Written by Shawna Chen
The 2014-2015 school year marks Gunn’s 50th anniversary. To honor the school’s five decades of achievement, a celebration will take place on campus from today to Sunday. “Everyone is welcome,” organizer and Gunn alumni Sheryl Humble said. “We hope to have a lot of alumni, a lot of former staff, current staff, and current students [in attendance].”
The event will begin with a barbecue this afternoon, where The Ace of Sandwiches will cater. At 7 p.m., the home football game will commence with alumni cheerleaders cheering alongside the current cheer team as alumni band members perform alongside the band. At half-time, there will be special presentation called the Parade of Decades while alumni and current students dressed in the fashions of different time periods will walk in between a procession of vintage cars carrying accessories that depict the important occurrences of each decade. “It’s basically going to be a walking chronological history,” Humble said.
Junior Joowon Lee, who will lead the cheer team during the game, encourages all students to come out and participate in Friday night’s festivities. “It’s going to be really cool seeing old alumni come back and see what Gunn used to be like,” Lee said. “It’s a time capsule of Gunn all wrapped up into one football game, and we get to be a part of that.”
Tomorrow, an official ceremony will begin in the Titan Gym at 10 a.m., where the jazz band will perform to welcome audience members. Keynote speakers, including new superintendent Glenn McGee, principal Denise Herrmann, Henry M. Gunn’s granddaughter and Gunn alumnus, news anchor Janelle Wang, will deliver speeches throughout the commemoration.
Herrmann will additionally conduct a rededication of all the buildings recognizing the individuals after which various campus structures are named. Afterwards, former and current teachers will perform a song written exclusively for the event. The ceremony will close at 11 a.m. with a video montage that “discusses history, who Henry M. Gunn was, the history of Gunn, then and now, why we should should be proud of the school,” Humble said.
From 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., current students will lead guided tours around Gunn while other proceedings initiate across campus. An alumni art exhibit will be accessible in the library while club booths will be open for reception on the quad.
The weekend celebration will draw to an end with a “bring-your-own-lunch” picnic on Sunday morning, during which athletic games such as football and basketball will be organized. Through this occasion, Humble hopes that students will be able to interact with alumni and see just how special Gunn is through their eyes. “[The alums writing to us] are remembering senior pranks, when someone bombed the pool and how they used to have tricycle races near Spangenberg,” organizer and Gunn parent Lynn Kidder said. “It’s really just jaw-dropping how they feel about the school.”
Gunn culture has always revolved around its students, and for Lee, the anniversary celebration is an opportunity to appreciate the uniqueness of the community. “Gunn’s greatest legacy is its people,” she said. “The community of the school shaped who the alumni are, and it’s interesting to see how every year, Gunn’s different even though we’re the same school.”
Assistant Principal Tom Jacoubowsky also believes that Gunn’s students have been the biggest contributors to its success over the years. “This school is the most inclusive in terms of how students care about each other and how staff work together,” he said. “Something that has always been there and will continue to grow is students supporting each other, reaching out and getting people to connect with each other.”
However, Gunn’s innovation in education, student-staff collaboration and immersive classes have also played roles in shaping the school through the last five decades. “It always was an academic stronghold, but there are even more academic expectations now because people know the quality of the school,” Jacoubowsky said. “Honestly, Gunn’s best days are today.”
Alumni Ross Helsaple and Tristan Ginanni, too, note how Gunn’s academic environment is one to recognize and praise. “When I went away for college, I felt as prepared as I could be,” Ginanni said. “[That aspect] is something Gunn should definitely be proud of.” She also attributes Gunn’s student-teacher relationships as a factor in its academic accomplishment. “I had a lot of respect for my teachers and always enjoyed going to class,” Ginanni said.
Today, Helsaple identifies student success as a component of Gunn culture. “Kids these days are so multi-talented,” he said. “Whether that’s a product of Gunn itself or not, it’s a part of this community.”
As Gunn enters its next 50 years of life, it is important to reflect on its history and evolution through time. “You stand on the shoulders of those who came before you, and whether you’re an athlete or super student, there are generations before you that created the pathways that you’re in now. There are generations that established the foundation for the school we’ve become,” Jacoubowsky said. “It’s always good to recognize and honor that.”
Though the organizing committee acknowledges that students might have other plans for the weekend, Gunn only turns fifty once, and Humble hopes to remind students of just how unique that experience is. “The way we live now, with everything instant, we’re always looking for the next jump, like ‘I have do this to get here,’ but I want students to just come and be in this moment and just really get a sense of how phenomenal this high school is,” Humble said. “You aren’t going to realize how lucky and fortunate we are to have gone to Gunn High School until you’re older.”