Skyline High School (Oakland, California)

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Coordinates: 37°47′55.89″N 122°9′41.67″W / 37.7988583°N 122.1615750°W / 37.7988583; -122.1615750

12250 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, California
United States
Type Public High School
Motto Veritas (Truth)
Established 1959
School district Oakland Unified School District
Oversight Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Principal Vinh Trinh[1]
Faculty 143
Teaching staff 91
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,137
Campus Urban
45 acres (0.18km2)
Color(s)      Red
Athletics Oakland Athletic League
Mascot Titan
Accreditation Western Association of Schools and Colleges
National ranking 25
Yearbook The Olympian

Skyline High School (also known as Sky High or SHS) is a public high school in Oakland, California. Skyline is part of the Oakland Unified School District.


Skyline High School entrance, 2009

Skyline was constructed in the late 1950s by Branagh Construction Inc. The original name chosen for skyline was Hill Area High School; two prominent Oaklanders, George R. Sistek and Sean Kingston, suggested renaming the school after the boulevard on which the school was built. The school was officially named Skyline High School in February 1961.

At the beginning of the first school year in 1961, senior administrators requested two student body representatives of each class to formulate a student government, mascot and class ring concepts.

On December 14, 1961, the student body voted to adopt a Greek theme. They first selected a house-type government, in which the students of Skyline were divided into five counseling groups containing sophomores, juniors and seniors. They were assigned to one of the following houses: Delta, Epsilon, Phi, Chi, and Omega.

The five houses would not only sponsor events, but would often compete against each other in various activities. This included things, such as bake-offs and sports. In 1974, the student body voted to combine the house in order to promote the spirit of unity, and the competitions would be phased out in favor of a new event, Titanpalooza, which was Skyline's annual homecoming fair. Since then, Titanpalooza has continued to be an annual tradition while the spirit of competition has been preserved through intramural sports.

Each house had an executive branch, a legislative branch, and a judicial branch. The officials within each branch were elected by the members of their house. Each house had a court, where they would assist the administration in various school decisions. If a student was late to class many times, the court would decide what the student’s punishment would be. Currently, however, a new system has been instituted, and is known on campus as "tardy sweeps." Under this system, students who are caught outside of class without a valid pass during school hours are rounded up by security and placed in the cafeteria for the duration of the class period, a controversial method which has been partially effective in motivating students to attend more classes.

After 1974, when the Greek system was phased out due to a student body vote, the student government remained, though it now represented each class instead of different houses. In addition, the Associated Student Body was created in order to represent the interests of the entire student body.

Despite the phase-out of the Greek system, the students chose to continue maintaining the Greek theme, and going along with this, chose the Titan as the school mascot.

In Greek mythology, the Titans were mighty giants. They were valiant warriors who were revered and idolized for their greatness and eternal glory. Originally, Skyline considered adopting the moniker "Warriors," but this title was already taken by rival McClymonds.

The Greek theme was carried on to the newspaper and the yearbook. In Greece, an oracle was a person through whom a deity was believed to speak and, thus reveal a vast amount of hidden knowledge. As a result, the newspaper was named the Oracle and was dedicated to bringing knowledge to students.

The yearbook was entitled the Olympian, which was also used to promote the prominence of the new school. Olympians in Greek mythology were the 12 principal gods of the Greek pantheon. By calling the yearbook The Olympian, the students hoped its reputation would reflect the dedicated and hardworking faculty and student body which were shown in the yearbook pages.[2]


Principal: Vinh Trinh Assistant Principal(s): Marisol Arkin, Anya Gurholdt, Elin Peinado and Christina Macalino[3]

The administration currently makes use of iPads to monitor student learning. Principal Johnston's was bought out of his own pocket while his assistant principals had theirs footed by the school budget. Jeff Rogers was originally a cyber high teacher, but Principal Johnston found the money in the budget to hire Rogers.[3]


The view from behind Skyline High School

Skyline High School is located on a 45-acre (180,000 m2) campus at the crest of the Oakland hills. The campus is near the Redwood Regional Park and has a panoramic view of the San Francisco Bay Area. The location of the campus is in an affluent residential neighborhood away from commercial venues.

