Today, the high school students of Castro Valley and Hayward are largely separated from each other. However, the roots of Castro Valley High originate not from Castro Valley itself, but late 1800s Hayward. In this edition of our Castro Valley History series, we’ll be exploring the origin of Hayward Union High and its role in the founding of CVHS.
Until the middle of the 20th century, a large portion of the central East Bay (including Hayward, Castro Valley, and San Lorenzo) had only one secondary school. Built in the 1890s by the now-defunct Hayward Union High School District (HUHSD), Union High #3—named because it was the third union high school built in Alameda County—acted as the primary high school for the area. However, as the population grew into the early 1900s, the small seven-room school had become increasingly crowded. Eventually, funds were allocated for the construction of a new, larger site officially known as Hayward Union High. Though most of its buildings are now gone, the campus once stood where the now mostly demolished Hayward City Center Building is located.
When the new site opened in 1913, it was a major upgrade from the original Union High #3 with 26 rooms and an enrollment total of just over 90 students. Because automobiles weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now, many students commuting from rural areas rode their horses to school and hitched them outside while in class. As the surrounding populations grew, the size of the Hayward Union cohort increased as well: the school’s population had tripled to around 300 students between 1913 and 1923, necessitating a number of expansions throughout the 1920s including new classrooms, an administration building, an auditorium, a gymnasium, and a music room.
For the next few decades, the school (still the only secondary school in the immediate area) became more and more impacted. Following World War II, the gradual influx of children from the baby boom into local elementary schools signaled to the HUHSD that Hayward Union High would no longer be capable of sustaining the local population. So, in 1948, the HUHSD sought land for the construction of another high school. Apart from Hayward itself, one of the largest student populations within Hayward High originated from the nearby town of Castro Valley. As a result, the HUHSD decided that the new high school would be built on a 30 acre plot of land in Castro Valley’s center, located at the intersection of Mabel Avenue and Redwood Road.
In 1955, following appraisals of the homes located on the land, the HUHSD used eminent domain to secure the properties and begin development. With an investment of over two million dollars from the state government, construction of the new Castro Valley High school was headed by the Zaballos Brothers construction company and the architect George Simonds (who was also responsible for the designs of the Mt. Eden and Tennyson high schools built later in the decade). In comparison to Hayward Union High’s original class of about 90 students, Castro Valley High was designed from the outset to house around 1300 students.
Despite a carpenter’s strike that delayed construction for 45 days, Castro Valley High School opened on September 10, 1956, only six days behind schedule. Of the over 1300 students present at the school’s opening, more than half were incoming Freshmen who had never set foot inside the original Hayward Union. The school contained fixtures such as high-tech green chalkboards as well as modern desks and tables. Additionally, the school’s themes recalled the neoclassical architecture originally present at Hayward Union High: the school’s original mascot, the Spartan, accompanied the school’s original colors of white and green and the original name of the school’s newspaper—the Achaean—matched this theme as well.
Over time, the school has developed its own distinct yet related identity, changing its mascot and newspaper to the Trojan and Olympian respectively, as well as altering its school colors to Green and Yellow. Today, Castro Valley High is one of the largest high schools in the area with around 2800 students, exceeding that of its Hayward predecessor.
The history of CVHS is, in essence, also the history of Hayward High School and the HUHSD; though the students of our modern-day communities are largely bound to their respective towns, our origins will forever be connected.