On Wednesday, November 7, Tuffree Middle School in Placentia celebrated its 50-year anniversary with a special ceremony for current students, alumni, past and present employees, and community members.
The campus, which first opened its doors in 1968, is named after local historical figure Colonel John Kendall Tuffree. Upon his marriage to Carolina Borromeo Polhemus, J.K. Tuffree received a wedding present of 662 overgrown acres of land from his bride’s parents. The couple later turned the property into a large citrus orchard and reservoir. Today, Tri-City Park and Tuffree Middle School are built on part of the family’s land holdings.
During the morning event, Principal Cindy Freeman welcomed the audience and introduced honored guests including Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District Trustees, Karin Freeman, Judi Carmona, and Carrie Buck, as well as Superintendent, Dr. Greg Plutko.
The audience was treated to musical performances by the school’s marching band, under the direction of Jim Hanh, and the school’s choir, under the direction of Lindsay Parsons.
Dr. Plutko then addressed the crowd and talked about the unique phase of life that middle school entails. He also thanked teachers and staff members in attendance, both past and present, for the decades of important work done to benefit generations of Tuffree Falcons.
During the ceremony, Principal Freeman shared more about the school and the area’s rich history, including the fact that the first ever intercollegiate elephant race was held on the grounds.
“What began as a practical joke attracted elephants from universities around the nation and even Oxford from England,” she said. “A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 people turned out on “Dumbo Downs” as the hastily graded field became known that spring afternoon in 1962.”
Former teacher, Robert Maylum, and former student and Placentia City Councilman, Jeremy Yamaguchi, also had an opportunity to speak at the ceremony. Both offered gratitude to the opportunities the school had afforded them, and shared memories of their unique experiences as Falcons.
After the ceremony, Tuffree’s community gathered in the school’s multi-purpose room to continue the festivities. The room was decorated with photos and memorabilia from across the decades, as well as current students’ Tuffree-themed projects.
Congratulations and happy anniversary, Falcons!