The Matador Capers

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Mira Loma Announces a brand new Science Wing!

Measure N Funding paves the way for MLHS's first new addition !

January 31st 2019

The 1987-1988 Team

However, as the school’s infrastructure ages and the needs of a modern classroom changes, it is difficult to believe that the aging facilities have not hindered the continued success!  The new Science wing will add “next-generation Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science classrooms and will be complimented by a 2,066 square-foot flex space and outdoor learning features” which will be located where the staff parking lot is currently. The architects, several district entities, the current administration of MLHS as well as the science teachers met to ensure that this once in a generation construction actually addresses the student’s needs.

 

To ensure the funds were spent at each school and that the funds were equally distributed, each school was given what was called a “signature project”. These project ideas were given to each school’s parent, student and staff populations to discuss in a committee. MLHS’s meetings were held in 2015 and 2016 to ensure the school got what it needed. While there was much enthusiasm for a sports stadium, the over all consensus went to the construction of a new Science wing.

Why Science classrooms are needed at Mira Loma and some of the reasons and items from that meeting were the following:

    • Mira Loma identifies itself as a “Science School” 
    • Science is a “showcase” program at Mira Loma 
    • Mira Loma has received national recognition for science programs 
    • New facilities will continue Mira Loma’s science legacy and help the program grow 
    • Current labs are small, cramped, and unsafe 
    • Transfer students come to Mira Loma for academics, not athletics 

There was quite a bit of debate about what projects Mira Loma would want to receive. The San Juan Unified School District chose to complete a renovation of “Abbott’s Field” which is the joint football field between El Camino and Mira Loma that both teams use for football league home games citing economics of funds. However, they drew the ire of the MLHS community when they tweeted the field as “El Camino’s new football stadium” while still funding El Camino an entirely new state-of-the-art theatre which opened this year. Mira Loma did get a field renovation of its own with a brand new all-weather track and football practice field. If you have not seen it, it looks wonderful. 

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      The Science Wing will also help relieve the few crowded conditions at MLHS where many teachers do not have a classroom of their own to instruct lessons and instead “roam” from two or more rooms throughout the day. The Staff and students are excited for this addition. As one student put it at a public meeting “I’m a student at Mira Loma. I think we need new Science classrooms and (need) upgrades for safety reasons. We have unsafe conditions in our science labs. It’s cramped for space and we’re using open flames….It’s not safe. Isn’t that more important that a football field?”. The staff lot closes February 4, 2019, and we cannot wait to see this most welcomed addition when it is complete.

An interview with Mira Loma High School’s Fourth Principal Targe Lindsay

Targe Lindsay was Principal of Mira Loma High School from 1971-1974.

November 8th 2018

The 1987-1988 Team

Part IV in our series:
Mira Loma’s Principals Retired Mira Loma Teacher Jack Pelletier began the task to interview all of Mira Loma’s Principals. Their stories and interviews tell the changes and challenges and history of our great High School.

 What is a principal’s most challenging task?

Targe: Maintaining a challenging atmosphere conducive to and promoting a love of learning.  To this end, being seen on campus, visiting classrooms, being approachable. 

Were you a teacher before moving into administration?  If so, in which subjects?

Targe: Science, history and English for nine years.

3.  Most principals attempt to improve their schools by proposing new ways of achieving goals.  Some of these attempts succeed and some fail.  Do you recall any that succeeded or fail?  And what did you learn from the experience?

Targe: In the early 70s, maintaining was an   unwritten goal.  That is what all those protests  were about.  We did not write goals in those days or, if we did, I don’t recall doing so. Goals and objectives came later, and rightly so. We all learned to do that together in the 80s, courtesy of the District Development Team. Now they are second nature, but not then. Supporting a new approach by a significant number of faculty members was an unwritten goal and more of an experiment.  Their development and implementation of an on campus alternative school of some fifty students was successful for fifteen years. Deciding to set aside a smoking area was a major disaster as it soon went down in flames and up in smoke. 

The 1987-1988 Team
The 1965-1966 Team

What do you most miss about being a principal?

Targe: Mattering to respected colleagues and the school community. A retired principal once told me never to retire because one day you’re somebody, and the next day you’re nobody. There’s a lot of truth in that advice, depending on what one does in retirement. In my case, my wife and I worked daily for two years to help shut down Rancho Seco, a successful venture which provided plenty of somebodyness.

What do you least miss about being a principal?

