The Evolution of St. John Bosco High School: A Lifelong Development

by Enrique Gutierrez

Over the past 80 years, St. John Bosco High School has made its name academically and athletically. Bosco Brave students over the generations have developed in mind, body and spirit from Bosco’s Salesian model of providing a home, school, church, and playground. 

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Photo by the Bosco Advancement Offices

Since its founding in 1940, St. John Bosco High School has made a name for itself in Southern California through its continued improvement in the areas of technology, athletics and student life. In tracking the evolution of our school, one thing is for sure: Bosco wasn’t built in a day.

Technology 

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All Photos Credit to Bosco Advancement Offices

Mr. Eddie Torre, a religious instructor,  started working at St. John Bosco in 1994, and reflected on the growth of how  student life has developed tremendously due to technological advancements. The technology that has been created helped both the student and the teacher in a multitude of ways. Whether emailing a teacher for academic support or using online platforms to complete assignments, technology has changed tremendously since the beginning of Torre’s tenure. 

“The technology that we have at our disposal, still trying to use that as adults and students… The genie is already out of the bottle, we have figure the best way to use it for your guy’s learning,” said Torre.

One of Bosco’s science department teachers, Mr. Nathan Corkhill, has experienced change in technology since he attended Bosco. 

“A major difference was that at lunch instead of being in the classroom, we were all outside. We were divided yet unified with the benches; like sophomores here, juniors here. We unified around food, we had music playing sometimes,”  he said

This change has affected students because students nowadays prefer to be indoors with air conditioner, than to be outside and acknowledge nature’s beauty.  Following generations of Braves must navigate the great age of tech. It has been an awesome privilege to be able to be a part of the development of new technology, but it also comes with new challenges for teachers and new distractions for students.

Athletics

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DJ Uiagalelei throws the ball for one of his four touchdowns on the night. Photo by EC Sabin

St. John Bosco offers a variety of activities for students to join. Bosco is highly known for their football and wrestling teams in recent history. Throughout the years that Bosco has been an active high school, coaches and players have come and gone in a constant improvement toward our sports teams becoming nationally recognized stand-outs.

In 2005, wrestling, volleyball, football, and cross country dominated within their lower levels. The varsity teams tended to be not as successful as the Junior Varsity and Frosh/Soph teams. Bosco was always good non-conference, but as years changed it flipped around and all athletic programs became lethal in their own rights. 

“Back in the day? No, we were bad. But, we’ve always had a good wrestling team. It all depends on the coaching. Coach Negro [head Football Coach] came in, he has coached to his potential. Coach McIntosh [Cross Country and Track Coach], the cross country team has been awesome. When Coach Delgado started coaching the wrestling team, it skyrocketed. We’ve always had the talent, we just didn’t have the coaches to coach the players up to their potential,” said Mr. Torre.

Tim McIntosh is Bosco’s head cross-country coach and teaches civics and economics. Mr. McIntosh attended Bosco in 1975 and graduated in 1979. When Coach Mac attended Bosco, athletics were good in the 1970’s. According to Mr. Mcintosh, the school always had a good football program and other competitive sports. 

“We were always – in every sport – winning a league title or going to CIF.  It was different because we were in the Del Rey league, which was more isolated. But now we are in the Orange County league so we have to travel there a lot,” said Mcintosh regarding the changes in high school competition. 

Coaching and practice are major keys to be successful at something you enjoy. Practice makes perfect and leads to championships. In the 1970’s, Bosco’s opponents were easy competition as coaches gave their best effort in wanting to make history. In contrast, according to Mr. Torre and Mr. Corkhill, Bosco athletics struggled by and large throughout the early 2000s with exceptions in cross country, track and field and wrestling.

Campus Renovations and Student Involvementbest-student-learning-commons

Ms. Valerie Macrae, an art instructor, has been teaching at St. John Bosco since 2007. Being located in the 400 buildings on campus, she has a clear view of the school and sees how students interact with one another.

The Bosco campus has changed immensely from 2007 to 2018. Since 2007, the 300 building has been renovated with a new Learning Commons (2016), a new athletic field was put in (2017) and obviously the recent addition of the new football stadium (2018). Every year, St. John Bosco has introduced something new and are yet to stop the changes on site. 

“It was much more rough around the edges here on campus. We certainly did not have a new stadium, a new soccer field. It was down and rough,” said Ms. MaCrae. 

Mr. Corkhill has been teaching for five years here at Bosco, teaching classes such as Environmental Science, AP Biology, and Computer Science. Mr. Corkhill attended Bosco as a student from 2005 to 2009. Bosco has always provided activities and clubs for students to be apart of. Student Council and Associated Student Body (ASB) have always been something Bosco has used to help students make the best of their high school days at St. John Bosco. One of the major changes has been the involvement of students with other grade levels and activities. 

“When you are actually apart of it, it’s kind of cool to see all your friends or all grade levels participating all together,” said Mr. Corkhill about the ASB program.

