Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Ellen Manley Pond ’65
As a member of Tech’s class of 1965, I share in the knowledge that our class distinguished itself from all the others. That may seem like a boast, but it’s really true. We were not only the 50th graduating class, but also an unforgettable one. Many years after our leaving that beautiful campus, several faculty members remembered us… for better or for worse. For our class not only achieved a high degree of success in our adult years, sending many of us to college, or highly technical occupations, or the pulpit, but also we gained a strong understanding of the fine reputation Tech held in advancing, and preparing her students.
As a class, we remained loyal to the school, faculty, and our classmates. Although many of our classmates have predeceased us, their memory is forever in our collective minds. We recall their own contributions, and talents, to the spirit and energy of Tech. Many of us have remained friends, have reconnected through social media, or have attended reunions over the years.
I have many, many fond memories of Tech, not the least of which is the manner in which we conducted ourselves, and connected, within a very diverse population. We sensed that Tech was on the cutting edge of education and technology, as well, allying itself with the nearby University of California, and also living up to its name and reputation as a school fortunate enough to have a vibrant, sensitive, and talented faculty.
During my junior year, my mother died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. Of course it was devastating for my family, yet we carried on as she would have wanted us to. What is indelible in my mind is what I experienced at school, upon my return. It was not easy to go back to my classes, even with the special friendships I enjoyed, but each teacher took the time to speak with me, to comfort me, and in many cases present me with a gift. The French Club presented me with roses (Dr. Paula Haas), and my English class, presided over by Dr. Norman Pietan gave me a lovely pen set, which I have kept to this day. My math teacher, Mrs. Catherine Schmidt, who was a pastor’s wife, came along side of me with the kindest of comforting words. The girls’ vice principal, Miss Valerie Brenan, sent me a letter of great encouragement. These were the thoughtful people of integrity and caliber that we, as Technites, were fortunate enough to be tutored by each day. It is by no accident that I pursued a teaching career myself, though I am retired now.
I could continue and tell you about the football games, the music programs (I presently play cello for the Microsoft Orchestra), the performances, the noontime cinnamon rolls (the best!), the dances, a new auditorium, the day Kennedy was shot while we were in class, our bulldog mascot, or the fact that Clint Eastwood, Tony Martin, Curtis Flood, or John Brodie were alumni. But the real privilege is in knowing that we were the fortunate recipients of a richly rewarding high school experience by attending Oakland Technical High. May she continue on, and may she always remain true to her aim and history.