Cathy Shadd Rosenfeld is one of a dozen or so parents of current Oakland Technical High School students who for the past year have been delving into the historical archives and interviewing scores of alumni of the school.
Their mission: create a book to capture a century of Oakland Tech memories.
"We decided to publish this memory book to honor Tech's centennial in 2014-15," Rosenfeld says. "For 10 decades, this school has educated thousands of Oakland teens, and we want to reach out to as many as we can to find out their stories after they graduated.
"Some went off to make their mark in the world, and many stayed right here in the Bay Area and contributed to their communities in countless ways."
The committee's goal is to reach as many alumni as possible by May, so it can meet its deadline to publish the book in June and July. "We plan to sell copies at the fall school registration and to have them available for the centennial celebrations this coming school year," Rosenfeld said. She is the parent of a junior and is vice president of the school's Parent Teacher Student Association.
Rosenfeld also coedits a newsletter for parents, which comes out a couple of times a semester and highlights positive news about the school.
"There is information on our website, including a brief video highlighting the work we have done so far." The site is http://oaklandtech.com/staff/centennial.
"We know there are many families which have had several generations attend Tech; we especially want to hear from them," Rosenfeld said.
Notable graduates -- to name a very few -- include Clint Eastwood, class of 1949; Ron Dellums, class of 1953; Curt Flood, class of 1956; and Huey Newton, class of 1959.
Other committee members are tracing the history of how the school was built and what happened in the 1970s, when the school district administration sought to use bond funding to demolish Tech rather than rehabilitate it. Other high schools, middle schools and elementary schools throughout the state were being razed and replaced during this time. Luckily, Tech did not meet that sad fate. "Our committee is reaching out to anyone who can shed light on what happened and how it was saved."
I suggested that she contact Robert Stinnett, husband of late Oakland Tribune columnist Peggy Stinnett, because I recall that she served on the school board during that time. She was a strong preservationist, and I know she would have been in favor of saving the school.
Landmark files reveal that Oakland Tech was designed by the architect John J. Donovan (1876-1949), who was also responsible for the Municipal Auditorium near Lake Merritt and who oversaw the 1911-14 construction of City Hall (another important Oakland building turning 100 this year). During his career, Donovan designed a number of other schools and public buildings, primarily in Oakland, but also elsewhere in California.
The $10 million overhaul took longer than expected, according to state files. Students were moved off campus and had classes in portable classrooms several blocks away on the old University High School campus. Once back in their renovated school by 1985, Tech students then successfully nominated their building for listing on the state and national historical registers.
Rosenfeld's committee would like to hear from Tech alumni from any decade. Email memories and any "now and then" photos to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to PTSA, Centennial book project, Oakland Technical High School, 4351 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94609.