Oceana High School, Pacifica, CA – November 8, 2019

by George J Elbaum

Oceana High School is a small public high school in northern Pacifica, CA, with a high diversity student body of 622 students, of which 79% are minority and 34% are economically disadvantaged.  Nevertheless, it has a 4-year graduating rate of 94% and academic scores significantly above state averages: English proficiency 70% vs. CA average 50%, Math proficiency 48% vs. CA 39%, and UC/CSU entrance requirements 75% vs. CA 50%.  It has accomplished this by having special teaching programs, exhibition projects in each grade, and a community service requirement for all students.

This was my third visit to Oceana since 2015, and it was again organized by Humanities teacher Coreen Hartig with support from Leigh Poehler, Roisin Madden, and David Roberts.  The audience was 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: causes and consequences.  Also attending the presentation many staff members including Principal April Holland, Wellness Counselor Nico Storrow, Gregory Lukens, Paul Orth, and many others.

In addition to thanking teacher Coreen Hartig for organizing the presentation, I definitely want to thank Marlon, who I believe is a long-time member of Oceana’s maintenance staff.  When I turned off from Paloma Avenue much too early and came upon a dead end, he happened to be working there and “steered me right.”  Then, when after my talk I wandered around school grounds taking photos of student art (see below) and wound up on the opposite side of the school from where I parked my car, Marlon appeared out of nowhere and once again “steered me right”. 😊  So, thank you, Marlon!

On my previous visits to Oceana I was quite impressed with the colorful student art on its concrete walls, and now I did recognize some paintings which I photographed and included in my previous visit web post.  This time, however, there were many more paintings, especially big, colorful, new ones, and when leaving the school after my talk I kept taking photos and more photos and more photos, to show to my wife Mimi who is a professional artist, and to post some (7 of these) below.

students and wall art




About gelbaum

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