Fifty years ago, Arroyo Seco Junior High opened as the William S. Hart Union High School District’s third junior high school with about 600 students and five teachers.
“It’s hard to believe that now the school has more than doubled the size with 1,300 students and 52 teachers,” Hart District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht said. “There have been a lot of changes over the years, but what haven’t changed are the beautiful, smiling faces of the children that you see on this campus.”
On Friday, current and former students and staff, community members and local representatives celebrated the junior high school’s 50th anniversary on the school’s campus.
The day’s festivities included a walk through the Arroyo Seco’s history in photos and yearbooks in the school’s library and gym, and a ceremony featuring performances from current students and speeches from former principals and current staff members.
Nearly all of the school’s former principals were in attendance at the celebration, sharing their memories of the junior high school and their amazement of the school’s physical changes over the years.
“I’ve never seen so much concrete in my life,” Arroyo Seco’s first principal James Bown said of the school’s transformed campus. “When we went back to school in the old days it was all brick.”
Dr. Samuel Dixon III attended the school during its early years, from 1967 to 1970, and was part of the first Associated Student Body (ASB) program. He remembers when graduating students from Arroyo Seco mainly attended Hart High School, not Saugus High School.
“That was a good time, we really enjoyed ourselves,” Dixon said. “I came away from junior high with high hopes and aspirations and an urge to get things done.”
Attendees of the school’s 50th anniversary celebration also watched a video presentation of “Seco Through the Years” and reflected on the success of the school both academically and socially.
“You’re celebrating 50 years of family, 50 years of building your foundation from year to year,” Hart Governing Board President Joe Messina said. “There is an influence in this school every single year with every student and every teacher… With an environment as nurturing as Arroyo Seco, there’s no way you leave this place without being a little better off.”
The group of alumni, students and staff also looked toward the future and contemplated what current students would accomplish after they leave campus and enter the professional world.
“As we reflect on the past and contemplate the future, as we consider the changes that impact us in the present, it’s important to note that the real meaning of Seco—the core values that make Arroyo Seco special—are timeless,” Principal Andy Keyne said.
According to Keyne, these core values include: a commitment to academic excellence, a culture of collaboration and teamwork, a community that is compassionate and caring, and a feeling of family.
“It’s incumbent upon us, the education and leaders of the present to continue to foster these values in our leaders of the future, empowering them to live up to our motto: we lead, others follow,” he said.
At the end of the celebration students and teachers from the science department also presented and buried a time capsule that captured what life was life as a junior high schooler in 2017.
Items in the time capsule included everything from a cracked iPhone and a computer mouse to eclipse glasses and a fidget spinner.
“We’re hoping that it stands the test of time and we’re hoping that in 50 years our students will say ‘wow it must have been cool to be a student then,'” Science Teacher Courtney Koegle said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_