Saratoga’s 50th Anniversay: Living in the spirited ’60s

December 2, 2009 — by Robin Liu and Tiffany Tung

Most students today would never imagine being able to buy a yearbook for $4 or listen to Duke Ellington and his jazz orchestra live for even less. For students here 40 years ago, such occurrences were normal.

“I remember that there was a very friendly atmosphere at the school,” said alumna Sue Simpson, who graduated in 1968 and is happily married to her high school sweetheart, John Simpson. “There were of course, cliques, but it seemed to be a pretty carefree time.”

The decade following the start of Saratoga High in 1959 was marked by rising enrollment and a more diverse population. Popular icons during that time included musicians such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. From music to movies, teenage entertainment was much different from nowadays. For example, today students rave about musical variety shows like “America’s Got Talent” and “American Idol.” Back then, students loved TV shows like “Shindig!” and “Bonanza.”

As for rallies and other school events, students used to wear white as the official color instead of the red that students wear now.
“We did have a playday one year, where the whole school was out on the football field, participating in egg races, tug of war and lots of those kinds of games,” said Simpson, who now lives in Aptos. “That was fun.”

While teachers worry about the amount of clothing worn during dances today, dress code problems back then involved finding an appropriate length for pant dresses for girls. During the ’60’s, wearing a “skort,” shorts with a flap of fabric in front, instead of a skirt to school could send a girl home.

“Girls could not wear pants to school or to any school functions,” said Simpson. “No pants at all, skirts or dresses only. I was kind of mad that they changed that rule the year after I graduated from SHS!”
Other problems included smoking, which was much more widespread in the ’60s. Perhaps as many as half of students smoked, said a 1969 Falcon paper.
Already, many traditions were being established during the ’60s as well, such as senior ditch day and Powder Puff. Furthermore, students were also more involved in politics, with students participating in the Vietnam Moratorium, a protest against the Vietnam War.

Numerous activities that were popular at the time don’t take place anymore today. For example, there was a fencing team and even a mariachi band on campus, and every year, a carnival was held on campus.

Toward the end of the decade, the school considered instituting an open campus policy during lunch because there was finally an interstate running through Saratoga, and there were more places to go.

The classroom setting was also very different. Instead of calculators and computers, students used adding machines and typewriters to get their work done.

As for sports, in 1964, the San Fransisco Examiner named the varsity football team the No. 1 Class A football team in northern California, a title that would tough to imagine achieving today. School spirit was aplenty during the 1960s, especially before football games when rallies were held before every game.

“There was an actual rooting section at the football games…a lot of students following the cheerleaders cheers. Later, I noticed that the ‘rooting sections’ sort of gradually disappeared over the years until they were gone,” said Simpson. “Kids nowadays are more interested in visiting with each other and being ‘seen.'”

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