Don Westfall, Distinguished Grad, Capital HS

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Meet Don Westfall, Capital High School Distinguished Grad 1978
Don Westfall as a high school baseball player.Don Westfall, a class of 1978 Capital High School graduate, knew as a young child he would be a lawyer someday. His parents had never gone to college and Westfall set a goal to be the first in his family to graduate college.

And that’s exactly what he did. After graduating from CHS, Westfall attended Linfield College in Oregon, where he majored in business administration and political science. He then moved on to law school at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. After law school, he landed back in Olympia, where he lives today. Both of his children are also graduates of Capital High School.

After law school, Westfall was hired by the Washington State Employment Security Department. He has been there ever since, first as a law clerk and then working his way up to his current position as Chief Review Judge. In his current role, Westfall oversees the unemployment insurance appeals system which reviews the work of administrative law judges. He supervises seven review judges who work for him.

Capital High School staff members were not surprised to hear about their former student’s successful career. As a student, Westfall was a high performer in all subjects. He recalls testing well in English Language Arts classes and being given the opportunity to study intriguing subjects such as science fiction and humor.

“I was pretty motivated as a student,” he said. “I enjoyed the discussions we had in class. I think I was a positive contributor to the classroom and I enjoyed my teachers and everybody at Capital.”

In addition to excelling in academics, Westfall also excelled in athletics. “I was playing ball all the time. It didn’t matter what sport,” he said. Westfall played on the varsity football, basketball, baseball and soccer teams. He credits athletics with helping him develop into the person he is today.

“The athletic field is a classroom, it’s where you’re teaching life skills, especially in team sports,” Westfall said. “It’s about getting along, it’s about understanding your role and your responsibilities, being accountable to others, and being able to pull together as a team to accomplish goals; all things that are really important and contribute to society. I think athletics goes hand in hand with being a good person, a well-rounded person.”

Westfall feels so strongly about the value of athletics that he coached high school sports for nearly 20 years, many at Capital High School. “It really kind of satisfied my passion for athletics, working with kids, and giving something back,” he said.

Westfall offers the following advice for current high school students: “Don’t limit yourself. Take in as much as you can in terms of what's being offered in school and after school activities -- music, athletics, clubs. I believe in experiencing as much as you can before you limit your path and your focus. The school systems really do offer a lot, and I hope today’s students take advantage of that.”

Distinguished Grads is a new series profiling graduates from our schools who model achievement in careers, hobbies or unique pursuits. If you know someone who should be considered for a profile, please email communications@osd.wednet.edu. Please include contact information for the graduate.