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Santa Clara Schools are Named in Honor of Local Citizens

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Local History Librarian Mary Hanel said that recent interest in origins of local school names prompted her to write about it. She provides the following background on the people whose names are now associated with schools in the Santa Clara Unified School District.

Pritchard Court is named for J.L. Pritchard who served as Mayor from 1926-1928 and then again in 1949-1950. Fargher Drive is named in honor of Lawrence Fargher who served as both a Mayor and a City Councilman in the mid-to-late 1960s. Another resident said that Lyle Court is named for Lyle Grigsby who was a surveyor and then Chief Public Works Inspector in the City of Santa Clara Engineering Department during the 1960s and 1970s.

Bracher School is named for Karl E. Bracher who was an early day Santa Clara orchardist. A native of Germany, he came with his parents to Santa Clara in 1885 when he was 8 years old. His family had extensive orchard properties and operated the Bracher Fruit Company. Their ranch home was on Kifer Road.

Buchser High School was named in honor of the Superintendent of Schools, Emil R. Buchser, who headed the school district when the building opened in 1958. His son, Emil R. Buchser Jr. was the first principal of the new high school. At the time Emil Buchser died in 1969, his obituary noted that "all but two of his nine brothers and sisters were teachers or administrators in Santa Clara County Schools as are his two sons".

Haman School was built in 1952 and named in honor of Carl W. Haman, who at the time was chairman of the Board of Education of Santa Clara schools. When he laid the cornerstone of the new elementary school, he was retired from Rosenberg Brothers and he and his wife still lived in the same house they had first moved into in Santa Clara in 1905. When Mr. Haman died in October 1957 he was widely hailed as Santa Clara's "Mr. Education."

Peterson Middle School opened in 1965 and is named in honor of Marian A. Peterson. A native Santa Claran, Mrs. Peterson graduated from San Jose State and taught primary grades for many years in San Jose and Santa Clara schools. Mrs. Peterson retired from teaching after World War II but served more than 10 years as a board member of both the Santa Clara Elementary School and the Santa Clara High School districts in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These school districts unified with the old Jefferson School District and Alviso to form the Santa Clara Unified School District in 1966.

Wilcox High School was built in the early 1960s and was named for Adrian Wilcox who served as a member of the Santa Clara Union High School Board of Trustees for more than 30 years. Mr. Wilcox graduated from Santa Clara High School and the University of California. The pear rancher was a descendant of the Hon. Isaiah A. Wilcox, a pioneer Santa Clara pear, prune and strawberry horticulturist known throughout the State in the 1880s for his "Experimental Gardens."

Wilson High School, now used for Santa Clara Unified School District's Adult Education classes, originally served as an intermediate school when it opened in 1955 and was named in honor of local bakery owner William A. Wilson. The school board noted, in selecting his name for the new school, that he "spearheaded the drive for City swimming pool facilities, which resulted in construction in 1950 of three pools on school premises-a children's pool, a racing pool and a diving pool."

Contact Local History Librarian Mary Hanel at the Santa Clara Central Library, (408) 615-2909, or send her an email if you have other information or stories about the naming of schools or streets in Santa Clara.

 

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