Targe: Upon reflecting, I’d say that being a principal during the time that SJUD was being transformed from a generally decentralized district to a highly centralized one neutralized any regrets I might have had about retiring. Also, I don’t miss dealing with dilemmas such as microphones going mute in the middle of an assembly, nor do I miss evaluating the work performance of others.

The 1965-1966 Team
The 1965-1966 Team

 6. A fitting analogy for a principal and his/her secretary is that of a company commander and his first sergeant in the Army. Without a competent first sergeant, most company commanders are less apt to be successful. For you, Lynn Holton assumed the role of first sergeant. What do you most remember about Lynn?

Targe: Lynn as Mother Superior would be another way of putting it, or maybe “riding shotgun.” She was there and aware everyday. She had high personal and professional standards, a practical outlook, and a pleasing personality. Lynn was indispensable for me, and she was helpful to any and all who approached her. She also knew that social associations were beneficial to good working relationships. For that reason, she invited the administration and department chairs to tea in her home in early September during my years there.

7.  Since your days as principal, times have changed, and with them students have changed.  As a result, do you think the task of being a principal today is more or less difficult than when you were in that leadership role?

Targe: I suspect that today is much more difficult. Not only are there are more demands on schools, but also fewer resources. During my time as principal, we had more help, more leeway, and less scrutiny.  My admonition to vice principals was, “If we have a problem, we can handle it.  Report things to the district office only if you’re on life support. Problems that happen at ML stay at ML.”  

The 1965-1966 Team The 1965-1966 Team

8.  Is there anything about your years at Mira Loma that you regret?

Targe:  Setting up the smoking was somewhat naive.  I’d hoped to relieve kids of the stress caused by their habit, and reduce school days loss to suspension as well as conflicts with administrators.  However, either smokers or the smoking area itself influenced nonsmokers to join them, which was not good.  As a result, both the smoking area and my naiveté shortly came to an end.

  1. What is your fondest memory of your years at Mira Loma?

Targe: I have many great memories. All of the games, productions, assemblies, and the color and drama of each day, especially the last day of the school year. Graduation ceremonies were special since everyone was on a high and pitched in to carry them off with gusto, including administrators, teachers, coaches, and custodians.  When graduations were held in the quad, Ray Konig, an auto shop teacher, spent three days setting up the PA equipment, and custodians spent two days arranging several thousand chairs after trucking hundreds of them from elementary and 7-8 schools with District help.

Each graduate received seven tickets, two of one color and five of another in case it rained.  If it did, then the ceremony would be held in the Big Gym.  As it turned out, the final time graduation was held in the quad, it rained five minutes before the ceremony was to begin.  Those with two tickets were allowed in the gym.  I don’t know where the unlucky holders of the five tickets went, but I’m quite sure they didn’t share the elation of those who enjoyed the ceremony.

10. What advice do you have for a young administrator about to become a principal for the first time?

Targe: Better know what you’re getting into. Experience as a high school VP is almost essential because the public high school culture is like no other. Being fair is the name of the game. People know fair when they see it. Dealing with ambiguity is a constant, especially in a dynamic school, so flexibility rather than rigidity is a helpful asset. That, along with some common sense. Being defensive is not helpful, but being optimistic is. Do not sweat the small stuff. Trust your cohorts. Spread good will and honest compliments liberally. Everyone knows phony. Engage and enjoy parents. Love the kids and let them know it. Tough love, however. Whistle while you work. Look sharp. Accentuate the positive

Targe Mandt Lindsay passed away on Tuesday, October 30, 2018 while at home in the warm embrace of family. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and family man. We thank him for his service, the time he gave to Mira Loma, his community and give our condolences to his family for the loss of a such a high caliber human being.

Matador Basketball is Re-dunk-u-lious!
A look at one of the most popular sports at Mira Loma

Oct 5th 2018

The 1987-1988 Team

On March 14th 1969 Matador Caper’s student writer Tom Marks told students that “Mira Loma’s Varsity and Junior Varsity Basketball teams travel to San Juan tonight and then return home for three straight contests against Bella Vista, Encina and La Sierra”. There was excitement in the air as coach Tom Miller had led the freshmen team to their first undisputed first place. In recent games had been won in last quarter turn arounds and there was a real sense that Mira Loma Matadors were unstoppable.

     In January of 1971 Mira Loma’s Basketball teams played clean up with all four games against viral school El Camino High. While the Freshmen and junior varsity games were close, the Sophomore team and Varsity teams felt they could have stayed home and won. Coach George White credited Freshmen player Jeff Case with final victory against El Camino while players Jeff Szakacs, Paul Robinson, Steve Wade and Steve Ritchie helped their teams with skill and earning high points.
The 1987-1988 Team
The 1965-1966 Team

        Again in January of 1973 Coach Bill Freeman lead the Matadors through a key Encina game that paved the way for one of Mira Loma’s most successful years! MLHS’s Junior Varsity took second in a very close race against Del Campo for their title. However the Sophomore team dribbled all the way to first place squeaking by San Juan! Highlighted were team members Bruce Watson and Bob Becker for their high scoring! It was one of the first years that Matadors had taken their Basketball season into the month of March Madness!

         Unlike professional teams, High School Basketball teams pool talent from a very local and limited source. It can be hard to create a team that plays together as a team when players can come and go year to year and may have to cancel going to a game because their mom wants them to study for a test the next day. This makes any achievements of a high school basketball team even more impressive! Any victory is a great victory and it is little wonder why the students of Mira Loma cheer and follow their teams with such fever. They know the players, they attend the school and that makes defeat all the more sour and victory all the sweater.

The 1965-1966 Team
The 1965-1966 Team The 1965-1966 Team

      Athletics serve such an important role for students. If you have ever participated in any after school sport, team or club then you already know the camaraderie and sense of belonging one can get from being apart of a team. Every student on a team learns cooperation skills, team building skills and how to let the success of larger unit be more important than themselves while still building a student’s self esteem. For the student body it builds school pride and a place to focus enthusiasm and energy. So sports at Mira Loma have long been a win-win situation even if the team loses from time to time. If ever went to one sports rally, you probably caught the fever even if just for a moment. For some of us watching the games made up some of our fondest time at Mira Loma and probably planted the seeds for loving basketball after high school With that in mind, Best of Luck to Mira Loma Matadors as they kick off their 2018-2019 Season! Hopefully as you have read this article you have thought of the basketball teams during your years at Mira Loma with fondness and perhaps a smile. You might remember a player or two you knew and it made you wonder what they are up to, where they went and how the school is doing now. MLAF would love to hear your thoughts about the teams; how they did, who was on them, if you remember the coach and of course share any pictures you might have!

Meet the Class of 2018
A break in tradition and a return to greatness

August 5th, 2018

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        What most Alumni will agree with is that each graduating “Class” has its own personality. What that personality is exactly would be very subjective and up to debate. The further an Alumni gets from their graduation the more entrenched that recollection becomes. Often alumni report to us that the Class before them was bossier or less organized. This could be attributed to the Class hierarchy where Juniors remember the Seniors lauding their power over them. Conversely, many Juniors who had best friends in the Senior Class will report how great they were. The Class of 2018, which graduated on June 4, 2018, was not the largest to graduate (that distinction goes to the Class of 1971) but they were definitely representational of Mira Loma’s bulging student population.

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          So what was the personality of the Class of 2018? Rather than dictate an opinion to you, we thought facts could do the talking. This year the Senior class had 385 students. They completed the highest number of community service hours in the last ten years and spoke more languages than any other school in the district to the point they could pass a language proficiency test in their “other” language. This applied to almost half of the Class of 2018. Of course, they won Sports-a-Rama, but unlike the Class of 2017 (which nearly lost to the Class of 2018) they did it with grace and true Matador spirit cheering on the rival Juniors and Freshmen similarly. The Class of 2018 dealt with a civil lawsuit, a Westboro Baptist Church protest (thank you alumni for supporting our students and alma mater on May 9, 2018), the constant presents of religious zealots hustling the LGBT and female student population, and a student walk-out over the myriad of school shootings across the campus. Through these challenges the Class of 2018 supported one another seeking to come together instead of fighting one another.

       So why did the Class of 2018 brake with tradition this year? While schools try not to be political, the student body demanded a student walk-out to protest gun violence. While in some schools across the country, the threat of suspension kept students inside (no such threat happened at MLHS) the MLHS Class of 2018 walked out. This was met with mixed reaction from the Alumni community and the parents. This particular issue resonated with them and the Class of 2018 made them what they would call “Woke” and would engage in their political system with an enthusiasm not seen since the Classes of the 1960’s and the Vietnam War. The Class of 2018 also broke with where their graduation commencement would be held. In the past, it was held at either the MLHS Quad, the Sacramento Community Center or the Memorial Auditorium. This was almost more controversial than the walk-out. This year with the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium going through a renovation, MLHS chose the Cal Expo Amphitheater as their graduation site. It was outdoors, covered and had more seating (and parents could bring in balloons and flowers) but it was clear that it was MLHS first time there.

