Have Things Changed?

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Shaffer Franklin

As an underclassman, you never even dared to sit in the commons for fear of being bashed by the upperclassmen during lunch. This year, however, there are more and more juniors, and maybe even sophomores, sitting in the commons, even taking the seats of the seniors at lunch.

Five years ago, Summer Franklin was a senior at Lake Forest High School. She told me that “the place for the seniors was the Publick Room. We would hang around there during study hall if we didn’t leave. The juniors were in the upper commons.” The seniors had their place, and the juniors had theirs.

Jennifer Van Skyock, an English teacher at the high school, who has worked here for 20 years, has seen many different changes. The most memorable senior location was the “‘senior stage’ which was in the old cafeteria, now the library. They had a stage where the seniors would hang out and a radio station. This was 20 years ago.”

Stephen Van Nuys, a Social Studies teacher at Lake Forest High School, graduated from the high school in 1987. He told me that right outside the current lunchroom there was a “smoke stack,” and the students who went out there to smoke were called “stackers.” In order to smoke you needed a note from your parents, and adults who worked at the school would stand out there to make sure each student out there had a note.

The lockers on the first floor, near the Senior Star, were for varsity senior athletes. For the most part, students had the same locker all four years. (Van Nuys’ locker was on the third floor).

The cafeteria was in the basement, and that was were students would hang out. There was a radio station, WLFHS, and Mr. Miller ran the station. Students could join the club and play music or talk before school and during lunch. They would get music from the college- who received it from bands wanting to advertise.

Seniors had an open campus, and Van Nuys informed me that he, along with others, would hang out in front of the lockers. They didn’t really hang out in the library. “That was more for classes. We did hang out on the front lawn when it was nice out.”

Van Nuys states that there is more social wellness now, but underclassmen definitely didn’t step on the Senior Star. As a teacher now, he states that Lake Forest High School is more diverse and more accepting. The high school used to be very traditional, but now it is more merged with classes like robotics, business incubator, and guitar making. The school is bigger now- about 300 more students, and the teachers are younger. At the dances, almost everybody would go and dance, and there were good DJs- even one who was a student.

Students also dressed up nicely the day before winter break, and there wasn’t a holiday spirit week the week before break.

Van Nuys’ words of advice are to enjoy high school as there are so many cool things and it is a great school.

Carolyn Konz is also a teacher who attended and graduated from the high school. When she went here, there was a closed campus so students couldn’t leave; they had to sneak off. The school was not as protected as there was no one guarding the doors. Most seniors didn’t want to leave, though, unless they were going to get Starbucks.

The current library was still the cafeteria when Konz graduated, and in it there was a stage. The stage was where the seniors ate lunch and hung out. There was a couch and the seniors could decorate it- they even painted a huge sun on the wall. The radio station was still active as well.

The hallway by the counselors office was still known as “Jocks Row” where the male, varsity athletes had their lockers. Underclassmen females would try and avoid the hallway at all costs and would even go outside in the snow. Konz remembers one time when she had to walk through the hallway with a friend. Walter John asked her to a  dance, and it “horrified me.”

Konz states that it was a safer time, as students and staff didn’t even have the idea of a school shooting. The doors were never locked. (She added that the school is not unsafe now).

Students didn’t have to pay for parking anywhere. The student lot is now one of the teacher lots, and students fought for spaces. The spots were first come, first serve, so students arrived early to get the ideal parking.

Like Van Nuys stated, there were still the smoke stack and a smoke lounge inside. The school was more relaxed about everything. There were no crazy hazing stories, but it definitely happened as it was a part of being a freshman.

The Powder Puff games were played on the football field outside the school, now the track. The juniors played the seniors and boys dressed up in cheerleading outfits.

The classes were very hard, and the school was not as focused on emotional wellness. If you were having an off/stressful day, you still had to get your work done. The amount of rigor is the same today, as well as the type of teachers and students.

The Senior Wall, underneath the railroad tracks, used to be painted every year by the seniors (until about 2012). This started because there was a ton of graffiti and the police came together with the seniors and told them to make it art/meaningful. It was something for the seniors to work for and for underclassmen to look forward to. There was more of a recognition for seniors- seniors used to rule the school.

Over the years, many things have changed- and many things will continue to change. One thing that has stayed the same, though, is that there are always places designated for the seniors.