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Going to High School with Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs' high school yearbook picture

Steve Jobs, in addition to being the visionary CEO of Apple,
was a graduate of Homestead High School, class of 1972.

The cinderblock campus in Cupertino CA backs up to I-280, “the world’s most
beautiful freeway,” but I suspect it was and isn’t much different from any
American high school where teens are categorized and stereotyped on the way to
the rest of their lives. On paper, it looks like I had a great time there; I
was editor of the school newspaper, a song-girl who danced with the band, a
competitor on the gymnastics team, a foreign exchange student to Switzerland, and secretary of the senior class which included Steve Jobs.

Like most high schools, ours was divided into groups: the jocks, the nerds, the
drama people and so on. But we shared a certain mindset in the early 1970s. Somebody
was cultivating marijuana plants in a campus flower bed and we all pretended
not to notice. The school’s dress code banned jeans, so one day everyone wore
jeans and the dress code was changed. We boycotted the annual competition that
assigned each class a day to decorate the school with spirit posters; the class
of ‘72 cleaned up the mess left behind by the freshmen, juniors and sophomores
and posted a single banner over the pile of trash that read: “Spirit comes from
within.”

It would be nice if I could say that Jobs’ stirring 2005 commencement speech at
Stanford University recalled the inspiring words of his address to his
graduating senior classmates at Homestead High. But Jobs was probably never
even considered as a commencement speaker.  He did, however, make a statement in the
senior talent contest by putting on a laser light show at a time when most of
us had never even heard of lasers. He followed his own path, and that made him
kind of an outsider with those who followed the crowd.  What Jobs and Steve Wozniak were inventing in
that garage, not far from my high school boyfriend’s house, might have made an
interesting story for the school paper. If only I had known about it.

When our class held its 20th reunion in 1992, Steve Jobs was there. He
introduced me to his wife, proudly saying she had gone to Stanford, like
I did. Then we all went to the welcome table to pick up our name tags, which
showed our high school graduation photos above our names. Someone had already
stolen Jobs’ name tag, perhaps recognizing it as a collectible souvenir.  A few years ago, when it was announced that
Jobs had cancer, some of us got together to see if we could send him a get-well
message of support. We’ll never know if it got past all the layers of security
to reach him.

Very few people on the planet will make the impact of a Steve Jobs, but many of my
Homestead classmates have gone on to change the world in ways big and small.
Our crazy head cheerleader, Debra Jarvis, became a hospice care minister with a
fearless sense of humor that helped her win her own battle with breast cancer.
Drama standout John Paizis creates performing opportunities for young actors
with disabilities in Los Angeles. Band leader Carl Ho is now a leading earthquake scientist, and many more…

Dave Marshall, now director of secondary schools in Bullitt County Kentucky, inspires a new generation of students and teachers with a slide show about the
people he should have known better in high school. Among those on the list:
novelist Amy Tan (who went to a nearby school), Joe Kane, the first man to
navigate the length of the Amazon River and write a book about it, and former
US Olympic soccer coach Steve Sampson, whose brother Mike was in the class of ‘72. Read more in an earlier blog post here:

http://www.terryanzur.com/640/you-never-know-who-youll-meet-in-high-school/

Much has been written about Steve Jobs’ legacy, but I hope there’s a lesson here for
all high school kids who might be sitting in class right now with the next
great American visionary.  Try not to see the fat kid, or the loser, or the geeky weirdo. The guy with the long hair or the girl with the funny-looking nose just might change the world.  And so can you.

An update from my husband, Bill Clement, who remembers meeting Steve Jobs and his wife at the Homestead reunion:

“I stood across from Steve Jobs, one on one, face to face.
Can you imagine? It was, however, not an awkward moment. I simply remember
noticing that he was not wearing his Homestead nametag. I said, “Where is your
nametag, Steve?” He looked as though this is exactly what he wanted to talk
about and did. Apparently, someone took it, someone stole it, from the check-in table. When Steve arrived, it was not
there for him.

Steve went on to talk about this, but I remember his final words
on the subject, “I really wanted that nametag”! At this point in Steve Jobs’
life, he had millions and would eventually have billions in the bank a few
years after this reunion; he had power and he had the respect of the world. But
he “wanted that nametag.” It meant something to him.

