Return of the '60s

Some people say history repeats itself.

Take the 1960s. Look around any high school campus today and you'll see signs that the '60s are coming back: the fashion, the music, the green movement and -- to a certain extent -- teens' consciousness of the war in Iraq.

So what is it about the '60s that fascinates us teens today?

"It was about being unique," said Dallas Green, a sophomore at Beyer High School in Modesto. "Everyone was feeling the freedom of breaking free from the stereotypes of society for the first time.

"Most people think that just means hippies and drugs," she continued, "but it could mean anything, as long as you were being who you wanted to be."

So, what are the similarities between the two eras? Let's start with clothes. Embroidered jeans, rugby shirts and Converse are back with a vengeance.

Music, too, is reappearing. The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones can be heard on the radio every day. While it's not the most popular genre, '60s rock definitely has a presence among teens today.

"Well, the music of the era definitely continues to have a big effect, as a lot of people continue to listen to it," said David Hodson, a Modesto High graduate who now attends the University of California at Berkeley. "It's not going away."

Then there are The Beatles. This group's songs are still going strong after more than 40 years. To get a handle on this phenomenon, I asked my mom.

"If I got a dollar for every time a Beatles song played, I would be a billionaire," she said.

And what about the war? You've seen it on the news. The war in Iraq is highly controversial, with two very opposite viewpoints on what should be done. Similar to Vietnam, there are people who want to pull out and there are those who want to fight it until the end.

But what do teens have to do with this? According to Bonnie Baker, English teacher at Modesto High School, not very much.

"I see very little political action by teenagers," she said. "It's just not personal for them, because they aren't affected by it. The draft was a real wake-up call; it involved brothers, sisters, friends and husbands. It had a much more profound personal effect.

"The '60s were a very unique time in that we all believed we were in it together," she said. "I remember going to a concert when I was younger. I was so overwhelmed by the feeling of camaraderie. It was a lot of fun."

However, we cannot say teens today are not involved in the world around them.

"I'm encouraged to see students actively involved in the community," Baker said. "You see them working at hospitals for community service, or convalescent homes. It's a very neat thing."

Teens also are becoming increasingly interested in global issues. The idea of "save our planet" has endured. With more concern about our effect on the environment, teens are seeing the need to be a part of the environmental movement.

"I believe that the environmental concerns that appeared in the '60s and through the '70s are now coming back," said Kevin Suos, a freshman at Modesto Junior College, "and they are playing a big role in our society."

To comment, click on the link with this story at Tyler Robertson is a sophomore at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.