Exhibition is part of Monache’s anniversary celebration

Whether you’re a current student, proud alumnus, or just a Porterville history enthusiast, there are plenty of interesting items to see at Monache High School’s 50th Anniversary exhibit at the Porterville Historical Museum, which opened Thursday morning and will run through April 13. 

The large room containing the exhibit has been transformed by MHS students, staff and alumni into a treasure trove of all things blue and gold, including items from the first day of school up through the present day.

“In the past month we’ve been contacting alumni through social media and put this all together. This is the fruit of a labor of love by our 50th Anniversary committee,” said MHS alumni, teacher and 50th Anniversary committee member Emily Drum. 

Earliest memories of the school are represented through original concept drawings of the campus, photographs of the cornerstone laying ceremony, and articles and documents from two scrapbooks compiled by the school’s original secretary over its first four years.

Moving clockwise upon entering the exhibit, visitors are taken on a chronological tour of the school’s history via collages compiled from old yearbooks, trophies, band uniforms, FFA jackets, football jerseys and cheerleading outfits.

Each subsequent display chronicles Monache’s changes through the years. Hairstyles come and go, fashions evolve, even the shade of blue in the school colors transitions from the UCLA-inspired powder blue of early years to the “Columbia Blue” navy hue used today.

Other displays include a “Where Are They Now” section documenting the journeys of several MHS alumni after graduation, a glass case containing all 50 Monoway yearbooks, and memorabilia and a timeline of significant moments in the history of the Monache Marauder Band. 

The exhibit also incorporates the latest in technology. Students from Monache’s Multimedia and Technology (MTA) Pathway prepared a 360-degree virtual tour of the 2018 campus.

“Not everyone can come back and visit campus, but we wanted people who haven’t been there in a while to be able to take a tour because it’s changed so much,” said Drum.

It is a room steeped in decades of Tribe Pride, and for those who have a long-standing attachment to the school, the nostalgic visual display can tug at the heart strings.

“When my dad walked in here when we were putting this together he got a little teary-eyed,” said Drum, gesturing to the first of six glass cases that contain memorabilia and photos from the first years of the school, including a powder blue and white football jersey worn at the school’s first football game.

Drum’s father, David Koontz, was a member of Monache’s first graduating class in 1971, and is a current MHS teacher and softball coach.

Other visitors to the exhibit in its opening hours Thursday morning were equally impressed with the chronological progression of the exhibit.

“It’s interesting how it’s all connected from the very beginning until now,” said MHS Class of 1998 alumnus Keith Trammell, who found his daughter in a more recent Marauder Band photo.

More than 50 alumni contributed items to the exhibit, with one piece making its way back to Porterville from as far away as Long Beach. Drum has persuaded friends to let her borrow pieces for the exhibit, and has kept her eye out for treasures around campus over the last month.

“I call myself ‘sticky fingers.’ Dr. Barba (MHS principal) has given me free rein over campus, so whenever I see something that would look good in the exhibit I just grab it,” said Drum, pointing to a photograph from 1980 that she borrowed from the MHS staff lounge.

Drum readily admits that the exhibit would not be the special retrospective it is without the help of 15 of her current students, who have contributed a large amount of their time and effort over the last month.

“All of these displays were put together by students, and I couldn’t have done it without them. They were so excited to be a part of something bigger, and that’s what they really got to experience through putting these displays together,” said Drum.

But behind all other contributions has been Drum’s drive, tenacity and vision to put together something truly special for Marauders of all eras.

“I want visitors to go down memory lane, and I want them to remember that they are always part of the Marauder legacy, that they’re part of something bigger — if it’s been 20, 30 or even two years,” said Drum. “I’m hoping that’s what this exhibit will do for people.”

The Porterville Historical Museum is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are also seeking donations from MHS alumni to add to their permanent Marauder history exhibit.

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