Bowman High School Celebrates 50th Anniversary
The quad was surrounded by posters, balloons and streamers as hundreds of current students, teachers and administrators celebrated the 50th anniversary of Jereann Bowman High School with past students, teachers and administrators.
Known simply as Bowman, the school has become one of the jewels of continuing education in the state of California. Bowman has earned the distinction as the state’s Model Continuation School since 2001, so there was much to celebrate.
In addition to listening to speakers and enjoying food trucks, revelers relished the “Chocolate Bulldog Paws” made by the school’s culinary students, strolled through four different “decade rooms,” and appreciated the chance to reacquaint and reminisce.
“I was genuinely astonished at the turn out of people from the years past reconnecting with one another,” said Eran Zeevi, current principal at Bowman. “The night was filled with positive vibes, laughs and memories.”
The original plan for the school was discussed at a school board meeting on November 26, 1968. At that time, the “Continuation High School” was to be built on land currently occupied by Saugus High School. Jereann Bowman, a former beauty contest winner who was on the Hart Board of Trustees from 1963 to 1969, felt at the time the school could also be used for vocational training as well. Five months later the District Architect informed the Board that Saugus’ location would not be possible but a 3.3-acre site next to Canyon High School would be better. That motion passed.
Bowman High School opened in September 1969 in two portable buildings on the Canyon High School campus. In that first year, under the leadership of Principal Ed Barnhill, eight students were enrolled, 116 transferred in and 37 transferred back to their home school. It’s original intent, according to Jereann Bowman, was to be “a place… for the non-conforming kids… where youngsters could have more freedom.” The school would also serve students from the three junior highs (Arroyo Seco, Placerita and Sierra Vista). Over the years, four additional portables were added, bringing the capacity to 175 students. Bowman High School stayed in those portables until January 1992 when the current campus was completed.
Today Bowman has 15 classrooms, including a brand-new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab and culinary. Nearly 500 juniors and seniors attend classes in four different programs: morning, afternoon, independent study and night school. According to the California Dashboard, the school boasted an 81.5% graduation rate in 2018, comparable to the graduation rate of all high schools in the state (83.5%).
Attendees came from across the country, including Dr. Judy Webber, who served as principal from 1981 – 1987. George Scrase, who retired from teaching at Bowman in 1997, came from Florida.
“My favorite moment was when George Scrase came to me and shared that this was one of the best nights of his life,” Zeevi said. “He had worked at Bowman from 1983-1997. It was very touching.”
The evening was a complete success, with all who attended feeling better not only for being there, but having had Bowman in their life in one form or another. Everyone came away having faith in what is told in the school’s vision statement: “At Bowman, our purpose is to prepare students to move forward with a strong sense of self into a life filled with promise.”
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