Three generations, three milestones: Hvezdas graduate 50 years ago, 25 years ago and this SundayLeah Hvezda of Alexandria will graduate from Jefferson High School this Sunday, June 13. Twenty-five years ago, on May 31, 1985, her mother, Deb Hvezda, graduated from Jefferson High School. And 50 years ago, on June 2, 1960, Leah’s grandfather, Reed Hvezda, graduated from the same school.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Leah Hvezda of Alexandria will graduate from Jefferson High School this Sunday, June 13.
Twenty-five years ago, on May 31, 1985, her mother, Deb Hvezda, graduated from Jefferson High School.
And 50 years ago, on June 2, 1960, Leah’s grandfather, Reed Hvezda, graduated from the same school. In fact, he was in the second graduating class to come out of Jefferson.
All three Hvezdas were born and raised in Alexandria. And although they all graduated from the same school – 25 years apart from each other – that’s where the similarities end. All three had vastly different high school experiences.
Yes, they all were taught the same basics – math, English, science and social studies – but again, that’s where the similarities end.
Reed attended school from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. – a seven and a half-hour day. Although Deb also ended her day at 3:30 p.m., she started later than her father-in-law, at about 8:30 a.m. – a seven-hour day.
And for Leah, she starts and ends the earliest – from 7:45 a.m. to 2:25 p.m. – a total of six hours and forty minutes – almost an hour less than her grandfather.
When Reed was in school, foreign language classes weren’t offered, while Deb had at least one foreign language class. For Leah, there are three options – French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
Obviously, computer classes weren’t offered for Reed,
“I’d never heard of a computer back in my day,” he said.
Deb said computer classes were just beginning to be offered when she was in high school, but they were not mandatory. Today, computers are an essential part of Leah’s school day. Technology in general plays a major role in Leah’s learning.
She explained a time when the computers were not working at the school and she said everyone was “freaking out.”
Leah added that it wasn’t just hard on the students; teachers were having a hard time as well because so many depend on technology. They rely on e-mails to communicate with one another.
In one of her classes, the students ended up doing a service-learning project because they couldn’t use the computers.
“So I guess they [computers] play a pretty big part,” Leah said.
Reed, who grew up on a farm with his parents and eight siblings, would have to milk cows before going to school in the morning, oftentimes bringing the fresh milk to school with him each day as part of his lunch.
He lived about 10 miles from school and rode the bus each morning and afternoon. In those days, he said, students didn’t drive to school because most of them didn’t have their own cars.
There weren’t many elective courses for students – the boys often took ag class, shop or FFA, which at that time stood for Future Farmers of America. The girls, noted Reed, took home economics.
“I’d never heard of a boy taking home-ec and I’d never heard of a girl in FFA or ag class,” said Reed.
When it came to lunch, Reed said it was “pretty much meat and potatoes.”
“I’d never heard of this pizza stuff,” he exclaimed.
Deb, on the other hand, said students had two “lunch lines” to choose from – the regular line or the salad bar line. In addition, pizza was brought in once a week.
Leah not only has the regular line to choose from, but she can choose something from the soup and salad bar line, the a la carte line or she can opt for pizza every day.
And if that isn’t enough choices, Leah said she also has the option of leaving school grounds and going somewhere else to eat, like a fast food restaurant.
Sports were a part of all three Hvezdas’ school experience. However, Reed recalled that sports were mainly for boys and included basketball, football and baseball. The only hockey was played outside in the winter and was not a school sport, he said.
In Deb’s day, she played a lot of sports. She remembers three coaches in particular – Claire Morrison, who Reed remembered as well; Roger Johnson, who is retiring from District 206 this year; and Mike Donahue, who still coaches today.
In addition to sports, Deb participated in phy ed classes, which were a requirement when she was in high school. Unlike today for her daughter – Leah can choose from several different physical education classes as electives, not mandatory classes.
“Students have more freedom today,” Deb said, apologizing to her daughter who disagreed. “But you do. There are more choices; more opportunities.”
And Deb wasn’t just referring to her daughter’s high school education.
After high school, Deb said women either went to a vocational school to be a teacher or a nurse or they went to beauty school.
“It was a simpler time,” she remembered. “Students now have more and more opportunities.”
Reed didn’t attend college, but Deb did. She went to beauty school at what was then known as Willmar Vocational School.
The Hvezdas found one similarity among themselves, although it wasn’t school related. They all had phones, but not all the same – both Reed and Deb had what was known as party lines, whereas Leah has her own cell phone that she can pretty much use anywhere at anytime.
Even in Canada.
Leah will be attending the Vancouver Film School in Canada for make-up design for film and television.