Happy 50th, Barlow!
The Beatles' "Hey Jude" topped the charts. McDonald's introduced the Big Mac. And "In the Heat of the Night" beat out "The Graduate" and "Guess who's Coming to Dinner" for the best picture Academy Award.
All of this was happening as a new high school was opening with 550 students in rural Gresham.
Sam Barlow High School welcomed its first students in September 1968 at 302nd Avenue and Lusted Road, sprouting out of a former cabbage field.
"We were all having so much fun," said Carol Hardin, a member of the first freshman class. "We were all new and we were experiencing it together."
That feeling was echoed by other students who formed the earliest classes at Barlow. Nikki Hudson, class of 1972, came to Barlow as a sophomore from a Portland high school where she always felt like an outsider.
"Here, I felt an energizing feel," she said. "There was an inclusiveness about the school."
Linda Meade, also from the class of 1972, has worked on several Barlow reunions and is still in contact with many of the those in the first Barlow classes.
"I am still in touch with some. I made lasting friends here," she said, adding she fondly recalls appearing in Barlow's first play, "Everyman."
The students from the communities of Hillsview, Pleasant Home, Powell Valley, Orient, Boring, Damascus and Gresham formed the student body of the newest high school in the Gresham Union High School District. Barlow opened sans a senior class, because school authorities thought it would be unfair to drag students out of other high schools they had settled into.
Barlow was dedicated on Nov. 6, 1968.
Rep. Edith Green was a guest speaker. James Carson, chairman of the Gresham Union District school board, welcomed Principal Alan Thede and Student Body President Bob Deatherage to their new school. Deatherage went on to marry his high school sweetheart, cheerleader Diane Hornback.
It was definitely a different time. The school's first yearbook extolled the virtues of the home economics department, which "trained about 175 girls in all phases of cooking and sewing."
The business department had about 120 students.
"They are seen eagerly typing, wildly dictating shorthand, enthusiastically keeping the books and learning about general business," the yearbook said.
Extracurricular activities included an audio-visual club, a coin club and the Future Homemakers of America. Future Homemakers had 26 members who held a flower-arranging contest, a faculty tea and an ice skating party, among other activities.
These first Barlow students got to decide the school colors (blue and gold) and the mascot, The Bruins. An alternate choice, The Berry Pickers, didn't get much traction.
Hardin said as a new school starting with no seniors, The Bruins were not exactly a sports powerhouse.
"We lost almost all of our games," she said. "But we stood through those entire games, we had so much school spirit."
Nicki Hudson, class of 1976, was among the school's first competitive female athletes, earning a letter in tennis, after the federal Title IX passed in 1972, designed to guarantee equality among the sexes in athletics.
Some of Barlow's first Bruins talked with The Outlook about school traditions and even a bit of the hijinks the students got into.
One tradition was painting their graduation year on a water tower that has since been torn down.
"That was a big deal," Diane (Hornback) Deatherage said.
It was especially memorable for Diane, because her future-husband Bob "borrowed the spray paint from me, and when my parents found out I got in trouble and I got grounded," she recalled.
Hudson recalled an incident when "someone blew up the boys bathroom." Apparently the culprit was not identified at the time, but years later a man came by the school, admitted his part in the incident and gave the school a check to cover the damages.
Diane Deatherage also remembers an English teacher who would stomp her foot in the wastebasket when she was frustrated with the class. One day, some of the students filled the can with water and floated crumpled paper on top. The teacher stomped.
"We thought it was hilarious back then," she said, shaking her head. "But now, I'm absolutely appalled that we did that."
As Barlow turns 50 years old, big changes are coming to the school. In June, a major renovation will start to transform and modernize the old building and add that long-desired sports stadium.
And while the remodeling and stadium are heartily welcomed by students past and present, 1976 graduate Nikki Hudson emphasized that what makes a school is "not the building, it's the people."