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         Why a return to greatness? One of the attributes that a student needs to succeed in the labor force is “grit”. While this is an abstract term that is hard for college professors and employers to attach meaning to, it seems to mean perseverance and commitment. The earlier reported 385 Seniors reverses a trend across the San Juan School District where the size of the Freshman Class remained basically the same by the time they become Seniors. This number can vary by a 15-25% drop from the Freshman Class to their Senior graduation. In the last five years, the Class of 2018 showed their grit by reversing this trend and retaining their numbers of Freshmen to Seniors. They also completed the highest number of college applications, had one of the highest college acceptance rates in the last decade and reported that if not attending college they had a path that included professional development (military enlistment, trade school or apprenticeship programs). The Class of 2018 has a plan and the grit to see it through.

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       What is remarkable about the Class of 2018? It is the long list of awards, certificates, accommodations, accolades and distinctions they earned. In a year where many Americans felt divided by MAGA, trade wars, DACA, Brexit and special elections, the Class of 2018 found a set of core ideas to anchor themselves. As they move forward, they will reach their goals, find reasons to cheer, dream big and bring us together to celebrate in hope of what they can accomplish and become as their new journey begins to the future.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018 and welcome to the ranks of Matador Alumni!

An Incomplete Story

The story of the Supplemental Yearbooks

August 1st 2018

         This year there are several classes that are planning reunions. So Far MLAF has learned that the Classes of 1968, 1978, 1983 and 1998 are planning gathers. This is always an exciting season for Alumni. The Homecoming Games allow us to look back at our impressionable youths and remember how we were “way back when”. We smile often, sometimes cry and more often turn to our Yearbooks to remember details forgotten based on the twenty, thirty or fifty years that have passed. This is a pleasantly predictable and enjoyable annual event. What is also predictable is the path of a Yearbook. Every Yearbook has a collection of teachers, the section about student clubs, class rosters and the annual progression of photos going from the first day of school to the last - wait! No, it doesn’t cover the entire school year. Most Yearbooks stop around Sports-A-Rama (if you are a post 1984 Alumni) or the Spring Play if you are before 1986. This isn’t because the Yearbook staff gets too busy with their end of the year events or skirt their duties. Instead, it is because printing deadlines dictate the last days photos can be submitted if students.

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So what’s the problem?

Think about the school year and how much of it takes place after March: Junior Prom, Senior Ball, Student Elections, Farewell Rally, Sports-A-Rama, Pie Day, Gatsbyville, Senior Sunset and Graduation. All these important, emotional and commemorative events are left to what cameras were on hand and the memories created by them. In the sixties, when not everyone had a personal camera, cameras had to be loaded with film, and the film developed. The pictures taken at these events were often shared with a few close friends or not shared at all. In the eighties, when cameras were more common, however, printing and sharing still lagged behind. The result, many Alumni from the classes in the1970’s and1980’s have never seen pictures from most (if any) of these events.

Enter the Supplementals

    In the sixties, this collection of missing images, spanning from March to June, was noticed and some of the subsequent Yearbook Staffs created the Supplemental Yearbook. For an additional price, a special book was made wherein all the images of the Matador Capers Newspaper and Yearbook Class images were collected. Those archiving MLHS history love these Supplementals. They fill in the gaps in the school’s history and culture. The problem is because they were an additional and separate publication they were printed in lower quantities, unprotected and lost. Many of them were destroyed because they were essentially soft magazines.

     The next issue to be addressed is that not every year did Supplementals. The choice to do one fell not on the Yearbook Staff who had to agree in the Fall to do extra work in the Spring to create the Supplemental Yearbook. As with any club or group at MLHS, there was not a consistent product. As cameras became more common the need for Supplementals faded for a time. There was a resurgence in the1980’s for Supplementals due to the introduction of color Yearbooks and a reduced cost in making more of the Yearbooks color. The amount of money the Yearbook Class made on their Yearbooks also dictated the interest in Supplementals. When small businesses closed in the recessions of the late1970’s and late1980’s revenue fell from advertisement and student purchases went down.

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Yearbooks in the Digital Age

     The future of Yearbooks came into question after the early 2000’s. With so many students having camera phones was there a need for a Yearbooks staff to capture images? If the students could take pictures and not even have to print them, why would they pay $85 for a Yearbook? As it turned out early camera phones were low in quality, when they broke students lost entire years of images and not every student with a camera was a good photographer. Yearbooks still wanted Supplementals but found their new niche as the place for professional pictures - the ones you wanted to share.

