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A high school inspired by a non-conformist

Jereann Bowman felt some students need more freedom

Posted: June 30, 2008 1:32 a.m.
Updated: August 31, 2008 5:03 a.m.
According to the Bowman High School Web site, Bowman was founded in September 1969 primarily through the efforts of one special person — Jereann Bowman.

“She took a special interest in high school students who seemed to have problems succeeding in a regular high school,”  the school profile reads. “Her father, Judge C.M. McDougall, encouraged her to promote the need for a special school for those students who needed a different setting to finish high school.”

Today Bowman High is a California Model Continuation High School with approximately 430 students in the day school program, 25 students in independent study and 50 students in the work-study evening program.

“To think that this all came from Jereann Bowman. We owe her a debt of gratitude — this school has helped a lot of kids,” said Bowman Principal Robin Geissler. Bowman students are a lot like the woman for which their school was named, she said.

“She was really a passionate, creative, out-of-the-box thinker, and that is very representative of Bowman’s current population,” Geissler said. “So Jereann Bowman is well represented here.”

The red-haired Bowman was born March 13, 1921 and moved to Saugus with her family in 1927. With no high school in the Santa Clarita Valley, Bowman attended San Fernando High School where she was a beauty queen, winning a beauty contest held in the high school gym when she was 17 years old.

She married Leland Bowman and while raising a family, Bowman held several county jobs and was active in local politics and community service. She served on the board of trustees of the William S. Hart Union High School District from 1963 to 1969 and was active in pushing for the establishment of a continuation school during that time.

Bowman was named Woman of the Year in 1973 by the Newhall-Saugus-Valencia Chamber of Commerce.
In a brief profile that appeared in the Nov. 11, 1976 edition of The Signal, Bowman was described as always having “a place in her heart for the non-conforming and felt there should be a school where youngsters could have more freedom” than in traditional schools.

Bowman left the Santa Clarita Valley to live with her daughter, Karen Bergen, in her later years, and died March 22, 1995, at the age of 74.


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