Interview with Jacquelyn Kowalczyk, Class of 1961

Jacquelyn Kowalczyk (then Jacquelyn Prucha) as a senior (Photo: 1961 Clipper Yearbook)

Interview by Anthony Ward:

As Patterson makes plans for a new building in the near future, the Patterson Press looks back at a time when our current building was brand new. For us as students at Patterson it may seem as if four years in this place is forever, but what if you were in Patterson when it first relocated to this spot we are at now? Even more, what if you were coming from the original Patterson building before the current one you’re in today? Patterson alumnus Jacquelyn Kowalczyk was a student during last few years of the original Patterson and the first year of the Patterson of today. In this interview we discuss what it was like to be one of the first students to graduate from the new building in 1961. We’ll also get a glimpse of how her life has flourished since being a student at Patterson.

Patterson Press: What was it like being one of the first students to graduate from the new building?

JK:  Moving in the new building that last year was very exciting. We were all very proud to graduate from Patterson.

Patterson Press: Why did Patterson move to a new building?

JK:  I think one of the reasons may be the growing high school age population. The new school provides more space as well as newer facilities for science labs etc. We had no computers back then. Typewriters were the thing in those days.

Patterson Press: What was the difference between the two buildings?

JK:  The new building had a swimming pool but our class never got to use it since there was a structural problem, I believe a crack, and it took the whole year to get it fixed. The new building also had better science class facilities. The new school had fewer floors where the old school had about 5 or six floors.

Patterson Press: What traditions did Patterson have when you were there?

JK: One tradition each year was picking out 5 senor girls and one would be picked as Patterson’s Sweetheart by a committee of teachers.

Patterson Press: Was Patterson known for anything back then?

JK: It was a very popular school back then and had some very good sports teams.

Patterson Press: How were sports back then?

JK:  The sports back then seem just like today, football, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, track, wrestling, softball, badminton, bowling, tennis etc… One senior from my class did play for the Green Bay Packers for a while.

Patterson Press: How were the teachers?

JK:  The teachers were great and always ready to help you succeed. I was in the academic courses for college bound students and enjoyed all my classes.

Patterson Press: What were your goals when you were at Patterson?

JK:  My goals were to study hard and try to figure out what I wanted to do in life. Another goal was to enjoy my time in high school because it is one of the best times in your life. Patterson introduced me to many tastes of the world to help guide me to what I might want to per sue as an occupation.

Patterson Press: How was the school environment?

JK:  Our school environment was teamwork, friendships and cheering for our school.

Patterson Press: What clubs were popular at Patterson when you were there?

JK:  Yes, there were many. I was in the future nurses club, year book co-editor, chemistry club and national honor society.  There is a time capsule in your building where the students of the first Patterson put in mementos from the old building near Patterson Park. I was in the Latin club at the time and we wrote up a small scroll and signed it and it was placed in the time capsule. I wonder if it will be opened when your new building gets constructed.

Patterson Press: Were you involved in any after-school activities?

JK:  I was on the bowling team and we would go to a local bowling alley for our competitions.

Patterson Press: Was high school fun?

JK:  It was one of the best times in my life. We had science fairs, proms, sport events and lots of friends

Patterson Press: What was your high school graduation like?

JK:  Graduation was wonderful. I remember how we practiced singing our farewell song and how emotional it all was when the time came. My mother had made me a beautiful white dress which I wore the entire day. We had a large June graduating class, 200 I believe.

Patterson Press: Back then what did you think you’d be?

JK:  At first I thought I would be a nurse. Then it was a Chemist but that was not it. Math turned out to be my best course. My first job was with a local insurance company who sent me to IBM to get computer programming courses. So I have been working with computers even since.

Patterson Press: What college did you go to?

JK: College of Notre Dame of Maryland

Patterson Press: Would you say you’ve achieved happiness since high school?

JK:  Yes, I married the love of my life and have 2 wonderful girls plus 4 beautiful grand kids.  Also I have been working as a computer hospital application engineer for over 30 years and enjoy my occupation.  I have been blessed.

Patterson Press: Do you still talk to any high school classmates?

JK: I do have a couple of friends that I still get to talk to periodically.

Patterson Press: What do you think of Patterson now?

JK:  I am hoping that the students of Patterson today have the same pride in the school as we did in 1961.  School pride should always be a priority. It will be a great part of memories in your life.

Patterson Press: Do you have any advice for today’s Patterson students?

JK:  When I was young no one listened to old people but the advice they give is sometimes worth hearing. Now I am old so here is my advice. Study hard and find what you would like to do in your lives. There are many occupations out there to pick from so make sure you find what makes you happy. Always treat people as you want to be treated. Enjoy and cherish each moment that you can.

Patterson Press: Patterson has plans to move into a brand new building again within the next few years. What do you think about that?

JK:  I think it is wonderful except it really makes me feel old since my new building is now being replaced.

The Patterson Press would like to thank Ms. Kowalczyk for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish her the best of luck.

Students arrive at the new Patterson High School building for the first time (photo: 1961 Clipper Yearbook)


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