Branciforte Junior High's 50th Birthday

  Home Page | '54 News | 2001/2002 Pix - 1 | 2001/2002 Pix - 2 | 2001/2002 Pix - 3 | 2001/2002 Pix - 4 | 2001 BBQ Pix | B-40's 50th Pix | Back When | Fab Fifties | Grad Night in '54 | SCHS Class of 1953 Reunion | My Favorite Links | The Last Page  

Buzzing with the Bees at B-40 Jr. High

The following article was published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel on Saturday, April 28, 2001.
It can be found at:

by Louisa Dalton, Sentinel correspondent
A group of 65-year-olds greeted each other on the steps of Branciforte Elementary Friday.
They gathered to re-enact a walk they took for the first time 50 years ago when the seventh-, eighth-
and ninth-grade classes moved from Branciforte Grammar School to their new home at Branciforte Junior High.
"I wouldn't miss it for anything. I can't imagine being in Santa Cruz and not coming," said Nancy
(Cummings) Jellison of Santa Cruz.
On an April day in 1951, "B-40" students and teachers carried their books and gym clothes in their arms
as they walked five blocks to their new junior high school.
"Our arms ached by the time we got there," said Jellison, adding that kids didn't have backpacks then.
Friday, about 25 classmates from the 1951 ninth-grade class walked or rode in wheelchairs. They sported
anniversary T-shirts and red, white and blue balloons and were greeted at the junior high by a tunnel of cheering
students, including girls in pink poodle skirts.
In a celebratory ceremony in the school gym, Principal David Bilardello, also a B-40 graduate, honored
alumni and a teacher who came back to walk. Most traveled from Monterey, Livermore or Roseville, but one came
from Springfield, Ore.
State Sen. Bruce McPherson, R-Santa Cruz, presented a plaque, and Bilardello led the alumni and students
in the school fight song.
Bilardello wanted to try to re-enact the walk after he came across a 1951 newspaper article about the school's
opening. He also organized a '50s dance and lunch. In the fall, after the junior high has been remodeled, Bilardello
plans to have a larger reunion to bring back more of the classes.
Branciforte grads are a close community. Most graduated from Santa Cruz High and meet every month
for lunch or dinner.
"You know what's so interesting? These people are all 65 years old. But when they get together, it's like
they are 13 and 14 years old," said Roy Bergazzi, a former homeroom teacher at the elementary school. Bergazzi
later became a principal of the junior high.
Jellison said when she gets together with her former classmates, "I still call them kids."
Ruth Mitchell, a physical education teacher at Branciforte Junior High, and Len Klempnauer, president of the 1954
Santa Cruz High School class, helped spread the word about the walk Friday. Klempnauer maintains a web site
for the class, and said he has 91 members of his class*, 64- and 65-year-olds, connected through e-mail.
*Note: As of Jan. 1, 2004, about 125 members of the SCHS Class of '54 belong to the web site.

The following members of the B-40 Class of 1951 re-enacted the walk they made on an April day 50 years ago from Branciforte Elementary to open then-new Branciforte Junior High: Lani Ansley-Hall, Corinne "Cookie" Barrientos-Ruschin, Bill Bartlett, Emma Burris-Turner, Ada Bushnell-Branstetter, Sherri Cable-Vultaggio, Nancy Cummings-Jellison, Sharon Grever-Petersen, Max Groszmann, Paul Heaney, Daisy Lawrence-Reed, Jim Martin, Nancy McMillan-Geiger, Alberta Miles-Young, Ruth Nielsen-Mitchell, Shirley Nunes-Filice, Steve Rowland, Carole Skinner-Ray, Merryl Skinner-Carolson, Tom Stears, Areka Stevenson-De La Selva, Fred Swallender, Art Weybright.
Sharon (Grever) Petersen of San Jose, Calif.,
Areka (Stevenson) De La Selva of Monterey, Calif.,
and Emma (Burris) Turner of Santa Maria, Calif.

Paul Haney of Lodi, Calif., and
Max Groszmann of Santa Cruz.
Behind Paul is Ruth (Nielsen) Mitchell
of Santa Cruz.
Jim Martin of Oroville, Calif., and
Ruth (Nielsen) Mitchell of Santa Cruz.

Fred Swallender of Roseville, Calif., and
Cookie (Barrientos) Ruschin of San Jose, Calif.
Front: Ada (Bushnell) Branstetter of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Steve Rowland of Sausalito, Calif.
Back: Lani (Ansley) Hall of Santa Cruz
and Bill Bartlett of Los Gatos, Calif.

Shirley (Nunes) Filice of Salinas, Calif., and
Nancy (McMillan) Geiger of Livermore, Calif.
Sherri (Cable) Vultaggio of Citrus Heights, Calif.
Behind her are Dee (Cochrane) Weybright, Class of '56, of Bonny Doon, Calif., and Ada (Bushnell) Branstetter of Santa Rosa, Calif.

Tommy Stears of Valley Village, Calif., and
Areka (Stevenson) De La Selva of Monterey, Calif.

Where It Started

All 23 of the 1951 Branciforte Jr. High grads attending the 2001 birthday gathered on the steps of Branciforte Elementary School for a group shot before re-enacting the walk made 50 years ago to open a new Branciforte Jr. High. The building in this photo served as both an elementary and junior high until 1951, when junior high included three grades -- seventh, eighth and ninth. The ninth grade substituted for a freshman year of high school. Branciforte Jr. High has posted photos of the walk re-enactment on its web site.
Go to: B-40's 50th Birthday

Also Attending the B-40 Bash Was 1951 Teacher Roy Bergazzi, Who Later Became Principal