Principal Trimble, main conference room’s namesake, guided school’s early years

November 27, 2018 — by Krithi Sankar and Jeffrey Xu

Dr. Trimble's influence on Saratoga High

While former history teacher Dr. Hugh Roberts was working as a teacher in Alaska, he received a letter from Dr. Vernon Trimble, the man who had just been selected as the principal for a new high school in Saratoga. In the letter, Trimble asked Roberts to join the faculty.

“It was an offer I could not refuse,” Roberts said.

Now, almost 60 years since the school’s 1959 opening, Trimble has left a profound legacy in starting the school and, as a result, has the main conference room near the principal’s office named after him: the Trimble Conference room.

As the school’s first principal, Trimble had to take on several responsibilities, including building a strong staff and administration, overseeing campus construction, choosing the school colors and mascot and creating school traditions.

Roberts knew Trimble because he one of Trimble’s students back when Trimble taught English at Los Gatos in the early 1950s. Trimble invited many of his past students from Los Gatos to help start the school with him, including Bert Pfister, the first English department chair, and Benny Pierce, the first football coach.

To be sure, founding a new school was no an easy task. The day before the school opened, heavy wind and rain hit the newly built campus, to the point where one of the gym walls fell down, Roberts said.

Though the school’s opening didn’t go as planned, Roberts attested to Trimble’s determination despite the obstacles his administration had to overcome.

 The Trimble conference room serves many purposes, including guidance counselor and administration meetings, staff potlucks, college information sessions and more. It even has its own email address,

The email, despite its charming ring, serves no specific purpose.

While the room’s official name is the Trimble Conference Room, principal Paul Robinson said that many refer to it as simply the main conference room, as opposed to the guidance counseling room. The guidance counseling room is named after the first assistant principal, Gerald Zappelli.

Robinson said the Trimble room was named just before Robinson became principal seven years ago, in honor of Trimble’s contributions to Saratoga High as its first principal.

Although Robinson never met Trimble in person, Robinson said that it must have taken a lot of planning and work to get the school started and to establish its culture.

“I’m sure that Dr. Trimble and Mr. Zappelli and all the teachers played really big parts about what this school was all about,” Robinson said.

Roberts, now 84, had known Trimble ever since his senior year of high school and taught under his administration from 1959-1989 and attested to Trimble’s personal characteristics, saying that Trimble was “a well-organized, thoughtful old school gentleman with a quiet, calm strength and great sense of humor.”

Roberts also praised Trimble’s aptitude for teaching and treating his students well, which created a passion in students for subjects that they didn’t originally have. In Roberts’s case, this was in his senior year, when he had Trimble as his English teacher in 1950 at Los Gatos High School.

“He treated everyone with respect and got it in return,” Roberts said. “I especially learned to love Shakespeare.”

Described as “calm, thoughtful and supportive at every turn” by Roberts, Trimble significantly contributed not only to establishing the culture of the school but also supporting members of his staff and administration.

“Vernon guided us through an opening that didn’t go smoothly,” Roberts said. “Vernon kept everyone’s spirits up and made everyone feel more like we were creating a small community by dealing with problems together.”

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