Celebrating a 3-Generation Tech Bulldog Family

Monday, December 9, 2013

Authors' Note: As Oakland Tech approaches its Centennial in 2014-15, the PTSA publication Bulldog Bytes has been highlighting Tech alumni. Here we present a Rockridge family with deep roots at Tech.

Anita Debro (formerly Anita English) graduated from Tech in 1948. Her son, Keith Debro, a long time Rockridge resident, has been a teacher at Tech since 2000. And Keith's son, Drew Debro, graduated from Tech in 2013.

Last June, Anita Debro shed tears of joy as she watched her grandson Drew take the stage to read his graduation speech. Seeing him on stage took her back to her own Tech graduation in 1948 when she was one of the graduation speakers. As she looked at the graduates, Anita remembered her classmates on stage in their purple and gold robes.

When Anita attended Tech, its population was mostly white. She was the only black student in most of her college prep classes and only the second black girl to be invited into the "Delphian Club," a club for girls with high grades and good character. Anita played on the golf team and rowed with the rowing club on Lake Merritt. While Anita feels proud that she went to Tech, she is even more proud that her son is a Tech teacher and that her grandson was chosen to speak at his graduation.

Keith Debro has been a teacher in the non-severely handicapped/special day class program at Tech for 13 years. Commenting on the connection his family has to Tech, Keith says that his son's attending the same school that his mom attended "represented a 360 degree move over several generations." Keith and his mom had the pleasure of attending Drew's plays and lacrosse games together.

A freshman at the University of Hawaii, Drew says that at times he "would have preferred not to be at the school where my dad taught... where all your teachers already know who you are." As for his grandmother having attended Tech, Drew says, "Until last spring, my grandma and I had never even compared stories about Tech, but it sure was an interesting conversation when we did!" During an interview with his grandma for the student-created play 99 Years, Drew learned that she was the second black "Delphian" and was in the archery club. Drew says, "I am proud to be a Tech alum because of the exemplary diversity that you can find at Tech. Everyone is welcome."

As she watched Drew step onto the stage to give his graduation speech, Anita was calm, knowing he would do well since he had won first place in OUSD's Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical Contest six of the past seven years! But when he started speaking, Anita almost "fell off my chair," because his speech was about her! She says she will never forget that day. The Debro family is large and close, and one of the many things they share is their pride in being a three-generation Tech family.

First published in the October 2013 on-line issue of the Tech Bulldog Bytes blog: http://oaklandtech.com/staff/blog/2013/10/28/bulldog-bytes-october-2013. Find more about Tech at http://oaklandtech.com

The PTSA is publishing a memory book in honor of Tech's Centennial containing articles about Tech's history, photos, and reminiscences by Tech alumni and teachers/staff. We are looking for alumni. We are especially looking for 2-, 3-, 4- (or more) generation Bulldog families to interview for the book. Please get in touch: Please e-mail: otcentennialbook@gmail.com.