When ‘yippie type characters’ caused chaos at Lake Highlands High School

Painting the railroad trestle over White Rock Trail became a senior class tradition at Lake Highlands High School in the 1960s. Each senior class was allowed to paint its own message, pictured here in 1986. The tradition ended in the early 2000s at the request of the city (Photo courtesy of Gayle Schultz).

In 1969, men walked on the moon, troops returned from Vietnam, nine murders rattled Hollywood and rock ‘n’ roll radiated from a hay field in New York. Meanwhile, a handful of Lake Highlands high-schoolers infuriated their parents and school officials so much that they made the news.

“11 Suspended from Lake Highlands” reads the headline of a Dallas Morning News article published Sept. 25, 1969. Five SMU students were declared the instigators of the incident that began one Tuesday morning at Skyline Park.

Wearing “hippie dress,” the Dallas Morning News reported, the group was organizing a ” ‘teach-in on the relevance of clothing and hair to academic matters.’ ” They doled out pamphlets protesting Lake Highlands High School’s dress code, which prohibited long hair and short skirts.

The “yippie-type characters” caught the attention of the police, who warned the rebellious youths that shenanigans were not tolerated.

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“Wednesday, they got no warning,” according to the Morning News. Police Sgt. H.R. Arnold arrested the SMU students, put them in two squad cars and took them to jail.

About 40 students congregated at the park for the teach-in. Most attended school that day. But when the bell rang at Lake Highlands High, 11 teens were not in their classrooms.

Lake Highlands students received an indefinite suspension as punishment for playing hooky, “which means that if they come in with their parents and things can be worked out, they can be back in school tomorrow,” former Principal A.M. Anderson said.

“I just don’t know what’s happening to our kids today,” one parent told the Dallas Morning News. “I had no idea my child would attempt something as ridiculous as that. But you can’t talk to them. My daughter thought she knew it all and went right ahead with what she was doing. But when she got caught, things didn’t seem so exciting anymore. She came right to her parents, who all of a sudden didn’t seem so dumb after all.”

Good thing the neighborhood had decades to recover before the muffin prank in 2006.

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