by George J Elbaum
Oceana High School is a small public high school in northern Pacifica, CA, with a high diversity student body of 652 students, of which 81% are minority and 32% are economically disadvantaged, but it nevertheless has earned a “Best High Schools in California” rating by the US News & World Report Rankings and an Academic Performance Index of 817. It has accomplished this by having special teaching programs, exhibition projects in each grade, and a community service requirement for all students. I spoke at Oceana 2 years ago and was touched when a student who attended that talk, remembered that I spoke about a sweet tooth, and gave me a candy bar before my arrival.
My presentation was organized by Oceana’s Humanities teachers Coreen Hartig, Keziah David, and Roisin Madden for approximately 150 10th grade students who have been learning social history and concepts, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Universe of Obligation, the stages of genocide, the Armenian Genocide, Eugenics, and the Nazis’ rise to power. Their year-long study is based on Facing History and Ourselves’ focus on oppression and resistance: what are their causes and what are their consequences?
Also attending the presentation were Paul Orth, Science Teacher, Peter Menard, Special Education Teacher, Janice O’Leary, Library Assistant, and Bruce Higgins, Student Welfare & Attendance Monitor. The presentation was arranged by Brian Fong of Facing History and Ourselves, with whom I rode to-and-from Pacifica, discussing social and basic human obligations and the deep gratification of truly personal philanthropy – giving one’s time & effort, not funds – which I’ve observed from most teachers.