“The Torch” Reveals Cultural Changes, Values


Allyson Jay

The timeline of “The Spectrum,” from 1900-2022.

Our school newspaper at Blake has changed a lot since it was founded in 1916 as “The Torch.”

Sigurd Ueland ’55 says through email, “I believe just about everyone at the high school level read ‘The Torch’–we had a much smaller enrollment than exists today.” This leads us to wonder about the big changes between “The Torch” and “The Spectrum.” He doesn’t recall many issues from his time at Blake, but he remembers that the newspaper discussed a lot of sports results, like today. Big changes from “The Torch” to “The Spectrum” show differences in the culture at Blake.

A very distinct cultural change “The Torch” reveals is the spirit of the homecoming atmosphere: Blake used to have a homecoming court. “The Torch” dedicated a full page talking about the homecoming court, highlighting the queen. One example is from Oct. 27, 1972, titled “Queen Cindy Reigns Over Blake Homecoming ‘72.” It gives a detailed description of Cindy Spoor ‘72, the Queen, and her attendants, Diane Fraser ‘73, Andrea Robbins ‘72, and Laurie Drill ‘74, with pictures of all four.

Another change relating to culture is the dress code. In the past, Blake has had a very strict dress code, in contrast to today. Students at the boys’ school were forced to trim their hair or they’d be suspended until they did so. In fact, on Jan. 24, 1969, an article named “Hair Dispute: Quale Won’t Cut Hair, So Headmaster Cuts Quale” was published. Junior Bart Quale refused to trim his hair, which led to his expulsion from Blake.

The change that affected Blake and “The Torch” the most is co-education. Before the merger, there were many articles in “The Torch” about coeducation. Back on Nov. 15, 1968, an article titled “Attempts at Coeducation Coordinate Three Schools
was written. It said, “Coeducation…is not being considered by Blake, Northrop, or Highcroft…It is more a cooperative educational plan.”
However, this topic continued to appear in following articles, and on Oct. 30, 1970, the article “Union Discusses Coeducation” was published in “The Torch.” It talked about how meetings were being held to further discuss the topic, and even “seven students from SPA, recently merged with Summit, attended the meeting to help with the discussion of co-ed.” SPA and Summit had joined as a co-educational school the year before, and their students offered opinions on the topic to help the three schools.

From its transition from “The Torch” to “The Spectrum,” to the many different topics it has, “The Spectrum” has changed a lot since its foundation.