Polytechnic High School 1917


(From The Yearbooks)



This is the ending of my fourth year as Principal of the San Francisco Polytechnic High School. During this time the school has passed through many changes in administration, in buildings, and in equipment. The average daily attendance has increased from 327 to over 1100. The teaching staff has increased from nineteen to fifty members, and only fourteen of the present faculty were in the school four years ago.

Two years ago we were in the old Earthquake ‘shacks’; we moved into our present ‘academic’ building during the fall of 1915. Seventy-five thousand dollars has been expended upon a modern equipment for our departments of Art, of Mechanical Arts, of Science, of Mechanical Drawing, of Physical Education, and of Household Arts. There is every reason to believe that even greater results will be accomplished during the next four years.

The lessons of preparedness point to the necessity of greater efficiency along scientific and mechanical arts lines among our boys. Our students should give careful consideration in the future to the opportunities offered by courses in industrial history, in hygiene and first aid, in electric and mechanic arts, and in science and agriculture. With the present excellent spirit of serious and conscientious efforts on the part of the Faculty, and with a continued splendid response on the part of the students for the up-building of the school, it is safe to predict that the ideals of social service will in the near future fully control the purposes and progress of the Polytechnic High.
James Edwin Addicott



Polytechnic is not a trades school. Far from it. We offer a certain amount of trades work, have a wonderfully equipped set of shops, but do not offer an entire trades course. We are rather an academic school. We have a set of shops to infuse into the individual a sense of the practical. Too much of the theoretical is bad for anyone. The shops and the drawing departments do away with this. Do not mistake the school for a trade school.



The new year 1917 began a new era for the Student Body . . . this term the Board has attempted more, and sponsored greater ventures than ever before.

The taking of the Cafeteria into Student Body control was the most important issue. This entailed some spirited soliciting for the ‘Caf’, which was done by the Cafeteria Committee . . .

The treasurer, Ramona Hamilton, has collected more dues than have been collected in the past . . .

A very fair way to distribute the budgets was devised by President Hamill. He received them all and cut them down in equal proportion on each one. So it was that many organizations were aided financially and the money more equally distributed. The orchestra was backed to a considerable extent this term; but that organization has already proven that it is worth much more than can be given to them.

On account of the Cafeteria deficit, the Student Body assumed the moral obligations, and that accounts for the many social events given this term to raise money. These have created more of a get-together spirit amongst the boys and girls, and so have served a double purpose . . .

The old constitution [needed] many amendments [with] several new ideas. . .

The idea of a Student Bookstore could not be developed this term, but it is bound to come with Poly’s growth. . .
Kathryn Hulme



The season of the spring 1917 has been one which will long be remembered by the members of this organization . . . much has been accomplished, of which Polytechnic may well be proud. Polytechnic may also be proud of the men who have responded to the call of their President and their country and have gone out to serve in rank and file. It would be well here to mention the names of Cadets Bolton, Truitt, Stafford, Villasanta, Oyer, and Crowe, who have gone to serve their country. We would like to give a list of those who stayed at home and with their labor and faithfulness made the Cadets what they are, but space limits. . .

However, Cadets do not always have to work, for sometimes they have a playtime, or they make work of their play, which is far better. For instance, the first week of Easter vacation, or early in April, ninety-six cadets reported at the school, where they were met by autotrucks, which conveyed their baggage to the ferry, while they boarded a street car. At the ferry they took the Key Route boat to the pier and boarded a special O., A. & E. train for Walnut Creek.

There they disembarked and with tents supplied by the State of California they pitched camp. The routine work of the camp became enjoyable under those conditions, and a hard day’s drill was just like play to them. Skirmish drill and sham battles. . . practice marches and other hikes took places in the program.
C. Palmer



“The Polytechnic Orchestra: A Great Advancement in the Way of High School Orchestras”, reads a headline. What other high school orchestra might venture Haydn’s Surprise Symphony and Beethoven’s Pastorale Symphony?

It is perhaps the first time that any high school orchestra has been asked to play in public, but when a teacher’s meeting was called at the Columbia Theater the 24th of April (to give farewell to the University boys leaving for France) the Polytechnic Orchestra showed the results of its hard, faithful study. There were praises everywhere and compliments and thanks to the leader, Mr. Lamp. What a great start to our promising band of fifty-three, thanks to him. . .

