Alumni Capers Page 2

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           Homecoming is one of High School’s many highlights. Once a year the school rallies around the football team, has a shorter day that ends with a rally, and there is the first formal dance of the year! For Freshmen, Homecoming traditions indoctrinate them into being a High School Student while for Seniors, Homecoming marks the end of their High School career. What is often lost in the modern years is the reason behind Homecoming.

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      The first Homecoming as it were was in 1908 by Southwestern University. It was held in the Spring and was started to welcome back Alumni. Knowing that graduation was near and that people would think about the last year’s graduation, Southwestern wanted to celebrate the Alums. However, because most of them had gone on to careers, the even was more successful in the Fall. High School has always copied traditions from College, and this was no exception. High School Homecomings take place in the late of September or early October, but are supposed to invite back (to celebrate) last year’s alumni. The idea is that if you make a big deal about graduating and have a culture of coming back to the school, the Alumni would support the High School even after their graduation. This year Mira Loma had its 55th Homecoming!

The Class of 1964, as reported later in this newsletter, was the first class to attend all four years at Mira Loma. The class of 1963, which had the distinction of being the first class to graduate from Mira Loma, had not participated in the tradition of “Homecoming” as it were, because there had not been any Seniors before them to celebrate a true Homecoming. It wasn’t until the class of 1964 that there were graduated alums to return home. 

Because 1964 was the first year of true homecoming traditions, that this year celebrated the 50th Homecoming game! Mira Loma did not open with, nor 50 years later does it have, a stadium of its own. Located at El Camino High School is a joint stadium known as Abbott Field. Designated as MLHS’s home field students had to create a method to get their entire Football team, the band, the students and the floats over to El Camino. The Pepadors, a group of cheerleaders decided the best way was to walk over as if in a parade. The “Serpentine” as it was called became the “thing to do” after the rally. The intense rivalry between the El Camino Eagles and the Mira Loma Matadors was intense into the late ’70’s.

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‘We would yell a chant at the game” Cheryl Lutz, class of 74 exclaimed. “Knock 'em down1 Roll 'em in the mud! All we want is Eagles' Blood!” As reported by several years (1960’s through 1970’s) if you did not get to the stadium early, there were not any seats left to be had!

This year Mira Loma played against San Juan High School. Although the Matadors did not win the Varsity Homecoming game this year the Junior Varsity Football Team was victorious! As the games ended the students and alumni in attendance had that classic look of a fun night upon their face. The gloats were wonderful, the sprit great and the roar of the crow was infectious. It is nice to know that some things never change!  t

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Longhorns Reunite! 

by Susan Maxwell Skinner

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CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Many Matadors know that there was once a rival school in San Juan known as La Sierra High School. What they further would be bewildered to learn about is that at one time these two schools became one.

       Almost lost forever, relics from Carmichael’s only high school were center of attention at the recent foundation alumni reunion. Yearbooks, trophies and pennants were among treasures salvaged when La Sierra High closed in 1983.

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For 30 years, its Longhorn traditions had been part of Carmichael life. By the 1980s, declining student numbers obliged San Juan School District to relocate teenagers to Fair Oaks and Arcade schools. The grieving Longhorn herd scattered as demolition began but, thanks to one alumnus’ foresight, many memories were saved. School historian Tony Asaro was an administrative staffer during the school’s final years. “One day in 1983, a staff secretary called and told me that school treasures were being purged,” he recalls. “I drove my truck to the dumpsters and filled it up.”

Among relics were hundreds of “Longhorn Round-up” yearbooks still in Asaro’s keeping. “You don’t want to see my garage,” he confesses. “Over the years I’ve given many away to former students.”  He also rescued the fabled fiberglass mascot named Sir Loin – so enormous it bestrode its own trailer – that students paraded at games and rallies. “Sir Loin lived in my side yard for ten years,” he says. “My neighbors got used to a giant blue and white longhorn looking over their fence. But eventually he had to go. I found the art teacher who’d helped make him. I understand Sir Loin is buried somewhere in the foothills.”

Pre-closure, teachers donated many school trophies to former star athletes. A plaque commemorating 17 graduates who died in the Vietnam War was removed to the home of a La Sierra PE teacher. It is displayed annually as part of Veterans Day ceremonies that unite the community in a nature reserve adjacent to the school.

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Now administered by Carmichael Park District, the school campus is a community hub. The cafetorium serves as a town hall; re-purposed facilities house sport, education and arts centers. “We went to a great school,” observes Asaro. “La Sierra was our Camelot – the center of our lives. We’re glad it’s still a jewel for the community.”

More than 200 foundation alumni last month filled the cafetorium for their 60-year “Longhorn Social” reunion. Mascot Sir Loin glared from tee shirts and banners as alumni pored through Asaro’s year books.  Though the salvager was a later graduate, attendees welcomed the 70-year-old like a homecoming hero.

“La Sierra students are sentimental,” explained reunion co-organizer Brenda Beers Mock.  “We foundation students wrote the fight song; we chose the mascot and colors. Because our school’s not there anymore, we’re even more sentimental. Tony Asaro’s younger than us but we’re grateful he has the same feelings for our school. What he saved is almost all we have left.” Learn about La Sierra alumni activities on Facebook.

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           On June 7th 2019 the Mira Loma’s newest graduating class joined the ranks of Alumni. This is always a momentous occasion as, for the students graduation suggests their promotion to adulthood and, for the community it means that another crop of educated, prepared and eager youth have entered the estuary of American life after 12 years of education. How each class graduates says a great deal about what that “Class” of students will be like as adults -once they are free of their social obligation to attend public school and a free to pursue their own personal life goals. The Class of 2019 had a unique personality as compared to their previous peers (the Classes of 2016-18) who no doubt had an effect on their development. This article will attempt to explain the Class of 2019 through some of their statistics and accomplishments. As with any collection of thoughts this article can not encompass all the personalities of the 400+ students who graduated.

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       The Class of 2019 were fighters. First they were fighters literally. The 2019-2020 school year at Mira Loma saw an increase in fights on campus. While some of these were from the Freshmen, who will surely graduate with their own personality, there was a significant number of Seniors involved in confrontations. Why? One train unique to Mira Loma was the influx of refugee students to MLHS. 

    These students coming from Iraq and Pakistan experienced severe disruptions in their lives that often was expressed through confrontation (PTSD, communication problems, misunderstanding ect). Some of these struggles were universal, assimilation faux pas, brothers not liking their sister’s dating and some prejudices being brought in from their home countries.  But the Class of 2019 were also fighters for justice and social civility and equality.

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       In 2018 the Parkland High School shooting struck accord with the students. Class members from 2018 and 2019 were the organizers of a protest that filled the quad advocating for gun ownership reform and solidarity with the students of Parkland High. In 2019 this spirit continued with a memorial for De’Sean Rowe-Manns who was killed in a hit-and-run on September 19th. They worked hard to allow students space to mourn and express their feelings. They organized a walk out to protest police actions that lead to Stephon Clark’s death on March 18th when the Attorney General’s investigation decided to not press charges. The Class of 2019 fought to have gender pro-nouns removed from dance royalty so that any pair (heterosexual, homosexual or other) could be voted to royalty. The same spirit that made the Class of 2019 scrappers in the quad made them warriors for social change and advocates for each other. While this depiction, to some, could be seen as mixed it is as graduation speaker __________ said “you can’t educate us for so long and tell us how we are going to change the world and then be surprised when we go out there and fight for change”

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        The Class of 2019 saw a return of graduation ceremonies to the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium after its long renovation. The Graduating Class was so large that the auditorium was packed leaving few seats unfilled. Each student was limited to 8 guest seats due to the space restrictions. Displaying modern trends students who were not using all their tickets created “stories” on Snapchat where they sold them to students in need for $20 or whatever the market could bare. Their graduation was probably the most visible. Facebook Livestreams, Instragram Stories,   Snapchat Stories and FaceTime where all visible and active throughout graduation from both students and the families who attended. Graduating in scarlet red, one unique attribute to these students of the 2010’s are that they are allowed to pick a walking partner. No longer is the list read alphabetically, but as pairs. This “randomization” of students keeps the audience listening for their graduate and their peers also keeping people from leaving before the ceremony is over. 

