The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Once Teachers, Now Students

For many of us, it’s hard to imagine the school—the quad, the buildings, the sports, the classes—as being anything other than what we see today.
The school has evolved dramatically since it was first established in 1954. It’s been almost six decades — 58 years to be exact — and a lot has changed.

“There’s far more classrooms, for one thing,” science teacher Thomas Budd, who graduated in the late ‘60s, said. “The library, the cafeteria, the science and math buildings. Those are all new.”

Social studies teacher Pete Bjorklund ‘99 also said that the campus layout has changed dramatically since he graduated from the high school.

“The whole quad looked nothing like it did when I was there,” Bjorklund said. “There was a humongous block, where you’d walk downstairs. If you wanted to do acting or other activities, it would be held there. Where the library is, there was a hallway, a major overhang that went into the office. Where the band room is, that used to be our ‘cafetorium’ which was our cafeteria and auditorium.”

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The construction of the math and science buildings, which were originally centered in the 400 and 500 wings, also started in Bjorklund’s senior year.
“It wasn’t even there,” Bjorklund said. “They had just started building it when I was a senior. It was like a completely different school.”

Now, with the construction going on at the back of the school, it seems that the campus is getting larger each year. Furthermore, many of the active clubs at school didn’t always exist. Currently, there are over 75 clubs, and new charters are made every year. Many, such as Haiti Solidarity, are fairly new.

“There’s a lot more clubs offered today than when I attended school here,” Budd said. “More options with what to do with extra time. I like how this allows every student an opportunity to look into areas that they may not normally be able to.”

Social studies teacher Todd Wangsness, ‘80, said that it’s not just the clubs that have changed over the years, but the classes too.

“I think it’s actually more challenging here with the amount of homework, the quality of homework, the expectations of what goes on in a classroom — there’s a lot more variety of activities that go on today,” Wangsness said. “It’s not as teacher-centered with lectures. I hardly ever remember getting into groups to do something with somebody else. You just sat in your chair. You never moved it once.”

While the classes have certainly become more student-involved, expectations to take AP classes have sky-rocketed.

“It wasn’t always like that,” Bjorklund said. “I was right on the edge of when they just started to get AP crazy. The whole ‘you have to take 9,000 APs or you’re never gonna get into school.’ That push, the pressure, definitely started taking place right before I left. We still had to do community service hours and extracurriculars, but in terms of APs, that pressure just wasn’t there. I feel like — without that — you had more time to be a kid.”

The academic rigor has increased over the years, but based off of accounts from the past, the school seems to have lost some of its athletic prowess.

“Los Altos High School had some athletic dynasties then that may not be possible now,” Budd said. “The LAHS football team, for example, had won leagues 20 years in a row.”

A lot has changed at the school over the course of 58 years, with some for the better and others for the worse. But Wangsness thinks that there’s one thing that hasn’t seemed to change, and that’s the social life.

“The freshmen, the sophomores, the juniors, the seniors — they all still clump together,” Wangsness said. “They have their own hangouts, their spots. Standing around, talking. We did the same when I went here.”

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