O’Connell, class of 1969, will accept the honor, and announce the revalidation of Oxnard High as an AVID school, during a ceremony from 4-5 p.m. in the school’s Joe Crosby Performing Arts Center. The presentation is preceded from 3-4 p.m. by a social hour that features a performance by the school’s band and choir of hits by the rock ‘n’ roll band Chicago.
“Chicago is my favorite band. I’ve been to 126 of their concerts,” O’Connell said.
“It’s a great honor to be the first inductee,” he added. “I’ve tried to stay connected to the school — I taught there from 1975 to ’80 — and the band played at my first swearing-in ceremony. My sister, who is a past Ventura County Teacher of the Year, will be there, my mother is coming, as well as one of my former basketball coaches.”
Oxnard High Principal Eric Riegert said he borrowed the concept of a hall of fame from Palmdale High School.
“When I was principal at Palmdale we had a similar plan,” said Riegert, “but we expanded it here so more areas can be honored.
“We’re a 100-year-old school with a great history and no hall of fame,” he added. “People here have talked about for a while — it started with sports — but we wanted different categories, not just sports.”
Riegert said Hall of Fame nominees must be graduates of Oxnard High, or former employees who have been out of the school system for at least one year at the time of nomination.
He said nominees will come from all walks of life, including community service, business, visual and performing arts, journalism and literature, government, philanthropy, law, athletics, coaching, U.S. military, science, technology, agriculture, education, public service, law enforcement and staff that have served the school with distinction.
“Our purpose is to recognize outstanding individuals who have maintained a high standard of excellence and made a significant contribution to Oxnard High School and/or in their fields of endeavor,” Riegert said. “This hall of fame is to honor and permanently preserve the legacy of those who have excelled as Yellowjackets and serve as examples that will inspire our youth to achieve greatness of their own in the future.”
Oxnard High was first recognized as an AVID National Demonstration School in March of 2008. More than 3,386 schools in 48 states and 15 foreign countries offer the AVID program.
The AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program is designed for students in the academic middle — B, C and even D students — who have the desire to attend college and the willingness to work hard.
AVID places academically average students in advanced classes and provides them with an elective class that prepares them to succeed in rigorous curricula, enter mainstream activities in school, and increase their opportunities to enroll in four-year colleges.
“I’m a strong supporter of AVID,” O’Connell said. “The program opens up unlimited opportunities for kids whose parents did not attend college and maximizes the investment the state makes. It helps us close the achievement gap and create a college-going culture.”