The naked truth of the senior streak

January 28, 2010 — by Ben Clement and Sulmaan Hassan

Saratoga suburban legend sometimes alludes to a tradition known as the “senior streak.” From the mid-’80s until 1995, seniors left their legacy in the form of a streak through the high school while covered in body paint some time during the year. Many participants drank alcohol as way of working up courage for the streak.

Even more surprising than the lifespan of this tradition was that teachers and administrators mostly seemed to view it as a harmless activity.

In 1991, then-rookie history teacher Kim Anzalone was shocked the first time she witnessed the streak.

“It was really weird seeing my naked students running through the hallways,” said Anzalone. “Kids would crowd around the doors, the teachers would be in the hallways, and it was totally accepted.”

Assistant principal Karen Hyde spoke of another occasion when the faculty heard the students were coming through the school and quickly closed the front gates. When the crowd of painted seniors reached the quad they were confronted with a big sign across the gates reading “Gotcha!” The seniors then shredded the sign and proceeded to exit campus by the pool.

The tradition met its demise in 1995 when the senior class decided to bring the streak to Redwood Middle School.

English teacher Erick Rector, then in eighth grade, recalls the day he noticed a crowd of “painted people” running through the campus.

“It was right before lunch, so most of the students were in class; I, however, was in P.E.,” said Rector. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal because it happened so fast, and they didn’t come up and shake your hand or anything.”

Although this was already enough to elicit condemnation from the community, the fact that the intoxicated crowd did not run but instead drove to the middle school ultimately pushed administrators to take action. Then principal Kevin Skelly declared at the start of the following school year that any students who participated in the streak would not be allowed to walk at graduation.

Many students were upset over the halt of this tradition and began promoting a sober streak. In 1997, a relatively small group of seniors of 20 or so streaked through the quad sober. Those who were caught were not allowed to walk at graduation as promised.

This punishment generated a large amount of controversy within the community with various parents and even members of the district board siding with the students and their desire to go through graduation ceremonies. In fact, the topic was so noteworthy that even the San Jose Mercury News printed stories on the subject. Despite the backlash, the punishment held, and the senior streak never again returned to campus.

Ever since the end of this tradition, however, Rector feels that there has been a lack of spirit among outgoing seniors. While he does not support the revival of the streak or any other pranks, he does have other more productive suggestions.

“I would definitely like to see more senior bonding activities, something with legacy value,” said Rector. “For example, we have a lot of gray walls here, and I think it would be great if the senior class painted a mural on one of the walls as a donation. That’s something that is positive, enforces school spirit and will leave a lasting mark.”

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