By DAVID LEE, KATIE LIU, CASEY STANFORD
University High School (UHS) administration and staff are preparing to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary. The celebration will include anniversary-themed additions to regular school events and a yearlong emphasis on UHS history and excellence.
The 2009-2010 school year – UHS’s 40th anniversary – held the last similar celebration, which featured multiple days of festivities culminating in an enormous fair put on at the Homecoming game.
“In talking to staff members who were there 10 years ago, there was a desire to celebrate all year. [We said] ‘let’s figure out how we can, even in small ways, enhance and make more special the things we do all year,’ ” Principal Kevin Astor said.
Though the administration is still in the planning process, major celebrations will take place around Homecoming. The Athletics Department, for example, is planning on assembling a “50th anniversary all-star team” involving players from different years. Other events will be taking place throughout the year, such as the showing of a retrospective video produced by Univision advisor Mrs. Hali Kessler and the invitation of alumni back to campus to participate in a speaker series.
UHS was founded in 1970; originally a part of the Tustin Union High School District, it eventually separated to become part of the Irvine Unified School District, formed in 1972. Over the years, UHS has produced numerous alumni who went on to excel in their respective fields, including several Olympic competitors, actors Will Ferrell and Justin Chon, and Vox founder and editor-in-chief Ezra Klein.
“It would be great if we could bring in a lot of alumni for our speaker series…because there’s some amazing alumni…we haven’t necessarily heard of and aren’t famous, but are doing some pretty amazing things, that a lot of our students would benefit from hearing from or be interested in what they have to say,” Astor said.
Other school organizations and departments, such as ASB and the music departments, are encouraged to join in the celebration by incorporating creative elements connected to the 50th anniversary or “Seeing Gold”, the theme of this year’s celebration, in their activities and merchandise.
“[One] 50th anniversary thing we are doing is aligning the placards to create one long 50th themed mural-looking thing at the hoco football game,” ASB president and senior Hannah Woo said. “From TroGold to our agendas…there’s no way we’ll forget this year as Uni’s 50th anniversary.”
Graphic design teacher Ms. Dana Kramer designed the 50th anniversary logo featured on sweaters and banners seen on and around campus. She involved student collaboration from ASB as well as her Advanced Graphic Design students.
“The light pole banners on Campus and Culver were a collaboration with Nick Poon, a student from my Advanced Graphic Design class who graduated last year. All of my Advanced Graphic Design students were challenged with designing new light pole banners, and Nick’s was chosen by Dr. Astor to be produced,” Kramer said.
The philosophy behind Kramer’s design choices in creating the sweater, banners, and logo included referencing the style of the 1970s, which was the year UHS was founded, by using the rounder, multi-linear typographic style of the era.
“The overall visual identity of the 50th needs to reflect that, although we are still Uni, this year is going to be different. Including colors like gold and black made the designs unique and put a little spin on the traditional Uni colors that students and staff are used to,” Kramer said.
Kramer will also be cooperating with Kessler to assemble a 50th anniversary committee for both students and staff members to help organize and plan upcoming events. Those interested in participating on the committee may get more information from her in room 409.
According to Astor, the school’s donation account, IUSD, and possibly outside groups like the IPSF or PTSA, are all possible sources of funding for the anniversary, as well as related events. There is no established budget for these preparations.
“We’re not going to get real extravagant financially. Obviously we’re willing to spend some money to enhance the experience and make it great and celebrate, but we also don’t want to be ridiculous. We have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that our money is going to the most important unit, which is learning,” Astor said.
Though school business will largely continue as usual, the administration hopes for a successful and memorable year filled with unique experiences for both students and faculty.
“Our litmus of success, the best thing we could hear at the end of the year, is if students, staff, and parents say, ‘I’m so glad I was at Uni during the 2019-2020 school year, because it was fun; it was extra special,’ ” Astor said.