If you or someone in your family graduated high school in 1971, this summer is the 50th anniversary. We’ve already published an announcement for the West Seattle High School Class of ’71 reunion. Now the John F. Kennedy High School Class of ’71 is casting a wide net for its grads – the school’s in Burien but has and had attendees from other communities including West Seattle. This was sent by ’71 alum Marcee Stone-Vekich:
The years 1967-1971 were transformative years in this country. The times they were a-changing. The Vietnam War protests, civil-rights marches, the Chicago Seven, the first Earth Day, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. We also witnessed the moon landing, Woodstock, the first black woman elected to Congress (Shirley Chisholm), and the NY Jets winning the Super Bowl. As the Buffalo Springfield sang “Something’s happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.” What we do know is that it was a very interesting era.
These were the events happening outside of Kennedy High School, which certainly impacted us, but our high school years went on. We were only the second class to graduate from Kennedy, a newly built high school that grew from one class of freshmen to a full four-year school by the time we were Juniors. We showed up daily, the girls in their uniforms with pleated skirts, the boys in slacks and dress shirts. No jeans, corduroys, or T-shirts allowed. No long hair permitted on the boys and no short skirts for the girls. And a principal who roamed the halls enforcing these rules.
The teachers had high expectations and supported us in achieving those expectations. Some of us were involved in extracurricular activities such as drill team, debate club, drama, and athletics. Others went to school and at the end of the day worked a part-time job. Many of us attended the occasional dances on Friday nights, enjoying live bands such as Merilee and the Turnabouts, swaying to “Angel of the Morning.” Then there were the formal events. The boys wearing their rented tuxes, several with pastel-colored coats, and the girls in their gowns going to the Homecomings, Tolos, and Proms. And we can’t forget the occasional retreats. The way high school should be.
That was then, this is now. Fifty years later we are about to gather again. The old cliques will be gone, like the classmates who have passed on before us, and we will all share about our lives post-graduation and reminisce about those high-school years.