A History of George Rogers Clark High School – Part 3 1960 – 1982 By Frank Vargo June, 2019
As was mentioned in the first article, the information for this short history of George Rogers Clark was taken from the Golden Anniversary booklet published by the Class of 1982 as part of their reunion celebration. This will be the last installment for now, unless someone else has a booklet or other information that tells the history from 1983 to the present.
1960 A pep rally was held at Clark Field in October and a crowd of about 800 attended. There were 25 floats in the Homecoming Parade. The dance was held at Madura’s Danceland on Saturday to climax an exciting weekend.
The real spectacular event of the year however, was the prom called “Lilac Champagne”. The decoration committee went “wild with lilac and silver covering the hall”.
1961 Driver Education was offered for the first time at Clark. The school paper, The Pioneer News, began its 28th year of publication.
1962 The basketball team made it all the way to the semi-final round of the sectional before losing to EC Washington. Mr. D. D. Lockey became the new principal and led the student body in one of his famous cheers.
1963 After thirty-two years of loyal service, the old desks were retired. All those great works of art and etchings were no longer! The teachers finally got their own lounge and no longer had to use the boiler room for their breaks.
1964 The National Honor Society started a program for tutoring students. The Golf team qualified for state finals in Indianapolis. The Booster Club’s membership reached 500 and was Clark’s most active club.
1965 The Senior Band started the school year with an outdoor concert. A new course, Developmental Reading, was offered to all students. The Latin Club sponsored a very successful Talent Show in the spring. International fashion came in style at Clark with English blouses, French discotheque dresses, Spanish madras shirts, European ski pants and knee socks, plus the U.S. Navy “Middy.”
1966 For the first time in Clark’s history, Russian was added to the curriculum. Over three hundred students were enrolled in Latin, Spanish, French and German classes. Art and cooking classes were offered to both female and male students to spark their interest in trying something new. IBM report cards and scheduling by computer were first used throughout the school. Construction of the field house at the Clark athletic field began.
1967 This year Clark’s athletic teams moved into their new home away from school, the fieldhouse. In addition, the band received their long-awaited new uniforms. Semester break was made surprisingly longer by the “Great Blizzard of ’67.” With the arrival of basketball sectionals, the Victory Bell was presented to the school by the Student Council.
1968 The first Clark Relays saw some of the best runners in the state from the Gary schools competing against other Lake County speedsters. Clark trackmen captured first place in nine out of eleven events. The Choral Department reigned supreme as the largest organization in the school with a total of 234 members.
1969 For the first time, seniors were offered an accelerated chemistry course in addition to a basic level course. Elective courses in sociology and contemporary history were also offered. The German Club was very active sponsoring a tobogganing trip, a back-to-school dance, a car wash, a bake sale, a Christmas party, and a trip to German Town in Chicago.
1970 For the first time in 27 years, Clark’s basketball team won the Hammond Sectional. In the Regional, the Pioneers knocked off Lake Central but lost to #1 state ranked, East Chicago Roosevelt. The Class of 1970 totaled a record breaking 289 students.
The Concert Choir performed on both local radio and television while the band earned first place honors in the Fourth of July parade. Because of a teachers’ strike at the start of the school year, the football team was able to play only seven games. But the Pioneers swamped the Oilers! Final score; Clark 58, Whiting 0.
1972 Official ground-breaking ceremonies for Clark’s new addition took place. Students could hear and see the helicopters bringing the air conditioners and heating units to be placed on the roof of the new gym. Clark cagers won their third straight Sectional and also won the Sportsmanship Award.
1973 Clark’s first foreign exchange student, a young lady from Chile, became part of our family for a few months. The yearbook staff passed out over 1,000 boxes of Milk Duds as they started their Powder Horn subscription drive. Their theme was “Don’t Be A ‘Dud.’ Buy Your Yearbook Now.”
1974 Along with the entire country, Clark students felt the effects of the energy crisis. Many students now had to walk to school and joy riding during lunch breaks dropped 24%. The Prom was held at the Ramada Inn in Dolton. It’s theme – “Just You and Me.” Over thirty issues of the Pioneer News were published during the school year.
1975 After forty-three years, the school was having a complete facelift. Changes included the new swimming pool, remodeled auditorium, ice-cooled drinking fountains, lowered ceilings and revamped classrooms. Girls’ athletics at Clark were now an accomplished fact with teams in volleyball, track, basketball and tennis. Clark’s football team won a conference championship, the first one in 30 years.
1976 Clark students, along with all Americans, celebrated our nation’s Bicentennial. Before the renovation last year, students had only one choice – wood shop. Now with the extra space, metal shop, electric shop and power mechanics were offered.
1977 This year started with a big splash as Clark’s pool was opened. The football team posted a 7 – 2 mark and were Lake Shore conference runner-ups. Prom goers were entertained by the sounds of Wet Sunday.
1978 The Winter Formal “You’re All I Want for Christmas” was held at the K of C Hall in Whiting with the band Empire playing. The Prom “This One’s for You” took place at the Wicker Park Social Center. Couples boogied to the sounds of Stonewood Fox. A new varsity sport, swimming, was now added, becoming the first co-educational varsity sport at Clark.
1979 The three best dances of the year were Homecoming, the Halloween Disco Dance, and the Winter Formal. The Student Council sponsored a faculty basketball game against the Chicago Bears. In a very close contest, the teachers lost by only two points.
1980 The tension built as the most popular teacher was announced in the gym. A chocolate cream pie in the face was this teacher’s reward for being so popular with the students. The booklet does not mention who this lucky teacher was. Some teachers also performed in the talent show with their version of “YMCA” and “ Macho Man.” The Class of ’80 won the traditional hall decorating contest for the fourth year in a row, a feat accomplished by no other class up to this point.
The Athletic Department sponsored a Donkey Basketball game. This hilarious night at the “barnyard gym” was full of excitement and comedy. The football team finished 7 – 3. Six seniors earned post-season honors. In girls’ track, one member broke the school record for shot put and discus and did the same at the conference meet.
1982 Clarks’ 50th class, the Class of 1982, revived some traditions this year. For the first time in many years, the Student Council president, instead of a faculty member, read announcements over the P. A. The student lounge was also reopened. Clark’s presentation of Godspell played for six performances on two consecutive weekends to large crowds. This year will always have special meaning for the seniors because somehow fate made them the “Golden Class.”
This concludes our short history of the first fifty years of George Rodgers Clark High School. With the rumored closing of Clark in 2020, when the new Hammond High School will be completed, it will be the responsibility of all GRC alumni to try and preserve the things that made Clark a great school for so many years.
If you have anything related to the school that you would like to share with the Whiting/Robertsdale Historical Society, you can mail it to our office at 1610 119th Street, Whiting, IN 46394 or drop it off at the Whiting Public Library (tell them it is for the W/RHS).
We are also missing the following Powder Horns: 1956, 1957, 1962, 1963, and all from 1965 to the present. You can also scan pictures or other items and send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank You!