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 of fewer than 10,000, and the school also serves the surrounding rural area, which in the early 21st century has a total population of about 20,000.

The school was featured in the movie The Best of Times (1986) starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. Taft was also seen in For My Daughter's Honor (1996).[2] Parts of the movie Frog-g-g! (2004) 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 to establish the first school district in the town. Classes started September 1909 in a small frame shack near the Moron Boiler Works at Crystal Street and Leirly Avenue near what was then Boust City. The district was formed in 1915 and named after Conley, who had donated property for the school.[2]

By 1917 a new campus was completed on property purchased from Southern Pacific Railroad on the northwest corner of Seventh and San Emidio Streets; this is the present-day location. The Conley High School District was expanded in July 1920 by including Elk Hills, Midway, Mckittrick and Olig elementary school districts. It was then renamed as the Taft Union High School District.[2]

TUHS has been developed over the decades, with the additions of an athletic field for football and track, a gymnasium, auditorium, science building, cafeteria and domestic science buildings. The stadium was renamed as the Marion Martin Memorial Stadium in honor of a popular student and captain of the football team who was killed in 1927 in a bus accident returning from a game.[2]

TUHS' first football team was formed under coach Andrew Hardin, although the school did not have a football field. The team was known as the Gaugers, after the oilfield workers who read the gauges on oil storage tanks. These were boom years for oil in Texas and Oklahoma. 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. Traditionally the Taft-Bakerfield game was the last game of the season and would draw crowds upwards of 7000 for games played in Taft. It was rare for Taft to win, but in 1928 Taft defeated Bakersfield High for the first time and the Wildcats won their first Valley Championship.[2] They won a second Valley Championship in 2007, following which the team has had few successes.[citation needed]

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. In 1962 Taft Junior College formed its own district: the West Kern Junior High School District.

Student activities[edit]

Taft High has many extracurricular activities for students. The school holds many dress-up weeks, including but not limited to dress-up days prior to the weeks of Christmas and Spring break.

The school also offers numerous sports, including Golf, Swimming, Football, Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Soccer etc.

Taft High's drama department puts on one musical a year; roles are open by audition. Its Music department (Band,Jazz Band,Advanced Choir,Choir) holds concerts which are free to the public.

2013 shooting[edit]

On January 10, 2013, the school was the site of a shooting in a classroom. At 9:00 a.m., a gunman armed with a 12-gauge shotgun entered a second-floor classroom where 28 students were present. He shot and seriously wounded 16-year-old Bowe Cleveland. The youth was treated at Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield. The shooter shot at but missed another student. He shot at the teacher, Ryan Heber, who suffered a graze wound to the head. Heber and campus supervisor Kim Lee Fields persuaded the gunman to drop his weapon and surrender, and evacuated the students from the room. The gunman was arrested by police, who arrived quickly.[3][4][5][6] In what has become standard response, the school was placed on lockdown. Students were later picked up by their parents.[7] Counselors were available after students returned to classes.[3]

The suspect was identified as student Bryan Oliver,[8] who had complained of being bullied.[9] Said to have a hit list, he was charged in January 2013 as an adult with two counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon.[10][11] Bryan Oliver took a plea deal in the criminal case and was sentenced to 27 years and 4 months in prison. After sentencing, shooting victim Bowe Cleveland and his attorney Daniel Rodriguez, founding attorney of Rodriguez & Associates,[12] filed a lawsuit against Taft Union High School District claiming the shooting could have been avoided.[13]

Representation in popular culture[edit]

The school was featured in the movie The Best of Times (1986) starring Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. Taft was also seen in For My Daughter's Honor (1996).[2] Parts of the movie Frog-g-g! (2004) were filmed at TUHS as well.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Taft High School (CA) Softball Home - MaxPreps.com". maxpreps.com. 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ "16-year-old student opens fire at high school in Taft, Calif.; 2 shot". 23ABC News. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Taft High School shooting update: Reports indicate at least 1 person shot in California high school, WPTV. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013
  6. ^ Winter, Michael; Stanglin, Doug (January 10, 2013). "Calif. teen with shotgun wounds classmate in school". USA Today. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "Taft teacher and campus supervisor hailed as heroes". KGET. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  9. ^ Martinez, Michael (January 12, 2013). "California sheriff: Youth who shot classmate felt he'd been bullied". CNN. January 10, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  10. ^ Cone, Tracie (January 11, 2013). "Reports of hit list probed in CA school shooting". Associated Press. Retrieved January 11, 2013. [dead link]
  11. ^ "16-year-old charged as adult in Taft classroom shooting". Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Daniel Rodriguez | Rodriguez & Associates | Bakersfield, California". Rodriguez and Associates. Retrieved 2016-05-20. 
  13. ^ Group, Sinclair Broadcast. "Bryan Oliver takes plea deal in Taft HS shooting case". KBAK. Retrieved 2016-05-20. 

External links[edit]