Celebrating 100 Years of Oakland Technical High School
Hoa Lu ’97 & Jonah Weber ’97
Students from my Oakland Tech graduating class attended Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Barnard, NYU, Occidental, Berkeley, which coming from an inner city public school, was a feat in itself. I ended up marrying a fellow Tech classmate, Jonah Weber. After Tech, we went off to the East Coast for college (me to Harvard, he to Columbia). We ran into each other at an A’s baseball game the summer after college, and eventually got married.
To fundraise for our Close-Up trip to Washington DC, students would sign up to sell food during lunch in the hallway by the main office. My mom would cook up a batch of fried rice, chow mein, and/or egg rolls, and we would sell them for $1 a plate. We also walked around the hallways with boxes of candy bars and sold them for $.50 each to fundraise.
Days leading up to deadlines for county and state fair project submissions, many of us would stay at school until 9pm or 10pm in the Engineering Academy classrooms behind the bleachers, working on our engineering drawings. It wasn’t until my adult life that I realized that we were extremely lucky to have dedicated teachers like Mr. Merrill and Mr. Hertenstein. They were willing to stay extra hours after school to give their students opportunities to complete their projects. Needless to say, our engineering projects did very well in the county and state competitions, earning many top places in their categories.
During my junior year, the OUSD teachers went on strike. It lasted several weeks. Our US History AP teacher, Ms. Wolfe, didn’t want us to get too far behind in our studies; otherwise we would be unprepared for the AP exam at the end of the year. She arranged for us to meet her at a church a few blocks away, where she continued to hold class. That year, our class had the largest number of students pass the US History AP exam in the school’s history.
From Jonah’s memory (paraphrased by Hoa):
At the time of the teacher’s strike in ’96, Jonah was on the men’s basketball team. The school had a rule that if you didn’t attend class, you could not play in the games. Jonah did not want to miss his games, but he also did not want to cross the picket line in support of his teachers. So he went to his parents for advice. His dad told him that he didn’t want to have to tell him not to cross the picket line, that it should be a decision Jonah makes on his own. When Jonah asked his mom, his mom told him point blank, “Don’t you dare cross the picket line.”