The Red and Blue

The high school launched a new tradition October 14, 1920, with the publication of its first newspaper, The Red and Blue, with Eustace Cullinan, Jr. ’21, as the first editor. (Cullinan would later serve as a San Francisco Superior Court judge.) In his inaugural editorial, he sounded a refrain familiar to most editors of student publications when he criticized the student body for lack of school spirit: “This year at St. Ignatius there seems to be something lacking, which ought to be present. There is not the old bustling activity that accompanied scholastic activities. In short, the students of St. Ignatius seem to be lapsing gradually into a lithargy [sic]…. We conclude that the cause of the evil must lie with the students. In past years, the very atmosphere of the school was charged with action; a keen, wholesome spirit of interclass rivalry existed, yet, paradoxical as it may seem, the school acted as a harmonious whole; we were all one big family together. We used to hear of ‘Buck’ and ‘Spud’ but now we speak of ‘O’Brien’ and ‘Sullivan.’”

Cullinan went on to note that “there is something besides mere knowledge, which is just as great in its own way, and even more apt to benefit us in later life. It is the forming of acquaintances and friendships which may endure long after the Greek verbs and rules of Geometry have passed from our minds.”

He concluded with the reason for the paper’s existence: “to give our school what other high schools have, namely, a monthly publication which will review the student activities, and which will spread the achievements of St. Ignatius far and wide…. The Seniors have taken the initiative and are sponsoring the paper for the first edition, feeling that it was up to them to start the ball a-rolling. However, we expect this to be a school paper wherein every class will take an active part in its publication. Above all, don’t be deceived by ‘scholastic Bolsheviks,’ who may say this is a ‘fourth year paper.’”

For all this seriousness, the last page of the four-page broadsheet offered these humorous asides:
“Heard in Trig —
“Joe Meaney — This stuff is killing me by inches.
“Ye Teacher — Cheer up Joe, you have a long way to go!”
“Clarence Gilly requests that his many admirers desist from calling him their ‘little lamb’ as it makes him feel so ‘sheepish like.’”
“This one takes the well-known brown derby. A dainty freshman has declined to play football because the ball is made of pigskin.”

In 1920, the same year as The Red and Blue saw its first edition, SI was denied accreditation after a visit by “Dr. Thomas” from the University of California on April 13. According to McGloin, Dr. Thomas found that the “subject matter of the courses offered was not sufficiently broad; second, the teachers, with some exceptions, were not regarded as satisfactory.” The following year, students, teachers and administrators worked to improve the school and received accreditation in 1921.4

The Ignatian & The Heights

The Ignatian continued to publish as a yearbook, though it went through a major redesign. From 1910 through 1924, it published as a small pamphlet with a cardboard cover. In 1925 it published in a more traditional yearbook style with larger pages (10.75 x 7.75 inches) and a hardbound cover. From the first, it raised funds through advertisements from local merchants. It reported on both university and high school events, as the two schools shared the same building until 1927 when the college moved to Campion Hall at the USF site. The 1928Ignatian covered only the college events, leaving the high school students to create their own yearbook, in 1928, which they named The Heights, in anticipation of the school’s move in 1929 to its new, higher location on Stanyan Street.

That first edition included this foreword: “This book purposes to be a record of the school year. A book can be nothing more than a record of the human acts or thoughts, and insomuch as it records them faithfully, therein lies its worth and its reason for being. But a school journal, if it accomplishes this purpose, as we hope this has, is more than a cold, lifeless record. It preserves as in a bright and deathless looking-glass the brightest and happiest years of our lives, — our school days. That is the reason for the existence of the 1928 Heights.”

Edward Sullivan ’28 served as the publication’s first editor, Charles Casassa ’28, later to become a Jesuit and president of Loyola University, was associate sports editor. and H. J. Haley, F. F. Collins and Fr. Harold Ring, SJ, served as moderators.

Music at SI

SI assembled one of its earliest orchestras in 1925 “composed of a small group of willing workers and talented musicians. Many new and difficult pieces were rendered in a manner that showed earnest and hard practice, and the organization merited the highest praise,” despite having to cope with “the lack of several instruments, which were so necessary for a balanced orchestra and for properly rendered selections.” The orchestra performed at assemblies, oratorical contests and debates under the direction of Mr. A. I. Mei, SJ, a member of the college faculty. Later the orchestra performed at First Friday assemblies while a separate student band played at football and basketball games. In 1926 students formed a boys’ choir under the direction of Mr. Paul Descout, SJ, to sing at the many liturgies, and a glee club, which sang at student assemblies.5

The Block Club

The Block Club began in 1925 “to unite all those who have received their awards for athletic prowess into an organization for the furthering of better observance of school spirit and stimulating athletic interest in the school.” Its first officers were Frank Hanlon, Walter Black, Frank Gehres, George Olson and Ulick Kelly; the group consisted of 21 members.

Speech & Debate

SI students took part in a number of oratorical and academic contests that would prepare them for college and for their careers. The big event of the year was the Gold Medal Debate, staged between the Senate (the Senior Debating Society) and the House (the Debating Society of the Junior Class). The victor of this contest received a gold medal, a gift from the Gentlemen’s Sodality of St. Ignatius Church. They also took part in a debate with students from Santa Clara (later to become Bellarmine College Preparatory), and vied for other academic awards including the Washington Essay Contest (with the winner receiving a trophy cup given for the best essay on the life of George Washington), the Freshman Elocution Contest (held at the Knights of Columbus Hall) and the Martin Latin Medal (the prize for the best paper in high school Latin).

Other Activities

Other contests included the Dramatic Arts Contest (an award for the best actor), the Outside Debate Team (which competed with other schools), the Loyalty Cup (given to the class “which has shown the most loyalty to the ideals of the school in student activity during the year”), the Museum Essay Contest (sponsored by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and won by Daniel Kelleher and George Olson in 1926) and the Senior Memorial Cup (an essay contest to commemorate two deceased members of the class). Other clubs included the Sanctuary Society and Sodality and the rally committees. Students also attended several dances, including the Senior Exclusive (“none but the mighty Senior was admitted”), the Block Club Dance, the Junior Prom, and the Senior Dance.

Along with these official activities were a few unofficial ones. The 1930 Heightsnotes that on October 25, 1929, a dozen “rascally” seniors “imbued with an overdose of school spirit … raided Sacred Heart today with a barrage of tomatoes prior to the football game. Unfortunately, their motives were not approved of by the authorities.”