     By 2018, Yearbook sales are still going strong and there are a few reasons. Students are taking so many pictures that Yearbooks are often borrowing them from students or “crow-sourcing them” to tell a complete story of the year. But it is the Yearbook staff who is keeping score - literally. Ask the Class of 1983 who won the Homecoming Game and by how much and you might encounter one die-hard Matador Fan who knows the answer. The Yearbook, however, does know. The Yearbooks keeps records of the scores, activities, election results, what was popular and what was not during that school year. Echoing the same “defense” someone might use for why they read Playboy, Yearbooks are now read for the articles, as well.

What happened to Supplementals?

    

There is less a need for todays students to have a Supplemental Yearbook. With Instagram and Facebook students have plentiful platforms in which to upload their images, tag friends and hashtag memories. These platforms are backed up and infinite (for now). Yearbooks (which are entirely color these days) are also digital allowing students to have copies which will never get coffee spilled on them or eaten by the dog. They can also use collective programs like Google Drive or Picasa to create caches of photos. Yearbook groups have created pseudo Supplementals by creating official accounts where they can screen images, edit them or add metadata for reunions down the road.

    What is clear about Yearbooks is their importance. As the Classes of 1968, 1978, and 1998 plan their reunions, you know that they are flipping through their Yearbooks looking for people to invite, looking for memories to replay in their heads and remembering friendships stretched by time and geography. The depth and breadth of these Yearbooks vary year to year and the need increases as details go fuzzy. For many classes, their Archives are intact with the use of Supplementals to fill in the gaps. For the rest of the classes (My Class of 1997 included) we have to do this with consensus and creative memory.

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Throwing Like a Girl!

Mira Loma's girls softball has a history of talent

July 22nd 2018

       Ask anyone who followed sports during their time at Mira Loma about the softball teams and you might hear varying results. Young and enthusiastic, but lacking in experience high school teams can thrive or die together. But if you asking anyone who graduated before 1993 about Matador Softball and they would tell you about the 1990 Team and their rise to local infamy. Sacrament Union writer Frank Marqua wrote about the MLHS team “though emerging as a Capital Valley Conference Champions with a 9-1 Mark, the Matadors are at best dark horse candidates in the section large-school tourney”. This was partially due to the team’s record, which was rocky to start that season and the fact that so much of the team was so young. 1990 coach Vera Vaccaro explained “I only have 10 kids on the team right now. Two (others) are out with grades, two with injuries”. This meant that although the team was doing well, there were many doubts about a larger victory.

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        The MLHS Girls Softball team lost the first five of their eight games to “inexperience” Vaccaro explained, “nerves, mistakes and everybody was trying to get a spot on the team” The team that year had a lot of ‘potential’. Senior Class catcher gain Abilovitz was a standout basketball payer and as a 12th grader was well accustomed to pressure-packed situations and high stakes games. Abilovitz’s coolness helped apply a steadying hand to freshmen Amy Avery and Amy Windmiller. Avery was already producing some pretty impressive numbers that year even with some defeats. While Windmiller had speed (throwing about 61 mph compared to Avery’s 59 mph) Avery consistency began to intimidate other teams. Adding to the mis was MLHS’s leading hitter averaging around 400.

         During the 1989-1990 season Windmiller’s Rise-drop pitches were getting such great results that the local sports writer Pete LeBlanc reported that Roseville High was getting the short end of the stick during the March 15th game. Windmiller struck out 20 players and that the the Roseville team had seemingly phsyced themselves out of winning simply because they were trying too hard to score a hit. Roseville coach Art Banks explained that “we weren’t mentally pre parted fro this game” suggesting the combination of pitchers made victory a mind over matter situation. As the MLHS team continued their winning streak so did the team’s batting average. proving that a team’s victories are often about the morale and spirit. The solid over all team performance was making every other team nervous.

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      The season came to a head against Lodi when the MLHS team played in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 tournament in late May. Described as a “classic endurance contest” against Lodi’s Giggey (pitcher) Mira Loma pulled their 23rd Victory out of the bag advancing Mira Loma to its first Championship. While Windmiller’s pitching was the star feature of the season (and a reputation well earned) her goal was to keep the other team from landing on bases, while her team mates scored home runs.

   MLHs which also one the Capital Valley Conference had four of its players on The Union’s 1989 All-Star Team with Coach Vira Vaccaro named Union Coach of the Year!

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