students in the Bay Area. Year after year, Crystal pumps out highly motivated and overachieving students, many of whom attend immensely prestigious universities including those in the Ivy League. In fact, Crystal was recognized by the Niche 2022 Best Schools List as the 17th ranked private high school in the nation. In an assembly two months ago, Jon Fisher, a famous Crystal alumnus, gave a memorable–for better or worse–speech about his life experiences in the realm of business and entrepreneurship. Fisher’s presentation made me wonder who the most famous and influential alumni were from Crystal and what they are doing now. 

Starting out, the aforementioned Jon Fisher attended Nueva Middle School before graduating in the Crystal Springs Uplands Class of ‘90. Fisher then attended Vassar College and graduated from the University of San Francisco. Upon graduating, Fisher showed his innovative and ambitious character, as he co-founded and was the CEO of AutoReach, which is now a part of the larger AutoNation company.  He then engineered a business software startup called NetClerk four years later, which was later bought by Roper Technologies. However, Fisher’s largest startup was the theft detection company, Bharosa, which was acquired by Oracle in 2007. As evidenced by these acquisitions from larger companies, Jon Fisher is in favor of this strategy as opposed to the potentially lucrative Initial Public Offering. Fisher even wrote a book titled Strategic Entrepreneurism: Shattering the Start-Up Entrepreneurial Myths, in which he shows his principles of creating and maintaining a successful start-up. In his recent speech at a Crystal assembly, Fisher spoke ad nauseum about the promising future of NFTs and how he is working with them at the San Francisco Bay Aquarium. 

I would be remiss not to mention Patty Hearst, a name that is recognized by Americans throughout the country. Hearst was born into an uber-rich family and attended Crystal Springs when it was an all-girls school, graduating in 1972. While attending UC Berkeley at the age of 19, Hearst was tragically kidnapped from her apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a left-wing terrorist group. The SLA’s motives for the kidnapping were essentially to leverage the Hearst family’s wealth and power, in order to gain more influence. According to Hearst, the first week in hostage was brutal: she was blindfolded in a closet, given death threats, and was raped. Hearst was also brainwashed by the SLA into adopting their radical ideologies. In 1974, Hearst was caught on surveillance robbing a bank and holding a firearm. Hearst committed many other crimes while involved with the SLA, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to kill police officers. Once Hearst was detained in 1976, she was convicted of bank robbery and was given seven years in prison. After a myriad of medical problems in less than two full years in prison, Hearst was freed (but still under strict regulations) by then President Jimmy Carter. Hearst’s story caused vast discussion and has been the topic of large-scale documentaries and books. If you are interested in learning more about Patty Hearst and the early history of Crystal, I would recommend reading Wilson Conn’s article Crystal’s Darkest Hour.

More recently, Chess Grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky graduated from Crystal in 2014. Naroditsky was a renowned chess player even in his youth, winning the Northern California K-12 Championship at age eleven. In the 2010 U.S. Open, Naroditsky remarkably tied for second, despite only being a freshman at Crystal. In 2011, Naroditsky would go on to attain the ranking of Grandmaster, the highest prestige of chess players. He wrote two books while he was at Crystal: Mastering Positional Chess (2010) and Mastering Complex Endgames (2012). Naroditsky is known for his brilliance in endgame scenarios and in Blitz (one-minute) games. He graduated from Stanford in 2019 with a degree in History and now regularly streams and uploads his chess games on Twitch and Youtube.

Tyson Mao is perhaps the most well-known alumnus of the current Crystal Springs student body, because of his appearances as a substitute teacher at the school. Mao graduated from Crystal in ‘02 and went on to get a degree in Astrophysics from Caltech. In 2003, Mao started gaining attention for his remarkable Rubix-cube solving abilities. Mao widely popularized new methods for solving the Rubix-cube and was exceptional at doing them blindfolded. Tyson Mao was famous nationwide in the early 2000’s, appearing on Anderson Cooper 360, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America. In hilarious fashion, Mao appeared on the reality TV show The Beauty and The Geek, a massively entertaining two minute watch that can now be found on youtube. Currently, Mao operates his own restaurant called Wursthall Restaurant & Bierhaus. 

The most famous athlete in Crystal’s history is Veronica Perez, a soccer star who graduated in 2006. Perez played club soccer throughout her high school career and surprisingly only played one season at Crystal, in which she earned first team all-league honors. After committing to the University of Washington, Perez was named to the All Pac-10 second team in her Junior and Senior seasons, ranking highly in many of the school’s all-time statistics. Having dual-citizenship between the United States and Mexico, Perez first played for the US National Under-23 Team in 2009, before playing for the Mexican National Team for the rest of her international career. The most memorable moment of her career was a clutch game-winning goal against the US in a World Cup qualifying game. Perez would go on to represent Mexico in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. At age 33, Perez currently plays in the Liga MX Femenil for Atlas FC.

Located in a competitive area, Crystal stands above the rest with its intellectual ability of students and teachers. The class size at Crystal has only been around 60 students or less for most of the school’s history, making it even more unbelievable to have this many successful and famous alumni. I am very excited to observe what Crystal alumni come out of the woodwork in the next decade and presume it will be some of the world’s best and brightest.

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