Close to 11 months of planning, an unspeakable amount of hours in meetings and 125 years of education came to a head Saturday night as the 125th Anniversary of Oakdale Union High School was celebrated in grand style at Oakdale Golf and Country Club.
An estimated 700 people representing alumni, their guests, past administrators and staff gathered to not just celebrate but connect with familiar faces of days gone by. The event began at 4:30 p.m. and concluded at 11 p.m. Dinner was served following a brief program, which was then followed by dancing.
Voice of the Mustangs, Pete Simoncini served as Master of Ceremonies, noting that while he was not an alumni he shared a likewise passion for Oakdale High School and the heart of the Mustangs. Four legends were introduced to the packed house as past OHS teachers and coaches Norm Antinetti, Dale Clipper, Jack Walker and Francis O’Brien were acknowledged for their contribution and commitment to the students of Oakdale High.
“Where would any of us be today, without some outstanding teachers in our life,” Simoncini stated.
He also shared that Antinetti served as a teacher and coach as well as Athletic Director at OHS from 1960 to 2000. Clipper served a tenure as teacher and coach from 1956 to 1990. Walker served on the staff as teacher and coach from 1954 to 1988 and leading the group as the oldest in attendance, just shy of turning 95, was Francis O’Brien. O’Brien taught at OHS from 1954 to 1967, before moving on to Riverbank High, which was a part of OJUSD at the time.
“Starting with his tenure as head football coach 59 years ago,” Simoncini said of Clipper, a Class of 1950 alum, “we have had 59 years where an Oakdale High School graduate has served as the head coach of our football program. A true legend … Coach Dale Clipper.”
The Oakdale High School Marching Band also made an appearance at the event, coming onto the south end of the golf course from between the eighth and ninth holes. Simoncini called through the crowd for past band members to stand and be acknowledged, as well as a roll call of alumni through the varying decades.
“They did a fantastic job,” 125th Anniversary committee member Melinda Owen said of Oakdale Golf and Country Club, following the event. “That’s the biggest event they’ve ever done. Now they know they can do it.”
Coming off of a week which held multiple events to honor the school’s notable anniversary, Owen shared the committee was more than pleased with both the turnout and the success of each event.
She added that the appearance of the four noted legends left an impression on many in attendance. Many shared that connecting with the past coaches alone, made the night a success.
“I just think the fact that so many people were able to gather together,” Owen stated. “They all just loved seeing one another and visiting.”