Alumni Reflect on Rocket Traditions

Myah Chaco, Staff

Homecoming is all about tradition as alumni return to revisit their high school days. John Marshall has changed in some big ways and stayed the same in others. Three JM teachers, Mrs. Pittenger, Mrs. Ollenburg, and Ms. Cassman, who have returned as teachers, shared some memories about their high school experience. 

One important tradition is Christmas Anonymous, now known as Jm Gives. Ms. Christian Cassman, a 2011 alumnus noted, “Two very popular fundraisers that my class started were sleigh rides and Howlers. Students could sign up to have us pull them to class on a sled. Also, Harry Potter was huge at the time, so my friends came up with the idea to sell Howlers as a fundraiser and bought a megaphone. We would interrupt people’s classes with messages on the megaphone from other students and staff. Teachers used these a lot for giving students reminders about missing assignments, attendance, and more.” These traditions have continued over the years, and even more have been added. Currently, some favorite JM Gives fundraisers include saran wrap and Paranoia. Both have been around for years. Newer traditions involve tons of oreo balls, Rent an Actor, and Slices for Soldiers. 

What’s more traditional than Homecoming? 1981 grads, Anne Pittenger and Linda Ollenburg, shared what Homecoming was like for them. According to Pittenger, who was a cheerleader and a Homecoming candidate, Friday of Homecoming, the Cheerleaders, Rockettes, and various groups used to meet at JM at 3:00 am. Then they would divide up the senior football names, and toilet paper their front yards. They would leave a big football cut-out with their number in the middle of their front doors. Then they would head over to Coach Drews’, house where he would give them quotes from Winston Churchill in his bathrobe. Pittenger recalled, “Coach Drews would get us all fired up with quotes, stories, and cheers.” Now, for Homecoming we have our pep rally, coronation, parade, dress-up days, and the dreaded lunch karaoke. It’s a pity that students are not allowed to do the toilet paper anymore. 

While some of the old traditions have been lost, Pittenger goes on to say, “We have more diversity in our school than we did 20 years ago. “We are so different, yet still a family. We recognize each other’s uniqueness and support it. It really wasn’t that way back then.” 

But the most impressive traditional that has stayed the same, is how strong our school pride and spirit are. “I think JM school spirit has remained the same.  Rocket Pride was as important then as it is now.” said Mrs. Ollenburg. Our cheering, shouting, and support of each other has always been strong. This is definitely something to be proud of.

John Marshall has changed in many ways, some might be good, some might be bad. But overall, John Marshall has grown in diversity and support of each other, the most important traditions of all.