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Changing Times: A Century and a Half of Lowell High School

Changing Times

The people and events that shaped Lowell High School over the years reflected the broader forces impacting our city and our country. Rosters of graduates mark the changing times and commemorate the shifting demographics of a city that have made it a gateway for new immigrant groups.  One hundred and fifty years of yearbooks, newspaper clippings, and student memorabilia reflect ever evolving social norms and youthful aspirations.

"...'68 was probably the last year when the rules were extremely strict ... it was almost as if the roof came off the following year. " 

Kathy Kelley, '68

     Major regional, national, and world events have a great impact on students' opinions, values, and activities.  Lowell High students respond to wars, national depressions, and downturns in the city's fortunes in ways that are in keeping with the perspective of youth.  Young people are typically critical of what they consider their parents' and grandparents' mistakes and shortcomings.  They often seem to waiver between an optimistic vision of improving their world and the pessimism that comes from feeling they are powerless to make their own decisions.  Feelings of alienation or helplessness were especially evident in student writings of the post Vietnam War era.  During the same time period, however, students united to march on City Hall in defense of a faculty member.

     Since its opening, Lowell High has provided a setting for interactions between young men and women from all neighborhoods and all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.  Its history has not always been peaceful.  Lowell High has gone through periods of ethnic strain and tension, particularly at times of economic stress or dramatic demographic change.  The same successes and failures experienced by the Lowell community are felt on a smaller scale at the high school.

     While this experience can be troubling at times, students come away with the skills to relate to a multi-ethnic society.  The net result has been a community that, more often than not, has achieved a cohesion and a collective spirit.  This bonding has made Lowell successful while many of its urban counterparts are experiencing difficulty.

     Despite changing times and physical settings, one thing has remained constant at Lowell High - youth, with its hopes and fears, vitality and aspirations, and, above all, vision.

"...the students tell me in 1990, that they still eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - the only difference is the price. " 

Rita Crowley, '31