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Midvale Journal

First student body officers set traditions, remembered fun during Hillcrest High’s first year

Dec 01, 2023 12:14PM ● By Julie Slama

Hillcrest High’s first student body officers president Hal Hale, historian Paula Larson Thomas and vice president Mick Dowd gathered together at their 60th reunion. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

“I don’t feel the same as when I was at Hillcrest 60 years ago; I feel smarter.”

That comment and others were made as the first class of about 240 Hillcrest High graduates gathered for its 60th class reunion. Most of the students came from Jordan High after the new Midvale high school had been built and now were gathering in the new high school building. 

They recounted who was the class troublemaker, about how hiding under desks in an emergency wouldn’t really protect them and that they didn’t really have much homework.

“All we did was laugh our senior year,” alumnus Alan Ferguson said.

Amongst the last alumni to leave the reunion were three of the four first student body officers for the school: student body president Hal Hale, vice president Mick Dowd, and historian Paula Larson Thomas. SBO secretary Judy Thurber Fairbourne was a beloved local elementary schoolteacher before she died.

They’d meet during a class period as well as lunch to plan student activities, Thomas said.

Dowd remembers it a little differently.

“We drove to Salt Lake to skip school because we’d decide things in 10 minutes and then, there was nothing to do and we had three hours to kill,” he recalled. “Once, we made a wrong turn and our vice principal of school was right in front of us at a crosswalk. We sat in the car, frozen. He didn’t realize it was us or if he did, he never said anything.”

Another time, Dowd and Thomas were asked to talk about the new school and all of Hillcrest’s activities on the radio.

“Since we were always telling stories and we never shut up, the administration wanted us to talk,” he said. 

During segments of the radio program, they were cued to speak.

“We didn’t prepare because we always were talking and knew what was happening. First break and we talked about what the dance club was doing and the football game that was coming up. Then, we looked at each other and wondered, what else was happening? We realized that there are four of these breaks and we had to talk. We looked at each other and we were blank,” Dowd said.

Their responsibilities as student leaders included writing a school constitution.

“We largely adapted what other schools had in their constitutions,” Hale said.

They also asked students to vote on the school colors green and white as well as on the school mascot. 

“We had to vote on the mascot and the first vote was for the Rebels. Jordan School District wouldn’t allow that because it referenced the South so we had to have another vote,” Hale said. “We ended up with a bunch of other names that had the H alliteration. We had the Hillbillies and some others. Huskies was the best one, so it had to be that.”

“We had an actual husky dog,” Thomas said about the classmate’s pet that would attend football games.

Dowd volunteered his older sister, Donna Dowd Mickelsen, to write the lyrics and the choir teacher, Leo Dean, created the music for the “Hillcrest High School Song.” Thomas scrapbooked many of the year’s activities. 

At a girl ask boy dance, Fairbourne and Thomas asked Hale and Dowd, respectively.

“We had a great time going to the dance together as student government leaders. All we did was laugh,” Dowd said.

“We were such close friends,” Thomas said.

Hale remembered that his friends always supported him and the basketball team.

“We were pretty good,” he said. “We ended up losing to Bountiful that year at state by one point, so we won all the rest of our games in the consolation bracket. Jordan, who we split from, ended up playing Bountiful. It would have been amazing to have played Jordan in the championship because those guys were all teammates of mine from our other high school years.”

Splitting from Jordan High wasn’t what any of the students wanted.

“They were our best friends,” Thomas said.

“We went to school with them for so long, then they split us when we were seniors. It was tough,” Dowd recalled.

He also remembered their junior year, when Jordan won the state basketball title with his classmate Hale, who went on to play professionally.

“He was not only being the basketball star, but a genuinely nice guy who beat me to be student body president. I was the runner-up for class president in junior high, then I was the runner-up against Hal. All I wanted was to be someone in the student body,” said the former student who played football, wrestled and was a saxophonist.

Hale, who also played baseball, knew it was a contest between them, so he came up with a campaign slogan: “Be a pal, vote for Hal.” 

Elections for most offices were held at Jordan the spring of their junior year, soon after the announcement that they’d be attending Hillcrest. The vice president election, however, was held later and “that was my last chance,” Dowd said.

Hale remembered, “Everybody was in love with Mickey because of his voice. I love Mickey’s voice when he sang so many great songs, like ‘Silent Night’ and ‘Moon River,” he said of his classmate who went on to perform in Hollywood.

“He’d make me cry,” said Thomas, who played cello in the school orchestra. “I was nominated to be historian, but I didn’t think I would ever be elected.”

Thomas, who said her accomplishment was “I created six people,” was a tour guide, taking people all over the world, and was involved with BYU’s youth and family programs for years. She now has 27 grandkids and five great-grandchildren.

“We had the best year; it was so much fun,” she said. “We got to set Hillcrest’s traditions and many of them are still around today.”λ