Lowell High Class of 1959
By Kendall Wallace
Lowell—-There is a very special feeling one gets when you have the opportunity to see people you knew 60 years ago as teenagers walking the halls of Lowell High School. Last week nearly 100 classmates from the LHS class of 1959 gathered for a reunion party at Mount Pleasant golf club.
Clearly we all have mirrors and understand the physical changes that come with the aging process but once people began to work the room and chat, none of that made a difference. We all became old friends catching up on each other’s lives. What impressed me the people now in their late 70s remain interested and deeply aware of the need to stay involved and active.
This is a group that loves a party. They have had a number of reunions and a birthday party the year most of us were turning 40. Already they are talking about a birthday party when we reach 80.
This gathering had an historic tinge. I have no doubt this was the only High School gathering for a 60 year reunion of any high school group in the country where a member of the class was the Mayor of the city.
Mayor William Samaras, I guess, is our model on how to “remain active.” He is completing a two year term as Mayor and has been a leading force in guiding the new Lowell High to the construction phase.
Samaras gave his classmates a brief presentation on what the new school will look like. It was pretty impressive.
I love the history of LHS. I think it says a lot about the people of the city of Lowell.
Lowell High was born in controversy. Even before the city was officially incorporated the citizens had to fight powerful forces to gain a high school. At the time the mill owners of Lowell paid for the public schools from grades one through eight. But as the city grew the residents felt it was time to open a high school. The mill owners rejected the idea claiming an eighth grade education was adequate for children of mill workers. The citizens however challenged the decision and took the issue to a town meeting vote where the high school was approved.
History shows the first graduating class had two students who became Governors, one the governor of Massachusetts and one the Governor of New Hampshire. Benjamin Butler became the Governor of Massachusetts and would have been President of the United States if he had accepted Abraham Lincoln’s invitation to be his running mate for his second term.
LHS is also credited with being the first integrated high school and the first co-ed high school in the state.
And of course, just two years ago the city was deeply divided over keeping the high school downtown.
Again the citizens spoke with 61 percent opting for the central location as opposed to a neighborhood site.
Even though many of us from the class of 1959 no longer live in the city, our roots remain deep and we maintain the feisty spirit of Lowellians.