Ernest Hiratsuka, who never graduated from Tech because he was whisked off to an internment camp along with over 110,000 Americans of Japanese heritage after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1942, received an honorary diploma from Tech, fifty-nine years after he should have graduated.
Tech’s athletic field was officially dedicated as Al Kyte Field in honor of the legendary Al Kyte who coached at Tech from 1926 to 1966.
Tech hosted its second “Challenge Day.” Challenge Day is a non-profit which brings to schools all over the country an experiential program demonstrating “the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.”
Roland Williams, the star tight end for the Oakland Raiders, spent a day at Tech and inspired students and teachers alike with his motivational speech.
Ngawang Tsephel, the only Tibetan at Tech, came to the U.S. from India in 1996 and in 2003, was on Tech’s varsity football team.
The PTSA held its first Fundraising Auction and raised several thousand dollars. By 2014, the event had become an annual celebration with food, drinks, entertainment, and both silent and live auctions bringing in over $80,000.
Fifteen Tech students joined high school and college students from all over the US in a protest outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC to show support for public education. They also visited the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Three seniors– Aissata Nutzel, Juliana Velez and Naomi Zabel– were the largest group of Tech seniors to be admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the school.
Suzanne Hockfield, MIT’s first female president, visited Tech and met with students of its Engineering Academy. She praised the program for its strength and ingenuity saying, “It is very clear that ... there is an insistence on excellence here.”
My friends (family) still spend many moments reminiscing over the many wonderful memories that we have from Tech: the teachers we love and the ones we don’t, the many activities we participated in, the academies many of us were in, the games we won or lost (lol), the Homecoming pep rallies, for which our class won all four years in the dance-off competition, the mornings spent before class in our usual spots, either the back stairs outside or the side stairs on the 42nd St. side, and all of spirit week activities that gave way for many memorable moments and laughs.
The historical scavenger hunt in San Francisco for Mr. Wing’s history class was probably one of my favorite field trips. North Beach will always hold a special place in my heart because of that day. I also have to give a tremendously huge thank you and shout out to my senior English teacher, Ms. Troise. She was young, 29, and had a command and a control over her class that was not always the norm for teaching in this very urban school in Oakland. I still love Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein because of Ms. Troise.
Tech struggled with a lot of the usual difficulties of urban schools – drugs, violence, bomb threat hoaxes. I remember a period when someone was lighting fires in garbage cans every few weeks. But I felt Tech was a place with powerful ambitions– academically, of course, and also in terms of the sense of identity and citizenship it sought to instill in its alumni. My life at that time centered on national and international math contests.
I remember getting a lot of support from my classmates and teachers. Abstractly, I knew many of my classmates had more challenging experiences than I did, but it was hard for me to understand what this meant. If I could live those years again, I’d work much harder at understanding my classmates’ backgrounds, and how their experiences – in the same rooms with the same books– differed from mine. Most of my subsequent life has been in the ivory tower (I’m now an assistant professor at a private university not so far away).
After graduating from Tech and arriving at Harvard, one of the first things that shocked me was how many white people there were. These days the problems I deal with day to day are abstract, and the people I interact with tend to come from the luckier slices of society. I’m thankful to have gone to an urban public high school, to be reminded that most people’s experiences are different from mine.
An assistant Professor of Economics at Stanford University, Carroll graduated from Harvard with B.A. in mathematics and linguistics in 2005 and received his doctorate in economics from MIT in 2012. He was recognized as a child prodigy and received numerous awards in mathematics while a student.
Carroll won two gold medals (1998, 2001) and a silver medal (1999) at the International Mathematical Olympiad, earning a perfect score at the 2001 International Mathematical Olympiad held in Washington, D.C., shared only with American teammate Reid W. Barton and Chinese teammates Liang Xiao and Zhiqiang Zhang.
Gabriel earned a place among the top five ranked competitors (who are themselves not ranked against each other) in the William Lowell Putnam Competition all four years that he was eligible (2000–2003), a feat matched by only seven others (Don Coppersmith (1968–1971), Arthur Rubin (1970–1973), Bjorn Poonen (1985–1988), Ravi Vakil (1988–1991), Reid W. Barton (2001–2004), Daniel Kane (2003–2006), and Brian R. Lawrence (2007–08, 2010–11). His top-5 performance in 2000 was particularly notable, as he was officially taking the exam in spite of only being a high school senior, thus forfeiting one of his years of eligibility in college. He was on the first place Putnam team twice (2001–02) and the second place team once (2003).
He has earned numerous awards in science and math, including the Intel Science Talent Search, has taught numerous mathematics classes and tutorials, and plays the piano. He was a Research Science Institute scholar in 2000.
