1980 – 1989:The Self-Involved Years

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 The United States

The 1980′s have been called the decade of materialism and excesses,a time when American were inward looking and uncaring about the have-nots. The years were a long shopping spree,with both individuals and the government amassing great debt.  During the Me Decade,individuals sought fulfillment through self-awareness groups and physical fitness activities. The liberal,pro-government -spending days of sixties were gone;the conservation,right-wing anti-big-government outlook was in. Yuppies, upwardly mobile young adults,devoted their energies to making money and acquiring a share of  what seemed to be a shrinking pie. Designer clothes and Porsche were symbols of status, and the good life meant pleasure and property. Memorable persons from the period include Carl Icahn,Donald Trump,Leona Helmsley,and Michael Milken. The character Gordon Gekko from the 1987 movie Wall Street described the times: ” Greed is good. . . .Greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. . . . Greed. . . .will save the U.S.A.”

The decade is called the Reagan Years after the man who was President from January 20,1981 to January 20,1989. When President Ronald took office the inflation rate was 11.2 percent,interest rates were 20 percent,and the unemployment figure was 10.6 percent; at the of his tenure the inflation rate was 4.4 percent and unemployment had fallen to 5.3 percent. This vast improvement resulted from Reagan’s supply-side economics,an approach which included a three-stage tax cut and severe reductions in federal spending for social programs but no cuts in spending for defense. The national debt was 914 billion when President Reagan took office; it was 2.6 trillion when he left. The United States went from being the worlds largest creditor nation to one of the world’s largest debtors. The “trickle down” economy did not trickle all the way down. Impressive gains were made by the top twenty percent of the population,but a significant decline hampered the bottom forty percent. Reaganomics led to greater disparity between the rich and the poor and the downsizing of the American middle class. More hours of work were required to maintain the desired standard of living. By 1984 only thirteen percent of American families depended upon one bread winner.

In addition to economic problems,many serious foreign policy issues arose during the 1980′s. The last three months of the Carter administration were devoted to negotiations for the release of U.S. hostages held in Iran. Neither a military raid nor death of the Shah daunted the Ayatollah. Hostages were released on January 20,1981, a few minutes later after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President. In exchange,Iran frozen assets in the United States were released,and the Shah personal fortune was returned.

The Middle East,however,continued to be a hot spot. A war which began in 1980 between Iran and Iraq threatened the flow of oil in the Persian Gulf. In 1987  a U.S. Navy Ship,an escort for an oil tanker,was hit by an Iraqi missile;thirty-seven Americans aboard the Stark  were killed. In1988 a U.S. warship shot down a passenger plane flying in the war zone,killing 290 people on board. The United Nations arranged a cease-fire between Iraq and Iran in 1988,but the eighty-year war left Iran bankrupt and Iraq forty billion dollars in debt. Muslims throughout the Middle East became more militant. In 1983 the headquarters of the U.S. made a surprise attack on Libya in 1986;most of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s military bases were destroyed. This assault was only a setback for Muslim militants. The most shocking terrorist act of the decade occurred in 1988,when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie,Scotland,killing 259 people.

Other explosives areas led to world unrest. Thousands died in South Africa protesting apartheid,and Communist take-overs threatened Central America. Profits from secret arms sales to Iran were illegally used to aid the Contras in Nicaragua,a scandal for the Reagan administration. Drugs pouring into the United States caused sections of U.S. cities to become wastelands controlled by gangs. To curb the flow,President George Bush sent troops to Panama to drive General Manuel Noriega from power and bring him to the United States to be charged with drug smuggling. Even with the aggressive war on drugs,crack and heroin were readily available.

Assassinations were common. In 1980 John Lennon,the former Beatle who sang of peace and love,died violently at the hands of a stranger. In 1981 President Reagan was shot in the chest and his press secretary seriously wounded. In 1983 Benigno Aquino,hoping to defeat Ferdinand Marcos,was killed in 1984 by two of her bodyguards. Even in St.Peter’s Square in Rome an assassination was attempted. Like President Reagan,Pope John Paul II recovered.

Another worldwide problem was AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The disease,first identified in 1981,caused widespread fear. In 1987 a Florida family received bomb threats when they tried to send three AIDS-infected children to public school. By 1990 one million cases of this disease were reported in the United States and Canada and more than six million in sub-Saharan Africa.

The United States had many internal problems. Poverty increased in every major city,as did the number of street people. Natural disasters caused death and destruction. The explosion of Mount Saint Helens in 1980 caused thousands of acres to become a dead zone; an earthquake in San Francisco Bay area in 1989 measured 7.1 on the Richter scale; and Hurricane Hugo,which struck South Carolina in 1989,caused losses of $3.7 billion. The space program was derailed for two years by the worst disaster in the history of manned space exploration when on January 28,1986,the Challenger exploded seventy-four seconds after liftoff,killing all seven crew members.

In 1982 the women’s movement suffered a crushing defeat when Equal Rights Amendment failed to become law. It fell just three states short of being ratified. By the middle of the decade,fifty percent of all American women worked outside the home,but their earnings were only sixty-five percent of those of their male counterparts. There were some successes for women,however,in 1981  Sandra O’Connor was the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Also in 1981 the Democrats nominated Geraldine Ferraro as their vice-presidential  candidate,and in 1983 Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel in space.

