On the graduation page of the 1958 Kew-Forest School yearbook, “The Blotter,” is a grainy black-and-white photo. In the picture, standing in between two students wearing what appear to be white robes, is a boy in a suit.
He is taller than the other two, his head rising a good foot above theirs, and in his hands is an American flag. The boy is a young Donald Trump, the 2016 Republican candidate for president of the United States and former Kew-Forest student.
Kew-Forest alumni of all ages seem to have mixed feelings about Trump’s run for president.
“I think it’s outstanding. I think it’s outrageous,” said Paul Onish, 70, about his former Kew-Forest classmate’s campaign.
Onish, who is now semi-retired and living in New Jersey, said he attended Kew-Forest with Trump as members of the Class of 1964. As boys, the two played soccer together, ate dinner at each others houses, and even went to detention together, Onish said.
He still can’t believe the hair-pulling, spitball-throwing boy he grew up with was running for president.
“I would never have ever ever thought that Donald in fact would ever be a person that could do that,” said Onish, who said he hasn’t seen his childhood friend in person in nearly 40 years. “But if he does become president, I would look forward to having an invitation to the White House Inaugural Ball.”
Other alumni who did not overlap with Trump said they’d heard stories about his school days – including one tale the Republican recounted in his book, “The Art of the Deal.” As Trump wrote: “In the second grade I actually gave a teacher a black eye.”
The small, independent college preparatory school’s list of notable alumni, published in an online admissions, brochure is a short one. Trump, who transferred the Forest Hills school to the New York Military Academy in eighth grade, is not on the list.
Some alumni said they’re happy the school doesn’t mention its most famous former student in promotional materials.
“He’s not somebody I could or would be proud of having come from my school,” said Leslie Rich, a furniture designer based out of New Mexico and a Class of ‘63 member.
Adam Esser, a member of the Class of ‘84, attended Kew-Forest while Trump was gaining notoriety in the New York real estate world.
“I guess he had to go to school somewhere and it happened to be my school,” said Esser, who now lives in Washington and works on the AARP Investment Team.
A younger generation of Kew-Forest students, among them Matt Levy from the Class of ‘06, grew up knowing Trump as a reality TV star. Levy, now a web-developer living in Forest Hills, said he watched every episode of every variation of “The Apprentice.”
“We all really looked up to Trump at the time,” said Levy. “I wanted everyone to know back then that he attended Kew-Forest.”
Now, he said, he hopes that Trump’s association with Kew-Forest doesn’t damage the reputation of the school or its alumni.