      Lastly the Class of 2019 was ordinary. They were un-extraordinary in that they continued a 30+ legacy of scoring exceptionally high GPAs, qualified an competed at the Science Olympiad Nationals, sent a large delegation to the Speech and Debate Nationals in Dallas, completed 12000 hours of community service, had over 100 students with Seal of Biliteracy, students join the ranks of the armed forces and an exemplary number of students attending college. It is comforting to know that while each year of Matadors is different, that some things are not changing. The students awkwardly figure out who they are and because they are supported by their family, friends and staff at MLHSS they are graduating to become quality members of our society and will surely go on to positively affect our nation. 

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      Bob King came to Mira Loma as the Cross Country and Track Coach. Throughout his tenure at Mira Loma his teams had many winning seasons with exceptionally high participation. He arrived shortly after Coach Al Baeta (who had left to coach at American River College) helping to shape a new era of Mira Loma athletics. Some additional background about Coach King Alumni would want to know is that he moved to Del Campo where he taught Refresher Math, General Science and Supervised the Lunch Room. Throughout the interview Coach King had many great responses that on occasion were paraphrased within this article.

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What years were you at MLHS?

I was there from Fall 1967 to January 1982

What subjects/programs were you affiliated with while you were there?

PE. Department only at MLHS. 

Did you ever sponsor or advise any of the clubs/extra-curricular activities?

I sponsored the Trackettes at MLHS, Coached Cross Country, scouted for Basketball for Bill Freeman between Cross Country and Track Coached Track

Why did you leave or where did you go after you left MLHS?

I went to Del Campo High School. 

He didn’t monitor the lunchroom at MLHS, but was asked monitor the lunchroom when he transferred to Del Capo. The DC the lunchroom environment was in state of  anarchy. King called Coach Kundert (who was still at Mira Loma) for advice. 

He asked Coach Kundert what he did to gain control of the Lunchroom. Kundert explained that he took two trouble makers (The Andrew Twins) and thru them out of the lunch room when they started a food fight at Mira Loma. Times being different in the 1960’s an educator could get away with a ‘hands-on’ approach. In the Boys Locker Room at MLHS, Coach Freeman grabbed a kid (he was so strong) holding the kid by waist up to the ceiling and shaking him. Drops the kid on the floor and the kid goes splat. The kid said, “I will never do that again.”

At DC King applied the ‘Kundert’ approach. Del Camp had a salad bar in the front the lunch line and the boys were cutting.  King saw a boy cutting in line, told him to leave for one week. The student then went under the table, threw him out and as the student was being throw out, he threw his French fries at Coach King. He told him, you can come back in one week. For King the direct and uncompromising approach quickly tamed the lunch room. Even after leaving Mira Loma, King relied on his connections there for advice and support.

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Did you ever have another job/occupation during the time you were a teacher?

Before Prop 13 when money was available for summer programs, he taught in the Summer “Sports School” at Mira Loma during the summer 6 weeks from K – 6th grade.  After Prop 13, the money dried up and the program was no longer offered. At the end of the summer program the different schools got together and had tournaments in all the different sports. Coach King got contractor’s license to work in summers doing some construction including putting on the roof of Principal Liz Hofmann’s house.

Of your time coaching at MLHS, tell us about your best years?

There were lots of years. Almost all the years were good years except:  Only not good 1973-1974 and 1981-1982.  First year  I coached at Mira Loma, we tied for the Section Title! In 1975-78 won the Section Title for Cross Country- three years in a row! 

Who were some of your best athletes and are you still in contact with them?

