STORIES October 2011
• Wauwatosa West high School • 11400 W Center Street, Wauwatosa WI • Volume 16, Issue 2
A Look Back On Tosa West’s Golden Years
Wauwatosa West High School, unbelievable though it may seem to to‑ day’s students, has not been around since the beginning of time. Howev‑ er, this year does mark an important point in West’s history. Throughout the last fifty years, West has been housed in two buildings, one of which was set on fire, had numerous administrative staff changes, and recent‑ ly lost a beloved coach. But whatever happens, each year West ushers a new class through its doors and bids farewell to another, sending hope‑ fully prepared students out into the world. Though each class is unique, the ones that have come before establish the traditions that define West. These events let us trace back through West’s history. g Please see p. 4
There And Back Again: A Teacher’s Tale
Wauwatosa West alumni who came back to work in the district they were once enrolled in
Waj Alig Staff Writer
Every day, hundreds of students at Wauwatosa West walk into their classes, sit down, and prepare to learn. Many complain about how their teacher doesn’t know how to teach or brag about how they have one of the best teachers in the school. Good or bad, one thing is certain;
teachers try their utmost to improve student learning. Some students ignore this fact completely, but a select few come to this realization and become inspired to be like the teachers that taught them in such excellent ways. These students decide to become teachers and some return to the Wauwatosa School Dis‑
trict to continue what their teachers did for them. Katie Wilkes, Tom Norstrem, Dan Prothero, Barb Lauenstein, and Ms. Frederickson were all such students and offer a view into Tosa West’s past. Katie Wilkes, a 5th Grade teacher at Eisenhower El‑ ementary, always knew that she wanted to be a teach‑
Two Roads to Success
Two Tosa Grads, two different careers, one friendship Zakiya Robinson g Managing Editor
The class of 1971 walked through West’s halls towards greatness. During their 40th reunion, alumni came back to share both their accom‑ plishments and the dreams they still hoped to achieve. “Back in the days of high school we were a family, a family of jocks and Grubbs and that never broke apart,” remarks Jeff Nordholm.
The class of 1971 con‑ tained ‑football players, champion swimmers and academic scholars who took Wauwatosa West to an all new level of excellence. “The age we grew up in was about living our lives for happiness and the dreams we knew we wanted to get to,” said class member Jay Filter. Their high school education be‑ gan over at Whit‑
He’s Not Going Anywhere pg. 3
man, the transition place to West high school. “I goofed around during my 9th grade year and the teachers I had when I got to West took me and molded me,” commented Filter. These teachers in‑ stilled in their students that the only way to achieve suc‑ cess was to apply yourself. Mr. Woodworth in particular did this for Mr. Filter: “He g Please see
er. However, it was Special Education teacher Carrol Doll that inspired her to get a degree in teaching Spe‑ cial Education. “She knew my boyfriend at the time and told me, you’d be a re‑ ally good Special Ed teacher, you look out for all the other kids”. Though she doesn’t currently teach Special Ed, she does have students with disabilities that are in her class. A 1997 graduate, in her high school years she enjoyed sports such as swimming and track. But what prompted her to return to Tosa? “Well my family still lives here and I wanted to return to my fam‑ ily. I really appreciated what my teachers did for me and I wanted to give back and be a part of that.” She recalls that many of her teachers still teach at West. “I had Mr. Oliver, Mr. Norstrem, Ms. Razner, and I had Ms. Schoemann for two years.” English teacher Tom Nor‑ strem was a 1981 graduate.
“1981, at that time there were only Sophmores, Ju‑ niors, and Seniors at West. Freshman were still at the Middle School”. As a Fresh‑ man, Norstrem had an exclu‑ sive opportunity to be at West an one hour a day to take German. “The German room was in the corner where it is now so I wasn’t using the full school…but it was still cool going to a place where most of my peers were not”. He re‑ members that there wasn’t a large class divide during his time at West, rather there was a sense of community between the classes. Home‑ coming week brought a time of competition, though there weren’t Freshman to pick on. Senior pranks still went on, though most were harm‑ less. He feels that West has definitely changed over the years. “I remember when I was a Sophmore, this may sound familiar to Seniors,
All Is Not Fair When Historical Fashion It Comes To Hair pg. 6
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NEWS WEST SIDE STORIES October, 2011
Homecom i ng Weekend Fest i v i t i es Offered A run-through of the many opportunities to participate in Golden Anniversary Homecoming activities Brianna Blinkiewicz g Staff Writer Mounting anticipation for the game ahead, accumulations of students with pent up excitement for their school and Trojan pride-filled festivities that pump the students up. Sound familiar? It should: it’s the traditional pep rally! Everyone knows that Homecoming weekend really starts when you walk into the gym, swarming with people, find your friends in the bleachers, and then holler it up for Tosa West. Now of course, dancing and singing have become a basic staple in this celebration, but each year there are new additions too. And with it being
the 50th anniversary, I think that it’s safe to say that we can expect some great things. But the pep rally won’t be the only thing that has been modified for this year. At 4:15, the parade will start, and this will not be like our usual West Homecoming parade. There will be banners displaying the graduating years of Wauwatosa West alumni separating them into groups, and those groups will actually have the opportunity to walk in the parade. There will also be cars driving along displaying former West coaches. Needless to say, it’s going to be pretty amazing.
