June 15, 2003
As the seventh-born male child of Big Jim and Bertha Hawbaker
and a 1990 graduate of Portville Central School, I was weaned on the tales of the legendary Class of '79. Over the past
decade or so, I have had numerous opportunities to get to know this special group of Portville people. I've heard their
stories over and over again.
Many folks from the town agree that this group of classmates was
the greatest to ever walk the halls of my alma mater. My Pa, Big Jim has often been quoted as saying, "No sir.
There never was a group of kids as good as them kids...not before and not since."
I was just a tadpole when the Class of 79 ruled the roost
at PCS, but I've read about their high school exploits. And even though I graduated over a decade after they did, the
teachers continued to talk about their extraordinary accomplishments.
In 1999, while a graduate student at Buff State, I had to
complete my masters thesis in education, so I chose to do a research project on the Class of 1979. Entitled "A
Sociological Analysis of a Senior Class from a Rural Public School in New York State", the paper focused on this group's school
days and what happened to some of them after PCS.
This Blog will include much of that research.
July 4, 2003
When I graduated from Portville Central School in 1990, there were only 76 seniors in my class. In
contrast, the PCS class of 1979 had 139 graduates. They represented the largest class in Portville history...the peak
of the Baby Boom generation.
The student population in Portville dramatically decreased during the 80s and early 90s. In 1994, there
were only 71 seniors, the lowest total since 1965.
The Class of 79 represented the end of an era...in terms of times and attitudes. They not only had a large
number of classmates, they also excelled in academics, athletics, and the arts. But the thing that distinguishes the
class of 79 from all other Portville classes is their enduring unity after high school. This combination of high school
exploits and post-graduation unity has been incomparable.
July 9, 2003
There are a number of sociological factors that have had a huge influence on the Class of 1979. Examining the big
picture, some of these factors stand out in terms of history, geography, and culture.
The Class of 79 was born in the years 1960 and 61. The Baby Boom era lasted from 1946 - 1964. Generation
Xers were born between 1960 and 1979. That puts the 79ers in a unique sociological group of Americans who span both
groups. American Baby Boomers have become the largest and wealthiest generation to ever exist on the planet. Generation
X is not far behind.
August 12, 2003
The PCS 79ers were also born at the beginning of the JFK Presidency, and there was great sense of hope in the
nation. The economy fluorished and the military was strong. The enemies of America, democracy, and apple pie were
well-defined in the eyes of Joe Citizen. The U.S. population soared and rock and roll energized the youth.
The time period in American history into which the 79ers were born was very important. Where they lived
as youngsters had even more of an impact.
Growing up in a rural, Mayberry-like town of 5,000 souls, these Portville kids were instilled with the belief
that they were living in the greatest town, in the greatest state, and in the greatest nation on the planet. The results
of WWII still rang throughout the land, and Portville adults road the wave of victory by raising their "country children"
with a strong sense of patriotism, love of family, and duty to the community.
October 1, 2003
In 1960, there were 60 graduating seniors. The numbers continued to escalate during the next 2 decades,
peaking in the 1978-82 era...alot of these kids had parents who graduated from Portville during the Fifties and early Sixties...before
the Beatles invaded our land with their psychedelic sophistication.
PCS attracted a slew of great teachers to its hallways, and the school became the largest employer in town.
Portville solidified its role as a "bedroom community" during this educational expansion. The Class of 1979 certainly
benefitted from the influx of educated instructors, coaches, and leaders.
PCS excelled in many areas, as it still does. Over the past 50 years, it has been ranked among the top
WNY public schools academically on a consistent basis. As recently as 1997, the elementary was rated #1 among the
100+ schools in Section 6. The high school has ranked in the top 90th percentile for a long time.
At the same time, the school has been a powerhouse in athletics and dedicated to the arts. This has been
true for decades. The 79ers helped build these traditions in a major way, for their time.
November 15, 2003
Many of the 79ers had parents and grandparents who graduated from PCS. They also had many siblings who
preceded them, setting the foundation for the 79ers' existence. These elder Portvillians molded the 79ers into a confident
and tight-knit class.
Most of the 79 class started kindergarten in 1966. The student population was growing so rapidly that
two of the K classrooms were located in the high school building. Teachers for the 110 youngsters included Mrs. Slocum,
Miss Cady, Mrs. Canaan, Mrs. Clark, and Mrs. Goodrich.
47 of those kids eventually left Portville, but 63 of them graduated. Another 76 co-graduates were added
along the way, while another 30 or so came and left.
January 3, 2004
Interestingly, the Class of 79 had 211 siblings in the other classes between
1974 and 1984. They had 30 siblings in the Class of 1981.
1974 22 siblings