Keven Frandsen and Ken VanSickle have been friends for almost 40 years.
They graduated from University High School in 1978. They both were popular and played sports – Frandsen played football, basketball and track, while VanSickle played football, basketball and baseball. Frandsen was named “Most Athletic,” in his senior class that year, while VanSickle had the “Best Sense of Humor.”
Now, Frandsen and VanSickle are once again ruling the school. Frandsen is the interim principal – he’s worked off and on at the school since 1990, including as an assistant principal. VanSickle is assistant principal of activities, a post he’s had since 2000; he’s been on staff at the school since 1986.
Much has changed since the two were students at University, besides the building itself, which moved to its current location in 2002.
When asked how long he has been at U-Hi, VanSickle said, “my whole life.” He said he served as the bat boy for the Titan baseball team starting about the same time he learned to walk. In the 1967 yearbook, when he was about 8 years old, he is included in the team picture.
Frandsen and VanSickle met after Frandsen moved to the U-Hi area in June 1975, just before their sophomore year. He attended Ferris his freshman year. Back then, University was only for students in grades 10 through 12.
They think they probably met that summer during football camp.
“He drove a purple Javelin,” Frandsen remembers of VanSickle.
The two have memories of cruising Riverside and Sprague. There were all-city dances at the Armory downtown and meals at Shakey’s Pizza and Ron’s Drive-Inn.
“We got to be kids,” VanSickle said. He only knew of one guy in school who had a job. They were able to hang out and make friends, many of whom he knew from kindergarten through the 12th grade. “For me, it was just a different time.”
Some U-Hi traditions back then would never be acceptable today.
“We had a paddle squad,” Frandsen said. The group had paddles – each decorated to suit the paddle-wielder’s personality – and they took it upon themselves to police the student body. “Tell me how that would fly today.”
The school also had a smoking section. In VanSickle’s picture of “Best Sense of Humor” in the 1978 Kronos, the school yearbook, he and fellow senior Shirly Gale are sitting on a barrel in the section with the words, “I want your butt!” painted on the side.
Both men were popular in high school.
“In high school, I got along with everybody,” VanSickle said. “I just loved being at school. I tried to be nice to everybody and Keven was the same way.”
“We didn’t set out to be popular,” Frandsen said. “We just enjoyed being around people.”
Frandsen said they just seem to have a sense of humor the other understands. On Wednesday, the two showed up at school wearing the same outfit – crimson U-Hi polo shirts and khaki pants.
“We thought it was hilarious,” VanSickle said.
Both said they always knew they wanted to be teachers. They were inspired by many of the teachers they had at U-Hi and both come from families with teaching backgrounds. They also both knew they wanted to raise their children and work in the Central Valley School District.
“I didn’t apply or want to go to any other district,” Frandsen said.
The two are looking forward to being in the administration this coming school year, with a team that also includes Brandon Deyarmin, also a U-Hi grad, and Kerri Ames.
“We’re gelling together,” Frandsen said.
One phrase the two will be saying to students this year is “It’s another great day to be a Titan,” something VanSickle coined during morning announcements. They hope students will celebrate their accomplishments at U-Hi and know they can achieve anything.
“We have a really active student body,” Frandsen said. In the athletic department, the school will be competing in the 4A division, a step up from the 3A division last year. Frandsen is proud of the academic and extracurricular successes students have achieved.
They said that one thing that hasn’t changed since their days as University students is the tight-knit community.
“The culture that’s happening right now is contagious,” Frandsen said.