At 5:15, West’s first-ever tailgate party will take place near Eisenhower. There will be tables and chairs set up which will be marked with banners so people can all reunite and reminisce on old memories that they share with people from their former classes. “What we are essentially trying to do is to get the people of the last fifty years to come home,” said Barb Lauenstein, summing it all up perfectly. And finally, at 7:00 comes the moment that everyone has been waiting for: the Homecoming game. All the celebrations and activities
lead up to this point. There will also be special sections in the bleachers dedicated to the seating of West alumni. The end of the game will wrap up Friday, but don’t worry, there are still new things to be done on Saturday. At 11:00 a.m., West will be hosting an anniversary ceremony in the auditorium. “There will be lots of important people there,” said Lauenstein, “including former staff, county representatives, and the mayor.” And for all the alumni who show up, there will be a special “Remembrance Book” that can be purchased. As
soon as the ceremony ends there will be a school tour of West that the alumni can partake in to see how much things have changed since the last time they set foot in the building. The tour will include Whitman as well seeing as, at one point, Whitman was actually the high school. To conclude this fantastic weekend of Trojan packed excitement, the Homecoming dance starts at 8:00. Due to these things, this will be one of the most eventful Homecomings West has ever seen,
Mayfair District Staff that Attended Mall history coinWauwatosa West High School cides with West’s g
Jennifer Flynng Copy Editor
continued from p. 1
was the first year they killed open campus. My class was up in arms about how they were persecuting us. There weren’t any iPods so it wasn’t on the table for discussion; you were expected to dress respectably. You wore your pants at your waist. You didn’t see administration much. I knew the name of my principal, but I don’t think he came out of his office much”. The reason Norstrem came back to teach at West was simply because of his teachers. “It was the only place I wanted to teach because of the teachers… An English teacher Ernie Greenberg was the guy I kind of wanted to model myself after”. He feels that the student-teacher relationships spoken about today have been at West for a very long time and that Greenberg was one of the teachers who tried his best to have a connection with his students. “[For] any teacher I can name, I had that feeling that this person cares about me, they know me, I’m not just another student in a chair, they gave me a chance. I respected them”. Dan Prothero, a Business Education teacher, graduated from West in 1995 and started teaching here in 2000. “We had some traditions in the 1990’s. The one that really comes to mind is that everyone wore green and white on Fridays. It was like an unspoken rule. If it
was Friday, you wore green and white Tosa West gear.” Prothero participated in numerous extra-curricular activities including Acdec, model UN, Demo club, and cheerleading. Students had many freedoms during his time at West; they had the chance to take two study halls, though things started changing in 1993 when students weren’t allowed to carry backpacks or wear hats. “Several teachers inspired me to go into teaching, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Mr. Simon. He allowed us the freedom and opportunity to grow as individuals beyond the classroom. He took us under his wing, lent us his car and truck, and taught us how to perform chemistry shows for students in grade K-5 for their High Interest Days. We usually did four to six shows per day, and concluded the school day with a large thermite bomb in front of the entire school,” said Prothero. The reason he returned to West was because it was the best choice for his family at the time and he liked the idea of coming back to his high school. “During my teaching years here at West, there have been a lot of changes. The facilities are constantly improving, rules change, procedures change, and the people change too. I’ve seen changes in students, changes in staff, and changes in administration. During the past twelve
years, we’ve had four principals, at least nine associate principals, and three athletic directors. That is a lot of turnover for the leadership of any high school. Change happens. that’s why it is important that you learn to deal with change at an early age because it will impact you more often than you think.” From the first graduating class of 1962, Ms. Freidrich decided to come back to West to teach German until 2002. She went to Wauwatosa High School for her sophomore and junior years and came to West when it opened her senior year. “In our junior year, we knew we would be going to West and many of our school clubs and organizations started while we were still at East, for example, our student council was formed, our cheerleading squad was selected, we helped write the school song and chose the school colors. It was great, great fun!” Freidrich was one of the first writers for Tosa West’s newspaper, which at the time was known as the “West Winds”. She recalls that students who lived on the West side couldn’t do much on the East side so they made their own activities, cheers, and dances. She participated in activities such as tennis, basketball, volleyball, and National Honor Society. Though she initially wanted to be a Physical Education teacher, her German teacher
inspired her to pursue German. “My very first day in high school, I went to my first German class. There I met Frau Rognebakke and from that day I wanted to be a German teacher, which was tough, since I also wanted to be a phy. ed. teacher. I loved many of my teachers, who were still there when I returned to West as a student teacher in 1966. I learned later that when they formed the faculty for West, they asked the East teachers who would like to move to the new school. Most of the younger teachers were the ones who came and it felt really weird for me to see them again as my colleagues. I had a hard time calling them by their first names, instead of “Mr., Mrs., or Miss”. Her advice for students is to “keep your power by doing all you can to make yourself ready to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way”. For teachers, she reminds them that they have the best and hardest profession in the world. “We do have the power to influence what our society can be. It is an awesome responsibility and the good news is that those kids keep showing up; they are endlessly interesting and endlessly fun, and they need passionate, dedicated people to inspire them and not give up.”
