Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Peter Cuttitta, Teacher 1949-1988
Peter Cuttitta was a respected and beloved teacher who represented loyalty and dedication to the school in the face of several horrible incidents.
In 1988, Cuttitta retired after teaching at Tech for thirty-nine years. He taught biology and physiology and was a counselor at Tech from 1949-1988. In a rampage in 1968, a student struck Cuttitta three times, fracturing his face. After a six-week hospitalization and facial surgery, Cuttitta was offered a transfer to another high school, but chose to return to Tech. Some years later, he was held up at gunpoint in his classroom and handcuffed to his filing cabinet. Again, he chose to stay at Tech. An educator of uncommon skill and devotion, he endeavored to teach his students that the key to opportunity lay within them through the power of education. He died in 2010. His widow, who met him while she was teaching at Tech in 1949, was interviewed for this book.
Summary of Mrs. (Virginia) Cuttitta’s Remarks in 2014 on the 1969 attack on her husband, Peter Cuttitta:
He was patrolling the school during a riot when he was attacked by a student. He was hit so hard that you could see the imprint of the student’s fist on his face. The student, believing Mr. Cuttitta to be a police officer, would have continued to beat him if another student had not intervened. She ran up to them crying and yelling “That’s my teacher! That’s my teacher!” Mr. Cuttitta was seriously injured, requiring facial plastic surgery. I never questioned him about returning back to teaching at Tech because I knew he would. He was committed to teaching, to Tech, and to his students.
From The Scribe News, January 1969:
Mr. Peter Cuttitta has just returned to Tech after having facial surgery as a result of the Nov. 15 riot. He was out of teaching for 8 weeks of school. He was not sure he wanted to come back. “You come to school to prepare for your future and to learn the democratic process and not to be destructive dissenters against those who try to help you. Some dissent is normal in an individual, but the extent to which dissent has gone in this school on two separate occasions is not normal.”
From Roberta Gaudie Christianson ’54:
One of my favorite teachers was Mr. Cuttitta who taught biology. He taught me a very important life lesson. He was off in the Korean War when the class started so we had a long-term sub for the first six weeks. I had managed to get A’s on all the exams the sub had given. I got A’s on Mr. Cuttitta’s tests too, but ended up with a B plus in the class, the only B I ever got in high school. He told me now you don’t have to worry about straight A’s! He also said you need to work to your ability, not just to the grade. I was upset initially, but I liked him so much. He was a wonderful teacher.