Timeline

Willard School Timeline

1910

1910

January, 1910: Berkeley’s first junior high school opens under Charles L. Biedenbach, principal. Comprising the upper grades 7-9 of McKinley Elementary School, it is called McKinley Introductory High School and is the forerunner to Willard. (Long considered the first junior high in the United States, it actually opened a few months after the first school in Ohio.)

1915

1915

The Panama–Pacific International Exposition opens in San Francisco. The Claremont Hotel, served by the Key Route system, opens at the foot of Claremont Canyon in the Berkeley Hills. On the UC campus, Sather Tower (the Campanile) is completed.

1916

National Parks Service founded by order of President Woodrow Wilson.

1916: Willard School opens

1916: Willard School opens

McKinley’s upper grade students move into a new Mission Revival-style school building, named Frances Willard Intermediate High School in honor of suffragist Frances Willard. Wellyn B. Clark is principal.

1917

April 6, 1917: The United States enters the First World War, joining Britain, France, and Russia in fighting against Germany and Austria-Hungary.

1917

1917

June 30, 1917: The UC Theatre opens on University near Shattuck as a first run movie house.

1918

The 1918 Flu Pandemic causes millions of deaths worldwide, including some 5,000 victims in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1918

1918

November 11, 1918: With the signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allies, World War I comes to a close.

1920

1920

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, giving American women the right to vote.

1922

1922

Willard’s first Spring Day – known as “Old Clothes Day” – kicks off a festive annual tradition that continues for decades.

1923

1923

Nation’s first Junior Traffic patrol formed in Berkeley. Willard students are enthusiastic participants.

1923

1923

September 17, 1923: The Berkeley Hills Fire sweeps down from Wildcat Canyon to just north of the UC Berkeley campus, destroying nearly 600 homes.

1929

October 1929: The stock market crashes in what will later be seen as the start of the Great Depression.

1934

1934

Harry H. Glessner becomes principal of Willard. The school yearbook features individual portraits of graduating students for the first time.

1937

1937

May 1937: The Golden Gate Bridge is completed, at the time the longest suspension bridge main span in the world.

1937

C. K Hayes is named principal of Willard.

1941

1941

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. enters World War II.

1942

1942

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. More than 100,000 people of Japanese descent are forced to relocate to camps for the duration of the war. Some 1,300 Berkeley residents, including at least 20 Willard students, are among them.

1944-1945

Due to a paper shortage, the school ceases publication of the Target yearbook for the duration of the war.

1943

Herbert N. McClellan becomes principal of Willard.

1945

1945

V-J Day: With the surrender of the Japanese Army to Allied Forces, World War II comes to an end.

1952

1952

The I (Industrial Arts) building and the boys’ gymnasium are constructed.

1955

On April 28, 1955, 14-year-old Willard student Stephanie Bryan disappears while walking home from school. The case shocks Berkeley at a time when violent crime is rare in the city, and garners national news headlines, with the FBI taking part in the investigation. Three months later, her body is found in Trinity County, on property owned by the family of UC student Burton Abbott. Abbott is convicted of Stephanie’s murder and executed in March of 1957.

1955

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Her arrest leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the Civil Rights Movement.

1956

J. T. Aungst is named principal of Willard.

1960

Arthur V. Shearer becomes principal of Willard.

1963

1963

The March on Washington marks an important moment in the civil rights movement, as some 250,000 people gather on the National Mall and Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his “I have a dream” speech.

1963

1963

November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Willard students later receive an award for their publication commemorating the event and mourning the loss of the President.

1964

1964

Cafetorium and the administration building added. Willard Pool opens in June 1964.

1964

1964

July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. October 1964: The UC Berkeley campus sees the birth of the Free Speech Movement.

1966

Willard becomes a two-year junior high school, comprising only the 7th and 8th grades. (West Campus will serve until 1983 as a school for 9th graders only.)

1968

January 30: North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive. April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis. June 5: Bobby Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles.  

