MVHS 50th Anniversary Celebration

Alumni and FUHSD board members reflect on the impact of MVHS on their lives

Jai Uparkar

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Redbrick walls, brown wooden bridges and Spanish-themed architecture have endured the test of time at MVHS. Other aspects haven’t. Nonetheless, the spirit and competitive atmosphere remain intact.

MVHS commemorated its 50th anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 21. MVHS staff and students held a celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the rally court and invited students, present and previous staff, alumni and FUHSD board members to come. The celebration included performances from Marching Band, Color Guard, MV Dance Team, Bella Voce and Variations. In addition, Leadership and Link leaders ran coloring and body painting booths as well as a bouncy house for children to enjoy. They also offered school tours for alumni and other attendees who were curious about the school’s newest renovations. 

The event grabbed the attention of alumni, including former Art and Physical Education teacher David Viera, who worked at MVHS from 1969 to 2004 and currently lives in San Diego. At the event, he met one of his former students who recalled his memorable class and how Viera helped her understand color combinations.

Members of the FUHSD school board attended the event as well. Bill Wilson, a member of the FUHSD board since 2006, was invited as a guest speaker. Not only was he affiliated with MVHS through working in the district, but both of his kids graduated from MVHS too. As a result, he has spent many hours at MVHS for sporting events and other activities. 

“What I talked about was how I was impressed by the kind of continuum — that we’re in a point in time where all of us make the school,” Wilson said. 

Wilson’s use of the word “continuum” struck alumni Duff Devine as the perfect word to describe the school. As a member of the first graduating class of 1973, Devine adds that it was his year which “wrote the book” of the school and since then, each class has carried that tradition. For him, coming back to the school and meeting former classmates could only be described in one word: awesome. 

“Actually what’s interesting about all this [is that] the physical facility has changed dramatically to the betterment … but when I see the cheer, the spirit, the enthusiasm, that part never changed,” Devine said. 

Similar to Devine, alumni Vince Vacciro believes that his time at MVHS was life-changing. He describes the class of ‘73 as a tight-knit community due to the fact that they were the first graduating class. 

“We [classmates] haven’t seen each other in years and [we’re] just [able to] pick up where we left off,” Vacciro said. “We walked by a spot and go remember when this happened here, and that there are 50 years. There’s a lot of history here. We always came in as an underdog, Monta Vista, the new kids, and we would kick butt in academics, sports, everything. It was really a great way to launch a school.”

Lori Gilbert, class of 1976, also mentions how her return to MVHS brought back a flood of memories. She vividly remembers making her senior year homecoming float, which was a Bennington flag made out of paper carnations. She also remembers senior prank night which entailed stacking up a bunch of car tires on top of each other in front of the stairwells to prevent people from getting upstairs.

“There have been changes, but I like that the arches and the brick and the integrity of it still looks the same,” Gilbert said. “I just loved the years I had here at MVHS. I see all these young people and I get excited that they are here and I hope they have as good a time at MVHS that we all had.” 

According to multiple alumni, obvious changes like the new renovations of gym, fieldhouse, and field have added a modern flair to the original MVHS campus. However, drastic differences are also apparent, like the increase of Asians in the community. 

According to David Chapman, who taught at MVHS from 1969 to 2000 and who is now a substitute teacher, the classes offered at MVHS in the past greatly differs from today. In addition, the population was mostly comprised of Caucasians with only a handful of Chinese and Japanese students. However, in his recent experience as a substitute teacher, he has noticed that this relationship has reversed. For him, it’s interesting to see how things have changed and stayed the same over the years. 

“It has always been a top school. In fact, if you go into the gymnasium, you’ll see that the Hall of Fame, there are a bunch of graduates that have gone on to be doctors and lawyers. I’m sure it’s a lot harder now,” Chapman said. “We only had one AP class, AP History was the only one that was here for the first 10 or 15 years and then we start getting more AP classes.”

For Jeff Moe, vice president of the FUHSD school board and parent of four MVHS alumni, part of what makes MVHS a great learning environment and a place to grow is the efforts of everyone involved in the school. 

“I think the key is a collaborative spirit, everybody working together for the same goal: parents, teachers, admin, school board — all the staff are really dedicated to one thing, [which is] to make MVHS the best possible experience for the students,” Moe said. 

Through his experience at MVHS, one thing Devine learned from MVHS was public service. As a result, he was a Peace Corps officer for two years and served outside the U.S. He learned how to give back to his community through his experiences with leadership and fundraising. 

For many MVHS alumni, coming back to the school brought back so many memories and reminded them of how far they’ve come the school has impacted their life in many ways and sufficiently prepared them a future in the workforce and in college. 

“50 years is just a great milestone that’s the golden anniversary,” Moe said. “It’s just a wonderful milestone and we’ve heard in the speeches how MV has been wonderful since the get-go but in my opinion from having observed it for the past 20 years, is that it’s [MV] gotten better all the time and it’s continued to get better.”

To see how MVHS has changed over the past 50 years, see 1970s and a 2019 comparison of the school: