It was ‘one for the record books’ as Huron celebrates 50 years

Slideshow, photos, and story by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

Last year, Athletic Director Dottie Davis said she would stick around for Huron’s 50th Anniversary Celebration before retiring at the end of this school year.

The four-hour event was held Saturday night and included an open house, tours, music, and lots of reminiscing among past and present staff, students and parents.

The commemorative glass mosaic was unveiled and is now prominently located in the hallway of the school’s main entrance.

Davis said it was definitely worth the wait.

“Huron is my heart of gold,” she said. “So many fond memories and friendships have been built that will last a lifetime.”

She said it was great to see all the dignitaries who were responsible for the planning and building of the school, including former AAPS Superintendent Scott Westerman.

Dottie Davis snaps a photograph as Principal Janet Schwamb greets Scott Westerman.

She also loved watching the school’s band, orchestra and choir circle the auditorium to lead the crowd in a high-spirited round of the Huron Fight Song, which was co-written by former Athletic Director John Nordlinger, who was in the audience.

“It was a fantastic night; one for the record books,” Davis said. “Great times were had by all, and I wouldn’t have missed it!”

Former Athletic Director John Nordlinger and former Principal Joetta Mial reminisce about old times at Huron High as they greet a fellow River Rat.

Ann Arbor School Board Trustee Simone Lightfoot,  a 1985 Huron High School graduate, called the celebration “awesome!”

“To engage old classmates that are now parents, staff or both was wonderful, and to watch our exceptional students play those instruments like trained adults instilled great pride,” she said. “In fact, it affirms that our board is right in preserving and prioritizing our music and art programs even during the toughest of budget times.

“Saturday night—like many nights in our district—reminded me just how blessed I am to serve such great students, staff and dedicated parents in the very district that raised and trained me and now my family,” she said. “It’s great to serve and even better to do it at home.”
Principal Janet Schwamb greeted the auditorium filled with alumni, past and current staff, and named a few of the many accolades the school has earned over the last decades. Huron High School continues to be recognized for high academic, arts, and athletic achievement, consistently ranking nationally among the top performing high schools.
Orchestra Director Timothy Krohn and the Huron Symphony Orchestra respond to applause from the crowd.

Several guests remarked about how turbulent the times were in 1968 when Huron graduated its first students.

John Nordlinger said it was a very difficult time to start a school.

“There was a lot of unrest. It was very hard to get any kind of community going because the social structure of our nnation—and therefore our community—was pretty disruptive.”

Superintendent Swift addresses the crowd.

In her address to the crowd, Superintendent Jeanice Swift agreed.

“As we reflect on these 50 years, I think of Dylan’s song, ‘The Times They Are A Changin,’” she said. “Those of us who were around back in 1968 remember well, the ‘winds of change’ were certainly blowing at the time as a significant societal shift occurred. And clearly, that historical context formed and informed the very foundation at Huron High School.”

From its earliest days, she said, Huron has represented courage, conscience, conviction, and change.

“It was in this attitude of embracing change, forging a new path, that the inaugural group of students had the foresight and wisdom to choose the scrappy River Rat as their mascot,” said Swift.  “That River Rat has served as an apt representation of generations of leaders who successfully navigate change, performing at high levels of excellence while working from principle and deep commitment.”

Guests enjoy the buffet in the cafeteria during the open house before the program began in the auditorium.

Continuing on its path for innovation and change, Huron is forging change in offering the district’s first International Baccalaureate program, Swift noted.

Between impressive musical performances by the choirs, symphony orchestra, and symphony band, Davis joined students from the Class Executive Boards of 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 to describe the items they placed in a time capsule to be opened 50 years from now.

“The time capsule gives our students executive boards a chance to put something in it that represents their vision of what high school was like in the year 2018,” Davis said later. “Another 50 years will pass and the students will have the opportunity to come back and open the time capsule and to see how education has changed and evolved.”

The Huron Jazz Combo perform at the open house.

It was decided not to bury the time capsule because directions on where it is located and when to open it could get lost over time.  So it will be placed in the front entrance of the school in a showcase so everyone will get to see it, and so staff and students will know where to go to open in—in 2068.

The administration team placed in the time capsule a T-shirt, a flash drive with hundreds of pictures of Huron’s past 50 years, a sports pin, graduation trinkets, an International Baccalaureate pin, and a note from, and a picture of,  the current administration team.

Also among the festivities was the unveiling of the stunning 50th Anniversary Commemorative Glass Mosaic, which is now prominently located in the hallway of the main entrance.

National Honor Society students lead building tours during the evening.

It ended with the entire audience joining in a rousing round of the Huron Fight Song, clapping along with the lyrics that spoke of the “grand and glorious” Huron High School.

The choirs lined up around the auditorium to sing the Huron Fight Song at the end of the festivities.
Lightfoot said that some of her fondest memories of Huron include Dr. Joetta Mial, Joyce Hunter, Officer Tonya Padgett and Pat Manley, who cared for the students beyond academics.
” They doubled down on their demands that we develop character, a work ethic, and curiosity,” she said. “I also had great memories of an amazing peer group.  We developed skills in leadership, how to deal with and address racism, and the significance of having staff and programs that are culturally sensitive, inclusive and accessible for those of means and those less affluent.”
The evening included a 50th Anniversary Memory Video
She said that after graduation, she realized what a bubble the community had provided in Ann Arbor—”A bubble of protection, privilege and high expectations,” she said.  “One that demanded and allowed that we think critically, delve deeply, and recognize our duty to serve on behalf of the greater good.  At Huron, the servant leadership style was the norm and it has carried me.”

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