11
Nov
08

Happy 50th Birthday, Thornhill School

Thornhill Elementary School celebrates the big Five-Oh this year!  Originally it was built to serve the boomers, and has prospered since then.  Everyone connected with the school, past and present, is invited to a re-dedication ceremony on Wednesday evening, at 6:30 pm.

During the mid-1950s, the architects envisioned a very modern looking school situated beautifully in a natural landscape.  There was a large and open plaza for students to congregate as well.  Click here to see a full-sized version of the original architects’ drawing.

Thornhill School Vision

When construction began in 1957, the original site looked pretty barren and almost rural.  Here’s a snapshot of the framing underway and it doesn’t look too impressive at this stage.  Eventually the school was opened with great fanfare, by Fall 1958.

Thornhill School Construction

Not surprisingly, the school was an iconoclast right from the start and The Montclarion reported that “custard hit the fan” back in 1958.  Within weeks of opening, what should have been a perfunctory meeting of the new PTA (Parent Teacher Association) became a unified rebellion – and the unique PFC (Parent Faculty Club) was born.

Why did this happen?  Local parents objected to sending money to some far-away organization, preferring that all their resources stay with the new Thornhill School.  Additionally, mothers and fathers wanted to participate equally in the organization and hold meetings in the evenings.

Thornhill has been lovingly and consistently embraced by parents.  These days, they organize regular fundraisers to pay for a librarian and various arts/music offerings for kids, even when the Oakland Schools can’t afford them.  There are all kinds of special after-school enrichment classes too.

Today Thornhill has outgrown its original space, but the school continues to thrive.  Northern Montclarion kids are getting a good education and performing well, in what feels like a public/private partnership.  Congrats on reaching the half-century milestone, Thornhill.

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Welcome to Montclair, Oakland

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