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Home > Campus News > A Grand Opening

A Grand Opening
Dedication Ceremony Excerpts from the dedication ceremony of the new science/academic wing
Sunday, September 21st, 2003, was an unusually hot day, with temperatures in the 90s, as hundreds of alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff, administrators and other friends of Lowell gathered for the formal dedication of Lowell's new science/academic wing. For those of you who were unable to join us on that very special day, we offer a sampling of the remarks made during the dedication ceremony, along with photos of the new wing and the event.

Click on the link to view photos of the new wing or the dedication ceremony.

Paul Cheng
Principal, Lowell High School

"We waited six long years for this wing and, about 18 months ago, when Superintendent Ackerman and Commissioner Wynns came for the ground-breaking, there was a commitment made, there was a promise made. I'm thrilled today to report to all of you that the promise has been kept."

"There's a lesson in all of this for our students: hope springs eternal and never give up."

Jonas Chin
Vice President, Student Body Council, Lowell High School

"A lot of us are bright students here at Lowell . . . and every one of us has a niche, or will find a niche, and this new building will benefit us in finding our niche or helping us develop our niche."

"We have a new language lab in this building and we have a new computer lab. Who knows? Maybe we'll have a new Nobel Laureate . . . . And we have a new state of the art ceramics room, which we've wanted for so long. Who knows? Maybe we'll have a new sculptor, even a Michelangelo."

Lisa Coughlin Clay '74
President, Lowell Alumni Association

"On behalf of the alumni association, I want to welcome you to the dedication of this new building. This is a wonderful accomplishment for all of us connected with Lowell High School and, as an alum and a parent, I'm personally proud to be able to share this day with you. We're celebrating today the positive things that can happen when the community works together."

Terence Abad '76
Vice President, Planning & Development, Lowell Alumni Association

"Forty years ago, in 1963, there was a similar event here at Lowell. It was the dedication of the Lowell campus and the program itself was a lot like today's. There was the ROTC color guard, the Superintendent of Schools was there, the President of the Board of Education, and there were speeches and celebrations. But, both in 1963 and today, we're celebrating more than just the opening of new buildings. In 1963, the Lowell community was celebrating the culmination of years of effort to preserve Lowell's very existence as an academic public high school. A lot of people here may not know this, but when this school was designed, it was to be a comprehensive high school for San Francisco. This was not always going to be the home of Lowell High School. And it took a lot of work by alumni, parents, students, administration and faculty to make sure that this became the new home of Lowell High School. So that was a great celebration in 1963."

"This year, what we're celebrating, beyond this new building, is the fact that once again the Lowell community came together, in order to avoid the very worst effects of the budget cutbacks. And thank goodness that the parents, alumni and others stepped forward and were so incredibly hard-working, dedicated and generous to be able to raise over a half-million dollars to offset the budget cutbacks at Lowell. And, for that, we should all thank ourselves and one another."

Dr. Eric Cornell '80
2001 Nobel Laureate in Physics

"It was just about 23 years since I last visited [Lowell] and it seems like a long, long time. Things came back to me very fast though . . . . They had hanging on a wall [in a classroom in the new wing] a poster which looked very familiar and it had at the very top of it two words which always struck fear and terror into my heart when I was a student here which were: Mod 1, 7:35 a.m."

"It was a bit of a shock to me to first arrive at Lowell High School. I was a transfer student here, I was coming in from out of state, it was a very different high school from the sort of high school I was used to, and the idea that one didn't have to apologize as a student for savoring at times the thrill of learning a new idea, the thrill of just being exposed to things that you'd never seen before and the thrill of academic accomplishment was something that was a great change for me and something which was really a formative experience for the rest of my life."

"I did take science, as a future scientist. When I was here at Lowell I took a class with a Mr. Stevens - I took AP Biology. I'd like to tell you I was a very good biology student, but actually I was not a particularly good biology student. It happened to be - I was sitting next to, all semester long -- well, there was this girl. And so I spent a lot of that semester passing notes."

"As different as the [new] building is from some of the older buildings, . . . it seems to me that what's more important is the sense of continuity. Building or no building, whether they're learning on the streets or on the sidewalks, in the new building or an old building, it's really the faculty and students of Lowell High School and their thirst to excel that makes this place the extraordinarily special institution it is - and I congratulate you."