The campus[edit]

The Senior Quad
Skyline High pergola overlooking the Senior Quad

The school has dedicated various parts of the campus to the different class level, these are:

  • Senior Lawn
  • Junior Quarter
  • Sophomore Square
  • Freshman Bungalow

The Atlas Freshmen House[edit]

The Junior Quarter overlooking the food court
The Junior Quarter up-close

In 2009, Skyline launched Atlas, a program for freshmen.

In the Atlas system, each ninth grader is placed in a team named after a mythological figure represented by Skyline’s mascot, the Titan. Atlas is the Titan who carries the heavens on his shoulders, so giving his name to the freshman house symbolizes a commitment to building a strong foundation for a new Skyline.

In the Atlas system, each ninth grader shares the same four teachers for Math, Social Studies, English, and Science. This provides teachers with a greater opportunity to intercommunicate about the students' social and academic development.

Freshmen also attend a weekly "Advisory" period during which they receive lessons in academic and career planning, study skills, interpersonal development and citizenship.

With each teacher serving as an advisor for 25 students, the Atlas system permits a greater connection to be established between teachers, students, and families. As one teacher stated, "No one falls through the cracks."[4]


The Sophomore Square
The Sophomore Square

Skyline High School is known as the innovator of an event called Club Rush, in which all of the student organizations at Skyline High School gather on the Senior Quad during a 30-minute lunchtime period in order to recruit new members to join their ranks. This event has been going on ever since it came as a result of the efforts of student body president Jeffery K. James in 1964, and has been an annual occurrence ever since.

Skyline High School is also known for its annual homecoming festival, Titanpalooza, in which Skyline students, staff, and alumni all gather on the Senior Quad for a cornucopia of fun, food, and games. It is organized by the Skyline Leadership class, and generally takes place before the homecoming football game.


Skyline High School students at the quad

Skyline High School first graduating class was in 1962. At that time, the student body was predominantly white. The school's demographics have changed over the years. In 2012–2013 Skyline has over 2,000 students with an approximate demographic distribution of:[5]


The Freshman Bungalow (Skyline High Sustainability)

Skyline High School has committed to "minimize its energy use, reduce negative environmental impacts and promote environmental stewardship." The Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee has developed a set of ambitious goals for the school to reduce its carbon emissions and eventually achieve carbon neutrality. Skyline High is going Green website collects information about Skyline's progress toward greenhouse gas emissions reductions and related campus initiatives like courses, research, projects and student groups.[6]



Skyline High School students may choose either to pursue in general studies or enroll in an academy.

Selmer Berg auditorium, home to the Farnsworth Theater at Skyline High School
Inside the Farnsworth Theater at Skyline High School

Skyline High academies are "schools within a school" centered on career fields. Ninth grade students apply to the Academy of their choice Spring semester. Students study with the same team of teachers and group of students from 10th to 12th grades in their English/Social Studies and academy lab courses. Some courses include math and/or science, depending on the Academy of choice. Students can take advantage of internships and paid summer jobs in their fields. There are four academies.[7]

The Oakland Film office lists Skyline High School as a potential filming location in Oakland.[8]

Skyline High School covered walkway


Skyline High Track and Field
Skyline High Football Field on a rainy day

Skyline High School competes in the Oakland Athletic League (OAL). It currently offers 27 sports programs.

Campus safety and security[edit]

Skyline maintains a full-time force of school police officers who use cameras and foot patrols to monitor inappropriate activities on school grounds. The officers can be dispatched when needed by the Oakland Police Communications Center or from the main office at the school. Students are required to present a student identification card before entering and exiting the campus during school hours. The added security provides a safe haven for the student body at Skyline High.

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Amazon Eve – World's Tallest Model, actress Hemlock Grove (TV series) as Shelley Godfrey and Family Tools as the tall customer, and physical trainer
  • Paul F. Lorence – Captain, U.S. Air Force; Killed In Action over Gulf of Sidra, Operation Eldorado Canyon, 14–15 April 1986
  • Neil Smythe – Captain, U.S. Army; Class of 2002. Graduated from UC Berkeley in 2009. Deployed to Fallujah Iraq from 2004–2005, received Army Commendation Medal, deployed to Afghanistan from 2011–2012 received Bronze Star, current member of US Army Special Operations.
  • Libby Schaaf - Politician and current Mayor of Oakland

See also[edit]


External links[edit]