The Berkeley High School (BHS) All-Class Picnic was a reunion of graduating classes starting as early as the ‘60s. The numerous alumni set up booths as representations of their class at San Pablo Park on Saturday morning. At these booths you could find food, old yearbook photos, and graduates rekindling old friendships. The following night there was a celebration for the class of 1979 as it marked 40 years since their graduation. Although the event was exclusively for alumni of 1979, the festivities continued on to the next day where many people of different ages gathered to celebrate their time at BHS.
The spirit of BHS was made apparent by the waves of yellow and red and the diversity of the graduates. The event embodied the values, expectations, and pride that so many current students have for BHS.
“Back in our day we were a lot more ahead of our time. We were more culturally diverse than other high schools and we all got along together. I could be around whoever I wanted to be with, hence everything around us was based on education and the betterment of our mind,” said Eric Taylor, about his class of 1984. “We did a lot of things and had a lot of fun and we prided ourselves on that; we took everything as a challenge,” Taylor added. It is clear that BHS students have always prioritized their ambition to better themselves, regardless of their age.
Sondi Harris, from the class of 1979, had a similar experience and appreciation for the people she met at BHS. “The biggest impact that Berkeley High had on me was just that everybody was there. I grew up in a predominantly black area, but coming to Berkeley High we then had friends from every walk of life and from every culture. We got to experience foods and activities, like bat and bar mitzvahs. For me, the social and cultural experiences impacted me the most,” Harris said. She also reflected on another thing that made, and still makes, BHS a special place. “I remember marching against apartheid, this was before Nelson Mandela was free. When kids did the walkout around the Parkland massacre, I was very proud to say that’s the high school I went to, because those students were being socially active. Berkeley was always a school that acted when a voice needed to be heard or given to someone. Berkeley High did not shy away,” Harris reminisced. This goes to show that students at BHS have stayed consistent with their desire to openly voice their opinions. BHS has remained notorious for protesting and being open to talking about current issues.
“Berkeley was always a school that acted when a voice needed to be heard or given to someone. Berkeley High did not shy away.”
Sondi Harris, BHS Alumna
This connects to the topic of the decrease of diversity at BHS. With increasing prices of housing in Berkeley and the tedious process of district transfers, fewer students of color are being accepted into BHS. Although the city of Berkeley is becoming less diverse and more expensive, it’s up to BHS to continue being accepting and unified, like previous classes strived to be.
“I think it was the unity of our class and making sure that our year of graduation was going to be memorable and unforgettable,” said Gene R. Turner, class president of 1979. “And, like I said, we were the class that initiated spirit week,” added Turner. Not only did the class of ‘79 start unity week, but Turner and his peers worked very hard to get the number of students graduating up to 800, out of love for each other.
The All-Class Picnic was a place for people of different backgrounds, experiences at BHS, and lives after high school to gather and celebrate their school spirit. Although all classes felt like their class was the best, they all shared an admiration for the diversity and unity of BHS.
to create backups for all the experiments, she said that it could still be scary, especially since she was working with experienced postdoctorates.
Nonetheless, Stein said that she came out of the experience with a better, more positive view of lab work and research. She learned firsthand about how necessary and welcome collaboration is in lab environments, as well as the range of options available to do research and conduct studies.
“You come up with a lot of ideas about what it’s like to work in a lab or be a part of academia and going there was such a shock to see what it’s actually like,” said Stein. “My head of lab was an amazing woman and most people in my classes were girls and that was just kind of shocking,” she added.
From providing hands-on practice in different fields of work to helping teenagers to expand on their own abilities, summer jobs and internships can create lasting impacts on students and their plans for the future, beyond its spot on a college application.