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Wiregrass Ranch High students explore the turbulent 1960s

The campus of Wiregrass Ranch High took on a retro feel last week as students donned headbands and tie-dye clothes, hippie skirts and Afro wigs for a schoolwide examination of the turbulent 1960s.

The '60s Expo, sponsored by the school's Arts and Communications in Education learning academy, featured a variety of themed activities — from mock antiwar protests to folk sing-alongs and an Andy Warhol/Peter Max-inspired art exhibit. The event was a culmination of cross-curriculum activities in recent months that had been planned since the beginning of the school year, said math teacher Christy Rankin, one of 25 faculty members to coordinate the event.

"The day couldn't be better," said Rankin, her head adorned with a ring of silk flowers as she looked skyward. "The kids are having so much fun."

It was a collaborative effort that offered students a chance to shine in the spotlight, or perhaps garner a little extra credit.

Folk singers Shannon Siggelko, 18, and Ricardo Hernandez, 18, nabbed a shaded spot, and strummed their guitars while harmonizing on tunes by the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin.

"We mix in a few modern songs, too," said Shannon, vice president of the school's guitar club. "You know, to keep people interested."

Advance Placement History students, including a bullhorn-toting Stephanie Klesius, 15, marched throughout the outdoor courtyard leading chants to "say NO to the draft!" and "stop oppression!"

Meanwhile, Nathan Boom, 15, played a disc jockey, spinning some of his dad's precious old vinyl by the light of a red lava lamp while the old television show Get Smart played in a darkened classroom lounge cordoned off with hanging tie-dyed sheets.

"The music is great — something my parents passed on to me," Nathan said, noting that he leans toward the heavy metal variety along with some of his dad's old favorites. "I think this is a good way to bring the passion and creativity of the '60s to the current time."

That was the case for young thespians such as Lauren Perez, 17; Chris Baker, 16; and Teagan Alexander, 16, who sang unabashedly about the "Age of Aquarius" and performed songs from Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar.

"It's the last day before spring break and we're running around singing old hippie songs," said Lauren. "What could be better than that?"

Music played a big part, but there were also some nods to the advances in fields of science and industry.

Science students created an exhibit featuring space travel, complete with a scale model of Apollo 11. Other exhibits included a nod to the Nobel Prize winners who deciphered the genetic code and another to the many products that were spawned during the decade of new convenience — Sprite (1961), Fizzies (1962), SpaghettiOs (1965) and Tang (1965).

Students also had a chance to tie-dye their own T-shirts or have their pictures taken against a Woodstock-themed backdrop. And in a very modern twist, those snapshots were immediately downloaded to a computer, then downloaded from there onto the students' flash drives.

In the old days, those prints might be of the instant, Polaroid sort, said photography student, Hannah Bales, 18. "We don't do Polaroids. But we have some cool editing software so we can make them look that way."

Wiregrass Ranch High students explore the turbulent 1960s 04/06/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 6, 2010 4:37pm]
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