Gabriel was inducted into the charter class of Oakland Tech’s Hall of Honor in 2015.
Nate Gong, who teaches 11th grade Paideia and Honors U.S. History, came back to Tech as a teacher in 2007 after doing his student teaching here under his old Paideia teachers, Ms. Wolfe and Ms. Joe.
“My fondest memories of Tech are of the Paideia Program and the Tech jazz band. Paideia shaped my years at Tech by instilling in me a strong sense of community. Many of my lifelong friends are my Paideia classmates. We were building an intellectual community, not by competing, but by trying to better one another. I am a working example of what can happen with Tech kids. I have literally sat in that chair! As a student here, I got to understand the variety of ways people learn, live, cope, struggle, and bring beauty to their lives. Being back here as a teacher, I am learning from my old teachers a second time. What I do here goes through Tech out into the community. We are releasing young scholars, dancers, and artists back into our own community.”
I moved to Oakland from the East Coast in 1970, partly to be involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement here. I began as a substitute teacher in Oakland junior high schools in 1971, and spent 19 years as a teacher, counselor, and head counselor. I went on to counsel and to be an Assistant Principal at Berkeley High for 6 years and then was the Principal at Alhambra High School in Martinez for 5 years.
I was recruited to the OT principal position by then Superintendent Chaconas in the spring of 2001. He was primarily concerned with the violence that was occurring at and around the school at the time, and recruited me to help put an end to it. At that time, students were locked out of all bathrooms but the outside ones and were locked out of class at the tardy bell. One reason I came was that my assistant principal would be an old friend of mine, Marty Price. I left when the state of California took control of the district in the Fall of 2003, when I felt I would no longer be able to work with the school in the manner I felt appropriate. I went from there to become principal at Albany High, where I retired in June, 2007. I am currently an elected school board member in Albany.
There was a major shift in the atmosphere at Tech within the first few months I was there. We cleaned and opened all the restrooms, and made letting students into class a non-negotiable item, no matter if they were late. I worked diligently with my assistant principals, Marty Price and Teresa Williams, to have a strong and friendly presence in the halls. Many students learned from their relatives that I had been a favorite teacher and counselor of theirs in earlier years. Within months, students were calling me “Dad” and “uncle”. We gave the school its first dance in five years, which went smoothly with no neighbor complaints. We continued to have school dances on a regular basis.
Here are some of the achievements in my two-year tenure:
Significant improvement in test scores, including a 47 point increase in the Academic Performance Index for the 2001-2002 school year
full implementation of Small Learning Communities for all freshmen, with strong emphasis on academic and strategic literacy
implementation of a Parent Patrol of about 45 parents with rotational schedules to improve safety and positive climate in the school halls
re-establishment of a relationship with the University of California MESA (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement) program, which originally was founded in partnership with Oakland Technical
strengthened and empowered Site Decision Making Team (SDMT)
establishment and staffing of full-time conflict resolution program
significant increase in student attendance and decrease in number of violent behavior incidents
I remember, generally, the warmth that we had with the students. I remember how school pride developed, how students would greet strangers, how TryUmph met in the front hall with Derrick Smith every morning, how I marveled at the strength and dedication of our athletes, including Marshawn Lynch and Leon Powe (and how I stood on a chair in my office to tie Leon’s tie for his graduation photo).
I think that adversity in public education can be overcome to create a strong, nurturing comprehensive high school which can meet the needs and expectations of all students.
My advice to current students: stay involved and empowered in your school. Demand excellence from those in charge and from yourselves.
Nicknamed “The Show” at Oakland Tech where he was a two-time high school All-American, Leon led the Bulldogs to two consecutive Northern California basketball championships in 2002 and 2003. He then played at University of California, where he was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, and then Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2006, leading the conference in scoring and rebounding. After receiving All-American honors at Cal, he played four years in the N.B.A. until knee injuries cut short his career. He was the first Bulldog to have his jersey retired.
Drafted in 2006 by the Denver Nuggets, Powe played his first three years in the NBA with the Boston Celtics and won a championship with the team in 2008. From 2009 to 2011, he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also played with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2011. After a stint in Puerto Rico, Powe announced his retirement in 2014 citing multiple injuries and his desire to become a businessman.
Leon currently works for the Boston Celtics as a Communinity Liaison Ambassador.
Averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game for Oakland Senior Technical High School in Oakland, Calif. Thomas was a two-time team captain and earned Team MVP honors as a senior. He helped lead Oakland Tech to four league championships in four years, while averagin 15 points and 10 assists as a junior. Tech reached the Northern California Division I quarterfinals his senior year and the state finals in each of the previous two seasons.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Tech was an Oakland high school steeped in tradition and a vibrant piece of the community. I was informed that generations of families had graduated from Tech and were proud Bulldogs to this day. Initially, I was considered an outsider that needed to prove my commitment to the school and community, but over time it became clear that I was “in it” for the long-haul. The challenges were many: stabilizing a chaotic school culture with numerous security issues, creating more equitable opportunities for all students, and rebounding from an inferior WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation of 2 years.
There were successes including: earning a 6-year WASC accreditation, enrollment growth in the midst of a decline in OUSD enrollment, expansion of academies and programs (Performing Arts, FADA, Digital Arts & Animation), facilities improvement through a modernization project and PTSA partnership.
I have many memories which I’ll list in no particular order:
Walking on to the Tech campus for the first time brought out the mom in me, pushing for high expectations and feeling the resistance.
Maryann Wolfe and Marietta Joe! Unsung Heroes!
The 4-year modernization project: a lesson in patience, compromise and keeping standards high
Family involvement and investment in the school community is remarkable.
Tech is a school poised to become a model of school-wide excellence. Here’s to another 100 years of providing a quality education for Oakland students.
As a student I served as Student Body President, Class Officer, Black Student Union Vice President, a member of the Soccer Team, the Tennis Team, the Dance Program, the Education Academy, the TryUMF Program and the Paideia program. The TryUMF program with Tech alumnus Darrick Smith gave me pride in myself, my school and my city. The African, Hip Hop and other dance classes heightened my love for dance and performance. The tennis and soccer teams introduced me to the power of sportsmanship.
I remember teachers and administrators like Mr. Price, Ms. Moreland, Ms. Joe, Mr. Zuckerman, Ms. Wolfe, Ms. Williams and Ms. Andujar. While there were beautiful oases filled with learning labyrinths, this same school had deserts of education and living scars of poverty. Daily fights, brawls and arson made me desensitized to violence, crime and vandalism. During my tenure at Tech I went to a school that was roughly 80% African-American. I was one of 3 AA out of 35 students in the most prestigious, elite and success-driven program at the school, Paideia. I learned intrinsically how the path we take early in life shapes the future.
My group of friends and I named ourselves the SQAD and won the “best friends” award in our senior year, 15 of us! We used our popularity to increase school spirit in sports and school-wide events such as rallies and Spirit Week. Another positive thing was being in the Education Academy and taking a southern California college tour with my fellow classmates. Mr. Zuckermann’s history class stands out because this was my first challenging class that allowed me to think critically and inspired me to become a better student. He didn’t accept a research paper I turned in. He allowed me to do it over because he said he knew that I had a lot more potential than I showed. Mr. Nicholas English class was a great class in which I learned how to write better and read college level books. I loved his teaching style and he brought out the best in me. One hard thing I can pinpoint is having someone pull a gun on me for my shoes when I was in the tenth grade. Although I eventually got them back, that was a tough experience for me and my family.
A three sport athlete at Tech High, Johnson excelled at basketball, track and football where he teamed with his cousin, Marshawn Lynch in leading the Bulldogs to the 2003 Oakland Athletic League football title. In his senior year, he was named Tech’s Most Improved Player and was a first team All-City selection.
A star quarterback at the University of San Diego, Johnson has played five seasons in the N.F.L. and is now the backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. In 2012, he reunited with Coach Jim Harbaugh at the San Francisco 49ers, his coach at the University of San Diego. Along with Lynch, Johnson remains active in the Tech community, through the Family First Family Foundation they founded to support Bay Area youth.
Nicknamed “Beast Mode,” Marshawn was a high school All-American running back at Tech in 2003. He led the Bulldogs to their first Oakland Athletic League championship since 1951. While at Tech, Marshawn ran for 1,722 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns in just eight regular season games. In addition to running back, he also played defensive back, quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker. He was rated the #2 running back in the nation during his senior year. He also ran track for Tech and played on the basketball team alongside Leon Powe.
Marshawn played football at the University of California, Berkeley where he was an All-American and the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year as he established a school record seventeen 100-yard games. He became an all-pro running back in the N.F.L. where he won a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Lynch remains active in the Tech community, where his Family First Foundation hosts an annual football camp, talent show and other fundraising events to support the local community. A film chronicling his life growing up in Oakland (starring both Marshawn Lynch and his cousin, Josh Johnson) was scheduled to be released in late 2014.
Alexis Gray-Lawson, Class of 2005, led the Lady Bulldogs to back-to-back State Division 1 girls’ basketball championships in 2004 and 2005, the first time that feat was ever accomplished. She then traveled up College Avenue to the UC Berkeley where she played in more games (143) than any other player in school history and scored 1,982 points, third most in Cal history. She was selected all-Pac 10 and honorable mention All-American in 2010 and won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith award as the top player in the nation 5’8”or under. She finished her UC Berkeley career as the Bears all-time 3-point leader (211).
At Tech, her jersey was retired, as the team lost only one game during her entire high school career.
“Lexi” was a 3rd round pick of the Washington Mystics in 2010, and played with the Phoenix Mercury of the W.N.B.A. in 2011 and 2012. She also played professionally overseas in Turkey and Israel.
She is now the Head Coach at Como Park Senior High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, which recently won its section championship:
This history-making 2016 Como girls team was led by first-year head coach Alexis Gray-Lawson and her assistant coaches LaToya Turk, Alex Moore and Brian Pearson.
Gray-Lawson is a former WNBA player, who also played professionally in Europe. Her basketball acumen is extremely high, but the knowledge she passes on to her players is not limited to the X’s and O’s of the game.
Gray-Lawson, called “Coach Lex” by the girls, has instilled and modeled service to her players. She and her staff serve the community and school by supporting the team academically and emotionally. The coaches expect academic responsibility and good citizenship, but also spend time with the girls tutoring and working through challenges, as well as bonding through events and activities filled with jokes and laughter.
I was a full inclusion student. Besides being in a general education classroom, I was also in a special education class first and sixth periods. A memory that stands out for me was graduation day. My schoolmates did a standing ovation for me when I walked up and received my diploma.
I did not like the inaccessibility at Tech. I cannot walk far, so I had to use my wheelchair to get from class to class. When it was raining, most of the time the elevators were not working due to electrical problems and water. There was no ramp to get from the shop building to the first floor. So, I had to miss class. I did not mind missing class for good reason, but I wish I had been in class participating instead of working on the assignment somewhere else.
Tech helped me realize what I wanted to do after I graduated in terms of a job. I was the videographer for the music department. I shot their assemblies and night concerts. I then edited it and transferred the footage to a VHS or DVD. Now I am earning a Master’s in Multimedia Communications.
Any memory with my friends at Oakland Tech was a fond one; from roaming the halls to have our most personal conversations. I loved my time in the Health Academy; dissecting a cat is something to remember. Ms. Joe, Ms. Haugen, Mr. Hutter, Mr. DeLeeuw and Mrs. Dargahi are awesome teachers and I loved being in their class. They are tough teachers, but their personalities and style of teaching made the curriculum more engaging. I learned a lot from them; not just history, English, or math. They taught me the personality it takes to get through to someone. These were the classes I wanted to attend.
I emigrated from Guangzhou, China with my family when I was two years old. I lived in Oakland’s Chinatown. During my years at Tech there was great environment, and great teachers provided us with an education of a lifetime amidst budget cuts from the school district. The budget cuts were tough, but the teachers provided the best education possible with what was given.
AP Biology (Ms. Keeran’s class) played a big part of why I went into medicine. I loved biology and her class gave me the fundamentals to score a 5 on the AP Test. Tech bestowed upon me the attitude of preservation and toughness I used to get through college and medical school. Tech taught me to stay strong and stay positive.
My advice for current Tech students: try dunking on that crooked basketball hoop; it’s the best feeling ever.
I was a proud Paideia student and a proud Engineering Academy dropout. I exclusively took 5th period P.E. so I didn’t have to swim. I had wonderful Teach for America teachers who made me passionate about subjects I didn’t think I cared about. I got to experience TryUMF (Trying to Uplift My Folks, a program run by Derrick Smith) and the difficulties of questioning my role within my community. I expressed my creativity in a small piano practice room on piano keys that were painted with whiteout. I walked the Paramount Theater stage in a gold robe with little idea of where my life was headed, but with the comfort of knowing that my previous four years at Tech had in some way or another prepared me for what might hit me in the face.
I found myself involved in theater production in college. This past fall, I returned to Tech to help Casey Fern with his Tech Techies, specifically by guiding students through the process of stage management. The Oakland Tech theater is a place that didn’t exist for me in high school and I’m glad to get to know it now.
I can remember walking into Oakland Tech for the first time. It seemed enormous; it was like the rooms kept moving around. It took me a week to figure out where my classes were. By the time I left, it felt so intimate, so homey. But I was ready to leave. I think it’s a sign of success that after your allotted time you not only want to leave, but feel ready to. I feel so grateful to the Tech community for building me into a capable, responsible and compassionate individual. From the attendance office staff to security and my own teachers, and friends, thank you, all.
I was one of those uninspired students who waited until senior year to take physical education and was stuck in a class with rambunctious, uncomfortably energetic and suspiciously happy underclassmen. Coach Sherman is a larger than life character, tall and imposing with broad shoulders and a full head of hair. He has a firm but soft voice that was prone to acting like a candle in the wind; it would wane in and out of existence every other week. One spring day Coach Sherman decided to herd us into the classroom under the boy’s gym so we could watch a movie he was fond of. It was one of those lazy afternoons at the end of the marking period. Some students were doing late work. Others were in supplication for a passing grade. A few were dozing off and all the while The Temptations movie was filling the room with soul music. Towards the end of the period, as students started gathering their belongings and shuffling towards the door, Coach Sherman abruptly broke into a song with a student as the movie began its final scene, The Temptations performing “My Girl” in an empty theater. Suddenly the room erupted into a hoarse recital of “My Girl.” Here was Coach Sherman leading a group of 15 and 16-year-olds in a 60s soul song. People were twisting, clapping and snapping in unbridled joy, with guilt-free unrestrained singing and gay strutting. The mood gripped me and I joined the fray, singing and dancing merrily with the rest of the class. The scene, like high school, was brief, initially awkward and confusing, but once the strength to sing and dance was found, it became a sweet, memorable moment.
Being Associated Student Body President was not a glamorous job, but it was rewarding. One afternoon I knocked on Ms. Morrison’s office door in tears as I was sleep deprived and stressed out juggling presidential tasks, school work, and my social life. She gave me a piece of paper and told me to write down everything I was feeling and not worry about errors. “Just go at it,” she said. After I wrote it all down, she told me to take it home with me and read it the following day. She told me to come up with a plan of what to do next as sometimes in the moment of being flustered, I may make rash decisions. Today, I continue to use this method.
My freshman science teacher, Mr. Raeke, had a sense of humor that was as unstoppable as plate tectonics or mitosis. He considered himself to be the funniest teacher. April Fool’s Day that year was going to be an April Fool’s Day to remember. The best way to prank Mr. Raeke would be to play on his position as funniest teacher in the school. I used Microsoft Publisher to create a fake awards certificate for Tech’s “funniest teacher.” My plan was to pretend that the student council had decided to give awards. When April 1st rolled around, I didn’t want to embarrass Mr. Raeke. He had figured that the award was a fake all along. Towards the end of class, he made a great hullaballoo about how I was to present him the award. So I presented it. When I finally said “April Fools,” the main reaction from my fellow students was surprise and anger– at me. They thought it was mean of me to play the joke on Mr. Raeke. From what I understand, when he was explaining to next year’s students how he was the funniest teacher, he used the certificate as ‘official evidence!’
Throughout my two years as a participant in Oakland Tech’s Cross Country Team, I made many new friendships, increased my endurance and athletic abilities, and learned how to be part of a team. During my first year on the team in the fall of 2012, our team’s hard work and daily practices allowed both the girls’ and boys’ teams to win our league championship, which was the first time that both teams won in the same season in Oakland Tech history. Winning the championship qualified us to move on to the state championship as an entire team, which really helped us to bond and work together to meet our goals. Although both teams did not qualify for state the following season (though the boys’ team won), our team performed very well and I was still able to make the most out of my last season on the team. Overall, I really learned how to be a team player and gained valuable skills that I will carry with me in the future.
Phillip Fisher, the founder of Tech, strongly believed in having a journalism class at Tech. In an early edition of Scribe News, he explained that “a newspaper is the greatest medium available by which a person may keep in constant contact with the world.” Indeed, Scribe News has been a significant part of Tech’s history, and it’s one of the main tools we’ve used to look back for the Centennial.
Putting together The Scribe’s Centennial Edition, which was released this past June, was an insightful experience for all of our staff. We perused through piles and piles of old newspapers and yearbooks, and it became clear to us that Tech has changed a lot over the years. We don’t have the shop classes we used to have or the same social makeup of our predecessors, and the neighborhood around Tech has changed dramatically since our inception. But, since the beginning, Tech has always been an Oakland landmark, the centerpiece of K-12 public education in the city.
As the 2013-14 Editor-in-Chief of Scribe News, it was such a joy and honor to be a part of this Centennial celebration. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished this year with Scribe News, and I cannot wait to see what lies in the years ahead for Tech (perhaps the sesquicentennial in 2064?).
If you’d like to see The Scribe’s Centennial Edition for yourself, visit www.oaklandtechscribe.com.