DP: from “Hippy High” to academic and athletic success
August 29, 2012
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By Todd Borden | Guest Opinion | August 29, 2012
The beginning of the 2012-2013 school year has a sad feel for me. And it’s not just because our school is expected to raise student achievement with fewer days of instruction than we’ve had for the past 50 years.
This year marks the first year that all of the “founding teachers” from DP’s inception have retired.
This is a big deal for me as I attended DP between the years 1977 and 1981, was taught by many of those original teachers, and, with great honor, also had the pleasure to call many of them colleagues when I returned to teach at DP.
Currently there are quite-a-few DP alumni who have returned to teach at their alma mater. There are fewer who attended during the formative “Hippy High” days.
Indeed, I only experienced one year of Hippy High–class attendance optional, cafeteria open all day, eight period day, no required lunch, cigarette smoke pouring from the student bathrooms (and staff lounge!), couches as an alternative to desks in classrooms, 139 electives (in English alone!).
If you want more vivid memories of Hippy High you’ll have to speak to the staff members that experienced more years of it than me: Travis Bower, Monica Scafide, Maria Vega, and most senior (and most adorable) to us all, Marietta Sanchez. But to all of us who attended in the Hippy High days, there is a feeling–a memory, a mood–that we all remember about DP.
It was a different school, led by a different kind of principal, Denny Baylor, who recruited a different kind of teacher.
Those few of us who attended DP prior to the fall of 1978 experienced something unique.
And now the last of the teachers that made DP such an amazing place has retired.
My first semester at DP my teachers were: Shirley Bess for English (in Joanne Thompson’s room), Dick Blair for social studies (in Phil Sherman’s room), Owen Johnson for algebra, Jim Ochi for Spanish (in Matt Moran’s room), Jerry Belch for typing (in MY first classroom at DP!), and Dick Trimble for PE. Sadly, I served with none of these wonderful teachers when I began teaching at DP in 2000.
However, when I was a senior, my teachers were: Pam (Green) VanderHeide for English (in Robin Selzler’s room), Jim Holmes for math (in Dave Haggerty’s room), and Scott O’Leary for baseball.
Happily, I can count these incredible teachers as colleagues when I returned to DP. And in between my freshman and senior years I had many other memorable teachers at DP–Jeff Hesselmeyer, Dave Kay, JR Richards, Peter Van Duinwyk, Peg Harris, Lee Beckom, and Don Stillman, spring to mind. (Strangely, when I began teaching at Santa Barbara High School, Dave Kay, JR Richards, Peter VanDuinwyk, and Lee Beckom were collegues of mine there.)
When I became an English teacher here, my English colleagues included: John Lenker, Jerry Petrini, Mike Dunn, and Jan and Charlie Clouse, all amazing teachers from my student days at DP, and my counselor, Dave Weaver, and assistant principal, Steve Meister remained as well.
In the fall of 1978 principal Dick Prigge ended the Hippy High days by initiating the first common lunch period, closing the cafeteria during class-time, and (shockingly!) requiring students to attend class. It is ironic that today DP is considered such an academic school after such a colorful first decade. Back then San Marcos was the “academic school,” and Santa Barbara High was the “athletic school” (Karch Kiraly and Randall Cunningham were students at Santa Barbara High when I was in high school).
I’m not sure what Denny Baylor would think about our current pride in our annual domination of the local National Merit Scholar awards, or extensive AP program. I know, however, that I am proud of where we are now–and where we were then.
Just today I happened upon the last of the “founding teachers” to retire.
Jim Ranta left DP last June after 40 years at the school.
Like so many DP teachers, he continues to contribute to DP even after retirement. He was in the Xerox room, copying some scrap books that he was compiling about DP aquatics. He quizzed me on some teachers in the pictures. I was able to quickly identify: Connie Barger, Mary Jane Rense, Joby Nunez, Pat Bremer, and Dick Mires.
He was impressed that I remembered them all. But of course I did, they made DP such a legendary place to be.
I am proud to be serving in their shadow, but disquieted by their absence; I’m just glad Claudia (Fairbanks) Hardy will still be on campus, working with her UCSB student- teachers, to allow me to retain that sense of continuity.