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Exhibit at San Juan High School showcases 100 years of history

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Legacy Administrative Manager Gayle (Rasmussen) Gaylord, ’64, stands next to San Juan High’s original bell.

By Sara Beth Williams–
San Juan High School, the oldest of two high schools in Citrus Heights, celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2013 with the introduction of a permanent legacy exhibit, which features 100 years of preserved history.

Long before Citrus Heights established its cityhood, what was then San Juan Union High School served as the only high school in the greater Sacramento region, until 1920.

According to a presentation available on the San Juan High School Alumni Association (SJAA) website, the school opened in 1913 on the Fair Oaks Grammar School grounds with an enrollment of 46 students. The high school served Sylvan (which is now Citrus Heights), as well as Fair Oaks and surrounding areas.

Two years later, the campus migrated to a new building on Greenback Lane. Enrollment jumped to 92 students and would continue to increase. In the late 1950s, enrollment would climb to a peak of 1,379 students. In 1916, San Juan High was instrumental in developing one of the first agricultural programs in the state, and later, would implement the first industrial arts club in the state.

Today, almost 110 years later, the San Juan High School Legacy Exhibit, put together by the SJAA, celebrates 100 years of the high school’s history through displays of physical artifacts, photographs, printed media such as articles and yearbooks, and video footage.

The display is located on San Juan High School’s campus and is open to the public. Several shelves and display cases feature past trophies from the school’s athletic programs, outfits from cheerleader and drill teams, uniforms of former students in the cadet corps, memorabilia used in home economics and old cameras used in photography classes from decades long gone.

All of the memorabilia and photographs, along with multiple yearbooks and newsletters from across the decades, were donated by San Juan alumni.

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The legacy exhibit features not only a snapshot of former students’ lives while in high school, but several sections are dedicated to post-high school career successes of alumni. One section features a wall of photos of alumni who went on to become first responders, and another wall displays photos of alumni veterans.

Eltha (Tremp) Hannum, class of ‘49, Jerry Still, class of ‘60 and Louise (Ennenga) Brown, class of ’52, were all instrumental in establishing the legacy display exhibit.

The exhibit also features prominent figures throughout the school’s history, including a memorable bus driver, past principals, and the school’s first photography instructor.

One shelf features the names of Vietnam veterans, inscribed on golden plaques, who were San Juan High alumni. The plaque reads “In memory to those alumni of San Juan high school who have given their lives in service to our country in the Vietnam conflict.”

Legacy Administrative Manager Gayle (Rasmussen) Gaylord, class of ’64, volunteers with the SJAA and recently spent several months cleaning and reorganizing displays. She also schedules visitors and hosts tours.

“The legacy exhibit exists to preserve the history of San Juan from the beginning, and to be able to present it to future generations,” said Gaylord.

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A glass display case has been set aside for any former San Juan High School class who would like to provide memorabilia to share with others during a tour of the exhibit.

Along with preserving history, the alumni association has been an active part of the school’s community and offers various scholarship opportunities to graduating seniors.

The legacy exhibit offers multiple items for sale, during open hours. Funds raised benefit the legacy exhibit and go toward scholarship funds for graduating seniors. Items for sale include San Juan Alumni polo shirts, yearbooks from past decades and “The San Juan Story” DVD. The DVD can also be purchased online at the association’s new legacy gift store.

Gaylord said that the legacy exhibit has new hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. Visitors need to obtain a visitor pass from the San Juan High School office.

Photos of the exhibit can be viewed at the alumni association’s website: sanjuanalumniassociation.org/legacy-exhibit.

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