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January 23
1882 - Author Helen Hunt Jackson arrives at Rancho Camulos; inspiration for "Ramona" novel [story]
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| Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017
Carrie Love photographs members of the Class of 1977 for the memory book. Photos by Michele E. Buttelman.

Members of Hart High’s Class of 1977 gathered Saturday evening at the Embassy Suites in Valencia to celebrate their 40th high school reunion.

Nearly 130 students of the 640-member class attended from as far away as Florida, North Carolina and locations across the United States.

Guests lined up to get professional portraits taken at the event, which featured a buffet dinner, a DJ and a memory-filled slide show.

David Leathers, now living in the Pacific Northwest and a member of the reunion committee, said the 640-member class was the largest in Hart’s history at the time. Hart High School opened in 1945.

“There were only three grades attending Hart in 1977 – sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Leathers said. “Freshmen did not attend Hart High until the year after we graduated.”

Leathers said the Class of 1977 was a “close-knit and spirited group.”

“I remember that the band, drill team and flag team went to Hawaii one summer and won their competitions,” he said.

Left: Dave Leathers, student. Right: Bob Babko, teacher.

Among his favorite teachers were Bob Babko, the choir director, and Larry Thornton, the band teacher.

“I was a drum major in high school,” Leathers said.

In 1977, a postage stamp cost 13 cents, a loaf of bread was 32 cents and milk was $1.44 a gallon.

Gas sold for 65 cents per gallon, and the average price of a car was $4,317. The average income was $10,360, and the average home cost $58,473.

Scott Brown, now of Saugus, has attended every reunion of the Class of 1977 – the 10th, 20th, 30th, 35th and 40th.

The Hart High School Class of 1977 Reunion Committee: Matthew Woods, Cindy Gordon, Elisa Abernathy Ptachick, Cynthia Kloth Knotts, David Leathers and Susan Calderon Armour.

“I enjoy seeing everyone at these reunions,” he said. “I remember how much smaller Santa Clarita was. The town has grown so much since we graduated.”

Cynthia Kloth Knotts said the Class of 1977 was unique.

“This class is made up of a bunch of spectacular individuals,” she said. “We share in each other’s triumphs and sorrows and are all glad to see another day.”

Event DJ Alan Reno of Santa Clarita said he created a playlist for the event that featured music from the 1970s. Neil Diamond, the Steve Miller Band, the Eagles and a host of memorable tunes such as Rupert Holmes and “Escape” (The Pina Colada Song) and Michael Martin Murphey’s “Wildfire” played softly in the banquet room.

“I notice that at many of these reunions, many people don’t want to dance. People want to talk and get reacquainted,” Reno said. “I try to keep the music at a level where people can talk.”

Major news stories from 1977 included: The first “Star Wars” movie opens in cinemas; the first Apple II computers go on sale; the TV miniseries “Roots” is aired; first commercial flight of the Concord; Elvis Presley dies at age 42; first space shuttle test flight; the World Trade Center is completed; the Alaskan oil pipeline is completed; and the New York City blackout lasts for 25 hours.

Guests get their portraits taken for the memory book.

Class member Jerry Danielsen, a composer, musician, producer and poet who lives in Canyon Country, said he remembers 1977 as a culturally significant year.

Danielsen said he remains friends with a group of people he first met at Hart.

“We were musicians and poets, artsy people,” he said. “At Hart, there was a place called the teepee, but we called it the pyramid, and at lunchtime we would meet there with our guitars and we’d play songs and write music and hang out. That group of people I’ve never lost touch with.”

Among his favorite teachers was Mr. Dickinson, who taught a Shakespeare class.

“We were the largest class to graduate from Hart. They held our graduation at College of the Canyons,” he said.

A teacher he befriended after high school, Richard Weekly, taught creative communications.

“We started a poetry magazine together and a publishing company,” said Danielsen.

“I liked him as a teacher, but after high school we became close friends.”

Danielsen he enjoys the reunions because “we’ve all gotten older and we now have all blended. It didn’t matter if you were a cheerleader or whatever. It is so different from high school, which is such an awkward time when you’re trying to find out who you are.”

Elisa Abernathy Ptachick, chair of the reunion committee and a resident of Minnesota and Florida, gets emotional when she thinks of the good friends she made in high school.

Kelly Montana, now of Scottsdale, Ariz., checks out the gift baskets

“We had an amazing class. So many of us are still very close,” she said. “Typically, we have the largest reunions of the classes before us and after us. When we were young, five of us were best friends, and we are still best friends.

Class member Kelly Montana said her favorite memory of Hart High was sports.

“I loved the sports. We had a lot of support,” she said.

Montana was the quarterback of the school’s girls flag football team.

“We played one game a year, and it was with Canyon High,” she said. “I was the quarterback and we won. So, it was bragging rights.”

Montana started at Hart High after missing her 8th grade school year.

“I still can’t do Roman numerals, and I don’t know anything about mythology,” Montana quipped.

Her grandfather was Agua Dulce’s own Montie Montana, a famous rodeo rider, trick roper, actor, stuntman and cowboy who rode each year in the Tournament of Roses Parade until his death in in 1998. He appeared in the parade 60 times, waving to the crowd from his silver saddle.

Kelly Montana said that as a child, she traveled “a lot” with her family, and it caused her to miss a great deal of school.

Math teacher Don Lund

“We traveled a lot and performed a lot, so I got behind in school,” she said.

She said her favorite teacher was Don Lund (math).

“He was very influential in my life. When I first started at Hart, I hadn’t been in school for a while, and he helped me get the confidence to think that maybe I could do well,” she said.

Montana now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., and has her own company as a golf and fitness instructor.

“I came to the reunion because I enjoy the people,” she said. “We are the same age, the same generation, and we share a lot of the same memories. There are a lot of interesting stories after 40 years.”

Matthew Woods, a reunion committee member who lives in Temecula, played water polo in high school. He said he enjoys the high school reunions as a chance to reconnect with people from his youth.

“I remember how well everyone got along in high school. Most of us who attend these reunions weren’t necessarily that connected in high school,” he said. “We have such a good time at these reunions. Life is so much different now. The world is so much different. But what I remember is everyone hanging out in the quad and getting along.”


Guests check in for the 40th reunion of the Hart High Class of 1977.


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