And now for ‘The Band’, the name given to a few of the Orchestra members who play at the games. Music holds sway over all in the end; we need it almost as much as we need the ‘rooters’. What spirit it puts into the students and players!
Evelyn de Marta



 Mr. Hardy introduced a plan to the whole school, for the saving and accumulation of all waste paper, to be sold as such, and the money to be used for buying a beautiful flag for the edification of the school auditorium. The Honor Society was placed as overseers in this work. Staffs were formed and the work began. Each room in the school was placarded by a graph, the object of which was to indicate the weight of paper brought in for any day. . .



About 215 students have lunch in the Cafeteria daily. At the same time an average of $50 is taken in [note added: this calculates to 25¢ each]. There are 200 who buy from the stands outside in the corridor, but even this is not enough. With the $110 received monthly from the Board of Education toward the debt, and the teachers’ thrift in the buying of food and the setting of the prices, the larger figures of the debt are rapidly disappearing. . . We have taken over the Cafeteria, further your interests by helping to hasten the end of the debt.



The Alumni Association meets regularly each month in the School Gymnasium. . . attended by a great many graduates, both of recent classes and of those whose memories go back to the old building at Bush and Stockton Streets. . . The annual dues are one dollar. Not only graduates, but any who have attended the school for a year and whose class has since graduated, may join.

On the 24th of April last, fifteen thousand enthusiastic yet serious San Franciscan patriots gathered in the Civil Auditorium to do honor and bid Godspeed to sixty-three students of the universities of California and Stanford, comprising two hospital corps units on their way to the French battlefront. Students of Polytechnic thrill with pride when they think that one of those “noble youths who went in the interests of Humanity, to succor the wounded, to save life, not to destroy it,” was Norman Waterlow Ford, who graduated in June 1916 and is a Freshman at the University of California. . . Sigma XI Fraternity is a scholarship frat for students engaged in research work. During this term two young men who are recent graduates from Polytechnic were admitted, Walter Rupple and Arthur Siemer. . . Notices like the above glorify the name of the school.



The trend of modern secondary education is to furnish, in coordination with academic education, some line of instruction which can successfully induce the exercise of the originality in its development. . . Education in its broadest and its true sense has for its end the affording of an opportunity for the all round development of individuality. . . men who can adapt their knowledge to existing conditions, men who can evince unique powers and abilities. And the technical school is the best avenue of self-expression. The curriculum of a technical school, such as Polytechnic, offers a complete list of academic subjects and a varied assortment of manual-arts courses. The academic course gives to the student a foundation of education, of thought; presents to him the classics of the ages, and a general knowledge along the lines of mathematics and sciences, literature, art, etc. Yet it is possible for the academic course not to awaken the interest of the student. There must be some means provided to draw out the ingenuity which exists in varying degrees in every human person. This great function is the other part, and the main part, of a polytechnic education. Further, it is a great educational aid to the student who successfully qualifies in the academic course, because it presents conditions of reality and original problems which are without their counterparts in the purely academic course.

Zara Witkin

The Polytechnic Manual Arts Department, or the Shop Department, as it is more familiarly known, consists of the following divisions of technical work: mechanical drawing, joinery, wood-turning, pattern-making, forge-work, foundry-work, and machine-shop.


The Mechanical Drawing Department has completely reorganized its courses during the last semester. By the increase in the number of instructors, the department has been enabled to use its experts for a double-period course in each of the three main branches offered: general drafting, machine design, and architecture, with the respective instructors Messrs. Wm. J. Drew, C. C. Walker, and J. A. Magee. A fourth instructor, Miss M. E. Burnham assists with the elementary work.

Freshman and Sophomore grades in Mechanical Drawing have a prescribed course of a series of plates, involving geometrical problems, orthographic projection, developments, intersections, standard styles of lettering, and the elements of machine design, necessitating the use of the various drawing instruments, and affording a practical knowledge of their purposes. In the third year the student takes up individual work, and is permitted to make his choice of one of the three main branches.

General Drafting includes civil engineering, ship drafting, building construction, and university preparatory drawing. Under these headings the following work is being done: A standard plate on the ‘composition of forces,’ laying out a country estate and calculating the areas of the irregular portions by means of the planimeter, an instrument that enables one to calculate quickly and accurately any areas, no matter of what shape; sewer construction, cesspools, and manholes; various tabulations, bills of materials, and special furniture for our own school and for the City Department of Industrial Education; and a pair of sliding garage doors to replace the dilapidated ones now in use at our shop entrance. In the line of marine work, several plates of lines and the necessary calculations for type ships, ranging from motor cruisers to coast-wise steamers, are being drawn. The blueprint room, containing the electric blueprinting machine, is proving of great utility in this department, especially as it is integral with the main drafting room.

