Best friends reunite at Saugus High reunion

The inaugural graduating class of Saugus High School enjoyed a tour of their former school in June. SIGNAL FILE PHOTO
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Forty years to today’s exact date, the young men and women of the Santa Clarita Valley’s newest high school were celebrating the completion of their senior year.

Under the stars of the summer sky at the College of the Canyons stadium, more than 300 graduates would become the very first to receive their diplomas as Saugus High School Centurions — a mascot selected by the group only a few months before their graduation.

The same group of seniors, who are now closer to 60 than 18, revisited their old high school halls during a campus tour on Friday led by ASB director Jeremy Fannon. The tour, or “time-warp” as it was referred to by Donna Fiscus-Chisham, was the first of many events planned in a weekend-long series of events.

“We’ve been thinking about it and planning it for some time,” Tina Landrum, a member of the class of 1978 who helped organize the event, said to attendees before the tour. “I am so glad to be able to see everybody’s faces again.”

Organized by the Saugus High Class of 1978 Reunion Committee in honor of their 40-year reunion Saturday, the tour offered the group a chance to reflect and share the work they did to determine the legacy and the future of Saugus High.

Tears were shed while best friends reconnected and the group noticed how much had changed in 40 years.

The walls were no longer lined with lockers that didn’t lock, the buildings that once housed the library and administration have been replaced — and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

The area where seniors were legally allowed to smoke, which was referred to by former students as the “loadie zone,” had been completely paved and filled with tables. Alumni said the change was a stark contrast to the old dirt hill that once sat where the Legacy Wall currently holds court over the now-tiered steps of grass.

“The time warp has certainly been overwhelming,” Landrum and Fiscus-Chisham both said, echoing each other’s exact words, before the two recalled the times they had to cross a giant field, which is now covered by houses, to get to school.

“Students were forced to throw down giant rocks to step on or take the long road to school if the rain was too heavy,” Landrum said before discussing the rainbow-colored buildings that once sprinkled all areas of campus.

“We aren’t talking about pastel coloring, either,” Fiscus-Chisham and many other members of the tour shared.

“We had purple and orange and blue and green,” Landrum added.

“‘Cow Pie High’ is what they called us because of the dairy farm next door,” John Burgman said, remembering the creative name-calling and banter among the three high schools of the time.

“It was a bit of a letdown and overwhelming to hear we had to start a school on our own,” Landrum said, while others shared the mixed feelings they had when they heard they they’d be attending a new school, and not Hart or Canyon.

“When we found out we can take ownership,” Fiscus-Chisham said, “then things changed.”

The class of 1978 said they had selected the school mascot, (Sammy Centurion), voted for the school colors, (light blue, dark blue and silver), penned their alma mater and named the school newspaper (The Scroll) and yearbook (Sword and Shield).

With most having known each other since attending Arroyo Seco Junior High and only numbering slightly over 300, attendees said this small group took their tasks to heart.

During the tour, the former Centurions learned the halls still retained memories from the group’s time on campus, literally, as original artwork — from when the school was deciding its colors and mascot — still hangs in the office halls.

Though many things have changed in the four decades since the group’s graduation in 1978, a lot hadn’t.

Current ASB student Emily Halverson told a former swimmer that current swim team members still have to be bused to practice because there’s no pool on campus, and when the group went to see the track, they realized there isn’t as much dirt, but students still work out on the blacktop just as the other “jocks” used to.

“It’s so beautiful and overwhelming to come back and see,” said Danielle Cook Bryant, another of the class of 1978 organizers. “I’m excited for the rest of the weekend.”

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