Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Katy Emerson ’57
Katy Emerson, nee Hollis, grew up on Thomas Avenue in Oakland. From 7th through 10th grade she attended the Anna Head School in Berkeley (now Head Royce). Just prior to her junior year, she attended summer school at Tech. One of her most vivid memories is sitting on the steps reading “Of Mice and Men.” A young man stopped and commented on the book. She joked it was probably the first teenage boy who had given her the time of day. She always thought of those steps as “her steps.”
She loved Oakland Tech so much; she persuaded her parents to let her transfer. She started at Tech in 1955 as a junior and immediately joined the drama department. She recalled performing in Harvey and Message from Mars. She also created a monologue from Joan of Arc, which she performed on stage. She won the National Drama Society Award for 1957, the year she graduated. She remembered that Mary E. Lynch was the drama teacher and she really liked her. When she graduated she attended the College of the Pacific as a drama major.
Katy was also a cheerleader for the basketball team. She loved the choir and band presentations. She remembered dances in the school gym and she recalled that their senior ball was at the Claremont Hotel. She felt the biggest divide was between the kids who were in college prep and the kids who were in shop. The variety of people was appealing to her.
After high school she attended college and married before she graduated. She and her husband moved to Oakley. They raised their 3 sons in an old school house on a dairy farm. Katy had so many former students of the schoolhouse stop and tell her stories that she decided to write a book about it. It is titled Iron House School. Her advice to current Tech students is “pursue your particular passions!” Katy’s aunt, Rachel Laurgaard, wrote Patty Reed’s Doll, a story about the Donner party and the book is widely read by young readers.