The greatest achievement of the decade was the end of the Cold War. At the beginning of his administration, Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the Evil Empire asked Congress for twenty-six billion dollars for the Star Wars defense initiative. By the end of the decade President  Reagan had signed the most sweeping arms control agreement in modern history,and he subsequently visited Moscow. Responsible for this change was Mikhail S. Gorbachev,whom Time named Man of the Decade. When he became the general secretary of the Communist Party in 1985, he supported a policy of glastnost,more freedom in the Soviet society including elections,and perestroika,an economic restructuring that introduced free-market practices. When Communist government in Eastern Europe fell,no tanks were sent to crush the revolutions.

In medicine,the first artificial heart transplant was  performed on Barney Clark,a retired dentist,in 1982. The Jarvik-7 lost approval from the FDA in 1900,but human heart transplants became common during the 1980′s. Technology brought microwave ovens,fax machines,and wireless telephones to consumers. Computers moved from the office into the home. By 1989,thirty-seven percent of high school students surveyed said they used computer at home. Videotape recorders introduced a new entertainment option,and the video tape rental industry was born.

Two of the biggest names in Hollywood were Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Their blockbusters,including E.T and The Empire Strikes Back, were packed with high adventure and special effects. A major development in the television industry was MTV. Music videos added to pop music vivid images dissolving into one another. Parents were alarmed by huge doses of sex and violence available to teenagers twenty-four hours a day. The older crows preferred the sitcom Cheers or Miami Vice.

Several unforgettable events marked the decade. First was the victory of the U.S. hockey team at Lake Placid ,New York,in 1980. Twenty college students defeated the Soviet Union,which had what considered the greatest hockey team in the world. A second was the lavish wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in London in 1981. In November 1989 the most recognized symbol of the Cold War fell: the Berlin Wall,like a twentieth-century Bastille,crumbled after having divided the city of Berlin for thirty years. The most moving image of all,however,was the scene of a lone student stopping the progress of a tank in Tienanmen Square in Beijing in May 1989. No matter what problems faced the United States,democracy and freedom here were sought by everyone else in the world.


On January 4,1985, Lakeland celebrated its one hundredth  birthday. The official day was January 1,but since the Lakeland Dreadnaught Band was in California for the Tournament of Roses Parade,the celebration was postponed until its return. On this Saturday of celebration,churches rang their bells at noon,and people gathered at Munn Park. Speakers included U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles and State Senator  Curtis Peterson. Six bands participated  in the birthday bash,and clowns from Circus World painted children’s faces.   At the conclusion of the ceremony,a thousand balloons were released.  The slogan chosen by city officials for the first one hundred people who on January 1,1985,voted to incorporate could never have predicted that their wilderness settlement would become the largest city in Polk County.

The population of Lakeland grew from 52,500 in 1980, to 76,083 in 1990. Much of this increase resulted from an aggressive annexation policy. The area within Lakeland’s city limits increased from twenty square miles in 1980 to forty-two square miles in 1988. The population of the greater Lakeland area also showed steady growth. It increased from 137,525 in 1980 to 187,193 in 1990. Population statistics revealed several changes in the composition of the community. Approximately fifty-five percent of the  residents had moved into their homes in the previous five years,showing increased mobility. In Polk County the percentage of Hispanics increased from three percent  to five percent of the population,and the percentage of blacks decreased from seventeen to fifteen. Although Asians represented less than half of one percent of Polk County’s population,they were the fastest-growing segment of the nations population. This large population was more than the Lakeland Electric and Power Company could provide for in December  1989. When frigid air blanketed the state for several days,the power plant resorted to rolling blackouts.

Some of Lakeland’s growth was to the south. Merchants Walk shopping center with a ten-screen movie theater complex opened in 1987,and seven-story Sheraton Hotel opened in 1988.  Classes at the new campus shared by Polk Community College and the University of South Florida began in January 1988. The fastest area of growth,however,was on the north side. Lakeland Square Mall,built by developer Edward DeBartolo,opened in March 1988 with eighty-eight shops and three anchor stores. Since Lakeland had now become a community with a metro-size mall,shoppers no longer had to travel to another community for specialty items. After the mall opened,retail sales went up twenty-four percent and home sales nine percent. By the end of the decade,the Lakeland Square Mall has expanded to 106 stores with fiver anchors,bringing gridlock to traffic on north U.S. 98. City officials and mall devoted debated sections to be widen. In addition,strip malls and centers dotted the city. Realtor Gene Engle pointed out that growth in the northern-eastern and southeastern quadrants of Lakeland had replaced that in the southeast. The best home values were no longer in the Highlands.

After solving the problems of a leaky roof,the Lakeland Civic Center had a successful decade. Performers such as Van Halen,Jimmy Buffett,and Price presented high-grossing shows and accounted for almost half the revenue. The state basketball tournament,first brought to Lakeland in 1977,was  played at the Civic Center every spring in the 1980′s. The central location drew a larger number of fans than the tournament had when it was played in Jacksonville. A major  coup was bringing  to the  Civic Center the first Miss Teen USA pageant in 1983. The success of the first pageant led to Lakeland’s hosting the Miss USA Pageant in both 1984 and 1985. Although the City Commission spent $235,000 for just one of the shows, most believed that the national exposure for Lakeland made this  a small price to pay for the opportunity to be seen by seventy million viewers. During the two weeks the fifty-one contestants were in Lakeland,residents  worked together to arrange food,lodging ,and transportation. Volunteers served as chaperons as the girls were winded and dined. The pageant gave people a sense of pride and Lakeland a chance to show itself off.

