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Sept. 26, 2013
1959 N. WAUKEGAN RD.
DEERFIELD, IL 60015
First graduating class celebrates fifty year reunion Adam Kaz Staff Reporter
Fred Teether was an athlete. Lynn Gia“I remember having bomb threats on my house. naras St. Claire was onstage Crew. Susan People wouldn’t sit next to me during lunch because I Pittenger was a Deerprints reporter. But, was a ‘communist’ or an ‘in lover.’ There was a lot of a September sixth and seventh, they were people on different sides,” Berggren said. just the first graduating class of DHS comThe major issue of the time was a failed housing ing together for their 50th reunion. Out project of 1959. Developers attempted to make homes of the 222 members of the Class of 1963, on Wilmot Road that were mainly intended for Afri200 are still living, of which 65 attended can-American families. The Park’s Department, who the reunion. Friends who had not seen insisted that the land be made into a park, stopped the each other for years were reunited for two plan. The issue was eventually settled in court, in favor days of rehashing and reminiscing. of the Deerfield Parks Department, creating Mitchell When the doors to DHS were opened Park. in 1960, the building was still under conMany former students spoke of their ambivalence struction. Graduate Bill Olendorf recalls or ignorance of the major race problems in Deerfield. “walking over boards” in order to get to “We were oblivious to it. We were young. There was class. The students, who started in their no blacks, no Asians, no Mexicans. You’ll notice all of sophomore year, attended classes featuring us are Caucasian. We thought that was the way it was,” multiple teachers, connecting various subKeith Zellet said. jects like english, art and social studies in The race tensions eventually boiled into a “March order to address a wide range of ideas. on Deerfield Road” led by Rev. Berggren, in support “We were the first class to do team of the housing development in 1959. teaching,” Janice Bond said. “We would “The pickets weren’t as bad as people built it as,” read something and discuss it. The teacher said retired Deerfield Policeman, Gleen Koets. “I just would say ‘what do you think about it,’ and remember a lot of people gathering, but I’m not sure it taught you how to think. Why don’t they if they were really picketing. We [the Deerfield Police] teach classes like that all the time?” were never called in to stop anything.” AmandaBarr As the first class of DHS, the students Despite what animosity the graduates felt during Twinning: The only twins in the class of ‘63 Pete and Rick Meldahl or had myriads of responsibilities including their time in school, there was no ill feelings during “Pete and Repete” enjoyed visting their old school together. creating traditions. the reunion. Upon seeing their old school, the gradu“We had the distinction of choosing ates remarked on how much had changed during the all the things that you are now stuck with. We chose Warriors, colors, the name Deerprints- we five decades since graduation. Most graduates attended their reunions every 10 years, but some came up with that,” reunion organizer were completely foreign to new DHS additions, like R Hall and X Hall. Susan Porter said. “We are all really fasci“I got lost in this school when it was small. I can’t imagine what it’s like now,” said graduate nated that all these things stuck with you. St. Claire. You can thank us, or blame us for that.” One of the most frequent graduation attendees is 1963’s class president, Marty Haugh. Despite obvious physical differences Haugh felt the obligation to lead the students of today, as he did 50 years ago. By giving his of the town, the social climate of Deerpersonal opinion of these reunions, he hopes that future graduates will come back to see their field ‘13 was strikingly similar to the scene old friends. in ’63. While some of the graduates de“We’ve lost 22 of our classmates,” said Haugh, “That’s why these reunions are so important. nied bitterness amongst their classmates, You should encourage people to come back to their reunions.” others felt that social segregation was as Teenagers often feel that their parents don’t understand the strain on their lives because their powerful then as it is now. elders never experienced it firsthand. For those who believe that social order has drastically “I expected mean kids and cliques, changed during their generation, just turn to graduate, and reunion organizer, Rusty Walthers for especially since I was the new kid. What a debunking of this myth. a surprise to find the greatest group of “It didn’t matter classmates I have ever encountered. They if you were a memwere friendly and encouraging and incluber of the prom sive,” Bond said. court, a member of Bond wasn’t the only one who shared the football team, the opinion of minimal social antagonism. or a super nerd, Others believed that their isolated town nobody felt like created an atmosphere and trust within they fit in. ‘They the community. never fit in, in high “I guess we were kind of isolated,” school.’ ‘Nobody Barbara Barth said. “We grew up with understood them in AmandaBarr Leave it Beaver and Father Knows Best; high school.’ And Let the good times roll: Elgrew up with an ‘ideal family.’ We never all those people len Peterson was extremely excited locked the doors. Everyone was very that you envy today, to be back in the halls of DHS. The trusting.” in reality they feel halls that her father, former Vice This “fellowship” felt amongst just as lost and President of the parks department students could be an indicator of actual confused as you do. Aksel Peterson helped to integrate. universal student acceptance, or it very So give ‘em a break well may be the opinions of a “blind sometimes,” said AmandaBarr majority.” Various graduates such as Reid Abernathy, would agree with the latter. Walthers. A picture says a thousand words: Some of the “To be honest, Deerfield High School was a little cliquey. You were in or you were out,” class of ‘63 looked through their old yearbooks, remiAbernathy said. niscing about the good times that they shared together in high school. During that time, though, segregation was a much more prevalent issue than cliques and groups. Debbie Berggren, the daughter of African-American integration advocate, Reverend Paul Berggren, said racial hate clouded her high school experience.