Golden Oak Adult School held its 75th anniversary celebrations on Thursday, commemorating seven decades of inspiring adult students.
Kids and adults showed up wearing costumes to trick-or-treat from various booths set up by Bridge to Home, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the UCLA Phlebotomy Program, to name a few, as well as participate in an art station by Million Little and a goat petting zoo from SRD Straightening Reins.
In addition, a historical presentation, classroom tours, a silent auction and food trucks were present on the premises.
Bryan Wilson, principal of Golden Oak Adult School, welcomed attendees, as well as representatives from local elected officials’ offices.
The school was founded in 1948. Wilson discussed Golden Oak’s evolution, as well as statistics: the price of a new house in Santa Clarita was roughly $7,000 when the school was founded, a new car was $1,000 and gas was only 16 cents per gallon.
“As we look back on the decades that have passed, we are reminded of the countless success stories that have emerged from our classes, graduates who have defied the odds, who overcame challenges and who found their true potential through the power of education,” Wilson said. “Our school has been a sanctuary for those seeking to enhance their skills, transition to new careers or simply enrich their lives with knowledge and wisdom.”
Golden Oak has come a long way, first offering boating safety, to eight different English as a Second Language courses, “medical career training, diploma and high school equivalency test preparation, DIY home repair, woodworking, creative writing, and even cookie decorating, just to name a few,” according to Wilson.
Cherise Moore, a member of the William S. Hart Union High School District board of trustees, and former Golden Oak Adult School principal, addressed the crowd with statistics:
“The numbers don’t lie. In the United States, more than 48 million lacked basic reading, writing and math beyond a third-grade level,” Moore said. “Over the last 75 years, the work of Golden Oak Adult School has served to offer often disenfranchised individuals without access to other educational systems with access to adult education, where they would have a way out of poverty, a path to citizenship and a means to communicate and advocate for their children.”
Moore went on to discuss not only how proud she was of the progress made by Golden Oak, but also how she advocates for adult education.
“We need more support for adult education at the national, state and local level …Thank you for being here to celebrate Golden Oak Adult School. Thank you for sharing the mission of the adult school,” Moore said. “While it may be to some the best-kept secret, we’re not going to live with that, because we know that this school and adult schools across the country change trajectories forever. They change lives. They help dreams become reality.”
Mike Kuhlman, superintendent for the Hart district, reflected on his 28-year trajectory in education, in which one element was spent as a principal of Placerita Junior High School, which shares the lot with Golden Oak.
“I’ll share with you the moment when I realized that this was the place where people’s lives are changed — the first time that I was invited to participate in the graduation ceremony,” Kuhlman said. “I have to share with you, and I will not say this at every graduation, but this is my favorite graduation to be at because you can see lives being changed by the opportunities that are made available here in the district.”
Kuhlman discussed the goal of the district, which is to ensure that every student is provided with the same opportunities, despite age or other deciding factors.
“I just think it’s a really beautiful thing to acknowledge that for some of our students … life takes them in different directions, and that we have an institution that could bring them back and give them the opportunity to relaunch to start and open doors of opportunity,” Kuhlman said. “Our core values in the district are courage, creativity, caring and community more and what better place to exemplify those four core values.”