With Homecoming week in full swing, you might be taking advantage of another nearby location just three years older than West: Mayfair Mall. Whether shopping for a Homecoming outfit or eating dinner at a restaurant before the dance, the mall may play some role in your Homecoming experience. The popular shopping center, just 0.7 miles from West, is the most profitable in the Milwaukee area. However, it didn’t start out as the 180-store, 1,110,000-square foot building it is today. Originally given the slogan “The Wonderful World of Mayfair,” Milwaukee’s second mall (after the now-closed Capitol Court) was built in 1958 as an open-air concourse, but was enclosed fifteen years later. Mayfair had just 70 stores, including Marshall Field’s--changed to Macy’s just a few years ago-and Gimbel’s, which was converted to Boston Store in 1986. There was more to do than just shop, however; the 100 x 100 foot “Ice Chalet” skating rink lasted from just 1973 to 1986 but was skated on by more than 125,000 people. Both West and Mayfair have had their share of changes since 1961. However, whether you were a member of the class of 1967 looking for a Homecoming dress at Gimbel’s, a member of the class of 1980 skating at the Ice Chalet, or are a member of the class of 2012 looking through the Apple Store with a Frappucino you just bought at Starbucks, it’s easy to see how Mayfair Mall has been a part of teenage life in Wauwatosa through the years.
features WEST SIDE STORIES
Kickin’ it Old School
TOM WOODWORTH talks to his second hour Algebra 2 class. He also teaches higher-level math: Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus . Star Donaldson g Guest Writer
Of Wauwatosa West High School’s 50 years of excellence, Tom Woodworth has experienced 43. Woodworth began teaching at Tosa West in 1968, when class was held from 8:15 to 3:30, and “West” was actually down the street at Whitman Middle School. The “Old West” was quite different from our establishment today. There was no auditorium, and according to Woodworth, “there was only a gym and a Warrior room—we would now refer to it as the Trojan room—which also had to double as a cafeteria.” In fact, when he arrived for his first day, there wasn’t even a sign to label it as the high school. “[There was] just a light colored brick building, which I had to assume was Wauwatosa West— you couldn’t Google it back then,” remarked Woodworth. Woodworth taught for two years in that building while the West we know today was under construction. He still remembers how “exciting it was to see West being built,” at the time, knowing that he would soon teach there. “[Principal] Walter E. Harmon brought us over one department at a time to see where our departments would be
located,” he said. After his first year of teaching, Woodworth snuck extra looks at the building by transferring all of the teachers’ belongings from their classrooms at the “Old West” to their corresponding classrooms in the new one. But disaster struck the summer of 1969. “A pair of students, who had been kicked out of the old West, set fire to the new West in July. They burned through all of the sky lights in the learning center, charred the stairway up to the library, destroyed the bleachers in the gym, and burned through the dome in the planetarium,” Woodworth recalled. The ten fires, set all over the school, were not detected until a Sentinel delivery boy passed while delivering his early morning papers. This delayed the opening of West one more year. Despite all of the commotion that the budding school faced, Mr. Woodworth was able to teach in his room, and has taught there ever since. In the beginning, he taught there with the head of the math department, LeRoy Dalton. During this time, Woodworth also worked in the planetarium for one hour in addition to teaching math for four hours. After Mr. Sampson,
another teacher, learned the tricks of the trade, he shared all the different planetarium duties with Woodworth until Woodworth had a chance to become the head of the math department, and opted to leave Mr. Sampson the planetarium. Woodworth was the chairman of the math department from 1986 until 2002 when, he stated 17 years was enough and left the job to Cathy Razner. Available classes have changed a lot since Woodworth started. There were no Advanced Placement classes offered at all for students until about the 90’s. The only high level classes like the ones we have today were advanced geometry, algebra, and pre-calculus. But by 1980, there was another class that only one teacher in the entire math department taught. The teacher was Mr. Fitzpatrick; the class, calculus. Up until 1998 Mr. Fitzpatrick was the only teacher who taught calculus. This all changed when, as Woodworth recounted, he “got a crazy idea in [his] head, that no one would be able to teach calculus when Mr. Fitzpatrick was gone.” Woodworth took it upon himself to re-learn calculus so that he could teach to his kids, becoming, as he put it, “a student, informally.”
