Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Gerald Forman ’55
My father migrated to the Bay Area from Oklahoma in the 1930’s and married my mother who was a San Francisco native. My father’s line of work brought him to Oakland where he and my mother remained until their respective deaths. We lived in what realtors today call Lower Rockridge; however, we always called it the Temescal District. I went to Tech because it was the closest high school to my home within the school district.
Tech was exciting and new. There were always many activities and something to learn as a teenager. I always enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow students I met as well as new acquaintances I made. Nothing fazed me as ‘too hard’ to deal with. Meeting challenges head-on was a by-product of learning at Tech High. Because I worked part-time throughout high school, I didn’t have a lot of time for extra-curricular activities. However, I did join the Spanish Club, tried out for the swim team, and joined the Junior Achievement Club as well as several other clubs that slip my mind at the moment.
Some of the teachers and classes I remember are: Choir with Cecil Enlow who was an outstanding director and whom I also had the pleasure of working under at Oakland Junior College after his transfer from Tech; Iris Jones, a Choir teacher who brought great enthusiasm to her classes; Doris McEntyre and Donald Lucas, both English teachers who stimulated me to learn more about myself and the outside world; Coach Frank Johns, sports faculty member, was a warm and friendly coach who taught us how to be a fair and honest individual as a sports participant. Most impressive to me was our counselor, Ione McFessell, who guided me and my fellow students through our three years at Tech always being available for counseling on any subject. For me as a college preparatory student, the curriculum offered at Tech met the basics for college entrance, but I can honestly say now at the age of 76 that high school never prepares you enough for “life afterwards.”
After graduation, I attended Oakland Junior College briefly before entering the U.S. Air Force. Spending 4 years in the military definitely helped shape my character further as well as make me a more mature thinking individual.
At Tech, I developed close personal relationships with a number of fellow classmates and, after a lapse of 58 years, even today I still have contacts with quite a few members from my own class as well as other classes before and after me. My years at Tech taught me that respecting the diversity of individuals is tantamount to surviving in any environment. Four years of interaction with students and faculty began my ability to form my own thinking processes for a lifetime of learning “life lessons.” Being a Bulldog carried pride throughout the school years and 58 years later, still conjures up pride when I speak to those who were local students in the Bay Area with whom I come in contact from time to time. The competition between opposing Bay Area high schools during my years at Tech was always a stimulating experience.
The Tech building itself is such an imposing landmark, and one that I’ve admired all these many years since attending, that nostalgia and pride are two of the best words I can think of regarding the 100th anniversary of its existence. Just thinking of all the thousands of students who have walked the halls of Tech makes me proud that I had the opportunity to be among them.
To current Tech students, I would say to study as hard as possible while attending and grasp as much information as possible being imparted by your teachers. Prepare yourself for a lifetime of challenges, joy, happiness, sadness and every emotion in between.
May Oakland Technical High always maintain its reputation as one of the outstanding learning institution of Oakland as represented by the student body who have walked its fine halls and succeeded in life.