Downtown Lakeland was at a low point in the middle 1980′s. With new shopping centers and upscale developments at the city’s edges,the downtown was dying. The Lakeland Downtown Development Authority,however,was determined to reverse this trend, By having a twelve block section and Lake Mirror designated a historic district,building owners became eligible for grants and tax incentives. The Curtis Peterson State Office Building was completed in 1986,and the Lake Mirror Promenade was refurbished by 1987. Serious restoration of the Polk Theatre began in 1988,the same year the Polk Museum of Art moved into a new five-million-dollar facility. Downtown landscaping included turn-of-the-century light fixtures and the renovation of Munn Park. With redevelopment,the city center became an area for offices, restaurants,and antique dealers. Private bus service,which had been discontinued in 1980,became a public service called was begun in 1981 . Through the efforts of city planners and landscapers,a once dying area turned into a source of pride.

The Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In brought increasing attractions to spectators and increasing revenues to Lakeland. In 1980 the convention added $15.5 million. About 225,000 people visited the fifteenth annual Sun ‘n Fun -In in 1989 during the seven-day rally. The opening of Epcot Center in 1982 and MGM in 1988 also contributed to increased tourism.

Lakeland’s economy reflected that of the United States in general. During the recession at the end of Jimmy Carter’s term,Polk County experienced nineteen percent unemployment. The great bull market which began in 1982 was interrupted on October 19.1989,the worst day in the stock market history,when Dow Jones industrial average dropped twenty-three percent in one day. After the New York Stock Exchange put in place circuit breakers to hault trading after sharp declines,this glitch became only temporary slump in a continuing bull market. Lakeland’s economy,too,performed well,in spite of freezes that damage the citrus industry and slumps in the demand for phosphate. However,the local economy became more diversified,more dependent on manufacturing,distribution,and services. Lakeland was no longer the citrus capital of the world,but its economic was more stable. The one-hundred-year-old city had diversified in both population and industry.

Lakeland High School

The greatest change at Lakeland High School in the 1980′s occurred at the end of the decade. One hundred years after the beginning of LHS,a sister school opened on the south side of the campus: the Lois Cowels Harrison Visual and Performing Arts Center. The vision of Dr. John Stewart,then Polk County superintendent of schools,it was the fourth arts school to open in the state of Florida and the first in a non-metropolitan area. Harrison opened in 1989 with 142 students and ten teachers. To take courses in dance,music,drama,or the visual arts,students traveled from throughout Polk County,some enduring bus rides of one and half hours. Admission was based on auditions,portfolios,and interviews. Students spent three periods of the school day in their selected art fields and four in academic classes at Lakeland High School.

The new $8.2 million arts building,including a 650-seat theater,dance studio,orchestra pit,art gallery,and set design rooms,was suppose to be completed in August. Because of frustrating construction delays,however,the school board did not accept the building until February 19,1990. No classes were held on campus that first year. Art was taught at the Polk Museum of Art,music,and theater at Florida Southern College,and dance at the American Legion Building. The grand opening was a ten-day celebration in April called “Reach for the Stars.” The gala included tours,dedication ceremonies,orchestra,chorus,and piano concerts,dance recitals,and a production of the ever-popular play Harvey.  On April 24 the award-winning LHS Band performed in the new auditorium. Although initially there was some resentment of the new school because of parking problems and limited access to the theater,Lakeland High School faculty and students quickly  accepted its presence and benefited from the enrichment it offered.

The highest enrollment of the decade was that of 1980-81,when LHS was the largest high school in the country. Even though Lakeland Gibson High School had opened in 1979,impact from boundary changes did not drastically affected the LHS population until 1981-82 school year. When four hundred students were lost during the next two years,Lakeland High School administrators had to deal with diminished teaching units. Attendance figures,however,increased in 1983. Overcrowded classrooms again became a problem and parking a challenge when construction was begun on the Harrison auditorium. In the fall of 1988,three seniors got up at 2:30 a.m. to stand in line for one of the one hundred parking stickers available to 634 seniors;all other parking was at the distant driver education range.

The large student population became more diverse. Between 1982 and 1990,the percentage of white students dropped from eighty-eight to eighty percent,the black population increased from nine to fourteen percent,and the Hispanic population increased from two to more than four percent. Even in 1980 seventy student families spoke a foreign language at home;most had fled economic and political conditions in Cuba,Bangladesh,Mexico,and Cambodia. To add to the diversity,the foreign exchange program grew, bringing,for example,eight students in 1985 and thirteen in 1988. Perhaps the greatest change in student population was brought about by opening of Harrison: for the first time since 1952 when Lakeland High School moved to the new campus on Hollingsworth Road,ninth graders were a part of the student body.

During this decade LHS was led by four principals. Mr. John Ward finished his twelve-year tenure in 1983,proud of the academic program he had enhanced. Mr.Glenn Reynolds,known for his quote for the day,brought enthusiasm and an emphasis on public relations. His successor,Mr Robert Helmick,emphasized facility improvements. Mr. Dennis Dunn,a former LHS teacher and assistant principal,stressed a humanistic approach that addressed the personal needs of students. All four leaders contributed to a successful program. When a SACS team evaluated the Lakeland High School in 1982,it was impressed with the upgraded curriculum and growth of the foreign language department but dissatisfied with some of facilities,especially in home economics and science.

As a result of SACS evaluation and the fresh input of a changing leadership,many construction projects were completed. A weight room was added in 1981,an addition to the home economics rooms and a new art suite in 1984,a science wing and the Sikes Patio in 1987,and restroom facilities at Nurmi Nelson Field and a new staff center in 1988. During the 1988-89 school year,the gymnasium was completely renovated with a new floor,new bleachers,and new lights. The foyer now included a concession stand,ticket booth,and restrooms. For the first time air conditioning and heating were available. Seating  capacity,however,dropped from 1800 to 1450. During this renovation many sports teams were forced to hold practices elsewhere. The problem of temporary inconveniences such as parking was outweighed by the end result.

The decade of the 1980′s was a successful time academically. Advanced Placement classes were offered in English,biology,chemistry,physics,calculus,American studies,and art;and the Alpha program was started for students with high IQ’s. Qualified tenth and eleventh graders could enroll in Honors Plus courses starting in 1985. Many new courses were offered,including classical literature, contemporary literature,creative writing,oceanography,ecology,marine biology,exploratory teaching,peer counseling,and MAPS,the minority achievement program. Seven foreign language teachers offered courses in four languages,including AP Spanish and an AP class in Vergil. With the state-mandated Writing Enhancement Program,which lasted from 1983 to 1993,English classes were limited to twenty students;writing skills showed striking improvement. The social studies department offered many hands-on experiences: Florida and Washington Close-up,Presidential and Congressional Classrooms,and Economic Expo. In 1989 Mrs.June Gibble took more than a dozen students to the inauguration of President George Bush. In spite of these developments,some negative feelings arose about the academic program,all centered around the RAISE Bill.

Enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1983,the Raise Achievement in Secondary Education program took effect in the 1984-85 school year. It raised the requirements for graduation without providing funding for such an increase,an omission which eventually led to it demise. For six school years,however,students had a seventh period added to their school day. With the school day ending at 2:41 instead of 1:40 as it had in 1983, many students  felt drained of energy. Because RAISE legislation allowed only a minimum time out of class,length and number of pep rallies were greatly reduced. Senior privileges bordered extension,and athletes got home an hour later after practice. Seniors who earned enough credits padded their schedules with a period as an office assistant or an extra hour in band.

Even though much of the success preceded the increased requirements,Lakeland High school never had a better decade for academic achievement. In 1980 there were eight National Merit finalists: Jeffrey Britt,Arie den Breeijen,Melinda Henderson,Kathryn Kessler,Scott Pileggi,John Walker,Laura Williams,and James Ziegler. Jon Goding was the only finalist in 1981,but Lakeland High School bounced back in 1981-82 with seven semifinalist,six of whom became finalist: Deborah Buccino,Joseph Carbonara,Ann Marie Harris,Allen Hunt,Lauri Jackson,John Martinez,and David Prizer. In 1984 Tammy Yachaback won a four-year scholarship through the National Merit program. In 1984-85 all eight semifinalist:Ellison Bentley,Jay Greenwood,Morgan Bentley,Robert Williams,Cherly Juchau,Mark Vandroff,Adriaan Valk,and Beth Dolan. As there were only 13,500 finalist in the entire country,having eight from one school was remarkable. In 1984-85 Jim Campbell and Rob Freud won this prestigious award given to high school students. In 1988-89 LHS could boast of having four National Merit semi-finalists,three of whom became finalists: James Delk,Samantha Gould,Fred Hicks,and James Ridgeway. Trica Stephens,Matt Reschly,and David Barnhill were semi-finalists in 1989. Also in 1989 Mu Alpha Theta,a national mathematics honorary society,established a chapter at LHS.

Further evidence of Lakeland High School’s strong academic performance is the success of its A-Team. This academic competition,introduced in Polk County in 1984 by Terry Boehm and Dr.John Stewart,spread to counties along the I-4 corridor and became a state-wide academic tournament by 1986;it developed into a national competition in 1988 with thirty-nine states participating in the National Tournament of Academics Excellence at Walt Disney World in Orlando.Teams consist of four players and two alternates fielding questions in the areas of math,science,literature,history,art,and music. Under the direction of Mrs. Clara Hirschfield,the LHS team won the county championship in both 1987  and 1989. In 1989 the Polk County team,with three LHS students-Fred Hicks,Jimmy Ridgeway,and Jeff Gibbs who won the Florida State Division I Championship and went on to the national tournament with Mr.Cleveland serving as one of three coaches. A tournament giving to scholars was long overdue.

The strength of Lakleand High School’s academic program was also revealed by the caliber of the faculty. In 1982 Mrs.Marcia Stille  was named Latin Teacher of the year by the Florida Language Association of the Middle West and South she was awarded in Ovatio,a prestigious award usually reserved for college professors. Of the thirty-five hundred teachers in Polk County,Mr. John Carmichael was named Teacher of the Year for the 1983-84 school year. He stated, “I am firmly committed to being a total music educator through the medium I do the best,the high school band.” In 1988 Mrs.Clara Hirschfiled was runner-up for the Polk County Teacher of the Year. She pioneered the Honors English program,sponsored the Honor Society,and served as a question writer and judge for A-Team competitions  at the local,local,and national levels. She represented achievement to such an extent that beginning in the 1992 the county championships  A-Team has been awarded the Clara Hirschfield Tropthy for Academic Excellence.

