Oak Park: The Place For CB To Be

If you’ve ever felt extra observant while wandering through the counseling hallway, you might have stumbled upon a glass case filled with symbols of CB’s history such as sports uniforms and photos. Also residing in the case is a plaque detailing some of CB’s most important historical moments. One such moment was the decision to […]

If you’ve ever felt extra observant while wandering through the counseling hallway, you might have stumbled upon a glass case filled with symbols of CB’s history such as sports uniforms and photos. Also residing in the case is a plaque detailing some of CB’s most important historical moments. One such moment was the decision to move and then remain in our Oak Park location. 

CB has been a keystone of the Oak Park community for the last 67 years since it originally moved from 21st and Broadway. Before the shift over to Oak Park, CB was trying to manage the high enrollment influx. Forced to turn away hundreds of students each year due to lack of room, the administration made the decisive choice to move to our current location at 4315 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.   

As the author of A History of Christian Brothers High School, Assistant Principal of Student Life and Instruction and Science Teacher Dr. Bill Iliff (‘76) recognizes the rich history that has led CB to be the school it is now. Dr. Iliff recalls that during this time, Oak Park was referred to as the first suburb of Sacramento.

In the 1980’s as the CB community was growing roots in Oak Park, the administration faced the difficult choice between moving to a more suburban location in order to get the benefits of the active population growth these areas were experiencing or remain in Oak Park. 

Builders from Natomas and Elk Grove offered land to Christian Brothers as they implored the school to move to their suburb. These growing suburbs wanted the legitimacy of a well established school such as CB. If they could secure CB as a main high school in their location, it would bring the recognition of CB’s name and community and play a major role in enticing the potential homebuyers into moving to these areas, increasing property values .  

But after serious consideration, the consensus was to stay in the Oak Park location. Influence from the city helped sway this big decision. The City of Sacramento persisted that Christian Brothers’ presence helped bring some stability to the community. 

“Oak Park was where we belonged and where we were comfortable,” Dr. Iliff remarks. “It was our place that we needed to be.”

For CB President Dr. Crystal LeRoy, our history represents a mission that is still relevant today. The early administration recognized the same mission that we have continued striving to achieve.

“When I started [working at CB], they told me the story of how they had the opportunity to move to a different location that would’ve been more advantageous in different ways,” Dr. LeRoy explains. “But they chose to stay here and that meant that [the Brothers] knew that the core of our mission is who we serve.”

After committing to our current location in Oak Park, CB further built a foundation in the community through active student, staff, and family involvement. The relationship between the CB community and Oak Park community is the result of an active effort to practice Lasallian values. 

CB Communication Specialist Ms. Akemi Alden ‘16 recognizes how the unique aspects of our location have allowed CB to not only teach, but demonstrate the values of our mission.

“Oak Park is a neighborhood that has historically been considered one of the lower-income neighborhoods of Sacramento, and by providing a quality education within the neighborhood in conjunction with tuition assistance opportunities, CB supports and allows the community and its residents to thrive,” Ms. Alden says. 

“Our mission is to make a quality education accessible particularly to the poor,” Dr. LeRoy states.

It hasn’t been an individual attempt to establish good communication between the school and the Oak Park community, but rather a joint effort to demonstrate the inclusive community qualities of CB. Through collective involvement in supporting the people and buildings of Oak Park, CB has been able to positively impact the area. 

An aerial view of 4315 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd shortly after CB made the move to Oak Park.

“This is our 67th year in Oak Park, which is longer than any of our previous locations,” Dr. Iliff says, explaining that our time here has been spent involved with the community. “We do park cleanup, food banks, Wellspring, and have established a close working relationship with [Williams Memorial Church] next door.”

“How we serve is by trying to make it known that this education is accessible by being a partner early in the education process through Junior Falcons football or through other organizations connected to the community,” says Dr. Leroy. “When we do our philanthropy efforts, whether it’s food insecurity or addressing any other social responsibility, it’s because we want to connect with the community to show we’re not just here — we’re part of the community.”

“CB also aims to support the local community by getting its students involved in service opportunities within the neighborhood, such as Wellspring, and by supporting local businesses whenever possible,” says Ms. Alden.

It’s definitely not a one-sided relationship and Oak Park has had an equally impactful effect on shaping CB’s character. For students and staff alike, the presence of Oak Park provides an insightful perspective on the value and benefits of serving others. 

“I think our location has become such a part of our identity — it’s like your home, and if we moved our home, it would feel really different,” Dr. Iliff says with genuine appreciation. “It’s who we are and what we’ve been for so long. I couldn’t imagine any place else.”

The school’s open embrace of our geographical community has been a model for all students learning how to serve others and live by our core values.  

“Having a school like CB in Oak Park reinforces the Lasallian Core Values and the Christian Brothers mission of accessible, quality education for all” says Ms. Alden.

“Sometimes it is not the work you do as much as who you serve,” says Dr. Leroy.

If CB wasn’t located in Oak Park, it’s safe to say that we would not be the same accepting and dedicated community that is so admired. A different location wouldn’t necessarily negatively change our values, but it wouldn’t necessarily truly demonstrate the importance of service in action. 

As Dr. Iliff states in A History of Christian Brothers High School, “as it turned out in many ways, Christian Brothers High School was and is in the perfect location, given the historical mission of the school.”

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