Beach Writer in the Rocky Mountains
1971 SENIOR CLASS
October 21-22, 2022
REUNION ADDRESS and ALUMNI CAREERS POLL RESULTS
REUNION ADDRESS and ALUMNI CAREERS POLL RESULTS
Greetings from your 1971 Senior Class Secretary, Alice (Smith) Batzel, from 2,000 miles away in Northern Utah! I'm thrilled that our alums are gathering to celebrate our 50th-year reunion! I wish I could be with you, but I know you all will be having a wonderful time as organized by our reunion committee. Thank you for the invitation to write an address that can be shared during the reunion, in a printed program, or accessed electronically.
Like many of you, when I was growing up, I always looked forward to the day I would be a student at Choctaw. I feel fortunate that I was a student on the CHS campus, making friends, making memories, and getting good preparation for my future. Our school life was full of academics, vocational training, school clubs, student government, student council, ROTC, choir, and marching band practice. Similarly, we had basketball games, football games, track meets, tennis competitions, baseball games, pep rallies led by our cheerleaders, and homecoming bonfires with our booster club and spirit squad. The school cafeteria was a gathering place for friends and classmates during lunchtime. Some students would go through the lunch line twice to satisfy a growing teen appetite. I was one of those double lunch students on my favorite school lunch days.
Some events of our senior year were monumental, such as getting our driver's license and attending homecoming and the prom. Many students belonged to numerous school clubs and had a rich after-school social life. Many of our graduating class worked after-school jobs. Teenage milestones such as our first date, going steady, breaking up, getting our hearts broken, and finding new love would never be forgotten. Braces on our teeth and acne were adolescent rites of passage, and only a few escaped those experiences. Getting rid of eyeglasses and getting contact lenses was something to celebrate!
Thanks to the geography of Fort Walton Beach, Okaloosa Island, and the surrounding area, we had beach parties, sand skiing on the Matterhorn, swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, boating, waterskiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, sail boating, parasailing, fishing, and dune buggies. Monday mornings in the CHS hallway were marked by many sunburns from the weekend. Getting a tan before Easter was a priority for many girls.
Though many of us rode the school bus, driving a car to school was something every senior wanted to do. Sometimes that meant driving the old family station wagon. Teenage drivers would gather with their vehicles in the school parking lot before school, and so would the students who preferred riding their motorcycles.
Away games for our CHS sports events marked many Friday and Saturday nights. Our Big Green Style Marching Band and the majorettes with their fire-twirling batons gave good reason for thunderous applause from spectators. I remember some of the majorettes also twirling dangerous machetes. A menacing site was Pop Marler in Big Green Indian attire, riding his horse across the football field, then throwing his war spear into the ground. Flag twirlers and rifle-whirling ROTC members brought more spectacle to CHS halftime shows. The Tomahawk yearbook staff and Smoke Signals newspaper staff captured photographs and reported the news of every school event. Sports team managers were an asset to every sport.
We had our favorite teachers, coaches, club advisors, guidance counselors, and administrators. However, the dress code caused administrators to daily patrol the hallway for violators. As we reminisce, perhaps you were in violation of the rules of the 1971 student handbook:
- (1) The boy's hair length could not be longer than one inch above the collar. Hair had to be cut or behind the ear at all times. A boy's bangs could not touch the eyebrows. NO beards or mustaches were allowed. Elvis-style sideburns were not tolerated; sideburns were not to extend below the tip of the earlobe and no wider than the growth at the temple. Trousers had to be worn at the normal waistline, and a belt had to be worn if the pants had belt loops. Shirts advertising products were not allowed. Shirts had to be tucked into the pants unless they had a straight hem. Some boys kept a spare tee shirt in their locker, just in case their favorite shirt was questioned.
- (2) Miniskirts were allowed for girls, but if undergarments were seen, the girl would be sent home to change her clothes and return to school. Girls were prohibited from wearing long pants except from December 1 to March 1. In the case of freezing weather outside those dates, the Superintendent would issue a directive through the local news media. Jeans, levis, hip huggers, and form-fitting ski-type pants were prohibited. You could try to defend your violation by saying that your mother had not washed the clothes yet, and the only thing that was clean to wear was against the dress code. But I don't recall anyone getting away with that excuse.
- (3) There was detention after school for violations of the dress code. Were you one of those? I didn't think so.
Our 1971 senior class was the last year for many strict grooming and dress code regulations. Things seemed more relaxed the following year when my sister was a senior. However, our senior class withstood the pressure. While doing so, we made many lasting happy memories, excelled academically, and had a historically large-sized graduating class. How many graduates did we have? A conclusive number has been hard to verify though it has been estimated to be approximately 700. There are 616 seniors photographed in our 1971 Tomahawk yearbook, and we can assume that some students missed their photo day during the summer. With additional seniors as move-ins during the school year, it's easy to see how our graduating class has often been called the largest graduating class in the history of Choctawhatchee High School.
After graduation, some classmates enlisted in the military, some went to trade school and college, and many worked full-time or multiple part-time jobs. Some married their high school sweetheart, while some still anticipated their first date. With pride, we have many classmates who have established traditional families, being husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, and now grandparents, and some becoming great grandparents! We also have fellow alumni with successful non-traditional families and blended families. We celebrate all alumni and their families.
The careers of our 1971 graduates have been varied, contributing to vast areas of society. The poll responses on our Choctawhatchee High School: Class of 1971 Facebook page detail many of those careers; additional responses were submitted privately. With good reason, we can celebrate our 1971 alums and their impressive career successes. I invite you to visit that Facebook page and read about the many careers of our classmates. For those who do not participate in social media, or to see the inclusion of careers that were submitted through private messages, a report of the alumni careers poll follows at the conclusion of this address; if time permits, the findings of the career poll may be read aloud during one of the reunion events. It is with pride that we acknowledge the many sectors of society that have received career contributions from our CHS 1971 senior class graduates.
Those who attend the 50th reunion and those who live too far away to come will observe this moment in time with memories, fellowship, lasting friendship, and shared humor. We also fondly remember and salute our classmates who are no longer with us. We've had to say goodbye to many of our fellow class graduates as their lives were cut short. May their memory continue with us. We celebrate them and count ourselves fortunate to have had them in our lives. At the hallmark of this 50th reunion, we are invited to live up to the privilege of a long life.
As we reminisce, we realize the truth that playwright Thornton Wilder wrote in his Pulitzer prize-winning stage play, OUR TOWN. Emily Webb-Gibbs reflects on her life, saying, "Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?" We may not have realized it back in 1971. But now, 50 years wiser, we recognize the value of life and the privilege of living it. We see that our experiences, relationships, accomplishments, challenges, and struggles have been opportunities for growth and maturity. Let us remember all that our CHS 1971 graduation year meant to us. May we remember all that it has come to mean to us over the many years since. May we always remember our classmates. May we care for one another, respect each other, and cherish friendships and shared memories. May we stay in touch with one another and look after one another. We are family. Hurrah! for the CHS 1971 Senior Class!
CHS 1971 SENIOR CLASS ALUMNI CAREERS
(data gathered for 50th reunion, poll responses on Facebook page
Choctawhatchee High School: Class of 1971,
and from private responses through email, texting, and phone calls.)
CPA – public, industry, corporate
CPA, newspaper/media industry auditing, corporate tax specialist
Corporate tax specialist
NASD series 6 securities license professional, market variable annuities, investments
Financial services management, Charles Schwab
Accountant, State of Alabama, 40 years
Chief Accountant, construction industry
Accounting – payroll, retail credit, hotel industry, and housing authority
Personal Trainer for business
United Space Alliance, Space Shuttle Program
Aerospace and Defense, Rockwell Space Shuttle Program, military bomber and missile programs, F-18 Super Hornet, and Boeing.
Federal Aviation Administration, Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic License. Helicopter mechanic in the Oil and Gas Industry, Gulf of Mexico. Helicopter parts inventory and warranty. Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Technology; Corporate, working in air, marine and other types of insurance, helicopter accident investigation and risk management. Retired after almost 47 years in aviation. Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot airplane license to fly for pleasure.
