By Mary O’KEEFE
Fifty years ago this September about 480 sophomores walked into the brand new Crescenta Valley High School building starting a legacy of academic excellence, a new level 50 years of excellence
of volunteerism and the beginning of an athletic dynasty.
Those first few months had a staggered schedule that included students from Clark and Rosemont junior high schools, whose buildings were still under construction. That first year sophomores were the only high school students on campus.
Crescenta Valley High School, which opened in 1960, will be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary on Oct. 7 with an open house from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the school’s campus.
“The public is welcome to come to the celebration. We will have students performing and will have guest speakers,” invited Lisa Reed, CVHS assistant principal and chair of the event.
Reed has been with the school for 26 years as a math teacher and later as the head of the math department. She was moved this year into the position of assistant principal.
The school is planning some nostalgic trips down memory lane and some traditions are being brought back. There are plans for a bonfire and Powder Puff football game for homecoming. The fire had been cancelled last year due to the Station Fire.
“We thought we had seen enough fire that fall,” Reed said. “But this year we want to bring it back. The students really missed it.”
A tradition that has been revived is teachers adopting a football player during the season. Each teacher will bring little presents like fruit or a nice lunch to their player the week of the game. The teacher then wears the player’s jersey the day of the game.
“It seems to build school spirit. Some teachers are now adopting tennis players, too,” Reed added.
The tradition was strong when Reed began at CVHS.
“In fact one of my football boys was Nathan Vasquez who is now back at the school as one of the assistant football coaches,” she said.
Reed has been gathering information from alumni and retired faculty. The first principal, Bill Thomas, and one of the first teachers at the school, Shirley Nute, have been invaluable in bringing history to life for the anniversary celebration, Reed said.
Until CVHS opened, students in Crescenta Valley had to continue their upper grade education at Glendale High School. But with the rapid growth of the area it was obvious junior and senior high schools were needed.
“Following World War II the part of Glendale that grew the fastest was in the foothills,” said Vic Palos, formerly with the public information office at Glendale Unified School District.
He added all of the foothill area including the unincorporated area of La Crescenta was growing with baby boomers finding affordable housing.
“Then [in the late 1940s and early ’50s] you could get a nice home in the foothills for $12,000 to $15,000,” he said.
Elementary schools were being built during that time including Monte Vista and Dunsmore.
“Mountain Avenue was the last elementary to be built. It was open in the 1960s,” he said.
But after elementary school it was a trip down to Glendale High School for CV students.
Nute said the doors to CVHS opened in September 1960 to sophomores and junior high students who were waiting for Rosemont and Clark (at that time a junior high) to finish construction.
“That first sophomore class was magnificent,” Nute said. “They had class. [Those] students wanted to make sure the school started properly.”
Nute said the principal at the time, William Thomas, had been to several meetings with other principles who were starting new schools. They told him that by the time those sophomores were seniors they would be obnoxious. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, Nute added.
The year before the school opened the sophomore class had planned on how they would structure the student government and what they wanted in their new school. The school meant less travel time for students and a place they could call their own in Crescenta Valley.
“We had junior high students in the morning then high school later in the day. The kids from Clark and Rosemont moved into their schools that January,” Nute said.
Teachers pulled double duty back then. Nute was a choral director who also taught physical education. She was the director of the drill team, too.
“We did whatever was needed,” she said.
Nute added that things haven’t changed that much at the school.
“The community was so supportive and the kids just wanted to get involved,” she said. Nute retired in 1998 but looks back at her days at CVHS fondly.
“It was perhaps the most wonderful experience I have ever had,” she said.
Crescenta Valley Weekly is looking for CVHS graduates stories. Anyone who would like to share their thoughts on CVHS can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.