Oh, how they’ve changed! Classes and clubs over the decades

February 2, 2010 — by Robin Liu and Tiffany Tung

Many things can happen at school within the span of 50 years. The flow of new ideas, new technology and new people all contributed to what Saratoga High has become today. Those trends and changes have often shown up in the form of what clubs and classes are on campus.

For instance, rewind to 1965. Imagine 12 of your classmates walking around holding rifles. Today, such a sight would cause a panic—and probably a full-blown Code Red lockdown. In 1965, however, the most anyone did was give an amusing glance when the members of the then Rifle Club brought their guns to school for their yearbook photo.

Nowadays, students choose to join clubs like Indian Club as a way to spice up their club experience. This is a far cry from the days when “Block S” and “Future Homemakers of America” were popular.

In terms of academics, the first AP classes didn’t come until 1979, and numerous other classes that were available back then aren’t offered today. For example, typing classes and home economics were options for electives, and there were multiple art and cooking classes.

English teacher Bill Peck attended Saratoga High during the late ’60s and remembers the different classes that were provided at the school.

“[There was] Asian History, and Latin American History,” he said. “World Affairs covered everything going on at the time, like the Vietnam War and the 1968 election.”

Hands-on electives were much more prolific during the ’60s. From auto shop to metal shop, there were many classes where students could perform much more manual work. Females could choose from an assortment of home economic classes like that of needlepoint.

Furthermore, there were quite a few career-oriented classes such as business math and even shorthand classes. (Shorthand is a type of rapid writing which involves using symbols and abbreviations for words. In the past, it was required for secretarial training.)

P.E. was not co-ed because of the dress code rules in the past.

“We had this really violent game for the guys since it was separated,” said Peck. “Girls had the little gym, boys had the big gym.”

The P.E. curriculum was also quite different, due to the separated classes. Peck recalls the violent games the boys played.

“It was called ‘Slaughterball,'” said Peck. “They would get all the freshmen and line them up, and all the upperclassmen would take the ball, run up to the midline of the gym, and whack, and the freshmen went ‘oomph’! And then they outlawed it.”

Languages like Latin and German have disappeared as well, replaced by Chinese and Japanese, as a result of adapting to the changing cultures and immigration patterns that have changed the balance of ethnicities at the school.

As for clubs, they have come a long way from being more focused on.

“People used to laugh at the chess club when it came on the announcements,” said Peck. “Look at today, it’s cool to be smart.”

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