Math teacher Tom Woodworth reflects on his experiences teaching, coaching, and not retiring for over 43 years at Wauwatosa West
Woodworth would sit in Mr. Fitzpatrick’s class and take notes, doing all of the quizzes and home work just like a regular student. Receiving mostly A’s, he regurgitated all of the information he learned during Mr. Fitzpatrick’s class, teaching it to his 6th hour class. Ever since 1998, Woodworth has taught one or more calculus classes per year. Besides keeping calculus at Wauwatosa West, running the planetarium, and overseeing the math department, Woodworth also coached JV boy’s tennis, as well as the Math team until he passed the job along to Cathy Razner. He has led the Academic Decathlon Team since 1984, but has recently retired from this position as well. He says that the cause of his retirement is that kids “have their platters full, I don’t know how some of them can even doing it without getting depressed or going over the edge. That’s not what AcDec is supposed to be about, and it was also so hard to get the kids to focus while they’re juggling.” He thinks it is very important for “teenagers to have some lighter moments too.” Currently, he announces at basketball games and has done so for 30 years now. From 1974 to 1999 Wood-
worth was also a football announcer, witnessing the most memorable moment of his career during that tenure. When Principal Frank Calarco was a senior, West went to the state championship in football. Since, as Woodworth recalled, he “was the official announcer of the Tosa west Trojans, [he] got to sit in the press box at Camp Randle indoors while outside the windshield factor was -4 on an early Friday in November.” Unfortunately, in the first half, Calarco, who played running back, broke his collar bone. Because of this, West lost to Grafton 14-9 in the state championship. Although this was a tragic moment for Wauwatosa West Woodworth looks back on it as an experience. He will be announcing once again in the 50th Anniversary homecoming game in the second half. Woodworth is still following the Trojan Way, and he would like to see how far he can run with it before retirement. His enthusiasm for teaching is never-ending, and he still hasn’t decided on an exact date to retire. “I’ll take the Brett Favre route on that one,” he said, adding, “I’m not ready to ride my tractor into the sunset quite yet.”
Friendship of ‘71 Grads Surpasses Decades g
continued from p. 1
first teacher to ever give me an A and the last.” His love for learning continued in English class with Ms. Huebner junior year. “I loved going to my English class with Ms. Huebner. The 70’s was the age of a musical transition and when Woodstock broke, she narrated the entire thing,” recalls Filter. It was there that Filter devolved a love for the arts. After graduating from West, Filter went to Layton School of Arts (which later became the Milwaukee Institute of Art
and Design). Following his graduation from art school, he opened an advertising firm, which he sold in 2003. “In high school I was a doodler; it was my way of expressing myself, and my doodles turned into The Big Gig.” The Big Gig, the enormous, eleven-day event at Summerfest, which is touted as the world’s largest music festival, was inspired by one of Filter’s doodles. “One of my simplest concepts became a big deal and I am happy for it.” Not only did he design the million dollar concept, he
continued on to win over 100 awards for his advertisements. His most acclaimed award was a Clio, considered the Academy Award for advertising. With him every step has been high school best friend Jeff Nordholm. Taking similar paths to greatness, Nordholm also graduated in 1971. “The class of 71 was fun, we all had big accomplishments and West helped us get there,” remarked Nordholm. After high school, Nordholm moved on to St. Olaf College in Minnesota, graduating magna cum laude
with a degree in history and German. Following his bachelor’s degree, he received his law degree from Marquette. During his high school years he took advanced placement German and history which prompted his major. “I loved history; being able to go back in time and see how others faced life was one of the best parts of my day,” commented Nordholm. Turning to another interest, he beacame an attorney at Storm, Balgeman, Miller & Klippel, S.C., where he
became a legal representative for Filter’s art firm. Long after their high school years were over, the pair continued to socialize like it had never ended. “Going in different career directions never stopped us from being there for each other” remarked Nordholm. He added, “My high school memories meant a lot to me, when we had our 40th reunion, I saw friends that I would see about once a year. The best things about West were the people I got to love and care for.”
