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House Makes History In Service To OJUSD
House 2
A portrait features a few generations of the House family; many members of the family attended the final Oakdale Joint Unified School District board meeting for longtime board member Mike House, who retired in mid-November. Photo Contributed

Unbeknownst to many in the room, a moment of history was being made in the Oakdale Joint Unified Tech Center in mid-November.

On Monday, Nov. 14, after 29 years of service as a board member for the Oakdale Joint Unified School District, Mike House bid his farewells. With close to three decades of tenure, it makes House the longest standing board member since Oakdale became a Unified District.

First appointed to a half-term seat in 1993, House shared he was much like many parents the district serves: a concerned parent who felt there was a need for some change within the district and the board.

According to House and his wife of 46 years, Judy, the board was not only non-responsive at that time, but often extremely rude to the community and parents.

With the encouragement of his wife, House stepped up to the challenge.

“Back then the board was almost as rude to the parents as the parents are now to the board,” House candidly shared.

Acknowledging the current climate of disapproval from a select group of parents, House shared while his retirement was a decision he made over two years ago, the current conditions helped with the decision.

“It made it easier not to change my mind,” he said. “I had said, I think I should and then the more meetings that I went to, I thought I really should.”

So, with the love and support of his very large family, that Monday night, House led his final meeting.

As an Oakdale High alum and Oakdalean through and through, it was a bittersweet night for House, as well as his family.

“In one very, very slight way, it reminds me of getting cut from the NFL,” House shared of his feelings that Monday versus another time in his youth. “I was 22 and doing what I did best and then they said, you can’t do this anymore. Go home.”

That direction came from the New England Patriots, following House’s recruitment from UOP. He was an eighth-round draft choice who never made game day.

As an Economics major, House spent two decades as a turkey farmer and somewhere between five to 10 years raising chickens, all in Oakdale. He and his wife raised their children here and are thrilled to have many of their grandchildren close by.

Yet as for his tenure and serving for as long as he did, House shared it simply speaks to his love of this town.

“I thought well I think I’m doing a good job, as long as the majority think I’m doing a good job I’ll just keep doing the job I’m doing,” he said.

Speaking of his tenure, House recalled a number of memorable, as well impactful decisions made by the board.

“What did I do? Not much,” he humbly stated. “What did the board do? We organized that A Team that got the Bond passed, because so much of everything else grows out of that.”

The Bond he spoke of was one which allowed many improvements to Oakdale campuses well before the current growth, which has doubled the town in size. House sang the praises of that team of community members for their dedication to making things better for the students.

Over the course of his three decades of service the district has some major and notable accomplishments including but not limited to: building of the OJHS gym, OJHS campus improvements, the building of Sierra View Elementary School, the OHS soccer fields, football field and track overhaul, the OHS Aquatic Center, the School Farm, as well as numerous elementary site additions and improvements.

“It’s still the community,” he said of the rallying spirit of Oakdale and their support of its youth.

“You make a quarter of a million dollars (the current Jog-a-thon total) on a town of 25,000 people,” he stated. “Some people reached real deep and some reached real far. Grandparents that once lived too far away are just a Venmo away.”

But three decades starts to catch up and there is much waiting for House and his family to enjoy minus the commitment, as well as the disrespect which he said seems to be a continuing trend.

“I can’t imagine on a school board, anything being more frustrating. Having parents, many whom you’ve known for years, come in and call you gutless,” he said of dialogue at current meeting. He added that much of this has been a first, both in the Tech Center as well as in the parking lot.

Admitting to feeling angry as well as betrayed, House shared it deeply bothered him that anyone would imply that he would do something or make a decision to harm children.

Acknowledging that indeed his time has come, House remains proud of being a part of a board which has done so much for its now 5,000 students.

“I got a little melancholy because again, I think I’ve been good at it,” he said of wrapping up his final meeting.

And while his service to OJUSD may be coming to a close, Oakdale will remain his home.

“I almost get emotional,” he said of his love for Oakdale. “I’m so proud to live in Oakdale. I’m so proud of Oakdale schools, because of the teachers and the students and the administration. We’re better than anybody else in the Unites States, even now.”

Oakdale residents Judy and Mike House; Mike recently ended his nearly three decades of service on the Oakdale Joint Unified School District board. Photo Contributed