One huge event that has always brought the Bosco community together has been the faculty softball games against the students annually. According to Mr. Corkhill, these softball games used to be a much more frequent thing than just being once a year.

“I think it benefited the school spirit and helped communicate information too. Everybody in the same spot, at the same time,” said Mr. Corkhill. 

Based on interviews with alumni, previous ASB Councils and club leaders tended to be more active with student involvement. ASB would have their own food sales, different clubs would be outside representing themselves and every lunch there would be an ice cream sale.

“There was so much going on that lunch wasn’t a time of seclusion. It was a time of ‘let’s get this going.’ It was fun and was really ‘brotherhood time’,” said Corkhill.

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Mr. David Mestas, a religion instructor and ex-tennis coach, has been working at St. John Bosco since 1997. He believes one of the biggest changes at Bosco has been the student dress code. Bosco has always been strict on dress code as a private school. In the early 2000’s, Bosco’s authority prohibited students to wear sweater hoodies. Hoodies were banned in classrooms as students tended to abuse them and cover their headphones with the hoodie.

Along with hoodies, students in the late 1990’s were prohibited from bringing backpacks to school. Students were to carry their belongings all day in hand and their only source of storage would be a locker. 

“There was a time where backpacks were not allowed. The students would have to carry their books and either put them in the locker room or they were just not allowed in the classroom at all,” said Mr. Mestas. 

Seniors are the main figures at Bosco and underclassmen obviously observe what they do. Bosco seniors have always had senior privileges as they are granted after the first quarter of the school year. It has always been a long wait and has been something for seniors to look forward to. Some privileges that have been active in the past here were early lunch dismissals, senior free dress on Fridays, non-shaves, and tattoos. Besides senior students having these advantages, these restrictions has been misused by other grade levels. 

“Unfortunately, over the last four years, those things [non-shaves and tattoos] haven’t really been reinforced as much,” said Mr. Mestas. 

In contrast, Vice Principal of Student Affairs and former dean Adan Jaramillo believes that this year, administration will be more on top of their jobs. This year’s administration has given students lunch suspensions and have taken other actions against students who fail to follow school rules such as dress code.

“I came to Bosco where there was a time where it was very ‘do this, do that, don’t do this,’” said Mr. Jaramillo.

Bosco’s administration is taking a time machine back to a time where enforcing strict rules was a primary focus. Mr. Jaramillo believes that ‘consistency and equity’ are the two most important roles to be taken when addressing students who do not follow school policy.

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Ms. Michelle Tracy, an English instructor, started working at Bosco in 1999, but years later decided to teach at a different school. However, last year Tracy came back to Bosco, as nothing compares to the students and community here, in her opinion.

Ms. Tracy expresses Bosco’s evolution as something great to be a part of. At the beginning of her time teaching at St. John Bosco, the school was known as just a local high school. Diversity has been something new for Bosco. The difference has been students from different counties enduring the travel just to be a part of the Bosco community. St. John Bosco’s diversity has changed due to sports and activities that are offered as well.

“Most of our students came from local schools but also schools from past the 105 freeway. We have students coming from everywhere to Bosco, being well-known in a lot of different areas. The students feel like the teachers are there for them and that they are accompanied, and you don’t necessarily get that at a public school,” said Ms. Tracy.

As Bosco has grown in the different fields of academics and sports, it has drawn more attention and exposure from middle schoolers and parents. Bosco’s great recent athletes, such as Josh Rosen (football), Evan Longoria and Nomar Garciaparra (baseball), as well as Zahid and Anthony Valencia (wrestling), have given new generations of Braves an inspiration to attend Bosco. 

Coach McIntosh attended Bosco in an age of growth. During the 1970’s, technology was at a state of development as the first digital camera and the 8-bit Apple II was just invented. A major change in Bosco’s exposure has been the internet. People were not aware of other existing schools regarding athletics and academics. Sports would be covered by local newspapers to provide game scores and coverage. 

“With the invention of technology and the internet, it has blown up high school sports. Now, we are known nationally. We’re that good to be known and the internet has blown that up,” said Coach Mac regarding Bosco’s sport and school exposure. 

Technology and the internet has given Bosco the attention that we deserve. Bosco is a top-notch school that people across the country know about. One of the main reasons that Bosco has gained attention is due to their sports. But academics still reign supreme here, and the mission to develop and become well-rounded Bosco men continues to attract a diverse array of talented students and faculty.

One comment

  • John Henry Van Ruiten

    It sure would be nice to read about St. John Bosco high school before 1940. Did anyone know that this 36 acre property was a hayfield owned by one of the founding fathers of Bellflower?A Dutch immigrant and very devout Catholic, Bert Van Ruiten was extremely generous to the Salesians, donating his hayfield for the school site. His brother Pete started a few scholarship funds that are still benefiting students today. These were two guys that believed in a great Catholic education and stepped up when it came time to make it happen.

    Like

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