Participation in the service and interest clubs remained at a high level. Latin Club,the oldest club still in existence,won the best interest club award four years in a row. With 222 members in 1983,it was the largest Latin Club in Florida and the second largest in the United States. Members attended national conventions in Texas, Indiana,Virginia,and Tennessee. The Spanish Club,with 295 members,was the Interest Club of the Year in 1982. When the French Club attended Congress in 1982,a Lakeland High School student,Tom Bass,was elected president of the association comprised of sixty-seven high schools. These three groups,along with the newly formed German Club,joined every year for an international dinner and soccer games. These groups,like the service clubs,were generous in providing Christmas gifts for needy families and participating in campus beautification projects.

One of the most respected groups groups on campus was the Student Council,voted the best in Florida at the Florida Association of Student Council,convention in 1989. This group erected the impressive granite memorial to Polk County students who lost their lives in Vietnam. Each year the Student Council sponsored the Calendar Contest,Almost Anything Goes,and Homecoming festivities. Girls’ service clubs included Civinettes,Debonettes,Lionettes,Keyettes,and Clinique. Every Thursday members sported club jerseys and carried large grocery bags filled with food. Boys’ service club included Interact,Leo,and the Junior Jaycees. Key Club and TOPS offered coed membership. In 1988 the selection policy for service clubs was changed to be more inclusive. Candidates still met in the cafeteria to go through “rush,” but no former members it was as if students were placed in a club,resulting in a decline in attendance and participation.

As in years past,Homecoming was the most  exciting event in the fall and the Prom the most important even in the spring. In 1983 a Homecoming parade was reinstated in the week’s celebration,a caravan of floats,bands,and sports cars winding around Lake Mirror and through the downtown area. In 1985 the parade became a motorcade of elegant cars to deliver the Homecoming candidates at the football game. Each day of this spirited week was a special dress-up day,such has Nerd Day or Beach Day or Candidate’s T-shirt day,while Friday was reserved for traditional orange black. Drag night was a fun-filled evening of skits,with awards for the most original,the best theme,and the best overall. At Friday nights halftime show,Homecoming candidates stood beneath a ceremonial arch on the fifty-yard line,and the royalty were crowned. Sometimes the dance was held at the cafeteria,but other years it was held at the Lone Palm Country Club or Plant City Holiday Inn. Because 240 students attended the 1988 Homecoming dance,the Holiday Inn Central seemed an adequate location for the 1989 evening. When approximately 800 students arrived for the dance,the fire department ordered the doors closed. Students solved the problem by dancing in shifts,and Mr. Dunn improved the situation by opening the cafeteria so that the girls in beautiful dresses and boys in coats and ties could dance until 1 a.m.

“There are no dances,other than the traditional Homecoming Dance and the Prom,” lamented a reporter in the December 20,1985,Bagpipe. These two events,however,were well-attended,with 650 students attending the 1985 Pro and the greatest number ever was 900 at tending 1989 event. The Prom changed drastically during this decade in that it was no longer held in Lakeland. In 1985 the prom was held at Cypress Gardens. When the Tampa Airport Inn was selected as the site in 1981 parents were upset about the long drive. Although many parents insisted the prom be held in Polk County,students were adamant  in their belief that it would not be special if it were local. After 1985 prom was usually held in Orange County,at places such as the Lake Buena Vista Palace or the Contemporary Hotel. The dance also changed in that fresh flowers and balloons served as the decorations;the only clue as the theme could be found embossed on the napkins or in the memory book. Food,of course, was catered. Another change was the expense. In 1989 a boy could plan the spend fifty to one hundred dollars for the limousine,fifteen dollars for a corsage,seventy-five dollars for a tuxedo rental,and twenty dollars for the breakfast the morning after. What had not changed over the years was the essence of the event,a time to dress up and have fun with friends.

Other school events provided happy memories for the student body. During the week before the Kathleen game,students go psyched up with Hick Day, spirit chains, and burn the devil night bonfire.Almost Anything Goes,the field day even with races such as egg toss and the spoon thread,was a happy event, especially since it was one of the few school days during which students could wear shorts. Grad night billed as “The Biggest Party of the Year” was an extremely popular outing. Pep rallies were always important,an uninhibited celebration with performances by the band,Achorettes,and cheerleaders;skits included football players and coaches. On Friday nights Bryant Stadium was the place to be to cheer on the mighty Dreadnaughts.

Much of the student life in the 1980′s,however,did not center around school-sponsored activities. On weekend nights students hung out at the Majik Market parking lot to learn the locations of parties,places where the parents were out of town. Instead of dances young people preferred private parties in individual homes. Going to the Tampa Bay Mall was an exciting choice. Sometimes students traveled to the Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton for a laser fantasy show featuring Pink Floyd. Many trips were made to Daytona beaches;surfers preferred New Smyrna and Cocoa Beach. No matter what the destination, driving meant freedom. Bowling,putt-putt golf,movie rentals,trips to the beach were popular activities. The Family Fun Center and the Pizza Hut after football games were common hang out places,as was the field referred to as the Four Corners in the Groves. Anybody who wanted to find a party could fine one.

Never was the LHS band larger or better than the 1980′s. Even with the enrollment decline after Lake Gibson High opened,the band grew from 230 in 1980 to 300 in 1984. That year were six bands:one marching,two jazz,and three concert. The program was fortunate in having two outstanding directors during this decade,Mr. John Carmichael for the first seven years,followed by Mr.Andrew Crew,who was ranked among the top ten per cent of bands masters in the country. Both men instilled a love of music and through travel offered their students the opportunity to meet great musicians.

