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Keeping the Spirit Alive with ‘65, 50 Years Later

Half a century is a long time – in 1965, U.S. troops landed in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson was inaugurated after his landslide election in 1964, man completed the first spacewalk, and the CD was invented. Now, fifty years later, the global population has doubled, Donald Trump is a  presidential candidate, NASA has found water on Mars, and – wait, what exactly is a CD? Let me Google that.

Yet for Shaker’s class of ‘65, “50 years goes by fast”, according to Judy Gillies. We met her, along with many other members of the class of ‘65, after their tour of Shaker on September 26th, which was arranged by Key Club. Gillies was, in fact, the Chief Editor for this very Shaker Bison in ‘65. The Bison was, at the time, released bimonthly on four pages printed on normal 8½ by 11 inch paper, and cost 10¢. Editorship was also quite different, with Copy Editors and Text Editors being important members on staff in ‘65. And a final quirk: their principal, Milliard J. Smith, was open to anything to the students wanted to write about, with one exception – the word “bald”. Strange it may seem, the principal forbade any usage of that word, leading to an amusing hair-themed April Fool’s issue one year. However, at its core, some things don’t change – Gillies remembers it as “lots of fun”, with the paper welcoming contributions from many different sources. Finally, the Bison’s advisor at the time, Emmet TenBrock, is remembered by several members of the class as being inspiring and instrumental in both their education and the newspaper. Gillies would, in fact, go on to work at the Times Union, the (now-defunct) Knickerbocker News, and the Washington Post, where she contributed from 1989 to 2009.

The graduating class of 1965 is most notable for being the first to attend Shaker (which, at the time, comprised both a middle and high school) from 7th through 12th grade. Richard Kitchen remembers it as a small school, with only four halls – A and B for the middle schoolers, and C and D for the high schoolers. The smaller school size did led to a lot of cohesion, camaraderie, and support for the Bison football team, says Kitchen. However, the growth of the school is “nice to see”. This cohesion and camaraderie fit well with a healthy sense of school spirit – their slogan was, and still is, “Keep the spirit alive with ’65!”.

The newly planted Blue Spruce tree that now stands proudly along the walkway to the main entrance was a replacement for the tree originally planted and dedicated to the class of ‘65 in their graduating year, which mysteriously disappeared sometime in the past few decades. So, after an alumni noticed its absence on a visit to the school, the class asked Mr. Murphy to plant another. Now it grows, seen by all with its original plaque, as a symbol of the long lasting impact the spirit of Shaker High school has had on all of its students, young and old.

The writers would like to thank Key Club and all the members of the Class of ‘65 for their help with this story.