History is intrinsically important to all places—be they countries, towns, or schools. It can be an insight into the values and ideals of the people there. There are moments in time that change a community. These can be as simple as getting a new principal, or as tragic as the death of a beloved staff member. However cheerful or gloomy a memory may be, it is an integral part of that place and must be remembered. And so we are remembering.
thethey times are
The 60’s: Wauwatosa West High School’s history commenced in 1961 in the building that is nowWhitman Middle School. West was not originally equipped with a theater, football field, or track. As a result, all theatrical productions were performed at East, football practice was held in the field behind Eisenhower, and track was run in the wooded area nearby. In addition to less expansive facilities, the high school also had a more limited number of classes offered; at the time, the only languages offered were Latin and
As Wauwatosa West celebrates its 50th Year, the newspaper staff looks back at some of our school’s historic moments Stephanie Eberle g Editor-in-Chief Ellyn Kirtley g Editor-in-Chief Brianna Blinkiewitz g Staff Writer Jack Wongtamg Design Editor
Greek. Russian was added in 1962 following the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 1962, West watched its first graduating class receive their diplomas. In the late sixties, many students walked out because of the dress code policy against long hair on males. In 1969, disaster struck for Wauwatosa West. Two students, angered by their expulsion from the school, came back in the middle of the night and vandalized West’s current facility, which was then under construction. This caused the infamous Wauwatosa West fire, and resulted in the opening of the school being delayed by a year. In the 1960’s, several organizations and clubs found their beginnings. Among these were the yearbook (The Olympian), the literary magazine (The Polumathian), the newspaper (The West Winds), The Girls Athletic Association, and Office/Guidance Pages.
the new campus did so in 1971. 1971 also marked victory for West in the arena of sports, as it was the year that the Wauwatosa West boys swim team won the state championship. West’s students also began one of the school’s long-standing traditions in the seventies: painting the Rock. This has continued to be popular, as students regularly spray-paint it in response to or anticipation of upcoming events. For the first time, chapter 220 was implemented during the 1976-77 school year; this allowed students who lived outside the district to attend West. In the opening years of the seventies, girls’ sports began to become more popular. Major clubs and organizations from the seventies were Future Business Leaders of AmerThe 70’s: ica, Modern Dance, Pom Pons, This decade started off with a bang and the Student/Faculty Board. for Wauwatosa West with the opening of its new and improved build- The 80’s: ing. The first class to graduate from The eighties were a time when Wauwatosa West placed great emphasis on self discovery. In 1982, the first class of ninth graders attended West. Previously, the students at the high school had been comprised of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and those in ninth grade were lumped together with younger students in what was then known as Whitman Junior High. In addition to the other languages already provided to West stu-
dents, Japanese was offered in 1985. Also that year, green and yellow banners were hung from the ceiling of the Learning Center to diminish noise, and the school got many of its first computers. Main clubs and organizations of the eighties were Key Club, IBA, Photo Club, TOGA, Math Team, Art Club, Kite Club, Academic Decathlon, and Save Our School. The 90’s: 1993 was the first year in which Advanced Placement classes were offered at Wauwatosa West. It was on December 1st of that year that Wauwatosa West’s associate principal, Dale Breitlow, was murdered inside the school by a previously enrolled student. After this, West’s staff made myriad changes in an attempt to guarantee their students’ safety. One such change was leaving only one door unlocked during the school day, diminishing the chances that anyone but students, staff, and verified visitors could enter West. The Career Center was added in 1995; this presented students with opportunities to learn about getting jobs and applying for colleges as well as find a tutor. Open enrollment began in the mid nineties. In 1997 hockey and girls golf were added to the sports. The new auditorium was flooded in 1998. That year redistricting occurred and the school’s population significantly increased. Major clubs and organiza-
tions included Students against Drunk Driving, Ecology Club, Tosa Fitness Club, German, French and Spanish NHS, Model UN, and Chess/Dominos Club. The New Millennium: In 2000 there were five computer labs connected to the internet. Also hats and head coverings were banned because of possible gang affiliations. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001, the pledge was said every day and flags were placed in every classroom. In 2005 the football field and track were constructed. That same year, the West community lost a beloved principal; Thomas E. Steiner passed away as a result of the West Nile virus on November 18th. In his honor, the Thomas E. Steiner Center was constructed in the library in 2010. This was not the only heart -wrenching death to take place in this new millennium though. September 25th, 2011 marked the passing of one of West’s basketball coaches, Mike Landisch, after a two-year battle with kidney cancer. He will be missed by members of the student body and faculty alike. Main clubs and organizations popular at this point in time include SMART Team, Gay Straight Alliance, Health Occupation Students of America, Speed and Agility Club, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Trojan Players, Forensics, West Side Stories, and many more.
