Treasures of the Valley » Mike Lawler

Clark Junior High Yearbooks – 1953 and ’54


I was recently loaned a couple of yearbooks from Clark Magnet High School. Flipping through them is a wonderful journey back through time, and I’ll relate some of the highlights here. But first a word about the somewhat confusing history of Anderson W. Clark Junior High.

Up until the ’30s the valley only had elementary schools and any education beyond that took place in Glendale. In 1932, a junior high was built where Crescenta Valley High is today. Graduates of our elementary schools could finish seventh through ninth grades there before having to attend high school in Glendale. In 1938 the school was renamed after Anderson W. Clark, a beloved local minister and humanitarian. Around 1960, Clark Junior High became Crescenta Valley High, and the Clark name moved up the hill to a new junior high building on New York Avenue, which in turn became Clark Magnet High in 1998. Complicated!

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical Society
of the Crescenta Valley and loves local history. Reach him at

But back to the yearbooks. The front carries the name “Clark Crescent” while the back features a cartoon panther bouncing a basketball. That’s “Andy the Panther,” the same mascot Clark Magnet has today. Inside we are introduced to Mr. Cannon, the principal, and Miss Hall, the vice principal.

Next are the student body officers, and a photo of the bugle corps and flag raisers. Apparently when the flag was raised each morning four students blew bugles. (Sorry, neighbors!) While everyone in these photos looks clean and wholesome, just like the cast of “Happy Days,” one of the flag raisers would be “The Fonz.” He stands looking surly on the outside edge of the group. He wears black boots, Levis with the cuffs folded up, a black leather jacket and his hair greased and swept back. Perhaps his position as flag raiser was not voluntary?

The individual photos of the students show a sea of white faces, and the names are all English or Northern European, with a very small smattering of Italian thrown in. Diversity was not a thing at Clark in the 1950s.

The various clubs are pictured. Some still exist today, such as the cheerleaders and the honor society. The Glee Club and the Choristers are separate singing groups. There’s a band, brass and percussion, and an orchestra with strings and wind instruments. There is a Speech Club and a Chess Club (all male).

Others clubs aren’t around today. The Model Club shows a group of boys all holding model cars and airplanes, some of the larger planes with gas motors. There’s a Stage and Chair Crew. In the photo, one boy is pulling a curtain rope while another flips a light switch. A third holds a folding chair. The Projection Crew portrays a group of boys standing around an ancient reel-to-reel film projector. There are several service clubs and athletic clubs, but all are separated by gender.

There is a Boy’s Traffic Squad and a Girl’s Traffic Squad. I asked someone from that time period about those and got an earful of decades-old resentment. The boy’s traffic squad was to monitor behavior in the hallways. They had the authority to hand out “tickets” and report offenders to the principal. They were, according to my source, bullies and snitches. The girl’s traffic squad apparently did the same, with the added dimension of serving as “fashion police.” They could ticket or report any dress they deemed inappropriate.

Of course the icing on this time-capsule cake are the autographs from fellow students. One yearbook had belonged to a boy and had many inscriptions describing him as “cool.” He must have been a budding motorhead as one inscription teased him that his “29A” (1929 Ford Model-A) wouldn’t be finished until 1977. One jerky kid wrote, “Roses are red, Violets are blue. I have 10 fingers, guess which one’s for you.”

The other yearbook, belonging to a girl, described her throughout as a “swell kid” and “cute chick.” The inscriptions contain many comments about her recent breakup with Ken and her new boyfriend Mike. A couple inscriptions expressed joy that “Kenny” was now available.

These yearbooks are a fun view into an iconic time in American history.