In the advanced machine design classes several well-proportioned projects are being undertaken by the students. Actual working plans of a model steam-engine, two electric motors, a lathe (patterned after the wood-turning lathes), a jointer, a belt-sander, a steam-box or dry-kiln, and a pair of new Ideal mechanical drawing compasses (originated by our own Mr. Walker), drawings for a jardiniere stand, chair and flower basket, for the Parental School, are being made by the students working in teams, two or three at a job. From these plans patterns will be made and the actual machines and devices constructed for use in the various shops for which they are intended. Consequently, it is evident that these drawings are being made with painstaking accuracy and careful technique, and reflect a great deal of credit upon this department.

The students in the architectural room make drawings, tracings and renderings in wash and india-ink of the Five Orders. As soon as this course is completed, special projects are undertaken. An extremely interesting and notable feature of this term’s work is the drafting of complete full-size working drawings of an idea California bungalow of five rooms, which is being constructed in the Joinery, one-sixth actual size.


This is the first shop that the entering student meets, and the keynote of individuality is sounded directly to him. The prescribed course consists of introductory exercises covering the fundamentals of wood construction and tool manipulation. At any point in the course, if the student demonstrates the ability to direct his tools with the required adeptness, he is . . . allowed to proceed with some project of his own, which must receive the sanction of the instructor as being necessary and within the student’s ability. The work here interlocks with that of the Mechanical Drawing Department. In this shop, from plans drawn by the architectural branch of the Mechanical Drawing Department, a one-sixth scale model bungalow is being constructed, complete in every detail, including miniature window sashes, some five or six inches high. In this job, the boys elected a foreman and have their regular working gangs, similar to actual contractors.

Three 17-foot canoes, a 17-foot motor boat with a 6-h.p. motor, many fine pieces of furniture, including library tables, desks and pedestals, are also being made. This term a great deal of veneering and steam-bending is being done, in conjunction with the furniture and boat construction. A platform for the Lowell High School stage and stage construction for the Polytechnic High School Auditorium, including scenery framework for the presentation of ‘Everyman’ and ‘As You Like It”, are among the accomplishments of this term. The wood-turning room is producing elegant turned work, such as nut bowls, goblets, Indian clubs, mallets, gavels, and reproductions of model bats.

The extraordinarily up-to-date equipment of these shops, consisting of a full complement of motor-driven lathes, a sanding machine, circular saw, pattern-maker’s lathe, planer, jointer, jigsaw, band-saw, power grindstone, has been augmented this year by the addition of a new heavy-duty signal-surface planer and Universal saw-table, and a Greenlee hollow-chisel mortiser, bringing them to a state of capability compatible to the best woodworking shops in the city.


Pattern-making is the branch of woodwork which deals with the construction of models of machinery in wood, from which the actual machine parts are cast in the foundry. The pattern-maker’s art requires a maximum of skill in handling tools and materials. The finished pattern-maker is also a thorough draftsman in the interpretation of drawings. The student in the Foundry course takes the pattern-making course in conjunction with it, and the actual processes met here immensely clarify the theoretical work in the pattern-making room. The elementary students are going through the different processes of pattern-making: straight-lift pattern, split pattern, core box-work, faceplate work, and rechucking, and are molding their own patterns and casting from them in the Foundry. The advanced students are making patterns for a lathe, a motor, an end lathe-rest stand, and a new type of woodworking vise, designed by our Mr. Carniglia, and expect to cast them in the Foundry.


The blacksmith shop marks the transition from the use of wood to the use of metal as a material. This course is open to High One students, and comprises a list of models which include a pipe-hook, a ring, a figure-eight or ‘S’ hook, staple, gate-hook, and then two welds: a lap, and a chain. The advanced work consists of the making of a pair of chain tongs and a pair of square-bit tongs. When this course is finished, the students produce such pieces of work as fire-irons, andirons and umbrella racks, of unique style and excellent workmanship. The work then dovetails into the tool-making course, where the students forge tools from tool steel, involving a study of the properties of this metal and results of certain treatment on it, a study which is indispensable from the viewpoint of a prospective mechanic. The shop is very well equipped with a set of thirty downdraft forges, a 250-pound belt-hammer, emery-wheel, shears and a sensitive drill press. The department hopes in the near future to have installed in the forge room a new apparatus, the oxy-acetylene welding process, which is in vogue throughout the United States.