Danny Taylor, Ed Katabaugh Steve Bergie, Jerry Fat.

John Mansoor (Ran the CIM) Cross Country Chairman.

David Mansoor Sprinter and Jimmy Mansoor distance runner

Mike Vale!

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What would you say is the hardest thing about putting together a good high school sports team?

Well, year to year student populations change. There were 1960 students in 1967 only 1150 students in 1982. You don’t know if you’re there the next year if you’re enrollment shrinks and what kids you’ll pool from . 

What was one of your team’s best accomplishments?

After tying for Section Title your first year, its hard to do “better”. But the 1975-78 years we actually won! 

What students will remember about Coach King equally as famous as himself, would be his 1967 Blue GMC Truck.  It was a stick, so the track team guys had to be able to drive a stick shift.  Students thought it was a such a privilege to drive the Coach’s (then) new Truck. Some would try to drive it even without really knowing how to use a stick. During track season Coach would be starting the races so the team members who could drive a stick, were sent in the truck to go pick up hurdles and equipment at the end of the meets another activity that is unique to King’s era. The truck is still running. 


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Every teacher knows what a blessing it is to be assigned a class in which students are talented, witty, personable, committed to learning, and possess an aptitude for the subject because in those classes, teachers and students work together, laugh together, learn together, and upon graduation often cry together. Every teacher who’s ever taught a class like this understands that it is not only a pleasure, but a privilege.

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      During my second year at Mira Loma, I was assigned such a class comprised of twenty-five “bright-eyed sophomores,” and with each writing assignment from September through December, I kept thinking of how I might share their exceptional essays, poems, and stories with ML’s faculty and study body. To this end, I asked them that if I could procure the funds for printing costs, would they be willing to usher in Mira Loma’s first literary arts magazine.  As encouragement, I shared issues of Siftings, the literary arts magazine for which I was advisor at La Sierra High before it closed in 1983. When they agreed, I approached Principal Elizabeth Hoffman to request that if she would assume the cost of printing the magazine’s inaugural issue with administrative funds, I would reimburse her in the spring after we sold copies to ML’s teachers and students as well as to parents during Open House.

      When Mrs. Hoffman consented, I asked for volunteers from that class to assume the duties of an editorial staff, and Erin Brown, Janet Doherty, Carolyn Edwards, Rhonda Lee, Alison Marquiss, David Small, Debby Stoughton, and Amy Struck stepped forward.  With a staff in place, its members selected an editor, a name for the magazine, and a dedication for the first issue, which was penned by Amy Struck.

Three months later, Prisms ’85 went to press, and by the end of the evening during   Open House in April, every copy had sold out.

In those days, the San Juan District used to hold yearly writing contests for its high school students, awarding ribbons for student writing in the expository and narrative essay, poetry, story, and literary arts magazine.  I submitted Prisms ‘85, and it won first place.

   By the time those sophomores became seniors, Prisms included not only their literary and artistic efforts, but also those of other ML students.  As a result, it had evolved into the kind of magazine I thought would do well in the national contest sponsored annually by The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and it did. Prisms ’86 won the NCTE’s Superior Rating, which only a handful of magazines won that year. 

    After those sophomores graduated in 1987, I opened tryouts for staff positions to ML juniors and seniors, and those whom I selected continued to maintain the standards set by that inaugural staff.  So for the 1989 and 1991 NCTE competition, which by then was being sponsored through a grant by the publishing house of Scott Foresman, and Company, I entered Prisms, and on both occasions it won the NCTE’s Superior rating. 

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My role as staff advisor to Prisms during the final ten years of my career made my decision to retire much more difficult than I had anticipated.  In a poem, which appears in Prisms ’93, Alicia Herrera captures how I felt every April as I carried issues of the magazine to the printer.

Every spring

The tree would be

Absolutely covered

With tiny white blossoms

And I would

Bathe in their

Softness

I would leave Prisms in the capable hands of English teacher, Robyn Plante.  

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