Friday, February 17, 2012

University High School - Class of 1939

Darrell Elsner
Warrior Staff, Glee Club

My grandfather, Darrell Elsner, graduated from University High School on Wednesday, June 21, 1939.  There were 339 graduates in the Summer Class of 1939.  The class name was "Midshipmen" and the class colors were blue and gold.

Commencement Program
                                  EIGHT O'CLOCK P.M.

University High School (commonly known as "Uni") was built in 1924 and was originally named Warren G. Harding High School, after President Warren G. Harding. The name was changed to University High in 1929 when the school became the official teacher-training high school for the Southern Campus of the University of California (known as UCLA).

It is located on a historic 24-acre site in West Los Angeles that is designated as a California State Historical Site due to the discovery of the remains of a Native American village and a freshwater spring on the campus that was used by Native Americans in the area for thousands of years.

Because the campus had formerly been a Native American village, the name "Warriors" was originally selected as the school theme, the yearbook the "Chieftain" and the Indian Chief as the school symbol. The school colors were blue and persimmon and the student newspaper was the "Warrior". However, near the end of the 1997-1998 school year, students voted on a new school mascot. Students chose "Wildcats" as the mascot. The student newspaper is now the "Wildcat", the yearbook is "Paw Prints", and the school colors did not change.

"They set up the Warrior"
The "Warrior" newspaper was a weekly publication that won many awards.  According to the 1939 Chieftain, page 56: "The latest are two first-class honor ratings received from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the National Scholastic Press Association; others date back several semesters - one is an All-Southern California second-place rating from the University of Southern California."  With the print shop instructor supervising the "run" of the finished papers; Darrell was one of six boys that were part of the mechanical staff which put on the finishing touches.

Glee Club
Darrell is on the back row in the middle
1939 was the first year the boys and girls Glee Clubs were combined into one club.

The original campus housed about 600 students in grades 7-10, 30 teachers, and 3 buildings.  The first senior class of 32 students, the "Pioneers", graduated in 1926.  Construction of a state-of-the-art theater/gymnasium complex was started in 1930 and completed in 1932.  The auditorium and A buildings survived the 1936 Long Beach earthquake, but other buildings suffered considerable damage.  A tent city was erected to house classes during the repairs.  In 1938, the East gym, tennis courts, ROTC parade grounds (now softball and baseball fields) were completed.  By 1939, Uni had become a 3-year high school with a population of 1,700 students.  A three-story classroom building was added to the campus in 1957.

In 1971, the Sylmar earthquake caused irreparable damage to the Auditorium, Gym, Cafeteria, and Industrial Arts buildings.  The Auditorium had to be demolished and plans were drawn to build a smaller theater and arts complex with additional cafeteria space in 1980.  Renovations began in 1989 for modernization of the school, including handicap access, asbestos removal, and modernization of the existing chemistry labs, classrooms, and library.  Renovations were completed in 1994.

The school, which has been able to maintain much of its original architecture, is one of the few Los Angles schools with buildings constructed before World War II.  Its brick facades, wide hallways, and "unique east coast look" make the school an attractive place to film.  Uni has been noted in the press as being one of the more popular schools for filming, even compared to other local schools with similar structure and appearance.  In 2003 and 2004 alone, 38 movies, TV shows, and commercials were filmed at University High.

No comments: