76-77 1976-1977 The school year of 1976-1977 was a pivotal moment in the history of the Perry Meridian. The senior class of 1976-1977 was the first class to finish four years at Perry (Montgomery Personal Interview). As Perry Meridian High School was growing, the south side of Indianapolis was growing as well. Many theaters, shopping centers, apartment complexes, and housing developments had sprung up after just a few years (Passages IV 17). The school year kicked off with Perry’s second Homecoming on October 14. The theme was “A Falcon’s Night at the Movies.” Before the game, falcons tossed a “Manual Redskin” into a bonfire to signify the future defeat of Manual. As predicted, the Falcon football players defeated the Manual Redskins with a score of 51-7. The Homecoming queen was Lori Wilson (Passages IV 10-13). After football games, Perry students would go out to eat. Pam (Tkatch) Cresine said that a Pizza Hut in Greenwood was popular. She also said that many students went to an under twenty-one disco club called Valentino’s on Friday and Saturday nights (Cresine (Tkatch) Personal Interview). Disco was very popular to dance to in the late seventies. When people danced to disco, they dressed in platform shoes, tight pants, and glittery halter tops (Stewart 83). Shortly after Homecoming, the fall play took place on November sixth and seventh. “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” was performed in Perry’s auditorium. The play included over sixty crew members and actors directed by Ms. Kathy Martin. Thoreau was played by Mark Gunnion (Passages IV 30-31). While the Falcons fall play was ending, James E. Carter’s legacy was only beginning; he had won the presidential elections (Stewart 22). The Falcons took part in the first quadrennial political convention at Perry Meridian, and it was organized by Mr. Jerry Brown. The convention was patterned after authentic rules and involved the election of a Democratic nominee. Students portrayed actual candidates, and they completed much of the convention planning. Jimmy Carter was portrayed by Brian Hewitt, and he captured the final votes. He defeated Jerry Brown, portrayed by Bob Miller, with 180 to 172 votes (Passages IV 68-69). During the first semester, Perry’s athletic teams accomplished a lot. The boys’ tennis team won the Columbus North Invitational with a perfect score of twenty-two. Mark Stillabower, a member of the boys’ cross country team, won the Ben Davis Sectional with a time of 12:09.3 which broke the school record. Stillabower and Bob Richards were the first runners in Perry’s history to participate in the state meet. The Perry cheerleaders did reasonably well with a fifth place in State (Passages IV 102). Perry wasn’t exclusively known for its athletics. In fact, twenty-five twelfth graders had a grade point average of 3.5 or higher after six semesters of high school work. On October 25, 1976, they were rewarded for their efforts with a special ceremony held for the students to receive their academic sweaters (“25 Perry Meridian Srs. Honored with Academic Sweater”1). Throughout the school year, the senior class officers planned many school activities. The class officers included: secretary Andi Coram, vice president Ronnie Stanhouse, and President Kevin Albright. Although the class officers made many important decisions, they couldn’t choose the dress code of the school. Kim (Davis) Wicker said that the dress code was pretty strict during the seventies. No one could wear shorts, flip-flops, frayed jeans, or sweatpants. Dresses were allowed, but only if they were worn with panty hose. Kim said that many girls cut their hair like Dorothy Hamil, an Olympic skater (Wicker (Davis) Personal Interview). After the first semester was finished, many students were glad to have the winter break off school, but they were unaware of how brutal the winter would turn out to be. Two weeks after the 1976 winter break, Perry Township Schools closed their doors for ten days due to extreme cold and layers of snow and ice. A common, but dangerous activity of students was “modocking”, which was hanging on the back bumper of a car and skating on one’s feet (Passages IV 21). Although the students were enjoying their time off, the Administration was contemplating making the students make up the missed days. However, due to the energy crisis and gas shortage, schools in Indiana were trying to conserve energy by shortening the school days; therefore, they dropped the proposal and gave the students the days off anyway (“Gas Shortage Affects Schools” 1). After the ice storm, winter began to end, as did the winter sports season. Many of the 1976-1977 winter athletic teams had tremendous seasons. The men’s swim team placed second in the sectional competition with Jim Barber ‘77 breaking two records in the 200 and 500-yard freestyles. John Yeager ’77 and Tom Anthony ’77 broke records in the 100-yard backstroke and diving, respectively (Passages IV 110). The Falcon wrestlers also captured their first Sectional Crown, beating Ben Davis by a half point and Southport by one point. Greg Dooley ’78 became a state finalist. Also, this was the first year the wrestling team had the support of the Mat Maids. The men’s gymnastics team had a successful season as well. The Falcon gymnasts went to the County competition undefeated and placed an impressive second in the state competition (Passages IV 113). Though these teams had successful seasons, PM students were really talking about the 1976-1977 men’s basketball team. The team made it to the finals in the County Tournament but was defeated by Lawrence Central at the buzzer, 49-47. However, Ken Montgomery ‘77 broke the Marion County record with forty points in one game (Passages IV 114). The team still made its way to the Indiana high school basketball sectional with varsity coach, David Bertram (“We’re Ready Now” 1-3). The team was ready and roaring for the competition. PM made it to the semi-finals of the sectional by defeating Manual 80-69 with three unanswered baskets in the first sixty seconds of the second half. Although the team was unable to advance to the state finals, they were able to finish the season with remarkable success (“Falcons Fly High” 7). Another event that took place at winter’s end was the annual PMHS musical. The 1976-1977 musical was The King and I. The show was an unusual first for Perry because all of the lead roles were double cast. Both Thursday and Saturday’s performances had different lead roles to accommodate all the talented performers who auditioned that year. But, because of the larger cast, more rehearsals were required (“Split Cast, Double Talent” 2). Rebecca (Rodman) Vernon ’77 was a part of the musical her senior year. She spoke of how the musicals and their directors, Anne Sanders and Guy Rumsey, changed her life by helping her pursue a career in music. She was a professional singer for twelve years, and she now teaches elementary music (Vernon Personal Interview). Later that spring, another major event happened at PMHS. PM’s first Mock Congress, then called Mock Legislature, was held on April 30, 1977. Mr. Jerry Brown came up with the idea from a program at Columbus East High School. Jeff St. Claire ’77 was Speaker of the House, and Chip Wilson ’77 was President. Unlike today, sophomores and freshmen could participate in Mock Legislature, and it was optional, not required (“Carter’s Administration Visits Perry Meridian” 1). There was an optional event that almost every PMHS student chose to attend. That event was Prom. The 1978 Junior-Senior Prom theme was “Colour My World” named after Chicago’s famous love song. The foyer was decorated with rainbows, soft lights, and bright colors everywhere. Prom King Ed Scott ’77 and Queen Terri Schroom ’77 enjoyed the festivities as the attendees danced the night away (Passages V 13). Near the end of the year, Christy Hueser ’77 was awarded the Something Extra Award for her dedication and service to Perry Meridian High School (Something Extra Award Plaque). The final day at Perry for seniors to remember was just around the corner from prom. Commencement was approaching quickly as seniors awaited the day they could walk across the stage. The 1978 Commencement was a special one because it was the first class of PMHS graduates who attended Perry their freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior years. President Kevin Albright ’77 and Valedictorian Joan Sachs ‘77 led the 523 graduating seniors. Over 6,000 attendees watch as the Class of 1977 left the Falcon nest (Passages V 14-15).