Top Middle: Trojan Players perform “The Unsinkable Molly Brown in our very own theatre; Middle Left: A 72’ Homecoming float commemorating a victory over the Cudahy Packers; Middle Right: The 72’ Science Club’s Homecoming parade bug outclasses all other cars; Bottom: Whitman was the original site of Wauwatosa West High School until it got moved to the current location in 70’
Top Right: A group of varsity cheerleaders pose for a picture; Middle Left: Trojan Players performing “Pajama Game”; Middle Right: A Tosa West student participates in the archery club; Bottom: Members of the Saarian Society, a group lead by teacher Mrs. Glass that promotes art at West engage in an ice sculping contest
The 1990’s The 1980’s Top Middle: A Tosa West student rides to school dressed as our school mascot, complete with horse; Middle Left: Two enthusiastic students dress up for Spirit Week, a terrible viking and your friendly neighborhood Spiderman; Bottom: Wauwatosa West was relocated next to Eisenhower in 1970, bringing with it a new era our schools history
Top: Paul Trebe stomps through defenders for Trojan Football; Right: A sophmore openly expressing his love for British TV show Doctor Who; Bottom Left: Cheers erupt as the winner of a pie eating contest is crowned; Bottom Right: Spirt Week at West brings an aura of festivity as a pair of clowns show up for class
The 2000’s Top: An eye exam for a Tosa West student, just what the doctor ordered; Middle Right: Trojan Players as they pose for a picture on the set of “Fools”; Bottom: A West student turns rockstar for a day at Westock; Bottom Right: Students honor two students who passed away earlier in the year
Features WEST SIDE STORIES OCTOBER, 2011
Tosa West Student Gets in Hairy Situation Controversy over restrictions on male hair length spawn court cases against school districts nationwide Natalie Mullins g Staff Writer Sullivan Boyd g Illustrator
A new school year begins. Short-shorts, crop-tops, and the leering eyes of administrators fill the building, as responsible adults try to enforce a dress code on liberated students. Though much communal griping is sure to occur before the year is over, the “Trojan Way” of dressing is more tolerant than most. It is certainly more open-minded than the West of the past, back when police were still lovingly dousing protestors with tear gas. Come with me to the Wauwatosa of forty years ago, an age of raggedy clothes and the hippies that went in them, an era when it was still cool to have blue-tinted glasses that made the world look like it was underwater. The times, they were a changin’, and girls were finally able to wear pants on days when it wasn’t 20 degrees below. Naturally, the Wauwatosa School District of 1969 had to do something to combat all this change, lest it infect their innocent and impressionable youth. They wanted kids that would grow up into wholesome adults, having fun as white and pallid as their winter complexions. Thus, they had to institute a school dress code, lest the guys start coming to school with such atrocities as long hair. Their goal, as West Principal Walter E. Harmon said in 1969, was to eliminate “the long feminine look,” something completely inappropriate for strapping Midwestern boys. That is when all the real trouble began. The dress code of 1969 was not as lenient as today, where students are merely given the evil eye and a pair of gym shorts. Administrators back then did not play around, enforcing their policy with suspensions and expulsions. Any action was swiftly punished, the code claiming its first victim just weeks after school began. Robert Koconis, then
17, was suspended for some beautiful locks, the kind that would do Leif Garret proud. Unfortunately for the school district, Robert’s cascading curls weren’t his only asset— he also had an in-house attorney as his father, James Koconis. This elder Koconis, like all good lawyers, filed suit. Here is where it really starts to get heated. The suit eventually ended up in the court of circuit judge Robert W. Landry, each side presenting what were truly some ground-breaking arguments. Attorney John J. Valenti, who represented Koconis, decided to go for an ethos argument. Yes, Koconis did have long hair, as evidenced by his gorgeously feathered bangs. This long hair, however, did not intrinsically make him advocate for sartorial anarchy. Many great men had enough fur to wrap their follicles up in a tidy ponytail. Valenti questioned his courtroom nemisis, West Principle Walter E. Harman, queering, “Sir, you don’t believe Einstein looked effeminate