"In my somewhat biased opinion, science literacy, whether it's excellence in science or just understanding the basic ideas of what science is about, is extremely important. It's critical to our health as a society. It's critical to our understanding of ourselves as human beings. If we plan to thrive into the next century, science is going to matter to us. Even in these hard times, I congratulate the city of San Francisco, the school district of San Francisco, for making science enough of a priority to push through and finish this building. I congratulate the alumni association for providing the last-minute funds for the furniture and the parents for lobbying so hard for this. It's really a wonderful thing."

"I personally absolutely expect really wonderful things, really great things, to be accomplished by the students who are going to be learning science in this building and I hope all of you will join me in applauding them for their future accomplishments."

Dr. Arlene Ackerman
Superintendent of Schools, San Francisco Unified School District

"Three and one-half years ago, I did come to San Francisco and at that time I made promises and I've tried to keep all of those promises. Eighteen months ago I was here at the ground-breaking ceremony for this new science/academic wing, this beautiful new wing, I made a promise that this project would be completed and today I accept this plaque as evidence of another promise kept."

"Dr. Cornell talked about what is was like to come to a school where everybody was motivated to learn and to get good grades. I've been to Lowell on many occasions and you walk over students studying as you get out of your car and I'm always amazed at that sight and I'm always lifted and invigorated by it. But that doesn't happen at every school and there's no reason that it can't. And I'm not going to be happy until I see that kind of motivation, that kind of environment that stimulates young people in every one of our schools."

"I thank the Lowell community and the alumni association - we've got to get some of these other alumni associations doing some of the same kinds of great things you do for this community."

Jill Wynns
Commissioner, Board of Education, San Francisco Unified School District

[After mentioning the many obstacles that had to be overcome in order for Lowell's new wing to be built]

"Why do we do these things? Here's why we do it. We do it not for today, we do it for tomorrow morning, we do it for every day when students are going to come into this building and have a better learning experience because of what we're able to provide for them. That's why I do it every day, that's why teachers do it every day, that's why principals, the Superintendent and everybody else does the work that they do every day - it's about what happens in the classroom."

On Monday, September 22nd, the day after the dedication event, Dr. Cornell addressed nearly 1,000 enthusiastic and appreciative Lowell science students in the Carol Channing Theater. Dr. Cornell's remarks were both intellectually challenging and entertaining, as he summarized the research that merited his 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics but also related anecdotes of his student days at Lowell and the experience of attending the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo (where he feared he would drop his very heavy Nobel medal on the King of Sweden's toes).

During the question and answer session, students peppered Dr. Cornell with questions both expected (what are the practical uses for your research?) and unexpected (what were your SAT scores? how much money comes with the Nobel Prize?).

Two aspects of the lecture stood out most to this observer. First, although one would expect polite applause to greet any speaker at Lowell, the sustained and thunderous welcoming ovation from the students signified their genuine appreciation for the fact that such an accomplished former student had returned to Lowell. Second, I was curious about the large number of students who crowded around Dr. Cornell after the lecture. As I approached, I could see that while some students were there to ask science-related questions, many were queued up for Dr. Cornell's autograph, a scene that was repeated throughout the balance of Dr. Cornell's visit to campus (which included lunch in the cafeteria). At how many high schools would a physicist be treated the same way as a professional athlete or movie star? Just one more indication of how Lowell and its students are truly unique.

The Lowell Alumni Association offers its sincere thanks to all who helped to make the dedication event such a special moment in Lowell history, particularly the following individuals and groups:

Lowell PTSA and Pam Olbrycht, President
Lowell Chamber Winds, directed by Ms. Suzanne Mudge
JROTC Color Guard and Drum Corps, led by Lt. Douglas Bullard
Lowell Choir, directed by Mr. Othello Jefferson '90
Shield & Scroll Honor Society and Michael B. Ng, President
Paul Cheng, Principal, Lowell High School
Peter van Court, Assistant Principal, Lowell High School
Janet Tse '68, Dean of Students, Lowell High School
Claudia Wolf Eshoo '67, Lowell Alumni Association
Gabriel Hannaford, Theater Technician, Lowell High School
Kay Tegland, Main Office Secretary, Lowell High School

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