The machine shop is the final course in the Manual Arts Department. The course is well arranged and calculated to enable the student to understand the various machines, tools and their uses. The first model is a simple cylinder. The next three models involve tapering, V and square threading, and the lathe work ends with a nut-and-bolt model requiring the use of the milling machine. The student then chips, files, bevels, scrapes and polishes by hand a cast-iron block, gaining valuable practice in hand finishing, which is essential for smooth operation and long life in machine parts. A model made on the shaper, which entails the processes of vertical and horizontal cutting, angular cutting and grooving, ends the course. The prescribed work completed, the students undertake a great variety of special machine work, either for themselves or as assigned projects, such as gear-cutting, motor assembling, etc.

Worthy of special mention this term is the building of a regulation machine-shop lathe by the students. A machine of this nature must necessarily be constructed and finished with great accuracy, and the fact that the class can undertake such work speaks well for the standard of ability developed, especially when it is considered that three classes daily use the tools and machines, and that the resulting confusion from a triple use of the same tools is overcome in a very few minutes at the opening of each working period.

A special feature of this term’s work is the construction of several baby-racer chasses. This work affords a fine preliminary training for boys who intend to go into the automobile branch of general machine-work. The motors are purchased outside, chasses built entirely inside, car assembled, tuned up and a finished machine turned out. The popularity of these small cars and the ability of the shop to produce them promises to make their building a feature of the advanced work here. Several students availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by the garage in connection with this shop to perform the otherwise expensive tinkerings on their cars. The equipment is very complete, including lathes of widely different uses, shapers, milling machines, drill presses, a large planer, power hacksaw, and three emery-wheels. The shop also possesses a Studebaker automobile chassis, the study of which is carried on in conjunction with the University Extension courses given here.

The training received in the Polytechnic Shops works toward the induction of a superior manual dexterity and a closer correlation between the mental and manual processes, and the sharpening of perception and increase of accuracy, due to training in related but differing machine processes. The course presents actual conditions and original problems; the work done under such circumstances develops a mode of thought which is far removed from the dreamy, or purely theoretical, but a creative mode, with practical accomplishment as its cynosure. The general public have come partly to appreciate the benefit to be derived from such a training, and registration in the Shop Department has increased to such an extent that we find almost every instructor working far beyond the legal limit, and the shops crowded to their utmost capacity. This stress will be relieved in a great degree by the two new shops, one a wood-working-room and the other a forge room, situated under the present ones, and which formerly were the forge storeroom and cadet armory, respectively.


All mankind claims a love for some kind of art. ‘Many a time and oft’ in our happy youth have we drawn the faithful and antedated pitcher. The vain attempts to fixate the virile russet of the ripening apple we recall with mingled pleasure and regret.

Yet there is a chance for ye, ye who delight in misrepresenting Nature with brush, pen, pencil or other soulless instruments of sordid man. Polytechnic’s fourth floor is devoted to the disciples of Phidias, Raphael, Michael Angelo [sic], and the rest of that glorious affiliation. To further the artistic efforts of the students, the lighting is obtained solely through the medium of skylights, so that the aforementioned disciples may gaze only upon the majestic, changeless heavens, the inexhaustible limitless source of human inspiration, and have their thoughts sheltered from the low commercialism of the dulling streets.

The elementary students, as usual, armed with pencil and pad, tussle daily with the simple still life objects. One year of this work, and the student passes to machine sketches in pencil, pen and ink, and finally wash.

Then the artistic soul is hatched, to fly whither it will. The Art Department is growing rapidly and offers many courses for the more advanced students, with promises of others to come. Poster-work in colors, lettering, magazine and book illustration, outdoor sketching, cartooning, and pen-and-ink and wash studies of an ever-increasing collection of fine casts, friezes, capitals and still life models, including famous classic statues such as the Discus Thrower, the Venus de Milo, and the Flying Mercury, form the work at the present time.

The various crafts which have been fostered by the Art Department have developed to a degree where it has been found advisable to organize them as a separate department. A pre-vocational art class has been formed for the purpose of direct instruction for the students specializing in architectural elements, medical lines, and those looking forward to advanced art study. Special emphasis will be given in this class to the study of capitals and columns, skeletons and detached bones, and casts and friezes as applying directly to the above-named fields. There is also to be a class in ornament and design as applied to architecture, and a class in electrical sketching, correlating with the work in the electrical shop.

Of three scholarships offered in competition by the San Francisco Institute of Art with all the high schools of this broad state as eligible competitors, two were captured by girls (Mabel McPhillips and Lillian Fiala) of our own school. The W. P. Fuller Interior Decoration contest also found eager entries from our school.



Our sewing department deserves the highest credit.  By gradual advancement, each step being carefully planned, a complete knowledge of dressmaking, tailoring and remodeling is acquired.  This course has its commencement in the teaching of the fundamental stitches and its termination in the completion of the graduation dresses.  Pattern drafting is done in the second year and then dresses are constructed from these drafts.  Thus a thorough knowledge of patterns is secured that is helpful in the more advanced sewing which follows.

