Let’s Talk Clovis: 1962 “The Perfect Prank,” 1,400 CHS Students, “Play Hooky”

The bench dedicated to the Class of 1962 “Perfect Prank” sits in Old Town Clovis on NE corner of Fifth and Clovis. (Photo courtesy of Clovis Museum)

1962 was the year that 1,400 Clovis High School students committed “The Perfect Prank” (play hooky) on their dedicated Principal Robert Theiler and his sixty faculty members. On April 26, 1962, The Fresno Bee published “Hoax at Clovis High” (by Carl Tuck) on their front page. The event received national attention from Huntley and Brinkley evening news, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

We quote sections of Tuck’s news article: “A group of Clovis High School students “took over” the school administration yesterday and called off classes two hours early. The well planned and perfectly timed hoax caught the Principal and more than 60 teachers off guard.

The bulletin is similar to those sent out by the principal. It reads: “A problem of extreme importance has arisen which needs immediate attention. All faculty members are requested to meet in the auditorium following the end of the sixth period. All students will be excused from class for the remainder of the day.

It was too late to stop them, said embarrassed Robert Theiler, the Principal. “I wasn’t in my office when it happened. They were gone before we realized what they were doing. It was obviously well planned. I have no idea who did it.”

Fast forward to August 18, 1982, the Clovis Independent (Carolyn Morrow-Ocheltree, writer) head-lined “Infamous Clovis High Class of ’62 prepared for its 20-year reunion”. We share portions of that article.

“Linda Compolongo Cain (Student Body Treasurer): Our class was split our sophomore year, when half the class went over to McLane High. People were saying we were a pretty hum-drum class without much spirit after that. So, we decided to show them!

A bunch of us got called into deputy principal Walter St. John’s office the next day recalled Brian Avery.  They wanted us to go to The Fresno Bee and apologize, so the next class wouldn’t try to top us.

All the girls working in the office pulled the plugs out of the phones about five minutes before it happened so nobody could call in said Brian Avery. Brack Davis (Student Body Vice-President) got deputy principal Walter St. John out on the football field.

On Friday, the Seniors distributed a phony bulletin, saying that teachers should dismiss their classes for the day at 1:30 p.m.”

Student Body President John Douglas became a Missionary in Zambia. He and his brother Bill shared this historic event at the “Let’s Talk Clovis” program on October 8, 2019.  Penny Docker was Secretary and her twin sister Patty Docker was Yell Leader.

Seniors: Jim Balestra was Senior Class President, Vice-President Bob Mandolesi and Secretary-Treasurer Sandy Kasson. Graduates: Danny Dye, Gold Star Hero of Vietnam war. David Lose, son of Dr. Wilbur Lose who arrived in Clovis in 1941. Pete Mouliot, his parents were Clovis Merchants and were active in the Clovis Rodeo Association. Dan Osterberg, his parents were antique merchants (NW Fifth & Clovis Ave) and were leaders of the revitalization of “Old Town”.  Bob Parks is completing 57 Years with Sassano’s Mens Ware. Jim Ware would become CEO of Clovis Chamber of Commerce.

Juniors: Ron Matkovich was Senior President, Vice-President Jim Siramarco, his Grandfather owned the iconic “Jim’s Place” on Clovis Ave. Secretary-Treasurer Irene Oliver, her father Sid Oliver was a faculty member. Graduates: Bob Bretz, Grandson of pioneer Bretz lumber dynasty. Operated Bretz Lumber company in Clovis. David Lewis, All-Pac 10 Quarterback at Stanford University and played four years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Yvonne Mesple’s Grandfather arrived in 1910 (Nees & Millbrook) and became a successful farmer.

Sophomores: President Spencer Thompson, Vice-President Susan Ford, Secretary-Treasurer Pat McCray and Social Commissioner Sud Ginsberg.  Sales Committee: Charlene Blodgett, Terry Allen, Phil Hixson and a good-looking man in the third row named “imposter”.

Ring Committee: Carol Smittcamp, Tim Born, Richard Gorubec and the “Imposter” again. Social Committee: Sue Rossi, Elaine Bell, Jerry Van De Pol and four “Imposters”.

Freshmen: President Charlotte Allen, Vice-President Mike Wheeler, Secretary-Treasurer Linda Borjas and Social Commissioner Sue Sturgill.  Jerry Cook, Mark Middleton and Larry Dwoskin were on the Frosh Committee.

Administrators: District Superintendent Floyd Buchanan, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services George Kastner and Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Frank Mattox. Board of Trustees: President Everett Rank Jr., Vice-President William McFarlane, Clerk F.L. Parks, Einar Cook, Alfred Biglione, Phillip Sanchez and James Oliver. A picture of the P.T.A. Board (13 members) was included in this section.

The 1962 Cavalcade was dedicated to John Quill (11 years on CHS faculty): “He is a teacher who is interested in our problems, patient with our faults, helpful with our efforts and happy with our successes.”

The 1962 CHS students and faculty are a part of our rich heritage.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.