Class of 1966
From Switlik we transferred to the Lakewood Jr. High School to be ninth graders within the Lakewood School District. Our class from Jackson and a class from Manchester were the guests of Lakewood, since neither Manchester nor we had built our own four year high school building yet. This experience allowed us to walk the halls without juniors or seniors to pick on us or to outrank us. This fact allowed us to develop our confidence as high school freshmen. The leadership we had developed as eighth graders while at Switlik continued to bloom in Lakewood. We moved on to the Lakewood High School building in 1963, where other Jackson students like my sister Lizzie were already in the mix as juniors and seniors. As it happens, my sister Lizzie and her Jackson classmates who were in the Lakewood High School also as hosts of the Lakewood School District would be the last class of Jackson students to graduate as Lakewood Piners in 1965. Early during our temporary stay as sophomores in Lakewood, the kids from my Jackson group who were sophomores were provided ballots to propose a nickname and a mascot for the newly built Jackson Junior High School. I remember that one of the choices on that list was the J-Hawks. The mascot chosen by the Jackson kids was the Jaguars and so the tradition of cat nick names started (Rosenauer Elementary is the outlier choosing the nicknsame Roadrunners for its alliterative power (I guess).
When our sophomore class of Jackson students (who by the way got along quite well with the Lakewood and Manchester kids) entered the Jackson Junior Senior High School building with the class rank of Juniors in September of 1964, There had already been a group of Jackson freshmen and sophomore students roaming the halls without a senior class. My sister Ivonne being one of them. She was a member of the class of 1967 whom we would graduate before in 1966. As it happens my family the Acevedos represent s the last Jackson class to graduate from Lakewood with Lizzie and the first gropu to leave Lakewood with yours truly, Gus Acevedo. My sister Ivonne represents the first class to enter the Jackson Junior Senior Class as a sophomore and my brother Julio of the class of 1968 which was already a resident of the building prior to the arrival of the mighty Jaguar class as juniors.
It is an honor for me to be able to say that my family has such deep roots in the history of the high school;especially since my name begins with the letter A I turn out to be technically THE FIRST GRADUATE OF THE JACKSON JUNIOR SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL in 1966.
We turned out to be a rather united class. We were more like a family than anything. Many if not most had known each other since the sixth grade. A number of the new Jackson kids came from North Jersey since that was the beginning of the population boom in the town of Jackson due to the various developments like the Brookwoods that had been constructed en masse.
The high school turned out to be the center of the Jackson community where kids and parents would meet at football , baseball, basketball and soccer games. From the start, Jackson athletes started to show athletic promise. I am not embarrassed to say that as a member of Jackson’s first football team we only had won two games before we graduated.
We were a small class of around two hundred, but we did not feel like ours was a small class since after our first year in the building we were already on split sessions due to the rapid growth of the town and school.
Our school band was not big, but already we made enough noise to let other schools know were in their house. Our cheerleaders did not always know which side to cheer for, but they sure were pretty and spirited. One thing was certain, no other rival school had more spirit and sense of self than the Jackson Jaguars of the 1960s. Our first dances were in our cafeteria or “cafetorium”. We decorated the walls and the space became elegant in our eyes. I sure did look good in a white dinner jacket with black pants. The James Bond look was rather popular. We were well aware that we were starting traditions. A group of our “cool” kids a bunch of rather tough guides were the ones who proposed to have a cooking or a chefs class. Our plays were attended by almost every parent possible.
Our teachers, many of whom knew us from the Switlik days already knew our game and con and it took imagination to get around them. One of my favorite memories was the writing classes I took with Mr. Gunning. He was a tallish big boned manly man who made us love poetry and creative writing. One of our class had to meet in a second floor book storage room with Mr. Gunning or Mrs. Adamski .since there was no other space in our one level high school. We felt so Bohemian and 1960s cool.It can be said that our teachers, though young, were top notch. Many of them ended up becoming administrators in the district due to their professionalism and progressive thinking. The board of education members were also like family since for the most part were the parents of classmates we visited.
We had reall affection and respect for the teachers who taught us. My art teacher, Mr. Miller was an artist in real life and knew Andy Warhol personally. Our football coach Mr. Munley and eventually Mr. Amobile were highly respected by their players and by other coaches. Many of our classmates ended up attending major schools and starting businesses. A number headed for Viet Nam to fight a war. I was in German class in Lakewood High School the day President Kennedy was shot and killed. While in Jackson we lived through the nightly news of the civil rights movement. Each girl had a favorite Beatle. Mantle was still playing. Vince Lombardi was still coaching. We debated the possibility of humans ever setting foot on the moon, the morality of the Viet Nam Wa. Boys started letting their hair grow longer. Girls’ skirts started getting shorter and they became more confident and independent. We almost had a smoking lounge approved. Something that did happen for a brief while a few years after we left.
I can say that the one lesson I learned or we learned as the class of 1966 was that we mattered to each other. To this day, we remain very united as a class. We took part in so many firsts. The first yearbook. The first Jaguar Journal. The first Key Club, choir, teams, honor society…on and on. Thanks to the internet and social media, we remain in contact with each other. We praise each other’s successes and mourn each other’s losses. I can truly say that my son Gus a graduate of the class of 2000 and my daughter Kristina of the class of 2001 were also close to their classmates. It is what Jackson High School becomes after a while, an extended family.
My one battle with envy was when I sat in writing class and looked out the window and saw my classmates who took auto shop step out of the building before the last bell rang, Nick, Jim, Paul, Bob and get into the fifty five Chevys and Fords they had soupoed up. Eight cylinders with four speed shifters. They would turn the key and the building rumbled and shook. It was like Cape Canaveral. 10 ,nine, eight….three , two , one…, barroooom out they pealed out leaving jealous kids like me who still didn’t have our driver’s license in the forlorned dust of the angst of our teenage.
The one great honor for me is that I was able to serve as school board member in Jackson for eighteen years (from 1987 to 2004 with a few breaks in between). My goal as a Jaguar/board member was to provide my fellow Jaguars and eventually Lions (and all other district mascots) was to take our school district into the future as prepared as possible to fit in and be welcome in a world of lifelong learners.
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Lost Class Rings
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