with his hair?” Harmon, in face of the messy mane that is Einstein, could only reply: “Albert Einstein is not a student at Wauwatosa West High School.” A truer fact has never been spoken. Perhaps it is not surprising that Judge Landry decided to reinstate Robert to his proper place, letting him have the individuality to be like every other pop culture figure of the 70s. Landry would rule it to be unconstitutional to expel students on the basis of their haircuts. After all, it is not the length of the hair that matters, but of quality of its character (and the head that rests under it). Even this ruling, however, would not cool the fire of a grass-roots haircut movement sweeping the school district. Soon, more counter-culture coiffures would fall victim to the tyranny of a seventies school board. Kenneth J. Connell (a parental advocate of locky freedom who had previ-
ously been arrested for protesting the school board’s dress code) withdrew his son Gary from Longfellow Middle School one afternoon shortly after the ruling. Connell claimed discrimination against both Gary and his other son Dyke, whose hair said it loud: it’s long and it’s proud! These were not the days when parents could sign kids out to play the latest Halo. There needed to be an excuse, familial, deadly, or patriotic. Although young Connell’s absence did occur on the day of a nationwide Vietnam moratorium, Longfellow Principal, James E. Snow, was “not satisfied the absence was for that purpose.” Thus, Gary and his father got in some serious trouble. The Connell case would eventually escalate to a whole new level of crew cut disobedience. Kenneth Connell refused to send his kids to school for five months after his initial confrontation with school officials. He claimed his boys were discriminated against for their aesthetic choices, as if the fashion police had suddenly co-opted the tactics of a totalitarian state. Dyke Connell was even forced to remove his “YMCA” t-shirt during gym class. YMCA, of course, had a malignant and radicalizing effect on its youth—just look at the Village People. Eventually, Connell would be threatened with jail time for his son’s truancy. Reluctantly, he would relent, and little Gary would be reenrolled in the fascist world of a dress-code dictatorship. Unfortunately, the Wauwatosa school districts’ actions were part of a larger anti-hair movement. No school district acted alone, but formed a kind of mass conspiracy to preserve the sanctity of the buzzcut. Whitefish Bay, Williams Bay—every kind of bay imaginable—everyone was enacting these new, harsher dress codes. Whitefish Bay’s code was typical in restricting hair to the collar, and making it “trimmed above the upper eye-
ROBERT KOCONIS showing off his lucious locks as he poses for a class photo. How they did not catch him while taking the photo, eludes us.
brow line if allowed to reach the forehead.” In other words, no emo kids were allowed. These strident restrictions would prompt yet another court case, this one involving two students suspended from Williams Bay West High School. This time, the victims would have an even greater advocate than their fathers, in the form of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union. They would take the case to court, where judge after judge declared it unconstitutional. Funny how the school board could not explain how long hair was a life-endangering classroom distracter, as they originally argued (js feb 21 1969). Perhaps they assumed that every class with these rabble-rousers would be filled with choruses of “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” Eventually, the case would reach the highest court in the land, were the learned judges would uphold earlier rulings. By this
point, both boys were out of the gang-infested hormonal hell that is high school. But it was the thought that counted. It would take several months before the Wauwatosa School District officially changed its policy. West truly was a square school back then, in every sense of the word. With great reluctance, the administration completely overhauled the rules, making it so you only were severely punished if you had long, hair, not suspended. Instead of heading home for a couple of days, you got to spend time in detention, curling your long tresses around your finger as you stared blankly at a blackboard. The onward march of progress continued, eventually forming the dress code policy we have today. It is a world where people can be as progressive and alternative as they want—as long as they don’t offend any delicate sensibilities.
