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To Green & White



by student Elizabeth Silva of Verde Magazine 
Published Feb. 21, 2012

"Once upon a time, Palo Alto High School athletes walked on to the playing field dressed in green and red.  The Paly Student Handbook says the school colors were changed green and red to green and white in 1049.  Turns out the handbook is wrong. 

I contacted some Paly alumni from the years ’48 to ’50.  Some alumni recall that the colors were changed in ’47 and most recall ’48. We came to the conclusion that the colors were changed toward the end of the Class of ’47 and the Class of ’48 began with green and white.  There was a vote by the student body to change the colors.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to them for yourself. 

“I was in the Class of ’48 and assure you that the colors were changed in that year, not in 1949,” graduate Jim Jefferis says.  “I recall the arguments for and against prior to the election.  It was aesthetics vs. tradition.  Tradition lost…  I voted to maintain the status quo.  As I recall the vote was a landslide victory for change.”  Graduate Class of ’50, Rich Scholz recalls that the Student Council push for change was led by Bill Day (’49). 

“Bill was a popular guy and supposedly came to school wearing pants with one leg white and the other leg green when the change was up to a vote by the students.  In fact they called it, ‘The Bill Day Bill’.  I came to Paly as a junior in ’48 and it was green and white.  I understood it had changed ‘recently’ so it would’ve been in 1947.”

Those who supported the change felt the colors were too much like Christmas colors and many did not like the contrast on sports uniforms.  Alumnus Chet Keil, Class of ’50 said, “My first of eight letters (in swimming, water polo and basketball) was in 1948 and it was green on white.  Prior to that it was red and green.  It was a local joke that when Paly played Burlingame whose colors were black and orange, that Christmas was playing Halloween.” 

Graduate Otto says, “’White rhymes with ‘Fight’ which better accommodates cheerleading.  What did ‘Red’ rhyme with-- Dead? Keep the green and white!’”  By 1950 the color change had already been made and incorporated into Paly’s new uniforms.  “I was a cheerleader and, of course, we had green and white,” says June Casey (’50).  “Green skirt to your ankles, white sweater and green ‘P’”.  I still have the green, block P’s in my yearbook.”

And as for the matter of how Paly came to have the Viking mascot, that remains a mystery.  I was so privileged to have been able to get in contact with the Paly alumni from 1948 – 1950.  Thanks to them we have recovered why our school colors are green and white today. “The Viking?” Whew.  I suspect that’s been around since day One – before my time,” grad Bob Steinbach ('50) says.”