A couple of things…

One, I realize while standing with Steve Jobs that his
youthful years had meaning and the smallest of things can leave a sentimental
void. While my conversation with Steve Jobs was only fleeting, I saw firsthand
that he was just like the rest of us in some ways, the good ways. Like millions
of people, maybe billions, I too will miss Steve Jobs.

Finally, I wish that the person who thought it seemed like a
good idea to take Steve Jobs’ Homestead reunion nametag would return it. I am
sure it has no value to anyone other than to Steve & his family. You cannot
sell it; we now all know that real story behind this paper & plastic tag.
Stick it in an envelope and send it to the CEO of Apple. I am sure it will finally
find its way home.”


  • http://www.askwhatnext.com AJ Borowsky

    Terry, this is fantastic! And so true. If I may add a bit. The kids in high school now may not only be in a class with the next great visionary, they may be that next great visionary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002954800411 Terry Frederick June Jr.

    Beautifully put!

  • http://twitter.com/Sema4beach Bob Heath

    interesting Steve story…thanks

  • Nancy Sassaman

    Terry, you have been so lucky to have been in the right places at the right times for so much of your life–or rather, your astute powers of observation and empathy have given you insight that, if we notice, we might see so much more from the world around us. As a former high school teacher, I have taught more than two thousand students, each with his or her own story, successes and failures. Your advice to high school students is very wise–surprising things can emerge from the least likely places. Perhaps we could all take your advice and globalize our observations to include the people and events we encounter everyday: amazing things are possible, in fact are quite likely, if we observe carefully and suspend judgment.

  • Chris

    There’s something wrong with your site that causes the entire article to be covered by a white box when viewed on the iPad. Kind of ironic.

  • Terryanzur

    Chris, thanks for letting me know. I’ll pass your comments on to my web designer (he’s a droid guy) and try to fix.

  • Inkyp

    Hi Terry, I was class of ’69, you and Steve were just those little kids at the time. I’m proud to say we all graduated from Homestead back in the day and loved almost every minute of it. I have a vague memory of Woz and what a nerd he was.

  • David McRoy

    Amazing story, Terry. My Theodore High School Class of 1974 just lost a dear friend from stomach cancer. Gary Preston Smith and I attended high school in Theodore, AL and The University Of South Alabama in Mobile. Gary followed me into broadcasting when we were in our teens. Gary pulled me out of an undertow (rip current) on Dauphin Island, AL when we were 18, about to enter college. Without Gary there, I wouldn’t be here.

  • Debra

    Terry,
    Great article and thanks for the shout-out. Perhaps I should put something on my web site since he sat behind me in home room for four years! Another person from HHS to mention is Michael Owens who was nominated for an Academy Award this year for Visual Effects. He works closely with Clint Eastwood. I just wish Steve had at least another 20 years on the planet. Who knows what else he would have come up with?

  • AJF

    I came across this and oddly enough my dad also went to high school with Steve Jobs. Funny thing is he said you would have never have looked or even speak to Steve Jobs your were to busy in your own world self promoting yourself in any way. Oh wait… Just like you are now.

  • John Paizis

    Terry- Wonderful & moving. I’m still sad about Steve. I was in New York around the time of his passing and happened by the Mac Store in SoHo. There was the most touching informal memorial of cards, flowers, Post-Its and Apples. I have my own 20 year reunion memory of Steve. Seeing him dressed so casually, while most of us were dressed to impress, I walked up to him and said, “Steve…John Paizis.” He said, “Hi, John. How are you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m great…but it’s a shame you never made anything out of yourself.” He just smiled and patted my shoulder. Our brief interaction after that will forever be one of my most cherished memories.

