Downey Alumni and Their Downey High

Natalie Corona, Writer

Downey High was established in 1901—121 years ago! Throughout these passing years, Downey High has accumulated a rich history as it advanced. The school we are familiar with today is not parallel to the one that many Downey Alumni teachers experienced when they were our age. Believe it or not, Downey High School has changed tremendously since the 1990s. 

 

Mr. Morales is a business and computer teacher in R building. He has been working at our school for 24 years now but when it comes to being on campus, those years are a little longer. Morales graduated from Downey High in 1992. He considered his high school years as fun and heavily dominated by basketball, with Coach Shelton training him. Morales recalls how smaller the campus was during his years as a student; a school that consisted of only R, S, and J buildings. Because of the size, Morales felt that students were more social compared to the present since everyone mostly knew each other. In light of Downey vs Warren rivalry week, Morales also felt it was more intense back then. While presently, our rivalry between Warren may be considered pure banter, back in the 90s, it was a true detest.

 

“It was different back then,” Morales stated. “We did not like Warren; it was real hatred. Now it just doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a rivalry.”

 

Two years later, in 1994, it was Mrs. Loyarte’s turn to graduate. Loyarte has been working in the district for 25 years, starting her career off as a middle school teacher and eventually, as a counselor. Loyarte taught ELD and combined studies for six years at Sussman, counseled there for a year, then Griffiths, and now here, at Downey High School. Loyarte considered herself a very academic-oriented student. She was enrolled in all honor classes, was a part of the student council for one year, and did cheer until junior year. When reflecting upon her high school years, Loyarte believes the only biggest difference is the population size. Similarly to Morales, Loyarte also has the same belief that everyone knows each other a bit more because of the lesser student population. Another distinction between Loyarte’s Downey High and ours is the informal dances that the school used to hold in the gym—something Loyarte misses greatly. Students sported their class t-shirts (airbrushed of course), took a class picture, and danced. Another memorable event for Loyarte was Downey vs Warren week and Loyarte is content to still see the fiery spirit in today’s students.

 

“It’s nostalgic to see the old stuff because it’s what I was used to,” Loyarte said. “[Back then] it was just slower-paced and… a smaller sense of community.”

 

Dance teacher Mrs. Patterson graduated from Downey High in 1997 with high honors and has been working at our school for twenty years. Patterson started as a PE Teacher, an instructor for the dance team, and taught ROP after school. Throughout her teaching career, she slowly began teaching fewer PE classes and more dance until it became its own pathway. Back in her years as a high school student, dance classes weren’t a thing. At the time, they had a cheer program that contained classic cheer and song: a varsity-level sport of dance. Cheerleaders only did the stunting and the song dancers were the ones with the poms; they only performed on the fields and never competed. In her freshman and junior year, Patterson first participated in volleyball and then transitioned to being a song dancer in her junior and senior year—an activity Patterson absolutely adored. Besides being in sports, Patterson was also a part of the yearbook committee for three years, becoming editor her senior year, and took dance classes outside of school while maintaining a part-time job. Patterson tried to go to all the activities the school planned and mentioned that homecoming and graduation night used to be in the gym. Their parents would transform their gym to a certain theme and for Patterson’s senior year, it was Mardi Gras. Parents teamed up to lower all the ceilings and built rooms—casino, dance, and movie room—and behind the gym, they stationed food areas and slides. The layout of the school was different, too, with all buildings being single story for them. R and S were being renovated when Patterson was going to school and she didn’t have classes there until her senior year. Patterson holds the Viking Pride dear to her heart and wants her children to experience the more small school atmosphere provided to her with its inclusivity to all.

 

“The Viking pride is something that is so unreal that has lasted and lived on for every generation,” Patterson stated. “There is just this genuine love and respect and care for each other and not a lot of campuses do that… Everyone is just out and about and learning about diversity and learning about each other and that was still something we did when I was on campus, too.”

 

Change is unavoidable and as things continuously advance, schools will, too. Despite the small dissimilarities in high school experience and environment, it is evident that one thing will always remain the same within all Downey students: strong Viking pride.