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Pioneers of Local Education and the Names Behind our Local Schools (continued)

David Burcham

Burcham Elementary School 5610 E Monlaco Rd, Long Beach, CA 90808

David Burcham has been credited for the strong moral fiber that ran through Long Beach Polytechnic High School for many decades. Burcham dedicated 34 years to the “home of scholars and champions” as its principal from 1907 to 1941. He earned the nickname “Daddy” because his word was taken as law and he was a leader during many years that were challenged by local and national events. Burcham saw his community through the tail end of the depression, which had made the notion of the “American Dream” appear as a figment not within the grasps of reality. Shaking things up even more would be the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, which destroyed significant portions of the campus. Tents flooded “Burcham Field” as classes were hosted under trees and on the bleachers until the school was rebuilt. Before making his departure into retirement, Burcham wrote in the 1941 Caerulea, Poly’s yearbook, of “these trying days” and the pressing need for educating a “loyal and intelligent citizenry, without which democracy cannot long survive.” His message preceded the bombing of Pearl Harbor that ensued in December of the same year, which made World War II no longer a war fought among powers across the oceans. It would give way to the internment of the Japanese and Long Beach’s involvement in the war as men shipped off to battle and more women became part of the workforce.

Miss Priss Cupcakes & Such

By the time he passed in 1955, the war had ended and there were small moments of peace. Burcham Field no longer hosted classes in tents, as it resumed its intended use of shaping championship-winning athletes. The Board of Education had announced the opening of three new schools in 1948, with one of them bearing David Burcham’s name. Burcham’s impacts also lingered at Poly and his spirit was carried on through his family. Burcham’s son Reverend Hugh David Burcham, who was a senior at Poly during the 1933 earthquake, participated on boards for the LBUSD and Long Beach City College. Burcham’s grandson, also named David, became the activities director at Poly and emphasized the need for community when tension was high over the integration of students of color in schools. Times of crisis are inescapable; but Burcham’s presence in Long Beach helped hold things together. It also transcended time to inspire future generations to unite as a community when facing the uncertainties of chaos.

Kettering Classical Elementary School 550 Silvera Ave, Long Beach, CA 90803

Kettering Classical Elementary School joined the district in 1956 as its 54th elementary school. The school is named after Charles Kettering, an American inventor who held 186 patents in his lifetime. Among his most significant inventions was the first electric ignition device for automobiles, which would be one of his many contributions to the auto industry. Stepping into the realm of medicine, Kettering, along with other heads of General Motors, also founded the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City in 1945.

George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver Elementary School 5335 E Pavo St, Long Beach, CA

George Washington Carver is best known for his research on peanuts and contributions to the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute. In his youth, Carver, an African-American, sought freedom through education and underwent a series of relocations where the color of his skin would not be a barrier. This sense of perseverance is present at George Washington Carver Elementary today, as it recently welcomed the addition of a playground that can accommodate children with disabilities, an effort that sends a powerful message of inclusivity!

Will Rogers

Rogers Middle School 365 Monrovia Ave, Long Beach, CA 90803

The school takes its name after actor Will Rogers, whose time as an artist evolved with the industry as he performed in vaudeville circuits, silent films and in Western film “talkies.” Outside of show business, Rogers wrote 4,000 syndicated columns, six books, and rose to be a prominent radio broadcaster and government commentator. His use of natural humor discussing his observations, which he delivered in a simple and relatable manner, garnered him a following and cemented him as a respected voice in the American public.

LA Metro

Millikan High School 2800 Snowden Ave, Long Beach, CA 90815

Millikan High School is named after Robert A. Millikan, an American physicist and author who contributed to numerous scientific journals. As a scientist, Millikan made the most strides in the fields of electricity, optics and molecular physics. His work in the 1920s focused on a spectrum of radiation that would lead to the discovery of a law regarding the movement of particles after they entered Earth’s atmosphere. The discovery earned him a Nobel Prize in 1923. The Millikan mascot RAM is an abbreviation of his initials.

Woodrow Wilson

Wilson High School 4400 E 10th St, Long Beach, CA 90804

Wilson High School derives its name from Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States. While the school’s name taps into a significant figure in American history, the high school has created an impressive legacy of its own. Wilson High School officially opened its doors in 1926 and the accolades pour in with each graduating class. The school has established a tradition of academic excellence and is ranked among the top schools in the district and the country. Its athletic achievements are also notable as they have molded many future professional athletes and Olympians.


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