El Modena High: An Origin Story by Peggy Calvert

Hey folks and welcome back to the blog! OH BOY, DO WE HAVE A STORY FOR YOU! If you’ve been catching up with us for any time now, you know that we love to embed our blog posts with some Old Towne Orange history if we can. Of course, we don’t know ALL our history but we love talking to people that have great Historangical stories to share. 

This week, we 100% talked to the right person to get a slice of Orange history mixed with a coming-of-age story and a mighty large sense of charm. If you remember from a few weeks ago, we talked to Peggy Calvert, the founder of Ukulele Soup in Orange. If you haven’t read that blog post or listened to the podcast, please click here to get the musical background on Peggy. She is fabulous. 

Let’s jump back to 1966 where Peggy is a sophomore at Villa Park High School. She was smack in the middle of her high school experience when a counselor approached Peggy and a few of her peers and told them they would be transferring to El Modena High School in the fall to be part of the school’s inaugural class. Peggy didn’t act as though this was particularly sad or disappointing, as many students most likely would at the thought of leaving friends and familiarity. Quite the contrary, in fact. 

“Nobody has to ask me twice so I said, ‘Of course!’” recalls Peggy.

She joined a committee in charge of organizing a way to choose the school colors and the mascot, which was between the Vaqueros and the Vanguards. They created a ballot for any incoming students to vote on the choices and the results turned out that they would be called the El Modena Vanguards, which Peggy shed some light on. 

“A Vanguard is the flag bearer that goes out in front of the army when they go into battle. They are leaders and they are brave. Vanguards set the tone for what happens next and we thought that would be pretty cool as our school mascot,” shared Peggy.

In September of 1966, it was time to go to the new school. On the first day, Peggy noticed there wasn’t any grass or lockers, and in that time, backpacks were thought of only for camping and not for carrying books. “I don’t why we never thought of that,” said Peggy. 

In her time at El Modena, Peggy was a cheerleader on the first-ever cheer squad, member of Project Stem (getting shrubs and trees for El Modena), and a member of the first graduating class of El Modena High School. Peggy says one of her proudest moments was being awarded the senior superlative “Most Spirited” and says having school spirit is one of the most important things you can do. Clearly, the running theme in Peggy’s life is spirit, storytelling, happiness, and joy. We strongly encourage you to listen to the entire story here or download it on your Spotify or Apple Podcasts app.

“If it’s not fun, I don’t wanna do it,” said Peggy.

Thank you for joining us for a slice of Orange history! Have a great weekend everyone, and we will see you around town! 


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Last Updated on July 8, 2020 by