FEATURES 7 WEST SIDE STORIES
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ASymbolHome for Graffiti of art and achievement throughout the years Breanna Subotich g Staff Writer
Everyone who goes to Wauwatosa West has seen the Rock. It has been a major part of our school’s history and continues to be so today. Students from West know that the Rock is always painted, and maybe have even painted it themselves, but other than that, how much do they really know about it? The Rock has been at West for as long as anyone can remember. Before West was built, it was at Whitman Middle School was then used as the high school. It was moved to West right when it opened in 1961. “Most people don’t know that the rock actually has a name,” said Barbara Lauenstein. The official name of this school landmark is the “Howard Stone.” Howard Stone was the first associate principal at West. Ever since then, Lauenstein says, “it has been the rock of West.” Students paint the Rock for numerous events. West’s sports teams commonly paint it. It was also painted by last year’s state-winning APPSE team before its members headed off to Washington D.C. At other times, a graduating class paints it. Seniors used to make it look like a graduate, painting a face, cap and gown on it. The Rock is painted for holidays, and sometimes groups from a West reunion will paint it. Any major event happening at our school is portrayed on the Rock. There is so much artwork that has happened on that stone that English teacher Tom Norstrem bets, “There is
probably three inches of paint on there.” The rock has also gotten national attention in the past. In 1993, West’ associate principal, Dale Breitlow, was shot and killed in the school. Many memorials for him were held at the rock. It was painted on his behalf and surrounded by candles. The rock, with this memorial, was pictured in Time magazine. “Pictures are also in old yearbooks,” comments Lauenstein. Even though the rock has always been at West, it hasn’t always been in the location where we are so accustomed to seeing it by the rec. department parking lot. According to Norstrem, “The rock used to actually be on the other side of the school.” It was in the back of the main parking lot near the tennis courts. “You could see it right away when you came into the parking lot. It was definitely a focal point of that corner,” he says. It had to be moved because spray paint was getting on the parking lot and sidewalk, but its current location allows it to be seen by all driving down Center Street. The Rock is a part of West that will never be forgotten by those who graduate. It has stayed a common tradition throughout all of West high school’s existence and will most certainly remain a tradition of West’s students in future years. There is no doubt: Wauwatosa West would not be the same without “Howard Stone.”
Features WEST SIDE STORIES OCTOBER, 2011
Years OF FAShION FADS Recognizing the revolution of fashion, we dug up the most daring trends that reflect what one might have seen strutting down the halls of Wauwatosa West High School in decades past. Star Donaldson
g Staff Writer
When little shops called boutiques began to open, there was nothing left stopping the trendy women of the sixties wearing bouffants, fake eyelashes and beehives from keeping up with the latest trends. Mini skirts began losing inches. Mickey Mouse became an eminent character in not only the lives of children, but those of adults as well. The sounds of the Beatles were blaring out of every radio, and their faces were plastered on the shirts of all of their adoring fans. From the teased hair of women and the infinitely lengthening hair of men, we found that fashion was nothing less than precisely chic and identically flawless in the 1960’s.
80’s Slip into to some stirrup pants, learn the hammer dance, and you’d fit right into the 80’s. We’re all familiar with the workout gear that took the eighties by storm. Little girls to old women were staying active and openly displaying it through their athletic dress wear. With hair bands, sweat bands, and fanny packs to match, it looked as if everyone was ready to break out into aerobics at any moment. From shoulder pads, to leotards, to oversized earrings, the fashion that made up the eighties was nothing to be ignored. The in-your-face fashion of this decade encompassed bright colors, metallic material, and oversized sweaters. These fads have not lost the interest of many since we still see them lingering today. Let the parachute pants prevail for many decades to come!
g Staff Writer
NOW The current fashion is a massive mixture from all of the fads from previous years. Girls got involved by sporting vintage sweaters and vintage jewelry, while guys took it back to throwback Nikes. This time period is where trends are the fusion of several previous styles, global and ethnic clothing. There are also many subcultures such as hipsters and preps. During this decade music began to influence fashion, so street wear was inevitably incorporated into clothes because of the rise of Hip Hop music. Trends are still evolving, being borrowed, and created! We are history in the making.
Jeans were flared and tie dye shirts were the latest do it yourself craze. High heels were not specific to women in the 70’s; both men and women wore them in the style of platform shoes. In addition to the classic mini skirts, there were new mid-calf dresses called “midis” and ankle-length dresses called “maxis.” Hot pants were also a hot commodity among teens and older women as well. Heavy beading and feathers were incorporated into the ingoing and outgoing trends. Rock music inspired a new style called “rock glam” which brought the people to wear leather jackets and boots. In their high waisted flares and denims, fashionable men and women remained psychedelic throughout the seventies.
90’s In the 90’s anything was allowed. Vibrant rainbows of hair colors were the most popular outlet for selfexpression. As many different styles were openly accepted at this time, there was something for everyone. The preppy look consisted of petticoat and baby doll dresses for girls and penny loafers for the guys. There was a laid-back look that most caught on to, which included oversized everything with a nice neon baseball cap or beanie to top it off; this was popular among both genders. The new age look was made up of skimpy tops, tight pants and acid washed denim. Keds were the must-have for any style, and fake fur linings were on the rise. Whatever your personality, you could express yourself through your style of dress in the nineties.
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