That Time in 1974 When a Chimpanzee Visited a Ukiah High Science Classroom—Wildcat Throwback


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A photograph featured in the 1974 Ukiah High School yearbook caught our attention. The photo was seemingly taken in George Watt’s Biology course and depicts the moment a chimpanzee visited a Ukiah High classroom wearing a onesie. In the background, predictably, sits the typical teenage boy, slack-jawed, bored, and disinterested.

Typically, you would assume that if someone ever saw a monkey outside of its natural habitat or a zoo their reaction would be along the line of shocked and curious. The photo of the monkey in clothes sitting on a desk seems to bounce off the student in the background. He sits spacing out, indifferent to the primate in his midst.

Ukiah High’s 1974 Science Department reminds us of teachers from the days of yore. The science department that year consisted of Dick Van Wyhe, Jerry Cook, James Denham, John Kramer, Jennifer Harris, and George Watt. Most wore a collared shirt, glasses, and tie with a suit coat. 

The photograph reminds us of the timeless fact that regardless of how hard a teacher works to make the classroom vibrant and exciting, there will always be a teenager bored and uninspired.

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