Taft Union High School

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Taft Union High School
1 Wildcat Way
Taft, California, Kern, 93268
United States
Coordinates 35°08′47″N 119°27′38″W / 35.146508°N 119.460462°W / 35.146508; -119.460462Coordinates: 35°08′47″N 119°27′38″W / 35.146508°N 119.460462°W / 35.146508; -119.460462
School type Public School
Founded 1912
Colour(s)      Blue

Taft Union High School is located in Taft in Kern County, California, in the United States. Taft High was founded in 1912. Taft is a small city and the school also serves the surrounding rural area, with a total population of about 20,000.The school was featured in the movie "The Best of Times" with Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. Taft was also in the 1996 movie For My Daughter's Honor, with the name changed to Tate Union High School.[2] Parts of the movie Frog-g-g! were filmed at TUHS as well.[citation needed]


Founding and early history[edit]

In February 1909 Thomas Conley and Wilson St. Clair Lierly circulated petitions for the establishment of the first school district. Classes started September 1909 in a small frame shack near the Moron Boiler Works at Crystal Street and Leirly Avenue near Boust City. The district was formed in 1915 and named after Conley who donated property for the school. By 1917 a new campus was completed on property purchased from Southern Pacific Railroad on the northwest corner of Seventh and San Emidio Streets; the present day location.

The Conley High School District became the Taft Union High School District in July 1920 by including Elk Hills, Midway, Mckittrick and Olig elementary school districts.

Even without a field to practice in TUHS' first football team was formed under coach Andrew Hardin. The team was known as the Gaugers, after the oilfield workers who read the gauges on oil storage tanks. In 1928 the team was renamed the Wildcats, alluding to oil prospectors ("wildcatters"), and the wildcat was adopted as the school mascot. Practices and games were played in the baseball field. A Taft-Bakersfield rivalry intensified over the next 30 years, and traditionally the Taft-Bakerfield game was the last game of the season and would draw crowds upwards of 7000 for games played in Taft. Unfortunately it was a rare occurrence when Taft won; changing in 1928 when Taft not only defeated Bakersfield High for the first time but the Wildcats won their first valley championship. They won a second Valley Championship in 2007 and after that the team went into a severe decline. The varsity teams in the 2010 and 2011 seasons were the worst in the school's history.

TUHS continued to expand with the addition of an athletic field for football and track, a gymnasium, auditorium, science building, cafeteria and domestic science buildings. The stadium was renamed the Marion Martin Memorial Stadium in honor of a popular student and captain of the football team who was killed in a bus accident returning from a game in 1927.

The Taft Union High School District authorized the establishment of classes at the junior college level starting September 1922. Taft Junior College was the 16th junior college formed in the state. Later Taft Junior College formed its own district the West Kern Junior High School District in 1962.

2013 shooting[edit]

On January 10, 2013, the school was the site of a shooting, where one student was shot and critically injured in a classroom. At approximately 9:00 a.m., a gunman armed with a 12-gauge shotgun entered a science building on the second floor of Taft Union High School, where 28 students were present. He fired one shot, hitting a 16-year-old student, identified as Bowe Cleveland, seriously wounding him. Cleveland was airlifted to Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. The shooter also shot at another student named Jacob Nichols, but missed. Additionally, the classroom's teacher, Ryan Heber, suffered a graze wound to the head from a shotgun pellet. Heber and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields both helped evacuate the students out of the room and persuaded the gunman to drop his weapon and surrender. The gunman followed their order and was arrested by police without further incident. Taft police officers arrived to the classroom within 60 seconds of receiving 911 phone calls.[3]

According to School District Superintendent Bill McDermott, Taft Union High School was engaged in a drill at 7:30 am the morning of the incident, which would explain the rapid response of the officers to the scene. "As the campus supervisor was entering one end, it seem almost like shortly or there-after the police were coming down the hall-way that exact same time". @2:43: [4]

According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the suspect's pockets contained up to 20 rounds of ammunition at the time of his arrest.[5][6][7]

Prior to the shooting, a woman named Tia Savea who lived across the street from the high school campus reported seeing a young male walk by her window carrying a shotgun, but initially assumed was a toy. Savea said she heard two distinct gunshots.[8]

After the shooting, the school was placed on lockdown. Students were evacuated from their classrooms and were relocated to the school auditorium, where they were picked up by their parents.[9] Classes for Taft Union High were cancelled on Friday, January 11, and resumed on Monday, January 14, where counselors were available to assist students, staff and parents.[3]

The suspect was taken into custody at 9:20 a.m., and has been identified as Bryan Oliver.[10] On the following day, he booked into a Bakersfield juvenile hall for investigation of two counts of attempted murder and one count of assault with a deadly weapon.[11]

Oliver was charged as an adult on January 14 with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a firearm.[12]

Student activities[edit]

Every year in the week before spring break, the school's Student Body Association organizes "Spring Fling Week" where students are encouraged to participate in dress up days. At the end of the week there is a lip sync competition known as "Mock Rock."


  1. ^ "Taft High School (CA) Softball Home - MaxPreps.com". maxpreps.com. 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ Taft Union High School History
  3. ^ a b "Sheriff: Teen critically wounded in Taft high school shooting". Bakersfield Now. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UY6mSD0myQ
  5. ^ "16-year-old student opens fire at high school in Taft, Calif.; 2 shot". 23ABC News. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Taft High School shooting update: Reports indicate at least 1 person shot in California high school, WPTV. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013
  7. ^ Winter, Michael; Stanglin, Doug (January 10, 2013). "Calif. teen with shotgun wounds classmate in school". USA Today (January 10, 2013). Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  8. ^ Martinez, Michael (January 12, 2013). "California sheriff: Youth who shot classmate felt he'd been bullied". CNN (January 10, 2013). Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ Simmons, Ana; Santa Cruz, Nicole; Mather, Kate (January 10, 2013). "Taft classroom shooting: Heroic effort prevents further violence". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles/Taft, CA: January 11, 2013). Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Taft teacher and campus supervisor hailed as heroes". KGET. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  11. ^ Cone, Tracie (January 11, 2013). "Reports of hit list probed in CA school shooting". Associated Press. Retrieved January 11, 2013. [dead link]
  12. ^ "16-year-old charged as adult in Taft classroom shooting". Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]