Paly recreates 1918 march

Event part of high school's centennial celebration

Palo Alto High School cheerleaders lead a march commemorating Paly's centennial, in which teachers and students walked from the school's former location at Channing Avenue to its current location at Embarcadero Road and El Camino Real. Photo by Veronica Weber.

More than 200 current and past Palo Alto High School students recreated a historical moment on Sunday, walking from what is now Channing House on Webster Street to the school as students, teachers and staff did 100 years ago for their first day of school at their new campus.

The Paly dance and cheer teams, band and alumni, many wearing Viking green, as well as administrators, school board members and local and state elected officials made their way through Palo Alto streets on a sunny, celebratory afternoon.

The march is part of a series of activities this year to celebrate Paly's centennial. Paly partnered with the Palo Alto Historical Association to organize the re-enactment.

The oldest participant on Sunday belonged to the class of '42, according to Paly librarian Rachel Kellerman, who is on the school's centennial committee.

After the march, participants recreated a photo the group of students, teachers and staff took in front of the Tower Building in 1918.

They also dedicated the area between the new Performing Arts Center and the longtime Haymarket Theatre as "Centennial Plaza." The plaza will include monuments to Anna Zschokke (pronounced SHAW-key), known as the "mother of Palo Alto schools." Zschokke, one of Palo Alto's first residents, spearheaded the creation of Palo Alto's first public school and built the first high school building by mortgaging her home. Members of Zschokke's family attended the event.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, a Paly alumnus, gave a speech. He "lauded strong courageous women leaders from the past to present day," Kellerman said.

There were also student performances and the debut of a choral piece written by Paly alumnus Christopher Tin, a Grammy award-winning composer.

"Of course," Kellerman added, "there was birthday cake."

Paly's centennial committee is working to involve other school departments and bodies, including drama, history, English, athletics and journalism, in centennial events.

Students are also organizing an alumni speakers program and will design a centennial T-shirt, among other projects.

In March, there will also be a celebration of student newspaper the Campanile's 100th birthday and a ticketed centennial gala.

For more information about Paly's centennial activities, go to


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8 people like this
Posted by Edith Miller
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 8, 2018 at 10:56 am

It was a WONDERFUL day! Thanks to all the students in the band, in the choir, in the theater production and all the students who worked as ushers and stage help. Paly staff were great- especially those who helped performing students learn their parts in a short time. The committee, under the tireless efforts of MaryEllen Bena arranged a memorable day for so many people.

3 people like this
Posted by video?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2018 at 1:17 pm

video? is a registered user.

Any video?

Like this comment
Posted by Anne Anderson
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:12 pm

There are events planned for throughout the year. Go to Web Link to read about them as well as linking to a wonderful video slideshow about Paly's historic beginnings. The committee welcomes donations from the community to help make all the celebrations enjoyable and affordable for all families. Moneys are also being raised to install a commemorative medallion in the newly dedicated Centennial Plaza located directly in front of the Haymarket Theatre. In honor of the Centennial, donations of $100 are suggested but any amount is greatly appreciated. See the link above to donate online or send checks made out to PAHS - Centennial Celebration directly to the school office.

20 people like this
Posted by 1918 Revisited
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 10, 2018 at 1:54 pm

Another historical event worth portraying would be the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. Many people fell ill or died from the influenza and it has largely been forgotten.

A reenactment with hundreds of people lying on stretchers, World War I era ambulances, and countless nurses/physicians caring to the afflicted would raise public awareness and provide an entertaining acting opportunity for those who wished to participate. Add some men dressed in US Army uniforms having returned from overseas + a few priests administering last rites to complete the presentation.

While I am unclear on how many Palo Altans actually perished during this time in history, this historical portrayal could also be used to promote seasonal flu shots with various aid stations/tents offering free or low-cost inoculations.

22 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 10, 2018 at 5:40 pm

> entertaining acting opportunity for those who wished to participate.

Speaking of reenactments...I'd like to see a bunch of Spaniards in full armor on horseback discovering Palo Alto (the tree) and later camping along San Francisquito Creek with Native Americans (the Ohlones) peering at them suspiciously from behind the shrubbery.

1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 10, 2018 at 8:34 pm

^ "Full armor on horseback" and "shrubbery" in the same sentence? Monty Pythonesque.

14 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 11, 2018 at 9:45 am

Another possible addition to the Spanish discovery of El Palo Alto, I would also like to see the Spanish expedition make its way from Palo Alto to what is now known as West Menlo Park, camping along the path that later became Alameda de las Pulgas (Avenue of the Fleas).

To see the explorers incessantly trying to scratch themselves while still wearing their heavy armor would be hilarious.

12 people like this
Posted by Speaking of 1918
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2018 at 3:36 pm

How about a 'Turn Back the Clock Day' to 1918 when there were far fewer cars and people in Palo Alto?

Establish a lottery of sorts. Those with the winning tickets (the actual number of them based on the 1918 PA census) would get to remain in town for the weekend while everyone else would have to leave for two days.

Stores would remain open until 5PM on Saturday but closed in their entirety on Sunday. Automobiles would also be limited in scope (and view) based on the number of cars that actually existed in PA in 1918. Special arrangements could be made for those opting for horse-drawn wagons and carriages as there were still a few back then.

It would be the most peaceful weekend in the modern-day history of Palo Alto.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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