Changing the scene by connecting with the past

Friday night football and basketball games, big pep rallies and spirit assemblies haven’t changed much in 50 years. But pretty much everything else has.

Conversations with three Lincoln alumni from different decades give an idea of how great that evolution has been. Laurie Bloch, class of ‘61, Harry Semler, class of ‘83, and Kate Sacamano, class of ‘90, talked to The Cardinal Times about the changes. It’s clear today’s Lincoln student has access to many more opportunities on and off campus.

Laurie Munro Bloch has lived in Portland her entire life in the Sylvan neighborhood. Bloch, 72, still stays in touch with many of her friends from high school. One of her favorite high school memories was being part of the rally squad and going to big football games and after school dances, called sock-hops in her day. Despite being on a team, she considered herself an independent when it came to her social life. When she saw a big group of people, she would walk in the opposite direction and try to talk with another person walking alone.

“I never wanted to be identified with a group. My mind wanted to go my way,” she says.

One life-changing experiences came as a freshman. She met with her counselor to talk about college. Her counselor asked where she wanted to go to college and Bloch said, “I’d like to go to Stanford.”. The counselor replied, “Oh, don’t bother to apply, you don’t have a prayer of getting in.”

Bloch swallowed and remembers thinking “You don’t know the inside of me.” The counselor’s comments motivated her to prove her wrong and get into Stanford. Four years later, Bloch was on her way to Palo Alto, graduating in 1965.

Another memorable event involved was the Rose Festival Court. Then, every senior girl had to try out, which meant talking about what being on the Rose Court meant to you. When it was Bloch’s turn, she completely froze and blurted out some random words. The committee did not invite her back. Bloch, like every other girl, hoped to be on the court, but was relieved the whole ordeal was over.

She is, she says, forever a Cardinal.

For Harry Semler, high school centered around sports and social events, from basketball and football games to always laughing with friends.

“The sports weren’t just about the sports,” says Semler.

He will never forget his senior yearbook photo. Somehow, he missed picture day. When his dad found out that his son would not have a picture in his senior yearbook, he was furious. So he bought an ad in the yearbook and submitted a picture of him and Harry.

Harry says eating lunch out in the 1980s offered few options besides McDonald’s. Most students chose the cafeteria. He is jealous that today’s Lincoln students can go off-campus for lunch to Hot Lips Pizza, Kinara Thai and Laughing Planet.

‘Con Team’ and the IB program were as popular 25 years ago as they are today, says Kate (Meyer) Sacamano. But a difference then: now our football team is good. Apparently in 1990 they were terrible.

Sacamano had a different experience than most Lincoln students because she was only at LHS for her junior and senior years. She transferred after two years from much-smaller Central Catholic. Lincoln was much more to handle than Central.

“At Lincoln there was more freedom and the students were more mature. It was fun to be a part of an urban community,” Kate says. She was involved in Model United Nations as well as participating in many clubs and activities. All in all, Kate loved Lincoln, and claims that it “prepared her extremely well for college because of the amazing teachers and faculty.”

Each of these Lincoln alums had different experiences in high school. But today’s students can learn a lot from their inspired advice to  take advantage of what Lincoln has to offer.

Bloch: “Be aware of what gets you excited, happy and interested. Be aware of what makes your heart beat. Follow those instincts and they will lead you where you need to be.”

Kate Sacamano: “Get involved with as many things as you can. Dream big on where you want to go to school.”

Semler: “School is just school. You’ll find your strength. It’s not about the grades.”