November 9, 2020
Statement from Superintendent Brent Stephens
We extend our congratulations to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris, and note the significance of this moment to every Berkeley Unified student and educator, past and present. An alumna of Berkeley Unified School District, once a little girl who attended our Thousand Oaks Elementary School, will become the next Vice President of the United States.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris demonstrates that with a focus on education, equity, perseverance and personal grit, students around the country, and right here in Berkeley, can rise to help lead a nation. This is a momentous occasion for every student and educator in the Berkeley public school community, and especially for the District’s female students, and students of color.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School, joining the second cohort to participate in Berkeley Unified School District’s pioneering voluntary bussing plan for school integration. The Vice President-Elect’s first-grade teacher at Thousand Oaks was Mrs. Frances Wilson, a teacher who, according to Harris, went “above and beyond,” and changed her life. Mrs. Wilson was in the audience to cheer her on when the Vice President-Elect graduated from Hastings College of Law. This meaningful and enduring support is a tribute to Berkeley public school educators, who hold a deep and lasting commitment to every student’s life-long success.
Vice-President Kamala Harris spoke at Berkeley High School’s 2020 virtual graduation, reminding our graduates and our larger school community that our country needs them…”we need your talent, we need your drive and we need your determination, and we’re counting on you to forge the way forward.” she told students. We are deeply proud of our alumna, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, knowing that her example will inspire many Berkeley Unified students to know that they too have what it takes to lead.
Statement from Principal of Thousand Oaks Elementary School, Jacqueline Parker
We have so much pride and excitement to know that the FIRST woman of color to be chosen as our Vice President once attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley, California.
Our newly elected Vice President, Kamala Harris, is paving the way for our young girls to believe that we are capable of reaching our dreams. We have a voice, and we can be heard.
It is a great opportunity for our students to see women of color as rising leaders in this country. Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’s legacy at Thousand Oaks has been inspirational for our children. We are following her very closely as she continues to excel as a leader.
Vice President-Elect Harris Featured in Thousand Oaks Elementary School Mural
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris appears in a mural at Thousand Oaks Elementary School. (photos and video available). The artist is Miriam Klein Stahl and the mural was painted by students in the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School. Stahl is a Bay Area artist, educator and activist and the New York Times-bestselling illustrator of Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide. In addition to her work in printmaking, drawing, sculpture, paper-cut and public art, she is also the co-founder of the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School where she has taught since 1995.
Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’s Speech to the Berkeley High School Class of 2020
Vice President-Elect Harris spoke at the Berkeley High School Class of 2020 Virtual Graduation. (See minute 8:36 on the tape.)
This is the Vice President-Elect’s speech:
Greetings to the class of 2020 and congratulations.
I know this is not how you imagined celebrating this milestone, but
I want you to know that I am so proud of you and the work you have done to get here. We all know it takes a village, so I also want to thank your families and teachers and friends who encouraged you and lifted you up over these years.
And here’s the truth: You are graduating into a very different world than where we were just a few months ago, and I know you know that. There are real challenges facing our country over the coming months and years, but do not let the moment of this crisis dampen your ambitions or your hopes or your dreams.
And when you set out on your mission, know that your country needs you–that we need you. And so I want you to remember, reject false choices and always speak the truth. And remember that you never need someone’s permission to lead. Real leaders don’t ask anybody if they can lead, they just lead. And that’s what you’ve done just by being here today.
So your country needs you. We need your talent, we need your drive and we need your determination, and we’re counting on you to forge the way forward.