In 1982,after submitting a taped audition,the LHS Wind Ensemble was selceted to perform at the Mid-West National Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. In 1984 the marching band was feautred at Miss Teen U.S.A.,viewed by the the twenty-two million people as it was nationally televised from Lakeland. On January 1,1985,242 members of the band and auxilliary untils marched in the 96th Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena,Califorina. Two million people stood along the parade route,and 150-200 million watched the event on television. Anchorettes carried letters in orange,black,and glod spelling out LAKELAND. In 1987 the band floewto Chicago for a second trip to the Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic,with the Wind Ensemble earning the John Phillip Sousa Foundation Sudler Flag of Honor,a prestigious award given at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester,Virginia. Recieving Superior ratings at the state band contest was taken for granted. To be in the band was an honor.

The orchestra was having talented director,Mr.Mark Thielen,who also served as concert master for Lakeland’s Imperial Symphony. In 1988 he taught both orchestra and chorus,with the orchestra growing from eighteen to fifty memebers. During the 1980′s the LHS orchestra was considered the best in Florida,earinging Superior ratings in the state contest. Likethe band,orchestra members hadtheir opportunity for travel,attending festivals in Alnata and Philadelphia and making a performance trip to New York. The orchestra,instead of raising money fortravel by selling candy,earned money by playing at weddings and receptions. Although there was an LHS orchestra for only one year after Harrison opened,all of LHS string students had the opportunity to audition for the Harrison Orchestra without being enrolled in Harrison. Each year about eighteen students took advantage of this opportunity. C Chorus members also traveled,to the Festival of Nations in Washinton D.C. in 1980 and the International Music Festival in Nashville,Tennessee,in 1982. Every year they earned money wit the talent show,and they performed at Disney Candlelight. The size of the chorus declined because of de-emphasis at the junior high school level. As with the orchestra,many students interested in chorus were absorbed into the Harrison program.

Standards of the drama productions were at an enviable level in the 1980′s. The annual spring music drew not only upon thetalents of Mrs.Tomie Dyas,the director,but also Mrs.Mary Fariday as choregrapher,Mark Thielen as orchestra dirctor, Mrs. Sue Mayo as choral director. Productions at the Lake Mirror Center usually brought full houses and standing ovations. Other outstanding musicals during this decade included The Wizard of Oz in 1980,Li’l Abner in 1986,and The Music Man in 1988. Fall dramas included Our Town in 1982,Pirates of Penzance in 1984 and Dracula in 1982. The Harrison drama department has since produced at the professional level the community has come to expect after Mrs.Dyas’ many successes.

Staring in 1982,all senior pictures in the Highlander were printed in color,and the 1983 yearbook contained a fold out color picture of the senior classes as well as a spring supplement. The 1984 yearbook using a segment on international,national,state and local events. In 1981 the Highlanders sold for seventeen dollars;by 1989 the cost was thirty dollars,but that charge included name engraving. Since the publication had grown to 352 pages,the price increase was to be expected. In 1982 the Bagpipe also got a new advisor,one who had the goal of disturbing free newspapers. More than fifteen hundred copies of the Bagpipe were distributed to LHS students free of charge every month during then ext two years,but the following advisor had the huge task of getting it publication out of debt. With the new advisor,Mr.Allen Cleveland,almost a thousand issues were sold each month for a quarter,and the Bagpipe again became a worthy newspaper. The much improved paper contained faetures on exchange students,student of the month,and a teacher of the month. It’s editorial section eas one of its strong points. In 1987 the Tam O’Shanter was one of only two literary magazines in Polk County. Student editors learned as much about bisuness side of publishing as they did about the creative side,selecting the best poetry,short stories,features,and essays.

In 1981 880 students graduated from Lakeland High School;with the decline in enrollment after Lake Gibson Senior High School opened,in 1989 575 students received diplomas. Every graduation exercises were held at the Lakeland Civic Center facility being shared with Kathleen and Lakeland Gibson. Starting in 1987 baccalaureate was no longer a religious ceremony;instead the entire service was carried out by graduation seniors. Ten to fifteen seniors who chose the theme for the program were the speakers for the evening. Although attendance at baccalaureate was no longer required,many students chose to attend because of the quality and dignity of the program. In 1985 TEMPO parents reinstated the graduation party,a chemical-free party held at the Lake Mirror Center. Attractions included a live band,a casino with monopoly money,a movie such as Top Gun, and door prizes. Students valued the last opportunity to be together.

Students concerns varied during the decade but were always a response to outside of events. In 1980 the spirit bell was run fifty times in honor of the fifty hostages in Iran on their on hundred first day of captivity. When the legal drinking age was raised from eighteen to nineteen in 1980,students felt this law would accomplish nothing. In 1982 a feature  in the Tam discussed the destabilization of democratic societies by terrorism. According to articles in the Bagpipe in 1985,the epidemic of smokeless tobacco on campus . Sex education was controversy in the school system in 1988. A Bagpipe editor wondered why a course would not be beneficial since Polk County Health Department statistics for 1986 showed that 1,092 babies were born to girls nineteen years old and younger,with 615 of those births illegitimate. In 1988 articles were written about drunkenness and obscenities at football games. There was a concern in 1989 about gangs hanging out at the AMC theaters and occasional muggings. Information presented at an AIDS assembly in 1989 shocked many students. The same year Chris McLaughlin,the sophomore class president,led a campaign to allow shorts to be worn at school. As a result,the school board approved a pilot program at Lakeland High School,Lake Gibson Junior School,and Stambaugh Middle School. At the end of the decade students started wearing red ribbons to express their desire for a drug free school.

Administrators and faculty also had to react to changing situations. In 1980 lunched were again served in the cafeteria;after Lake Gibson Senior High School opened,the area was no longer needed for classroom space. Racial strife was no longer a problem. In 1981 undercover agents and dogs were used to apprehend students  from selling drugs,eight students were arrested.In 1982 a state law prohibited smoking on campus of any public school. Hidden cameras produced videotapes that resulted in five day suspensions for many young smokers.

Since a Bagpipe survey in 1984 indicated that seventy percent of LHS students used alcohol,Dean Charlie Fuchs started using breath analyzer,even Prom. In 1985 a new punishment was added to arsenal Saturday school.   Two Years later resource officers was permanently assigned to the staff. More security guards were posted at Bryant Stadium in 1989 after a student was beaten at the football jamboree. Also in 1989 the legislature passed a new law  because only 58.6% of students entering ninth grade were finishing with high school diploma:drop-outs don’t drive.


In this decade of greed and avaries,salaries of sports professionals soared into the ozone; however,great players zoomed to the top in all sports. In football the University of Miami won national titles in 1983,1987,and 1989. Maurice Maddox,a 1983 gradute of LHS,started on the 1987 team. Individually such starts as Herschel Walker,Joe Montana,Dan Marino,John Riggins,and Walter Payton stole the grid spotlight.

For Lakeland High School Bill Castle’s teams had the finest record of any decade for Lakeland football. They made it to the semifinals in 1982 and 1984,losing to Pensacola Woodham both times. The in 1986 came the hightlight ofthe decade: the Dreadnaughts won the Class 5A state high school football championship by beating Dudedin 14-10. This was the first offical state title,as the victories in 1923 and 1935 preceded a state play-off system. Coach Castle called it “a great climax to a great season.”

During the next two seasons state victory again seemed within grasp. Only the presence of the Manatee Hurricanes denied Lakeland more titles. Usally the two schools were in the same district,but even Manatee was in another district,they plagued Lakeland. The Dreadnaughts got revenge in 1984 in the sectional. Manatee came Lakeland as the Number 1 team in the state with a huge line,but it was Lakeland 19-14. The stunned fans sat on the east sidelines of Bryant Stadium for a full ten minutes after the game before sadly trekking to their buses in the parking lot. Twice Lakeland and Manatee finished in a three way tie for the crown. In 1989 Lakeland downed Lake Gibson but again lost to the Hurricanes, One Manatee coach observed,”Most ofthe time we had to play Lakeland in our district. We figured if we could get by them,we had a great chance of winning it all.”
Another sucess in boys’ sports was in soccer,which started as a club in 1984 and became a varsity sport in 1986. That first year the team was undeafeated in Polk County,and by 1988 it was ranked fifth in the state. The golf team under Eddie Postell was also ranked fifth in the state in 1981 and 1986 and during the decade won six straight distric titles. The tennis team under Tom Lindemann was ranked fourth in the state in 1981,led by players Kevin Campbell and Bo Johnson. It finished fourth in the state again in 1984 and won district championship three years straight. In weightlifting David Williams tied the state title in 1984 by benching 420 pounds. The swimming team,which changed seasons from springto fall in the middle of the decade,won country championship in 1984,1985,1987,and 1989. In 1988,even without a place to practice while the Simpson pool was under contruction,their record was 17-0.

Although the wrestlingteam won country championship in 1981,with Amaro Lamar placing second in the state championship in 1981,with Amaro Lamar placing second in the state in the 116-pound weight class,for much of the decade many weight classes went unfilled. Track and cross country also had disappointing participation,but in 1988 Shannon Baker broke the state record for the 100-meter dash. Lakeland’s baseball team was never able to duplicate the 1959 and 1960 records.

For the girls,softball was added as a varsity sport in 1987,with a jayvee team being formed in 1990. In basketball the 1980-81 team under Coach Ed Hammerberg posted a 16-8. A spark for the team was Treva Couch, a transfer from Kentucky, who may have been the best girls player in the school’s history. She claimed to be five feet tall but was actually 4’11″. She could do it all: score, pass, and direct play. So popular was girls’ basketball that a jayvee basketball team was added in 1989.

During the last half of the decade the volleyball team had some excellent seasons. Its 1985 record was 20-2, with the team losing in the district finals to Brandon. Lisa Manson was named Coach of the Year. For the next three years the girls got to the district playoffs, finishing second in the district in 1988. For this sport too a jayvee team was added in 1989. The tennis team won the Polk County championship four times and was third in the district in 1986. The girls’ swim team finished twelfth in the state in 1987. In t988 Margaret McClurg did not lose one heat. Deborah Lindemann, Samantha Gould, and Dawn Ellington were stand-outs in cross country and track, with Dawn being named Polk County’s Athelete of the Year in 1989. In addition to the competitive sports, chearleading required great athletic ability of Lakeland’s young ladies.

Lakeland chalked up more individual titles in these ten years than in all previous decades. Six Lakeland atheletes won state individual crowns, four in tennis and one each in weightlifting and track.

