Sukey Lilienthal ‘62

My memories of 6 years as an Anna Head student are inextricably connected to the old brown shingled buildings and the grounds.  The gardens are long gone, but when I was there from 1956 to 1962, they were lovely.  Most days, my friends & I ate our lunches on benches under a rose-covered arbor. It was an oasis in the midst of adolescent intensity. 

As others have noted, the Quad was the center of school life, where kindergarteners thru seniors mingled before school & at recess – highly unusual then, and almost unheard of now.  In spring, the ancient purple wisteria blossoms that hung from the vines along the walkways around the Quad smelled divine and buoyed everyone’s spirits.

The buildings and classrooms were of a very human scale and lovely textures of old wood, inside and out.  There were many interesting staircases, nooks, and crannies and special places like the beautiful all-wood Chapel where the entire school met at the start of each day; Upper School Study Hall, with its wall of windows overlooking the Quad, the tiny stand-alone Science cottage, the Art Room with its peaked roof & skylight, Senior Porch, and the water tower built when cows grazed nearby.  Everything at Heads conveyed a powerful sense of continuity, of all the young women & teachers who had been there before us.   

Originally, there was a sizable boarding department at Heads, but by my time, it was tiny, down to under a dozen girls.  My sister Andy & I boarded for 2 months at one point and we got to know parts of the building that were off limits to day students; Andy was in the first class to graduate from the Oakland campus. My roommate, from a ranching family in the Central Valley, whom I’d barely known before, though she was in my small grade, became my best friend. 

Of course, the people at School were key, and I’m indebted to the teachers – almost entirely women, most of them “not young” – who conveyed a deep love for their subjects.  Now, in my 70’s, I’ve reconnected with several classmates, who’ve become among my very dearest friends.  We have different memories of our time at Heads, but without exception, we feel incredibly lucky to have been students at Anna Heads before everything changed forever, when UC Berkeley acquired the school, forcing it to move to Oakland.

Sukey Lilienthal received an MA in Dramatic Art from UC Berkeley and has been a teacher, executive director, & fundraiser at several Bay Area dance and music organizations.