"When Mr. Olguin spoke to our History of the Port class last year, it felt like he could have written our textbook," said 10th-grader Albert Khalbourji. "He knew the entire story behind the lumber schooner mural on our classroom wall. That mural is from 1923!" Olguin, a frequent guest lecturer at POLAHS, always knew just how to captivate his young audience. "I remember him discussing how special San Pedro is, with so many cultures and traditions blended together, just like our school. He said this in English, and then repeated it in Spanish. That was really unique," 10th-grader Michael Hughes recalls.
In September of 2005, POLAHS' classrooms were not yet completed, and the first 112 freshmen students were taught at the Boys Scout Camp on Cabrillo Beach for their fall semester. As a founder of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Olguin initiated a relationship between the institution and the students studying on the beach.Those humble beginnings created so much interest and enthusiasm in Maritime studies, that today, POLAHS offers coursework in Marine Science, Boat Operations, AP Environmental Science, and Marine Biology. "Children learn from example. What you experience is part of your life," Olguin once told a local magazine. In 2009, Olguin personally raised funds to take POLAHS classes whale watching free of charge. "He was passionate, and that is inspiring. He offered himself as an educational resource, and he was committed to sharing the treasures of the sea with our students," said POLAHS instructor Sean Collins.
In gratitude and tribute to his legacy, POLAHS formally dedicated the Marine Biology classroom to Olguin in a recent ceremony. "This learning space will be a reminder of the foundation he provided for our Maritime curriculum. The real lesson from John is the importance of living life fully and generously, and always reaching out to others. In 10 or 20 years, I know many of our students will still be reflecting on how John influenced their life and career choices," said Executive Director James Cross. The John Olguin Spirit Scholarship has also been established by the POLAHS Board of Trustees. The scholarship will be awarded to the graduating senior who best reflects Olguin's remarkable dedication to community service and/or Maritime studies.
From the POLAHS faculty, staff, administration, and students, "THANK YOU MR. JOHN OLGUIN!"