Art gallery founder and owner
Kodak award-winning photographer
Owner of photography business
Author, Journalist, Playwright, Poet
Author of six books
Freelance writer, magazines, and newspapers
Christian genre author and poet
Freelance writer, regional lifestyle magazine, Carolina Mountain Life
Executive Director, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
Grants Officer, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
Director, Avery County Arts Council of North Carolina
Print shop manager
S. Georgia High School, Football Coach 31 years
Automotive and Marine
Automotive and marine engine specialist
Owner of a marine engine repair company
Technical college instructor, marine engine service/technology
Director of multiple marina operations
Chartered boat captain
Marine vessel captain
Supply Boat Captain, oil field
Child daycare business owner, 30 years
Construction/Design: Industrial, Commercial, Residential
Outside sales, electrical material for contractors, and industrial manufacturing, 39 years
Construction industry professionals – residential, industrial, commercial
Construction Risk Management, insurance claims specialist
Buying, remodeling, and selling homes and new home construction
Home Inspection Specialist
Owner, Hurricane shutter business
Sales Manager, custom cabinetry, and high-end lifestyle appliances
Owner, Interior design, and window treatment company
Painting and window treatments – residential and commercial
President and General Manager, several construction companies
Owner, fine home construction company
Restaurant and culinary professionals
BBQ food truck owner/operator
Restaurant owner and franchise developer
Elementary school teacher
High school teacher
Principal and school board member
School board member, 16 years
Minister of Education in multiple states; Seminary graduate
University Adjunct, Speech/Hearing Clinic
Orange County Public School Speech/Language Pathologist
Guidance Counselor, public school system
Homeschooling children and grandchildren
Industrial Engineer, security systems at military installations
Christian school Secretary
Funeral Home Manager
Funeral Home Owner-Operator
Government contract administrator/manager
Government contracting and managing military construction sites
Government support services
Clerk/Typist for states of Texas and Kansas
Baptist Health Care Accountant and AIS Analyst with managed care contracting with health insurance companies and government payors.
Healthcare reimbursement and insurance contract specialist
RHIT Credentialed Health Information Management Professional
Pharmacist – military and civilian
Substance Abuse Counselor
Nurse and nursing instructor
Medical Assistant, Ophthalmology
Speech/Language Pathology, public schools, private practice, FSU clinical supervisor, and FL DOH federal consultant.
Home care of family members
3M maintaining and programming industrial equipment
AT&T Corporate manager of the computer division
Financial application developer
Information technology architect, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America
Life insurance agent
Insurance industry, risk manager
Insurance, construction specialist in risk management, 35 years
Insurance specialist, policy writer for restaurant chains, healthcare, senior living facilities, and financial institutions.
Law enforcement officer, 36 years
Okaloosa County Deputy
Sheriff’s department (multiple FL counties)
Lifetime Louisiana Notarial Commission
US Air Force
US Air Force Colonel, Command Fighter Pilot, 30+ years
USAF Security Police
US Army, Firefighter and HVAC
US Army Hawk missile radar repairman, Weibel ballistics radar
US Navy Master Training Specialist, Squadron Chief Electrician; 20 years Electricians Mate, Nuclear Trained and Submarine Qualified, operating and maintaining Naval Nuclear Power Plants.
Naval electromechanical technical writer/instructor, college level accredited
US and International Military Security Systems
Military market price coordinator, AAFES (DOD) Eglin AFB and Hurlburt AFB
President and COO of The Washington Examiner
Newspaper/media circulation, production, consumer marketing
Realtor, commercial and residential
Real Estate Broker, Owner, Associate
Retail business entrepreneur
Retail sales and management
Clerk and Management, TG&Y, McCrory’s
Sales, office supply and business machines/equipment
Bridal shop owner
Job coach, Silver Sands School
Brick Mason and Owner of brick company
Plumber – residential and commercial, plumbing superintendent for general contractor
UPS Transportation, multiple positions, 41 years
Driver of limousine and shuttle buses
Okaloosa County School Bus System
Freelance International Travel Planning Coordinator for professional travel writers
Poll and census worker
Volunteer – community and national organizations
NOTE: Many alums simultaneously had more than one career, and some entered a second or third career after retirement. Many thanks to all who responded to the poll, and for the efforts to include the careers of our deceased classmates.
HURRAH! FOR THE CHS 1971 SENIOR CLASS!
CHS Indian Mosaic by Mark Forsman and Tonya Nunes
Alumni Career Poll findings compiled by:
Alice M. (Smith) Batzel
CHS 1971 Senior Class Secretary
CHS 1971 Senior Class 50th Reunion Address and Alumni Career Poll Results
link to Reminisce page of website:
Email at [email protected]
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!