History of HRVHS

By Annika Martinez, Talon staff reporter

As you walk down the hallway, on the way to lunch, your locker, or in between passing periods, you may never stop and realize the history that you are re-creating. Hood River Valley High, home of the beloved Eagles, has been in momentum for 44 years. Since 1970, systems have been reformed, such as the controversial mod system. Traditions such as Air Guitar, the Lock-In, and the Luau have risen. The school has gone under massive construction, adding hallways, repairing collapsed ceilings, covering the cafeteria and its surroundings, and much more.
Several committed individuals have shown their devotion to this school longer than anyone. Strolling by the front office, perhaps you will see the bright pictures of the proud athletes of the month, but concealed just past is the office of our school’s highly committed athletic director, Keith Bassham. Could be, you’ve heard him announcing at a football game while you’re in the stands, while you munch on popcorn to keep your teeth from chattering. Maybe you’ve noticed him spinning some groovy 80’s song that lifts your spirits as you’re gearing up for your next event at the meet. Whatever it is, Bassham’s seen it all. Having worked at this school since 1980, he has taught upwards of a dozen classes, and has also been thoroughly invested in our sports. Bassham is able to get to know individuals in the class environment as well as the athletic one. “One good thing about this job is that I do have a connection with kids outside of sports in that I do have one class.” The biggest change that Bassham has noticed would have to be the shift from the controversial modular system to our now present block system.

The mod system, established in the 1970s, was a way to give students a heavy dose of responsibility, paired with critical decision making. The student had a lot of liberty in their choices, which Bassham recalls gave kids “a lot of freedom to pick their schedules, to pick the classes they showed up for, to pick the days they showed up.” This was true. Students grades 10-12 chose “units” lasting about three weeks per unit, in which they got to pick the teacher who taught them. This unique system allowed the teachers to form bonds with the students. The teachers would choose how the student would learn their unit, based on the teacher’s understanding of the student’s learning style. In the modular system there were no failing grades– the pupil would simply have to take the unit until he or she demonstrated mastery.

In order to graduate, a student would have to take a minimum of 160 units. Bassham enjoys the current school system more than this modular system, because it gives the teacher a longer period of time to teach, instead of spending class time focusing on the quick transition of classes.

After 34 years, Bassham is retiring at the end of this school year. He stated that the main thing that he wants to see in his last year working here is kids having fun, and remembering it’s not always about winning.
Traveling onward in the school, take a walk down the theater hall, just watch out for the overly eccentric Theatre One students, and maybe get an autograph from that Theater Four student who everyone knows is going to be famous. Looking for the leader of it all, you’ll meet the kind hearted and unforgettable Rachel Harry. Harry, or more fondly known to her thespian veterans as Krumm, has been teaching students the art of performance since 1987. For 27 years, Harry has been setting students on to success in college, conveying bold statements in playwrights, and expressing her creativity through beautiful costumes and intricate set designs. In the past couple decades, the theater department has gone through some drastic changes. Theater started out as an English elective, lasting only one semester, exclusively for freshmen. There was also the occasional drama class, depending on the amount of interest. This year, Harry teaches so many Theater classes that the audition-based ‘Phoenix Theatre’ had to become an after school club. Phoenix is coming along successfully. Harry has many fond memories from the years, but some of her favorite experiences come from the plays she has put on. The collaborated talents that have been exuded in the little theater make for a truly special world for the actor to enter. “The magic that the theater creates will never change.”

Just to the left of the Bowe Theatre, which is named after the school’s first principal Chuck Bowe, you will find yourself in the elusive Band hall. Walking through this home base of the music department is a lot like walking through a museum. The hall itself is lined with posters from the numerous productions that Mark Steighner has directed dating back to 1987. The department is spread into various rooms, and rooms beyond the rooms that many people have never explored, which hold a collection of instruments, uncountable sheets of music, dusty old marching band outfits, World of Warcraft figurines, and only Steighner knows what else.

Steighner started his career at this school in 1984, and before that, he taught band at the Wy’east Middle School. Steighner has taught around 30 different ensembles in all, and has put on around 50 different musicals. Some of Steighner’s favorite musicals to be a part of are Les Miserables, Legally Blonde, Children of Eden, Beauty and the Beast, and Avalon. In the past 30 years, Steighner has taken ensembles and competitive parade groups on tours to many different places including Europe, Canada, and California. Steighner would have to say that in his time here, the environment has remained constant; “The high school has remained a generally safe and supportive environment, and the administration has always been supportive of music.” This year is Steighner’s 34th and final year teaching at this school. He hopes to have his last year teaching here be successful and full of musical growth. He also hopes to leave the department in good shape for his successor.
This school is not kept up to date on its own. Hidden in plain sight, just behind the bright red door in the junior hall, the loyal custodians are always working to improve our learning environment. Head custodian Wynn Winfield has been working here for nine years, but was also part of this school’s graduating class of 1976. Through the years, Winfield has seen many changes, including budget cuts, but through it all his crew’s positive attitude has remained constant; “Probably, in my world, the morale of my staff has stayed the same.”

The H Hall may feel less happy this year, due to the retirement of beloved teacher Evelyn Charity. Charity worked at this school for a total of 23 years, starting in 1991 as an instructional assistant and working her way up to being a full time teacher. Charity ended her career at this school teaching U.S History, Psychology and Sociology. Charity’s favorite memories of this school come from all of the Air Guitar practices with the staff, and then performing in front of the students. Budget cuts have also stuck out for Charity, who stated; “When I first came, we had money to buy supplies and go on field trips–that’s changed the most.” In her two decades of teaching, she would have to say that the staff family has kept a strong sense of camaraderie: “We’ve had very good leadership and a lot of autonomy.” Charity has bright plans for her life as a retiree, and is very excited to “sing as much as possible” with hopes of being in four different choirs. She also looks forward to reading more, spending precious time with her grandchildren, and, of course, substitute teaching.
It is plain to see that no matter how many years go by, this school will always be built on a strong foundation of love, support, and friendship.

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