Ivey Lambert is doing some reminiscing. The 90-year-old Sacramento High alum is sitting in the living room of her home in Sacramento’s Curtis Park looking through one of her high school yearbooks.
"This is 1931, Sacramento High. Funny how different the hair styles and everything have changed so."
Lambert attended Sac High from 1930 to 1933. The original Sacramento High School was located at 8th and M Streets and opened up during the Gold Rush. Sacramento historian Lee Simpson of Sacramento State says it was an unusual move by city officials to open a school.
"I mean you have to realize in the 19th Century an 8th grade education was really as high as most people were going so to create a high school is saying ‘we have a higher sense of education, we have a higher sense of where we want our children to be.’"
Sac High was moved to its current site on 34th Street in the mid 1920s about five years before Ivey Lambert first started classes there. Lambert returned to Sac High as a teacher during World War II.
"That first year was very significant in that Pearl Harbor came that fall and I had Japanese students of course who were relocated which was very painful for all of us."
Lambert retired from teaching in the 1950s but she’s been following Sac High’s evolution over the years. In 2003, poor test scores prompted the city school district to convert Sac High into a charter school operated by NBA star Kevin Johnson’s Saint Hope organization. It was a controversial decision opposed by some teachers and parents, but Lambert is optimistic about the school’s new direction.
"I’ve been kind of watching Kevin Johnson because I think he’s…you know he’s a native Sacramentan, he’d gone through the high school and I think his heart’s in the right place."
Saint Hope is planning a number of activities over the next few weeks to commemorate Sac High’s 150th anniversary including an alumni picnic on September 9th.