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Mira Costa Graduate Spotlight: Kent Caldwell, Class of 1970

As Mira Costa High School celebrates its 60th year this week, Patch walks back, decade by decade, to see what memories and wisdom former Mustangs have to share about their alma mater.

Kent Caldwell recalls homemade candies from Jo's Candy Cottage and a Costa campus core that remains virtually the same today.

Manhattan Beach Patch: You graduated from Mira Costa in 1970. What did you enjoy the most about MCHS?

Kent Caldwell: I enjoyed the variety of opportunities to play different sports, try out school government, develop my keen sense of social skills by participating in the school dances, as well as to belong to several political, topical and community service clubs. And, oh yes, the academics weren't too bad either. Mr. Quigley's term paper process got me through USC.

Patch: Do you have any friends from high school that you continue to be good friends with?

Caldwell: Yes, I have several long-time friends from my high school class. Most are from sports—water polo, volleyball, swimming and tennis. Others are the many lasting female relationships I formed from using the techniques taught from The Warren Beatty School of Dating. And still others are from being involved in our Reunion Committee over the last 40 years.

Patch: What was the most important thing you got out of Costa?

Caldwell: I got out of Costa a sense of community service, confidence in speaking from the debate team, well-rounded athletics that later equated into a life-guarding job and the opportunity to go on to higher level college education.

Patch: What MCHS teacher made a lasting impression on you and why?

Caldwell: There are three teachers who no doubt made the most lasting impression on me: U.S. history teacher Gary Hartzell, whose passion for his subject inspired me to get a BA in History; U.S. history teacher Harold Stannard, whose booming voice and authoritarian style mesmerized me and scared me into getting nothing else than a BA in history; and English teacher Dr. Mariyln Whirry, who first inspired me in creative writing, which gave me the skills for 40 years of writing skits, songs and short stories for friends, church, co-workers, Rotarians and classmates.

Patch: Where did you go to college and what jobs have you held/profession are you in?

Caldwell: I attended The University of Southern California. I have a BA in history and a secondary teaching credential. I taught high school for three years and then joined my family insurance business, where I have been for the last 30 years.

Patch: Who else in your family attended Costa?

Caldwell: Brother, Curt Caldwell, Class of '69; sister, Kristi Caldwell Biddle, Class of '75; son, Kelly Caldwell, Class of 2000, and son, Tyler Caldwell, Class of 2002.

Patch: What did you do for fun during your high school days?

Caldwell: For fun we played volleyball, surfed, sailed our catamaran and girl-watched. In wintertime, we'd go to Piece O' Pizza and follow dinner up at 31 Flavors. This was how we'd have a cheap date: Across the street from the La Mar Theatre was Jo's Candy Cottage, where'd we get penny candies and chocolates and other homemade candies. You could also get Pixy Stix there. In the summer, we'd play volleyball at 8th Street just about every day.

Patch: Have you been on campus since you graduated?

Caldwell: Yes, I have, and I'm pleased to see that the core of the campus is the same. It's the outer buildings that are new. So, when you're on campus in the core it's like walking down the halls 40 years ago. It gives you nice nostalgic feelings.

Patch: What song reminds you of high school?

Caldwell: "Wouldn't It Be Nice" by The Beach Boys

lorrie Croze July 27, 2010 at 10:24 PM
this is truly how it was and why so many of us flew from very wonderful places to share in another wonderful place memories .... we add many as life goes on but the ones you start with are the most special and do ground you or expand you . i am so happy i shared this day
Dennis Grizzle March 27, 2011 at 04:21 PM
I found this Patch by accident and am very pleased to see it- I also have so many wonderful memories from growing up in MB and attending MCHS. I was lvery lucky to have lived on the Strand- surfing , football, wrestling,sailing, fishing-Jo's Candy Cottage was great- I also remember Hal's Men's Shop, the La Mar on Friday nights, HS Sock Hops, walking throughout the city always barefoot- wearing hoodies know in those days as a "Mouse" , don't know why. I had googled Mr. Stannard- I remember his strong words along with Mr. DeSantis, Coach Cogswell, Erlinger, Cooper, Mitchell and best of all Jack Fernandez. I will always be thankful to my parents for giving me such an excellent place to grow up. Dennis Grizzle class of '1961
Peter Conway March 26, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Sitting here this morning reading the paper and came across an article on H.S. wrestling. It took me back to my wrestling days at MCHS. I googled Jack Fernandez and came across Patch. I knew Dennis and his sister Ellen. At the age of 14, I learned to cook when I worked at the Skillet coffee shop on Manhattan avenue. It was owned by the Archler (spelling?) family who owned the Bay 90's. The Lamar was an institution in the 50's and 60's. As Dennis said Jack Fernandez was probably the best coach I ever knew in any sport. He also coached "C" football. I remember Jack came to the Jr. High Schools to recruit wrestlers for his summer program at a park in Hermosa Beach. That is where I met him in in the summer of 1959. It was his way of teaching a new crop of wrestlers before they got to HS. Manhattan Beach was very small town USA back then. I left after HS for the Army. I never lived there agin, but the memories have lasted a life time. Peter Conway, Mira Costa Class of 1963
Liz Spear (Editor) March 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Hi Peter! So glad you and Dennis have discovered Manhattan Beach Patch! Keep coming back to see what's going on in your old hometown. BTW: The city is celebrating its centennial year with events. Come out to the parade and picnic on Saturday, May 19! Stay tuned for info on the centennial events and all other MB news and notes.

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