Palo Alto High School
Class of 1961
Did you know that..... we graduated on the hottest day in the city of Palo Alto's history?
Below: submitted by Kaye Petty Paugh
The other day the 2011-12 edition of Info Palo Alto arrived in our mail. It has some helpful resource information about Palo Alto among the many advertisements for various services. While thumbing through it before deciding whether to file in it that "catch all" kitchen drawer or put it in the recycle bin, this interesting fact jumped out at me:
Under the heading for Climate
"Hottest day in city history: June 15, 1961 (107 degrees)
Coldest day in city history: Jan. 11, 1949 & Dec. 23, 1990 (20 degrees)"
Yes, you guessed it. I double checked (I'd just filed away a graduation announcement with my reunion file) and that was our graduation date. I remember that it was extremely hot that day, but I had no idea that it was a record breaking 107 degrees! I do recall my mother being shocked and then bemused that several of us only wore a slip under those heavy graduation robes and not a graduation dress. In 1961 Paly graduation robes were very heavy and thick (like choir robes) and we rented them. Currently, at least for the last 22 years, the students purchase their graduation robes and the material is quite thin and certainly requires full clothing underneath the lightweight material.
June weather in Palo Alto is unpredictable. There have been many extremes in temperature and even rain at Paly graduations. For several decades Paly's graduation was held on the football field (with parents and grandparents sitting in the bleachers and the seniors sitting in chairs on the football field facing them) and somewhere around 2001 we had such a hot day that we were fearful that we might "lose" some of the grandparents. The quick thinking athletic director brought in hundreds of bottles of water which helped immensely. About eight years ago Paly graduation was moved to the Quad area of campus and while students and parents were at first quite upset by the move, they now seem to love it. For at least the last 25 years or so, Graduation begins at 5:45 on a Wednesday. Our Commencement was at 8:15 on a Thursday in the Amphitheatre (now home to the new Science Building) and that later hour probably made the heat somewhat more tolerable.
I just thought that you might be interested that our class has yet another distinction: We graduated on the hottest day in city history!
Do you know the history of Paly's school colors?
Did you know about the History of Paly's Spirit Week and "The Swingin' Sixties"?
History of Spirit Week
60's: Swinging Sixties:
Palo Alto High School's beloved Spirit Week's origins trace back to 1952. Spirit Week, known then as Friendship Week, was intended to welcome students back to school. The use of the name Friendship Week ended in the 50s and progressed into "Spirit Week" in the 60s. Back then, Spirit Week was only half a week with only one day designated for dressing up. On this day, the different grades dressed up much as they would on the current Age Day.
"Dress-up day discombobulated Friday morning when Paly was transformed and infested with outlandish finery from the Goodwill," one student said in the 1967 edition of Madrono, Paly's yearbook.
While Spirit Week in the 60s lacked floats, games and class competition, students were still eager to participate.
"We always had lots of rallies at noon," said Paly alumni teacher Kaye Paugh. "Everyone went to the football games."
Spirit Week also included various events, such as a welcome back to school tea, skits to encourage school spirit and fashion shows of costumes.
At the end of the week, Paly students would be released from Friday classes early to watch the Homecoming football game and see who had won the esteemed positions of the Homecoming Court.
Parade celebrates Paly football and volleyball state champions
January 12, 2011 see videos and articles at
Photo courtesy of RACHEL HARRUS - The Paly Voice
DO YOU KNOW about Paly's 80-year distinguished choral tradition and Choral Alumni post-Thanksgiving tradition? See more information by clicking on the Paly Choir link below for upcoming concerts, performances and more...
Every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, all past and present members of the Paly Choir program are invited to join together in song. The Alumni concert, a Paly tradition since 1980, draws singers from past decades to join in an outdoor concert celebrating the holidays, as well as the longevity and achievements of the program. After the concert, the offstage reunion of animated and enthusiastic choir members brings cheer to concert participants and audience members alike.
Staying in Touch
The Alumni concert provides an annual opportunity to meet together, reminisce and rekindle friendships. During the rest of the year, past and present choir members can stay in touch by joining the Paly Choir & Alums group on Facebook.