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Remembering the 1960s

In the words of writer and philosopher George Santayana, “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” It is important to study past events – both the good and the bad -  and try to glean important lessons from both.

This year marks a historical landmark for St. Michael’s School as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our founding. It is an occasion for us to look back to the decade of the 1960s and recall this time that was an upheaval in virtually every part of American culture. From a religious perspective, we remember that the church, in an attempt to improve some of its teachings and practices, and to better connect with people, convened the Second Vatican Council under the leadership of Pope John XXIII in 1962; it concluded under Pope Paul VI in 1965. Every aspect of the church was examined, including reform of the liturgy, which saw Mass now celebrated in the language of the people rather than the traditional Latin, and the altar turned to face the people. As in all things, there was and continues to be both high levels of support as well as resistance.

The Civil Rights Movement was a significant social campaign during this decade, seeking to abolish racial segregation and discrimination. We recall the March on Washington in 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed the crowd with his “I Have a Dream” speech. The decade was volatile, with marches, riots, and assassinations. While many significant accomplishments emerged (e.g., the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act), racial tensions continued and still exist in some places in the U.S. today. We cannot look back on the ‘60s without remembering the Vietnam War, in which the United States allied with the government of South Vietnam. Nearly 60,000 U.S. service members died or went missing, and because of the unpopularity of this conflict, members of the military were not heralded upon their return home.

In 1968, Apollo 7 became the first manned space flight, and in 1969, Neil Armstrong took the first steps onto the moon’s surface. In 1969, we also remember the iconic music festival: Woodstock. The concert-goers embraced a lifestyle of Peace, Love, and Freedom. Clothing styles included peace signs, frayed tie-dye shirts, puffed sleeves, and medallion necklaces. Also, on the music scene, the ‘60s saw the rise of Elvis Presley, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and Frankie Valle. Popular movies were Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus, The Birds, and The Sound of Music. Some TV shows that launched during this decade were Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, and Gilligan’s Island.


Next week, we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, a time when we reflect on the impact that Catholic education has had on our nation. St. Michael’s School has been a pillar in the Poway and surrounding communities for 60 years, and our graduates have gone on to be successful leaders in every field, including law, medicine, education, health care, the arts, athletics, politics, and the religious life. Our students will learn a bit about the culture and highlights of the decade in which their school was founded, but more importantly they will learn that they are part of a strong heritage rooted in Faith, Knowledge, and Character. We count on them to carry these values forward and make good choices, not only for themselves, but for others, because future generations will one day look back on this decade to learn from our successes and mistakes.

In Mission,


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