About the Archiving Project.
The impending demolition of El Cerrito High School inspired a group of volunteer parents, alumni, community members, students and teachers to form the ECHS Archiving Project. This dynamic group of people quickly started the arduous process of gathering and preserving the 65 years of Old School history. Currently, there are more than 500 items catalogued. Some significant pieces from the old building were reinstalled in the new school. These include the original California Art tiles, gym clock and students’ art work. We currently support and care for our unique museum and the many department display cases located throughout the school. We also give annual college scholarships to graduating seniors. The project is on-going. Please join us in our continuing journey of preserving our school history.
After five years of anticipation, the new and unique ECHS Museum is opened to the community and the school population.
The first sight that catches your eye as you enter the front door of the new administration building are big splashes of green and white at the end of the entrance way portal. Your eyes start to focus and there you see in the distance the Pep Jug, Yell leader outfits and letter sweaters. The school’s contracted architect firm designed a room with the dimensions of about twenty-five feet by ten feet with locked glass cabinet with glass shelves from waist height to almost the ceiling. Track lights are both inside the glass cabinets and on the ceiling. As you enter the museum, the first cabinet has the first silk screened football schedule poster, original locker door and wall clock, Frank Shallenberger’s book of poetry and two of the six California Tile Company’s scenic tiles that were over the water fountains in the old school. The next cabinet is chucked full of spirit items such as the Pep Jug, sport and cheerleading outfits, jewelry pins for clubs and activities, pictures of the first graduation class, home ec plates and kitchen items, Duke Dewitt’s picture with an old clamp he made, original computer and radio items, some choice items from auto shop and a drama section dedicated to teacher Sam Elkin. At the end wall, an old slate board with its redwood chalk board has been installed. Below the black board, is the original 1939 bronze dedication plaque. As you continue around the room, the next small quiet section shows pictures of the ECHS boys who were killed in WW II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Clara Matasushi’s freshman picture and story of her forced exile to the Japanese internment camp is in this section as well. The following cabinets highlight grad nights from decades ago, dance cards starting in the 1940’s, PTA artifacts, ECHS professional athletes, and finally a section dedicated to Coach Hal Roach.
The room is full of surprises and it takes a few trips through the room for the visitor to see and read about all the two hundred plus labeled items. When you go, see if you can find the pictures of Johnny Mathis and Miss USA from 1956 and the beanie from 1955.
As time goes on, the museum will have items that will rotate in and out with piped in music in the background from the 1960’s choir and digital frames the reflect the life and time of ECHS.
Please come and visit the museum.
History Scattered Throughout the New High School
Many archive articles are scattered throughout the school in various formats. The first item visitors will see as they enter the school is the bronze sundial which was a gift from the class of 1946. It is placed prominently in the garden area at the entrance. As you enter the main entrance, visitors will notice old silk screen posters from 1960’s plays, play programs from the 1940’s and a three-foot round mosaic tile work of a handsome Gaucho. Each academic department has glass cases in their hallway. Most departments have an archive items that illustrate the department’s history. The cafeteria has the original lunch tray and menus from the 1950’s and the last one from 2004. The auto shop has its original outside art deco letters hung in their new classroom. The library has a full collection of yearbooks and two of their original wooden library chairs. The office has pictures of all ECHS principals and the date of their reign, blueprints from 1938 and aerial shots from the 40s, 60s and 80’s. The gym lobby’s display cases are full of great historical items such as the first letter sweater, a life size silver football with the game scores between ECHS and BHS, 40s and 50s football programs, championship baseball teams and a few boys’ wooden locker doors with graffiti by students back to the 60s. In the main gym, all the sport banners have been hung with oldest one being from 1951. On the wall are Coach Nules's life size Gaucho on his horse and EL CERRITO letters that he designed and made for the school in the 60s. The music hall way has an old drum major uniform and albums from choir's performance.
An item on the archive committee’s agenda will be to develop a walking tour of the school’s archive objects. Please stay tuned for its completion.
- Joann Steck-Bayat 510 524 9464 Jsbayat1@comcast.net Museum Curator
- Roddy Lee email@example.com