Gunn High School is celebrating its 50th birthday with a bang this weekend, with events Friday through Sunday scheduled to celebrate Titan history.
The weekend was organized by a group of Gunn parents eager to call attention to the high school's 50-year track record of high academic achievement and innovation, as well as rekindle the sense of optimism that defined the era in which the school opened.
Gunn opened in the fall of 1964 to meet the area's demand after Cubberley High School, now closed, filled to capacity. The new high school was named for Henry M. Gunn, who was superintendent of the Palo Alto school district from 1950 to 1961, a period of explosive growth that saw the opening of 18 new elementary schools and two new middle schools, as well as Cubberley in 1956.
Gunn's first class of seniors graduated in June 1966.
"Through this process we've learned how much pride the initial group that came into Gunn had for the school," event organizer Miriam Rotman told the Weekly in July. "There was a feeling that they were starting something new, and they wanted it to last for generations.
Rotman said organizers were reaching out to as many alumni and original Gunn faculty as possible, including the school's first principal, Robert McLean, who now lives in senior housing in Cupertino; the first athletic director, Robert Bow; and longtime English teacher Tim Farrell. Both McLean and Bow will attend events on Saturday.
"Bow (who stayed at the school more than 20 years) said, 'I can speak about Gunn all night long. I still bleed red, white and black,'" Rotman said.
A barbecue on Friday from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m at Bol Park will kick the weekend off, followed by a special half-time show at Gunn's football game against Carlmont High School. The show, dubbed "Parade of Decades," will tell the story of Gunn and Palo Alto over the last 50 years.
On Saturday morning, there will be a ceremony emceed by Gunn graduate and NBC anchor Janelle Wang, campus tours, an alumni art exhibit, a memorabilia display in the library and a faculty panel discussion. The Gunn band will perform around lunchtime on the quad while school clubs, including the robotics team, strut their stuff, according to the district.
Current and former Titans can mingle with former teachers at a "Golden Gala" Saturday evening. Retired art teacher Ron Cooper, former athletic director Bow and former track coach Hal Daner will attend, among others, event organizers said. Limited tickets are available, so people are asked to register as soon as possible for a spot.
On Sunday, a less structured family field day will be held with a picnic lunch (attendees bring their own) and pickup sports games.
More information and registration for the barbecue, gala and field day have been posted at google.com/site/gunnhighalumni/home.
Schedule of events:
Friday, Sept. 12
Welcome barbecue, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Bol Park, 3590 Laguna Ave., Palo Alto
Gunn football game, 7 to 10 p.m. at Hal Daner Track and Field at Gunn
Saturday, Sept. 13
Gunn 50th Ceremony, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Ceremony with special guest speakers and TV anchor Janelle Wang, 10 to 11 a.m.
Art exhibit, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the library
Music and clubs on the quad, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Gunn's "Golden Gala," 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Palo Alto Sheraton, 625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Sunday, Sept. 14
Gunn Field Day, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Gunn. There will be pickup games on the football and softball fields as well as basketball courts.