January, 1910: Berkeley’s first junior high school opens under Charles L. Biedenbach, principal. Comprising the upper grades 7-9 of McKinley Elementary School, it is called McKinley Introductory High School and is the forerunner to Willard. (Long considered the first junior high in the United States, it actually opened a few months after the first school in Ohio.)
The Panama–Pacific International Exposition opens in San Francisco. The Claremont Hotel, served by the Key Route system, opens at the foot of Claremont Canyon in the Berkeley Hills. On the UC campus, Sather Tower (the Campanile) is completed.
National Parks Service founded by order of President Woodrow Wilson.
1916: Willard School opens
McKinley’s upper grade students move into a new Mission Revival-style school building, named Frances Willard Intermediate High School in honor of suffragist Frances Willard. Wellyn B. Clark is principal.
April 6, 1917: The United States enters the First World War, joining Britain, France, and Russia in fighting against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
June 30, 1917: The UC Theatre opens on University near Shattuck as a first run movie house.
The 1918 Flu Pandemic causes millions of deaths worldwide, including some 5,000 victims in the San Francisco Bay Area.
November 11, 1918: With the signing of the Armistice between Germany and the Allies, World War I comes to a close.
The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, giving American women the right to vote.
Willard’s first Spring Day – known as “Old Clothes Day” – kicks off a festive annual tradition that continues for decades.
Nation’s first Junior Traffic patrol formed in Berkeley. Willard students are enthusiastic participants.
September 17, 1923: The Berkeley Hills Fire sweeps down from Wildcat Canyon to just north of the UC Berkeley campus, destroying nearly 600 homes.
October 1929: The stock market crashes in what will later be seen as the start of the Great Depression.
Harry H. Glessner becomes principal of Willard. The school yearbook features individual portraits of graduating students for the first time.
May 1937: The Golden Gate Bridge is completed, at the time the longest suspension bridge main span in the world.
C. K Hayes is named principal of Willard.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. enters World War II.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066. More than 100,000 people of Japanese descent are forced to relocate to camps for the duration of the war. Some 1,300 Berkeley residents, including at least 20 Willard students, are among them.
Due to a paper shortage, the school ceases publication of the Target yearbook for the duration of the war.
Herbert N. McClellan becomes principal of Willard.
V-J Day: With the surrender of the Japanese Army to Allied Forces, World War II comes to an end.
The I (Industrial Arts) building and the boys’ gymnasium are constructed.
On April 28, 1955, 14-year-old Willard student Stephanie Bryan disappears while walking home from school. At a time when violent crime is rare in the city, the case shocks Berkeley and garners national news headlines, with the FBI taking part in the investigation. Three months later, her body is found in Trinity County, on property owned by the family of UC student Burton Abbott. Abbott is convicted of Stephanie’s murder and executed in March of 1957.
Rosa Parks refuses to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Her arrest leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event in the Civil Rights Movement.
J. T. Aungst is named principal of Willard.
Arthur V. Shearer becomes principal of Willard.
The March on Washington marks an important moment in the civil rights movement, as some 250,000 people gather on the National Mall and Martin Luther King, Jr., delivers his “I have a dream” speech.
November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. Willard students later receive an award for their publication commemorating the event and mourning the loss of the President.
Cafetorium and the administration building added. Willard Pool opens in June 1964.
July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. October 1964: The UC Berkeley campus sees the birth of the Free Speech Movement.
Willard becomes a two-year junior high school, comprising only the 7th and 8th grades. (West Campus will serve until 1983 as a school for 9th graders only.)
January 30: North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive. April 4: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated in Memphis. June 5: Bobby Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles.
In the fall of 1968 Berkeley becomes the first city in the nation to voluntarily institute comprehensive school desegregation, from elementary through high schools. It is the culmination of a four-year process led by Superintendent Neil Sullivan.
May 15, 1969: Willard school is teargassed when a confrontation between Berkeley demonstrators and police turns violent on “Bloody Thursday.”
Willard Park is formed through a joint use agreement between the City and the school district. Dubbed “Ho Chi Minh Park” by community activists, it was officially named Willard Park in 1982.
Levi Poe becomes principal of Willard.
The Center for Independent Living, a groundbreaking program to empower people with disabilities, is established in downtown Berkeley.
Congress passes Title IX, legislation barring discrimination based on gender.
February 4, 1974: Heiress Patty Hearst, a Cal student, is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army from her apartment a few blocks away from the Willard campus.
The original school building is deemed unsound and slated for demolition. Willard closes for three years while a new building is constructed.
California passes Proposition 13, making public school districts dependent on the state’s general fund rather than on local property taxes.
Osha Neumann and volunteers paint “Intersections,” an enormous mural celebrating indigenous peoples, on the west side of the Willard gymnasium, along Telegraph Avenue.
Willard Junior High reopens in a new building designed by Collin, Byrens, Gerson and Overstreet Architects. Principal is Anthony “Jeff” Tudisco.
Berkeley voters approve the Berkeley Schools Excellence Program (BSEP), a local tax to support the city’s public schools.
Christine Lim becomes principal of Willard.
Artist Malaquias Montoya is hired to paint a mural on the south wall of the school building along Stuart Street.
Willard is one of the first Berkeley schools made accessible to the disabled.
October 17, 1989: The Loma Prieta earthquake shakes up the California coast from Santa Cruz to San Francisco, killing 63 people and collapsing part of the Nimitz Freeway.
The World Wide Web is developed, revolutionizing the use of the Internet. Life will never be the same.
PTA volunteer Yolanda Huang leads the Willard Greening Project, building a garden and landscaping school grounds.
The catastrophic Oakland firestorm of October 20, 1991 kills 25 people and destroys thousands of homes.
Willard becomes a 3-year middle school, comprised of 6th through 8th grades.
Willard parents and teachers convert the school’s abandoned metal shop into the Metal Shop Theater.
During the remodeling of the Willard gymnasium, workers paint over most of the “Intersections” mural on Telegraph Avenue. Concerned neighbors call the school district to protest, and a small remnant of the mural is left untouched.
Gail Hojo is appointed Willard principal.
The Willard Cooking and Gardening program is launched under the direction of Matt Tsang and Susanne Jensen.
The Willard campus is improved with a gazebo, amphitheater, and lawn.
Michelle Patterson is appointed principal of Willard.
September 11, 2001: Terrorists hijack four American planes and fly them into targets in New York and Washington, D.C., with one crashing in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
Willard counselor Jennifer Antonuccio helps establish the school’s Gay Straight Alliance club.
Robert Ithurburn becomes Willard’s new principal.
Willard Pool is closed.
Debbie Dean becomes principal of Willard Middle School.
Black Lives Matter movement sweeps the country. Protest marches around the Bay Area attract both peaceful demonstrators and anarchists who loot and damage property. On the night of December 6, police and protesters clash in downtown Berkeley. Teargas and rubber bullets are deployed against the large crowd.
In a landmark ruling, a Supreme Court decision has the effect of legalizing lesbian and gay marriage nationwide, giving same-sex couples an equal right to marry and overturning bans on same sex-marriage in states across the country.
Willard students and community come together to complete the Willard Mosaic Mural, designed by student Zoe Yi and adapted by Rachel Rodi, in time for Willard’s Centennial.
Willard celebrates 100 years!