1968

1968

In the fall of 1968 Berkeley becomes the first city in the nation to voluntarily institute comprehensive school desegregation, from elementary through high schools. It is the culmination of a four-year process led by Superintendent Neil Sullivan.

1969

1969

May 15, 1969: Willard school is teargassed when a confrontation between Berkeley demonstrators and police turns violent on “Bloody Thursday.”

1970

Willard Park is formed through a joint use agreement between the City and the school district. Dubbed “Ho Chi Minh Park” by community activists, it was officially named Willard Park in 1982.

1970

Levi Poe becomes principal of Willard.

1972

The Center for Independent Living, a groundbreaking program to empower people with disabilities, is established in downtown Berkeley.

1972

Congress passes Title IX, legislation barring discrimination based on gender.

1974

February 4, 1974: Heiress Patty Hearst, a Cal student, is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army from her apartment a few blocks away from the Willard campus.

1977

1977

The original school building is deemed unsound and slated for demolition. Willard closes for three years while a new building is constructed.

1978

California passes Proposition 13, making public school districts dependent on the state’s general fund rather than on local property taxes.

1980

1980

Osha Neumann and volunteers paint “Intersections,” an enormous mural celebrating indigenous peoples, on the west side of the Willard gymnasium, along Telegraph Avenue.

1980

1980

Willard Junior High reopens in a new building designed by Collin, Byrens, Gerson and Overstreet Architects. Principal is Anthony “Jeff” Tudisco.

1986

Berkeley voters approve the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP), a local tax to support the city’s public schools.

1986

Christine Lim becomes principal of Willard.

1987

1987

Artist Malaquias Montoya is hired to paint a mural on the south wall of the school building along Stuart Street.

1989

1989

Willard is one of the first Berkeley schools made accessible to the disabled.

1989

October 17, 1989: The Loma Prieta earthquake shakes up the California coast from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, killing 63 people and collapsing part of the Nimitz Freeway.

1990

The World Wide Web is developed, revolutionizing the use of the Internet. Life will never be the same.

1990

PTA volunteer Yolanda Huang leads the Willard Greening Project, building a garden and landscaping school grounds.

1991

The catastrophic Oakland firestorm of October 20, 1991 kills 25 people and destroys thousands of homes.

1994

1994

Willard becomes a 3-year middle school, comprised of 6th through 8th grades.

1995

1995

Willard parents and teachers convert the school’s abandoned metal shop into the Metal Shop Theater.

1997

1997

During the remodeling of the Willard gymnasium, workers paint over most of the “Intersections” mural on Telegraph Avenue. Concerned neighbors call the school district to protest, and a small remnant of the mural is left untouched.

1998

Gail Hojo is appointed Willard principal.

1999

1999

The Willard Cooking and Gardening program is launched under the direction of Matt Tsang and Susanne Jensen.

2000

2000

The Willard campus is improved with a gazebo, amphitheater, and lawn.

2001

Michelle Patterson is appointed principal of Willard.

2001

September 11, 2001: Terrorists hijack four American planes and fly them into targets in New York and Washington, D.C., with one crashing in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.

2002

Willard counselor Jennifer Antonuccio helps establish the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club.

2005

Robert Ithurburn becomes Willard’s new principal.

2010

2010

Willard Pool is closed.

2013

Debbie Dean becomes principal of Willard Middle School.

2014

Black Lives Matter movement sweeps the country. Protest marches around the Bay Area attract both peaceful demonstrators and anarchists who damage and loot property. On the night of December 6, police and protesters clash in downtown Berkeley. Teargas and rubber bullets are deployed against the large crowd.

2015

In a landmark ruling, a Supreme Court decision has the effect of legalizing lesbian and gay marriage nationwide, giving same-sex couples an equal right to marry and overturning bans on same sex-marriage in states across the country.

2016

2016

Willard students and community come together to complete the Willard Mosaic Mural, designed by student Zoe Yi and adapted by Rachel Rodi, in time for Willard’s Centennial.  

2016

Willard celebrates 100 years!