[HISTORY FORUMS cont. from Page One]: Shifting from the scandalous to social activism, Elise Palos, a former student and now a teacher at East Bakersfield High School, examined the development of "La Tolteca: A Club and its Mural.” Inspired by the 1970s visual portrayal of Mexican-American life witnessed on the walls of the school, Palos relied on yearbooks and school newspapers to piece together the history of a local student association as it embodied key features of an evolving Chicano movement.
Peter Parra, a teacher at Highland High School, also explored student activism in his paper, "A School, a Sign, and a Word Called ‘Survivance’: The Sherman Experience." Parra took his interest in Native Americans beyond the immediate environs of Bakersfield to the Indian boarding school formerly known as the Sherman Institute, located in Riverside. Using Sherman Museum archives, Bureau of Indian Affair documents, and related materials housed at CSU Fresno, Parra traces the increasing agency students assumed as they moved from early twentieth-century victims of forced attendance to contemporary advocates of Sherman as a source of community and educational advancement. This work received the Dean’s Award for the Best Graduate Paper in the school of Humanities and Social Sciences, 2008-09.
Finally, Marie Poland, who is preparing to take her Masters exams this fall, likewise traveled outside of Bakersfield to conduct her research at Minter Field in Shafter. In “Armed With Spatulas, Mops and a Keyboard: The 23rd Aviation's Best Defense During WWII,” Poland analyzed the archives at Minter that include numerous 1940s editions of the newsletter Snap Roll to portray the transformation of “the 23rd,” a division of African American soldiers stationed there. Originally “an invisible, segregated people placed in service jobs with no hopes of advancement,” Poland shows that after the War Department promoted music to help ease racial tensions, the 23rd became a very visible force in Kern County as popular entertainers in desegregated USO shows.