  • Patrick S. Poplin

    Terry, I am a friend of Dave Desper, who is a friend of your brother John. I graduated from Homestead in ’71. I may have met you, but I’m not clear about that. Your blog brought me up to date on some of the people that I knew back then, and I thank you for that. Many students at the time considered Homestead as a prison (not if you compared it to other schools in the system in my opinion) and if 280 was beautiful, it was farther on north as it snaked along the peninsula towards San Francisco. In Homestead’s backyard it was just an ugly freeway. Your blog was an interesting take on Steve, whom I am not aware of knowing, or being in a class with. He seems to have been a very complex individual as innovators of his caliber are; a mixture of good and bad in more or less equal parts. Your input was enlightening.

  • Bill Bentkowsky

    nice story Terry I was also in your class and remember him well. He was  a true character back then, nobody having any idea who he would become but now he is missed by all of us

  • Steve Lemson

    This brings back a lot of memories.  Steve’s passing led me to pull out an old yearbook–yes, I still have a couple of them–and start to wonder where everyone has gone and what they made of their lives.  We all know about Steve, of course, but others have made their mark in other, quieter ways.  No front page stories about their lives, no books, no public recognition at all, but all valuable to someone, somewhere. I don’t have his name tag, but I do have the memories.  Thank you for posting this.

  • Terryanzur

    Thanks for sharing that, John!

  • Terryanzur

    Good to hear from you, Steve.

  • Terryanzur

    Great to catch up with you Jarv.
    Yes, Mike Owens was special and I knew he would do great things. Glad to know where he ended up.

  • JTP

    Did you write this from prison, or detention at night school while trying to earn your GED?

  • Mensasnem

    Nice article Terry.

    Like Debra Jarvis, I was also in the same home room with Steve.

  • Mensasnem

    A couple of them? I have all four of mine as well as my yearbooks from junior high.

  • Tomanzur

    yes
    I worked for steve Jobs.

    way cool company back in the 80′s

    the only thing i remember about steve was he use to park in the blue spots and everyone was all upset about it. what dose he think he owns the place ……….he did own the place and can park where he wants.
    NBD

    TA

  • Michael A. Harris

    I remember Steve refusing to shake my father’s hand when he handed him his diploma as we graduated. So Jobs of him. :)

  • Barb

    Hi Terry, thanks for your post – class of ’69 here.   I don’t think I ever met Steve, though the fact that we all went to Homestead kind of makes us all like family.   I was in Girl Scouts before high school, however, with Woz’s sister Leslie, and we met at their house a few times, as his mother was possibly a leader for a while.  In any case I remember Woz was quite polite and accepting of all of us girls when we met there, and I have a vivid memory of him pressing his back up against their hallway wall once, so we could all file past him down the hall one day.  Now why would I remember that? No idea – unless something inside of me knew that one day he would be who he turned out to be. I remember that and the fabulous pineapple upside down cake that we learned how to make that day in their barbeque right outside of their front door. 

    Every part of life has challenges, but it’s nice being able to look back at parts of it, and see all the really great things about a time period one might not have noticed at the time.  Your writing helped me to remember that about going to Homestead.  It was a great high school – my teachers were great – the weather was great, and the world was great.   Those were the days….   Thanks

  • no name

    The on in the picture isn’t Steve Jobs

  • no name

    sorry one

  • terryanzur

    I’m sure it’s Steve Jobs.

  • terryanzur

    Thanks for your comment Barb.

  • Jazminehernanez87

    lololol wut

  • Hhhfguyfyu

    ass

  • joe zackley

    I was class of ’73. worked with Debbie Jarvis at Farrell’s. She was a very vibrant girl. everyone liked her. Glad to hear she went on to do great things. This is kind of lame, but I remember in the late summer/early fall of 1982 I was on business in Joliet, Il, and watching the CBS news out of Chicago. The big story of the day — something about Tylenol. Easy to google and get the details, but that’s not the point here. the point is that on the tv was a correspondent doing the story and it was Terry Anzur. Never have forgotten that. Always cool to hear about people that were in high school with you. As for Steve Jobs, no, did not know of him or anything about him. Since he was not a popular student, there was no reason for someone not in his class to know of him. Steve Wozniak’s younger brother, Mark, was in our class. And finally, I picked up a National Geographic magazine some year ago and happened to read an article about someone navigating the Amazon – Joe Kane. Now that guy was popular growing up. Knew him from 7th in junior high.