Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Patricia Barber Polacco ’62
I was privileged to go to a place that truly reflects what the real world is, that prepared me in a way that transcends education. Tech had some of the finest teaching staff in the city of Oakland, maybe even the state of CA. Tech is where I came to life. It watered you and gave you nourishment, pointed you at the sun, put the wind under your wings and said, OK, fly.
I will always be a Bulldog. I remember it fondly. The auditorium was the crown jewel of our school. We put on amazing performances. Joseph Tranchina, Mr. T, without a doubt was the most amazing English teacher– he set your pants on fire. He used to read to us. He knew so much about creative writing. He wore a bracelet, very cool. And Mr. Whayne was amazing. Drama was a subject during school hours. They used to put on two musicals a year that drew patrons from all over the state, plus 2 serious plays and numerous skits and light airborne trivia plays. There was always a project going. There was amazing stagecraft where kids learned how to build sets and lighting that was taught on a junior college level.
The music program was like none other. Girls’, boys’, glee, chorus, jazz, group instrumental, a marching band, orchestra, jazz club, rock and roll groups. Anybody who wanted to be anything could be anything they wished if they went to Tech! Tech is part of my heart and soul. [When I come back to Oakland], I always drive by and go, “There it is.” I look at the windows and remember all the teachers that were in there. School spirit was alive and crackling with electricity. I look back on those years and my heart skips a beat.
(NOTE: Polacco, a noted children’s book writer, has recently published three children’s books honoring teachers she had at Tech. An A for Ms. Keller (coming soon) is about her English teacher. The Art of Ms. Chew honors Violet Chew, her art teacher. Mr. Whayne’s Masterpiece (due out this fall) is a tribute to the drama teacher, Mr. Whayne, who also contributed to this centennial book.)