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DP: from “Hippy High” to academic and athletic success

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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.

English Teacher Todd Borden, pictured here as a DP student in the 80s, traces the colorful history of Dos Pueblos as it has evolved over the years.

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.

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15 Responses to “DP: from “Hippy High” to academic and athletic success”

  1. Forrest Hopson on August 30th, 2012 12:19 PM

    I attended DP during the Hippy High days having graduated in 1976. Those were all amazing teachers. I was fortunate to have many of those mentioned as my teachers, including Claudia Hardy. One great teacher of note that was not included was the band/orchestra director, Irwin Maguire. Irwin always produced steller bands and orchestras. One of his greatest accomplishments was when he led the Marching 100 to second place in the Washington, DC Cherry Blossom Parade in March 1974. Sadly Irwin passed away earlier this year leaving behind a great musical legacy. Of course I remember Travis Bower and his siblings real well as we grew up in the same neighborhood. Great that he is teaching at DP!

    Great article. You brought back lots of fond memories.


    Forrest Hopson
    Class 1976
    Reno, Nevada


  2. John Mooy on August 30th, 2012 1:27 PM

    You forgot my Dad….. Len Mooy…… Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago, but I even had a class with him when I went to DP!


    Jennifer (Short) Bauer Reply:

    Len Mooy was an incredible science teacher! When he had his heart attack in 1984, my girlfriend and I went to see him in the hospital. When we came through the door he said “there you are!” He was in the process of being bandaged and it was clear that his nurses adored him.

    I was a serious loser at science, but Len Mooy made it easy to understand so I actually got an A!!!!

    John Lenker (Shakespeare), Aaron Hillman (Constitutional Law), Peg Harris (English Literature), and Tallant Smith (Theater Arts) were the teachers who made me want to get up in the morning.

    I wish Len Mooy’s film, with him riding around in a bathtub, would have made it to theaters. I would have gone to see it 100 times….just because he was in it. 🙂


    Jennifer (Short) Bauer Reply:

    whoops…. Mr. Mooy’s name belongs in the list of teachers responsible for getting me up in the morning!!!!!


    Denis miller Reply:

    Loved Mr Mooy! Great dude!

    Mike Edic Reply:

    Len Mooy was the BOMB at teaching!!! I STILL remember going to his classes, the way he taught, they way he TALKED to the students, and not treat them like they were lesser than he was. He was “one of us”.

    Much of my high school days have been blacked out over the years, but I will always remember Mr. Mooy with fondness and love! I hated science, but he ROCKED at what he taught! One of the best teachers of all time!


  3. Kay Crocker on August 30th, 2012 8:26 PM

    Thanks Todd for remembering what wonderful teachers we had at Dos Pueblos.I am a proud graduate of the class ’76. My parents were warned by the Superintendent of Las Virgines school district to not move to Goleta because we would have to attend Hippy High. So much for advice. Thank God.vA few of my favorites that you may or may not have known the Susan and Bob Wiltsy’s. Great class Pop, Protest and Poetry. Penny Pasquenilli who was at Goleta Valley and moved to DP with us. So many great teachers. Thanks for again for sharing.


  4. Jack Abramson on September 2nd, 2012 9:16 PM

    What a pleasure to read this article. As a graduate of DP 1976, I remember many of the things that Mr. Borden recounts. Of course I remember different teachers, but the overall point is that there were an amazing group of teachers and school leaders that came together in the late 60s and 70s to create a unique school. Like Camelot, it burned brightly and briefly, and then, was gone. Thank god Mr. Borden was there and had the presence of mind to remind us all of its greatness. The fact that he name-checked so many of the teachers is awesome. Go DP!


  5. Jerry Hargis on September 4th, 2012 12:27 AM


    Great article that brings back a flood of memories. I had many of those teachers you mention and remember them well. Beckom, Green, Dunn, Stillman, amongst many others that you mention. And I still find it hard to believe that my “young” water polo and swimming coach Jim Ranta retired last year at age 65! I never realized he was only 10 years older than I! I echo Forrest Hopson’s comment about Irwin Maguire. Words cannot describe how I feel about that man. He probably was one of the oldest faculty members outside of Denny Baylor, yet he was young at heart and fit in with the “Hippy High” era.

    Jerry Hargis
    Class of 1975


  6. Jay T.P. Hubbard DP 1985 on September 30th, 2012 8:32 AM

    Todd Borden’s retrospect elicits many fond memories indeed. Earlier teachers can somehow leave such indelible handiwork on the minds of their charges. On this note, may I please ask Todd (or anyone in the know) for an update on Jerry Petrini? How might I reach him? He made a profound influence on my hitherto life and I would like to convey gratitude to him.
    Many thanks.
    Jay Thitinan Pongsudhirak Hubbard (DPHS 1985)
    Bangkok, Thailand.


  7. mike felig on December 18th, 2013 10:15 PM

    i have soo many memories that it would take pages.Don’t get me started…glad to see Mr.Mooy’s name,he was a Hoot! As a student/Athlete ,all the coaches were good souls.I could write a book about them.I remember when ray Schaak married twila Tharp{SP},a fellow teacher.That was BIG news,back in the Day.Scott O’Leary was my second Dad.Tom Everest was almost like a Big Brother.Connie Barger was his best bud.Both went to ,played and graduated CalPoly SLO…..where they forwarded me to.joby Nunez was my DB Coach.I remember Meister’s Christmas Tree business as a side effort.I remember Dick Meyer’s enthusiasm as head football Coach during my Senior Year 1974 with our Victories over Santa Barbara,San Marcos & Ventura at UCSB’s stadium in front of 10’000 people each game….Lastly,Mrs.Leonardi….I think she taught tough Math.Mostly I remember her chaperoning us to Disneyland countless times.By the time I graduated,I had been to Disneyland 22x….haven’t been back since!


  8. Karen '81 on February 26th, 2014 11:31 AM

    I agree with all of the above.

    I was more of an academic than an athlete.

    There were two coaches, however, who made an impact (albeit in very different ways) on my path in school and perhaps later on: Don Volpi and Bruce Loftus.

    When Don passed away of a heart attack during a b-ball game with his friends, we were all shocked and saddened.

    I hope Mr. Loftus is doing well.


  9. Bryan Meckelborg on March 3rd, 2016 3:24 PM

    Outstanding article and comments. Dos Pueblos was and is an awesome school. Coach Ranta was the best. Made a huge impact on my life. Lenker, Kay, Beckom and all the others were truly wonderful people and I consider myself lucky to be a graduate of “Hippie High” (Thanks Dave Kay for signing off my last class the day before graduation!!)
    Class of 81 Party King.


  10. Robb Hamilton on April 24th, 2016 1:18 AM

    Whole lotta good memories, Todd. Thanks for writing this. Our lunches in Jim Ochi’s room were pretty epic. Charles and Jan Claus warrant mention, as well. I hope they’re still making it to Europe every year!


  11. Kay Bess on December 3rd, 2016 1:21 PM

    Thanks for remembering my mom, Shirley Bess, here. I loved attending DP in the 70’s. Great school, great teachers, great experience. xo


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DP: from “Hippy High” to academic and athletic success