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Oct. 11, 2014

A school to be proud of

by Amalia Chiapperino, Online Managing Editor
Blazers have a lot of pride for their school, and rightly so. Montgomery Blair High School was the first high school established in suburban Montgomery County, and for eighty years it has endured as an influential presence for people living in the Silver Spring and Takoma Park area. But as it nears its eightieth anniversary, it's important for current Blazers as well as Blair alumni to learn about its history. It's time to learn everything you never knew about Blair, from the history of its name, to now-famous alumni who once called Blair their high school.
Blair High School celebrates its eightieth anniversary this October. Connor Smith
Blair High School celebrates its eightieth anniversary this October.

The name
Did you know Blair started out as an elementary school? It was called the Takoma-Silver Spring School and functioned as an elementary school when it was first built in 1925. Eventually it became a junior high school, and for a brief time after that, it was even a K-12 school. Imagine going to Blair ninety years ago and seeing five-year-olds roaming the halls. However, the growing population in the Takoma-Silver Spring area prompted the construction of a new high school that was built on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Dale Drive in March of 1935. Blair students at the time actually had a say in the naming of the school, though the school board made the final decision. They named it after Montgomery Blair, an influential abolitionist lawyer from the 1850's whose family had lived in the area for generations.

The school song
We can thank the class of 1937 for our school song. It's unlikely that anyone at Blair today knows the song (or even knows that we actually have a school song), but we do. In 2004, Norman Stant, senior class advisor at Blair for over thirty years, added another verse to the lyrics that have otherwise been unchanged since they were created in 1937. Though back then it was a common aspect of Blair life, today it is played mainly at Blair graduations or major celebratory events.

Important events and traditions
Every school has been shaped by historical events and established traditions. For Blair, the war years in the 1940s had a major impact. During World War II, many students and faculty left school to join the war effort and students and teachers from neighboring institutions such as the University of Maryland stepped up to fill the gap. During this period students from UMD as well as several seniors at Blair taught classes in the stead of teachers who had gone off to war. Students and faculty established a "senior corner" at the library to honor students and teachers who did not return from the war. Back then, Blair battled World War II as a community. Even during those difficult times, Blair demonstrated the same school spirit and pride that emanates throughout the halls today.

A tradition present since the beginning of Blair is the school yearbook, Silverlogue. Students have been making and publishing a school yearbook at Blair since the 1930s, and old Silverlogues have survived to this day and many are available with a subscription to the Blair Alumni Association. The collection of silverlogues make it possible to really see what school was like for Blazers fifty years ago.

Blair alumni
The biggest part of any school's history? The people. This holds true for Blair in particular, as some of the area's most influential figures were Blazers. There are also Blair alumni who are known not only in the area, but who are nationally or internationally recognized for their accomplishments after graduating from Blair. These people include journalist Carl Bernstein, who helped expose the Watergate scandal in the 1970s; singer and songwriter Eric Hutchinson and founder of Outback Steakhouse Chris Sullivan. To learn about other notable alumni, visit the Blair alumni website.

Throughout new experiences and difficult situations, the Blazer spirit has endured. Now, on the school’s eightieth anniversary, it is especially evident amongst the students currently attending Blair. "Blair pride is really high. Most of the people I know really like it here," sophomore Jamila Moses said. Clearly, after eighty years, Blair is still a flourishing institution in the area and now that you know more about its history, it is easier to understand why Blair truly is a school to be proud of.



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