When I was a senior: Art teacher Paul Willson

My Memories as a Senior

1968, Fremont High School,

(‘68, We Are Great!)

By Paul Wilson

I was a standard student…shot for a B- in all classes. Went to football games, reluctantly attended dances and a prom, half-heartedly “tried-out for sports” discovering I had no talent for ANY sports…participated on the yearbook staff, annually took the art classes, found them unchallenging but enjoyable…submitted artwork to district shows…received recognition. Was not discouraged from art. Maintained by interest in art into college and beyond (eventually acquiring a degree in art, establishing myself as a successful graphic designer and acquired an art teaching degree and began teaching here at Lynbrook 28 years ago!) Now…my memories as a senior at Fremont High School; 1968.

Fremont High School was relatively unremarkable as a high school back then. High Schools, in general, were not kind places. Everyone was overly concerned with “fitting-in” and bullies were standard in the community. One might be “called-out” for a fight after school…”I’ll meet you at the bike rack!” was the threat! Fortunately, I was never in “a fight.” I managed to avoid such conflicts. Periodically, one heard that some girls “got pregnant” and disappeared from school altogether.

As you might imagine, Fremont High School was NOT a healthy environment for a kid who recognized himself as (what is now identified/understood to be) gay. At that time, I assumed that this was just an adolescent “phase”… it was not. I maintained a low profile but was not invisible, had a base-line of good and regular friends, was neither “one of the popular kids” nor a “nerd”…just a standard, unremarkable kid. High school was just something one withstood, endured…did. What choice did anyone have?

After graduation, I joined my friends at De Anza, then attended San Francisco State and eventually attended The Academy of Art and The Art Center in Pasadena.

Overall Summary:

High School did not harm me!

Life began after high school.


In senior year, my friends and I would periodically cut school. We would take the commuter train to San Francisco. We would always go to Fisherman’s Wharf and have chips. We’d go to the zoo and get french fries. Because I had the most adult handwriting, I wrote the “please excuse” notes. Don’t misunderstand me, I was a good kid. Just once in a while, I would be naughty.

On the third time we cut class, my mother came into the office to drop something off, and so she found out I cut school. So, I went home and was uncharacteristically quiet and remorseful. I fessed up and told her, “I did a terrible thing and I will never do it again.”


Be true to yourself. Don’t be so concerned about other people’s opinions of you.

Life gets much better after high school. It gets so much better in college, when you have much more freedom and you start discovering yourself. You get to start all over again in college.


It would say, “Pabo.” This is a nickname I had as a kid. My family knew me as Pabo. On June 26, my son and his wife will be having a baby and I will be a grandfather. I’ve decided that I’m going to resurrect my childhood nickname, so I’m training all my family members to call me Pabo instead of grandpa.