 In the third year, tailored coats and suits are attempted, and the results of the girls’ efforts are astonishing.  A careful study of textiles is an addition which is thoroughly appreciated by the students, because of the opportunity this renders in the proper choice of materials as to adaptability and consistency.

Closely associated with this department, there has been established since this semester the subject of costume design.  Its object is to render assistance in the planning of garments and to produce such ornamental designs as Dame Fashion has added to our modern styles.  Fashion plates are not only designed, but executed in colors.  This offers the practical side of the training.

Elsa Jaehne


There certainly lies some pleasure in being able to create things. If this statement is true, then millinery affords pleasure. Chic creations are the results of the girls’ efforts in this line. A thorough knowledge of the subject is secured. The making of wire frames gives skill in handling the pliers.

The fundamental work also includes the making of elementary samplers and buckram shapes. These illustrate the latest fads and styles in millinery. Ribbon and straw ornaments give opportunity for displaying originality. After the completion of this preliminary work, hats are attempted. There are large hats and small hats, evening hats, children’s hats, hats of all sizes and descriptions. This course consists of one year’s work; six months of winter work and the other term is spent in making spring and summer hats.

This course has proved so popular that an advanced millinery class or an addition of another year’s training has been adopted. During this extension at least five hats must be made by each girl; but usually the girls make more than this requirement. Making of bags to match the hats is a novelty introduced into this course, and the effect has been charming.


It is with utmost enthusiasm that the girls constituting the embroidery class devote themselves to their work. Dainty articles displaying a rare combination of handwork and design are here produced. A towel done in Swedish drawn work, done in various colors, is the first piece attempted. Varieties of crocheted samplers are made. Beaded collars have been popular in this term’s work. Pieces of tapestry done in cross-stitch have proved very interesting as well as beautiful work. A large and more difficult piece, combining utility with beauty, is lastly made. The display at the close of the semester shows us what splendid work has been accomplished by the girls.


One entirely new course has been very successful this semester.  Judging by the work produced, interior decoration is rapidly winning favor among the girls.  This course includes the making of candle shades, decoration of baskets and like small articles that help to beautify the home.  Designs for the furnishing of an entire house are made. The various wall coverings are discussed and appropriate designs for all rooms are made in suitable shades.


All ye sculptors take heed! With the Polytechnic modeling department in full swing, rivals are growing more numerous each term. These are quickly becoming proficient. The elementary work is not so interesting, but it lays the foundation for higher achievements. Statues and work of this type are principally modeled. The more advanced students do some life-portrait work, and here some really creditable work is produced. Various models are cast, and here again we have some results of high quality, as far as design and beauty go.


All interests are centered on the Domestic Science Department, whether it is because of the ‘Domestic Science Special’ served daily in the cafeteria, or on account of the fact that this department boasts of two masculine cooks, offers a mystery too deep for solution. A close study of food dietetics, food nutrition, and analysis thereof is taken up in connection with the practical training, which is the cooking itself. The cost of food and the planning of menus usually precede the lesson of actual cooking. In this course, the theoretical and practical training have been well combined.

A cooking and sewing class has been organized in connection with this department. Special attention is given to table decorations and correct serving of meals for all occasions. To give practical application as well as to illustrate their ability, the girls of this class serve luncheons to the faculty on certain occasions. If the faculty voted them successful, they surely must be so. A charming tea was tendered to the faculty on a Friday afternoon.


A beneficent as well as interesting course is offered to the girls in household management.  A time will come for most girls when the will have a home of their own to manage.  It is then they will realize the true value obtained from this course.  Various problems confronting the housekeeper of today are solved.  Among such we find the problems of marketing and domestic service; both are given careful consideration.  Economy with its relation to the household is introduced into the course.  Menus emphasizing economy, and showing the possibility of living comfortably on a moderate income, are given attention.  Budgets for various phases of household expenses are prepared by the girls, and this work is thoroughly enjoyed by all.

The house itself is given thought.  The consideration of the evolution and their construction are followed by its furnishing and decoration.  Care and cleaning in connection with sanitation are discussed.  Personal accounts are accurately kept, and household accounts are not neglected.  The study of bills, checks and like forms of business documents, which enter into the home, is included in this course.


Art Metal is thoroughly enjoyed by the girls taking up this work.  Designs are first created and then they are executed.  Penknives, flower vases, trays, and like small articles constitute the work of this department.

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