The Spirit of ‘76 lives on this weekend


The Rockdale High School class of 1976 will gather this weekend to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their graduation.

Man, those people are old.

The class of ‘76 had a front row seat to the world as major changes took place both nationally and locally.

The country celebrated a bi-centennial, while Rockdale enjoyed its centennial during a summer-long party that featured a full blown, Broadway style stage show

This class also has to forever live with the humiliation of cuff pants, stack shoes, pet rocks, lava lamps, Prince Valiant haircuts, Farrah Fawcett hairdos, Billy Preston Afros, Kung Fu Fighting and gulp... lime leisure suits

So, in celebration of that event there will be an expanded version of “The 5ive,” featuring a list of seminal events in the class’ history, in no particular order or importance, originating in a class poll several reunions ago.

1. “Back When My Hair Was Short”—Taking a cue from the hit song from Gunhill Road, the Class of ‘76 took steps to change the antiquated RHS dress code, which included having your hair no longer than behind your ears and off your collar. Hatched in Dick Henson’s English class during their junior year of 1975, they planned a walkout at morning break where students would not go back to class. The word spread quickly and when the bell rang for third period, most of the student body stayed on the patio and the gathering quickly turned into a makeshift version of Soul Train, music blaring as administrators scrambled to figure out what to do. A month later, the school board voted to change the hair code at RHS.

2. Glenn Spence Takes A Dive—While two confused students in Don Worthy’s chemistry class accidently mixed a base and an acid in a test tube, fireworks ensued Roman candle style and Glenn Spence didn’t stick around to see what the explosion wrought and dove out of the lab window and into infamy.

3. Burn, Baby, Burn—Four ne’er-do-wells (who shall remain nameless) snuck onto Yoe Field in the middle of the night in November of 1975 and burned a gigantic R on the football field, just days before the Battle of the Bell. It was payback for what the Yoe had done similarly in 1970. The game, by the way is considered the best ever played in the 84- game Bell series, which leads us to...

4. The Battle of the Bell— Won by Cameron 22-19 amidst a controversial call concerning whether Tiger quarterback Martin Stroman scored or not that turned the game. The game was witnessed by a record 6,000 fans at 3,500- seat Yoe Field, standing three deep around the fence and a dozen deep in the end zones. It featured a veritable who’s who of both Rockdale and Cameron athletics. People on both sides of the river still discuss the game with great reverence.

5. “Ice Station Zebra” shuts down—For those of you who were encased in any of Ruth Kirk’s math classes, you know what we’re talking about here. Amidst reports of penguin and polar bear sightings, fishing holes dug into the frozen ice floors, Miss Kirk’s subzero temperatures came from her possession of the only air conditioner on campus. Someone threw a book at it out of frustration once and it actually shut down—for the first time ever. Students in the class scrambled to fix it in fear of the wrath of Ruth that awaited.

This is just a condensed list (don’t get me started on the band) of the wild and wacky goings on during the zany four-year reign of this class, smack dab in the middle of the 1970s, when the absurd was the acceptable.

Here’s to my brothers and sisters—the Spirit of ‘76.

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