Welcome back, Culver Indians of `61

Editor’s note: this weekend, members of Culver High School’s class of 1961 will return for their 50th class reunion. Following are some facts, figures, and fun from the class of sixty-one.
Culver High School’s class of 1961 graduated 43 students in the Community Building (today’s Culver Elementary gymnasium) on Friday, May 26, following a prelude by the school band under the direction of Robert Boyd. Rev. Warren Sorenson, Pastor of the Burr Oak Church of God, gave the invocation. The class of 1911 was honored on its 50th anniversary by Principal Kenneth Cole during the ceremony.
“What Men Live By” was the theme of commencement talks given by Anne Osborn, Sharon Spahr, Nancy Ervin, and Gary Dillon. Union Township Trustee Eugene Benedict awarded the class diplomas.
Anne Osborn was the valedictorian, and Roberta Lou Easterday the salutatorian. Gary Dillon (CHS `61) won the Herman Sayger award at the CHS Alumni Association banquet (for citizenship, academic standards, moral character, and athletic achievement).
The class Baccalaureate services had been held May 21 in the same building, also the site of the junior-senior prom May 19. The annual senior Sunshine breakfast was held May 17 in the Methodist Church fellowship hall, and the annual home economics department style show took place that evening in the Community Building.
The class colors chosen were lavender and silver, and the class flower the red rose.
The senior trip in April, 1961, was a tour through Akron, Youngstown, Pittsburg, Washington, DC, and New York City. Student predictions ahead of the trip included getting lost in Greenwich Village (Karen Kemple), shopping on 5th Avenue (Jean Warner), “censored” (Bonnie Parker), “I never know what I’m going to do `til I do it” (Lance Overmyer), “get seasick,” (Jim Parker), of course “have fun” (or some variation thereof -- Cathy Overmyer, Sharon Lindvall, Anne Behmer, and others), and “just what the rules allow -- nothin’!” (Gary Dillon). Senior trip fund-raising began during the class’ freshman year with fudge sales, and continued with a number of endeavors including concessions at ball games.
During the 1960-61 school year, improvement and changes to the building -- which in those days shared the present Culver Elementary structure with middle and elementary students -- included repainting of the classrooms, installation of American flags in each room, student-read announcements broadcast into each room daily, and new lockers. A wish to replace the three flights of stairs students had to ascend to reach some classes, with escalators, failed to take place.
A survey in April, 1961, listed Culver High School students’ favorite TV shows as: 1. “Surfside Six,” 2. “Lassie,” 3. “Untouchables,” 4. “Adventures in Paradise,” 5. “Route 66,” 6. “The Deputy,” 7. “Red Skelton,” 8. “Gunsmoke,” 9. “The Flintstones,” and 10. “Checkmate.”
Favorite records in March, 1961, among students were topped by “Blue Moon” at number one, followed (in order) by “Top 40,” “Little Miss Stuck-Up,” “Once in Awhile,” “Walk Right Back,” “Asia Minor,” “Dream Boy,” “The Water was Red,” “Manhunt,” and “Babysitting Boogie.”
In March, 1961, Anne Osborn, Merrie Kay Stoneburner, and Anne Behmer of the staff of the “School Bell” (the weekly space in the Culver Citizen devoted to Culver schools), wrote about “A Day in the Life” of CHS.
Students arrive, they wrote, “in slacks and sweaters, driving old Fords, Plymouths, or maybe a Chevy.
“There’s the bell starting first period, so let’s visit the Chem. class where our future scientists are performing one of their notorious experiments. Gasp! Choke! Wow! Those fumes are really potent.
“‘Ouch! My finger.’ The boys home ec class is at it again — and this time it’s sewing. How about some embroidering, Mike?
“Let’s transfer our attention next door to the world history class where Mr. Robinson’s students are giving him a rough time. ‘How do you spell- ‘comma,’ sir?’ ‘Would you please repeat that?’ Poor Mr. Robinson. Just take comfort in the thought that the 1961 seniors only have three months left!
“During the fourth period, the seniors have a class meeting and discuss the trip. ‘How’s the money coming, Lance?’
“12:15 and the daily stampede to the cafeteria!
“Fifth period, and it’s Mr.Graham’s famous senior English class. Oozing out of the room comes riotous songs like ‘Jon Johnson’ or ‘Lord Randall,’ accompanied by much foot stomping and yelling. The inevitable happens, and Mr. Lawson comes over to close the transom! Oh, well, not everybody can recognize pure genius when he hears it!
“At ten of four, that blessed final bell rings and grateful students head for the drugstore.”
School Bell staff members also conducted some fascinating polls of CHS students, from which we learn that: 85 percent of students surveyed opposed wives working after marriage; among girls surveyed. the official majority said the “ideal boy” had brown hair, blue eyes, and be over six feet tall (athletic types were tops, with musically inclined a close second, and 58 percent said a boy didn’t have to have a car to be a catch -- 24 percent admitted “it helps”!); the ideal girl (for boys) had medium length brown hair, doesn’t smoke, and is of average height; 14 out of 50 students surveyed were against the controversial practice of “going steady,” and most teachers said they believed teenagers should date a variety of other teens.
Culver-Union Twp. school Principal Kenneth Cole, in his end of the school year thoughts in May, 1961, noting he was the “third new Principal” the consolidated township school system had had since its inception some 30 years ago, said he felt the school year had been a good one, and Culver has a solid school with the exception of just a few students and parents who disregard important disciplines. Cole had begun his duties as Principal in 1960, taking over from Raymond Ives (Cole was Superintendent until 1963, and Principal at CHS until 1966).
CHS lost two-year head basketball coach Tom Benbrook, who led the Culver Indians (as the school’s teams were known in those days) to a 20-23 record, to Akron High School in Fulton County following the 1961 year.
Interestingly, in August, 1960, Union Township Trustee Eugene Benedict told residents attending a reorganization meeting that there was “virtually no hope” of keeping Culver schools in Culver, and that consolidation would almost certainly force a county-wide system in which students would be bused to Plymouth or Argos. Of course, eight years later, Culver High School was no more, and Culver Community High School -- which would bring together Monterey and Aubbeenaubbee (Leiters Ford) high schools, was born. Thankfully, Benedict’s then-palpable prediction didn’t come to pass, though the recent closing of Monterey Elementary School has brought the matter to the fore once more.