Where have all the lettermen gone?


Lina Duchene

Senior Christopher sports his letterman's jacket on a cold and cloudy day.

Lina Duchene, Editor-in-chief

In a stereotypical high school setting from the ‘50s, jocks sport a letterman’s jacket and the academic geniuses wear a v-neck sweater. The letterman jacket has long symbolized upperclassman status, excellence and tradition for over 154 years. They were first worn by the Harvard baseball team in 1865. Now jackets can be worn by any upperclassman, varsity captain or not, but it is rare to see students wearing a jacket that visually demonstrates the accomplishments that four years of high school can bring.

This shift in culture may be the result of multiple circumstances that include jacket cost, design and lack of interest.

The letterman jacket can be purchased at Irene’s Embroidery. The standard leather jacket sells for $199.95. The prices of school patches such as shields and athletic patches start at $32.95 and can go up depending on the design. Adding a name or other customization involving letters starts at $7.50, $5.50 for each additional line. Other club patches start at $4.50.

Senior Marc Duncan does not have a letterman jacket but likes the sentiment behind the item.

“I personally think they’re too expensive but it’s a good way to remember high school,” he said. “I would like to have one.”

Others feel that the meaning of the jacket is short lived.

“The jacket is too expensive just to wear for senior year,” senior Antonio Rojero said. “It’s not worth it especially since we won’t wear it much after high school.”

English teacher and DV alumni Adriana Nieto’s Class of ‘97 letterman jacket, a symbol of her high school career, hangs on her bulletin board in her classroom.

“Back then if you had a jacket and class ring, you were a real senior,” Nieto said.

The changing symbolism behind the jacket may not be a direct result of a lack of school spirit but a lack of spirit among seniors specifically.

“There is hardly any spirit coming from the seniors now,” Nieto said. “Achievements are more related to academics, not necessarily being involved in school but rather what rank someone is or what scholarships they get or what colleges they get accepted to.”

A student’s academic success can affect who sports the jacket.

“The top ten juniors and the new top ten seniors receive a free letterman jacket at the Academic Awards ceremony towards the end of the year,” principal Antonio Acuna said.

With academics in mind, students in the top ten feel that their jacket means more than representing the school.

“My letterman (jacket) represents all of the hard work I had to put myself through in high school to earn it,” senior Christopher Gomez said.

Each student has the liberty of choosing how to summarize or reflect on their high school career once it comes to an end. For previous students who are now teachers such as Nieto, the letterman’s jacket is a memento and symbol that has a direct correlation to the final year of high school.

“When I look at my jacket now, it reminds me of the things I did in high school,” Nieto said. “It reminds me of my success, my accomplishments and the pride I have for my alma mater.”

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