Bo Johnson won the No.2 state singles title in 1981 for Coach Tom Lindemann’s team. In 1984 Michael Brenner won the state No.5 singles along with a trophy for not losing a single set during the entire season. In 1989 Coach Dennis Mason’s tennis team lost the state title by three points to West Palm Beach Spanish River. In the process, however, the boys won two state singles titles: Todd Eckelberg in No.2 and Eric Hartman in No.3. David Williams tied the state weightlifting record in 1984, and the sixth crown came when speedster Shannon Baker won the state championship in the 100-and 200-meter dashes in 1988 and 1989, his junior and senior years.

Besides trying a state record in weightlifting, David Williams was a star football player for three seasons. This 1984 graduate, who had started lifting weights at ten, weighed 260 pounds as a Dreadnaught and was 6’5″ tall. He won a host of awards in high school, amoung them the Polk County Player of the Year and all-state his senior year. Although every college wanted him, he chose to stay close to home and be a Gator. This All-American started forty-six consecutive games for the University of Florida. He was drafted in the first round by the Houston Oilers and started six of his seven years with Houston. Next came two years with the New York Jets. David is remembered by many for paying a $111,111 fine to the Oilers for missing a game with the New England Patriots to be with his wife when their son was born.

Duke Pearson starred in both football and basketball. In football he set a single game rushing record of 313 yards and a season mark of 1,440 yards along with scoring 128 points. In basketball he scored 1,211 career points. He first went to Florida and then transferred to Southwestern Louisiana.

Eddie Goines starred as a wide receiver and later went to North Carolina State where he was the all-time leading receiver in number of catches and touchdowns. An injury curtailed his pro career.

Shannon Baker earned a football scholarship to Florida State and played four years with the Seminoles. Travis Galloway earned a football scholarship to Auburn University.

Never had there been no ever again in the twentieith century would there be such a splurge of individual crowns as came in the 1980′s.

During this decade nineteen sports were offered at LHS, eleven for boys, and eight for girls. Competition for boys included football, basketball, baseball, track, golf, and soccer. For the girls volleyball, baseball, swimming, cross country, golf, tennis, track, and softball were offered. By 1990 Lakeland, sported one of the largest athletic programs for both boys and girls. In 1981 Coach Ed Hammerberg said, “I came to Lakeland High School two years ago because it appeared to have the number one athletic department in the state. I have not been disappointed.”

One Noteworthy Student

Lee Janzen, a 1982 Lakeland High School graduate, won the U.S. Open in both 1993 and 1998, victories which represent the pinnacle of success for a professional golfer. He had played golf only once or twice before he moved to Lakeland in 1976 at the age of twelve. He became an All-Star for the Dixieland Little League and played on the Lakeland Highlands Junior High School golfteam at Cleveland Heights Country Club. Although he had been reluctant to leave his rural Maryland home when his father was transferred—Lakeland was too much of a city for his taste—he later saw it as a lucky move because in Florida he had the opportunity to play golf year ’round. He spent his spare time at the Imperial Lakes Country Club and worked there every summer.

When Lee first announced to the Lakeland High School golf coach that he would be on his golf team, Eddie Postell said, “The heck you are!” Lee was 5’2″ tall and could not even earn one of the first slots his sophomore year. His talent and determination brought rapid improvement, however, and in his junior year he was ranked fourth in the district. A serious injury i an automobile accident— the artery in his right arm was severed and a vein from his ankle used as a graft— set him back only two or three months. Between his junior and senior year he grew eight inches, and his senior year was his best. He finished at Lakeland High School first in the district and tenth in the state.’

At Florida Southern Lee set nine school records and won the NCAA Division II Championship at Innisbrook in 1986. He received the Mocs MVP awards his junior year and led the college team to its fourth NCAA national title his senior year. After turning pro, he won his first PGA tournament, the Northern Telecom Open, in 1992. In 1993 he won both the Phoenix Open and the U.S Open at Baltusrol. In 1994 he won the Buick Classic, and in 1995 he won three tournaments: the Kemper Open, the Sprint International, and the Players Championship. On Sunday, June 23, 1998, Lee shot a final-round 68 to win the prestigious U.S. Open for a second time. His career earnings as of 1997 totaled $5,131,506. For the six-foot golfer often referred to as “Cool Hand Luke”, however, the satisfaction goes beyond money. Twice he has been picked for the Ryder Cup team, in Belfry, England, in 1993 and in Sotogrande, Spain, in 1997. “It’s an honor to represent the United States in anything,” Janzen said, “but in the Ryder Cup, it is even more of an honor.”


 One Noteworthy Teacher

Miss Nell Thrift was a consummate teacher at Lakeland High School,someone to whom people could point with pride saying,”She is on our faculty.” Her involvement with Lakeland High School started in 1954. During her three years as a student in 1954. During her three years as a student,she was a member of the Torch Club,Honor Society,and Classical  Club. She  was also the editor-in-chief of the Bagpipe her senior year and winner of the DAR Good Citizenship Award. On the night she graduated as valedictory address. After graduating with honor from Duke,she earned her master’s degree at Emory University.

She turned to her alma mater in 1961 as an English teacher and helped develop the Honors English program,forerunner of Advance Placement courses. During her thirty-six-year teaching career,she served adviser to the Civinettes,sponsor to the senior class,chairperson of the English department,and adviser to the Tam O’Shanter for twenty years. Because of her leader ship abilities,she chaired countless committees. In 1976 she was flown to New York to be awarded the Gold Key Award by Columbia Scholastic  Press Association for her excellent work with the Tam,an award given to only one other teacher in the nation that year.


1889 - 2016
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