As prospective students first walk through the doors of Central High on the night of their freshman orientation, they are promised two things: first, that it won’t get any cooler in the building throughout the night (for which the administrators continually apologize), and that this very school holds the key to success. As they plow through their next four years, they never forget that the future is waiting for them. A member of the 227th class and an accomplished writer, Christopher Bernard was once a student in the 1960s who held onto Central’s promise.
Although Bernard has countless memories of the dear old High, he didn’t attend Central until 10th grade. Before that, he took part in learning at the home of the Dragons, Julia R. Masterman High School. On missing out on freshman antics, Bernard stated, “Entering as a ‘frosh’ might have helped create an esprit de corps with my other classmates in 227, a shared humiliation at being at the bottom of the ladder in a decidedly hierarchical school, that I sometimes feel I missed.” His Central experience can be summed up in the essence of teenage angst and the “momentum, mayhem, and madness” of the sixties.
Bernard felt the deepest connections with his history and English teachers. Mr. Perkins, Mr. Frankel, and Mr. Rosenbaum were a few of the teachers who helped shape his academic career. Bernard was never found on any athletic field; instead he thrived on stage as part of the drama club and was a prominent poetry editor for the Mirror.
Graduating in 1968, Bernard made the ultimate decision to take the plunge into the world of writing and literature. In the early 1970s, he won the Temple University Student Poetry Contest. After moving to San Francisco, he went on to write outstanding pieces, such as A Spy in the Ruins. This popular novel follows a lone survivor of a wrecked society in search of a meaningful way to live through his experiences. He has also co-founded a literary magazine known as the Caveat Lector, where he continues to edit to this day. His newest novel, Voyage to a Phantom City, will come out next year.
David Grayson, former president of the Haiku Society of Northern California, boasts, “Voyage to a Phantom City traces the arc of a young man’s journey, moving seamlessly from pre 9/11 Manhattan to the American West, the Sahara, and beyond. Christopher Bernard…articulates how we navigate friendships, our place in a shifting world, and longing and loss. Voyage to a Phantom City…will stay with you long after you close the book.”
When asked if his life had turned out the way he planned, Bernard responded on a deeper level by saying, “Nothing has quite turned out as I thought it would, neither in my personal nor in my professional life, nor in the world at large. But then does it ever, for anyone?”
Christopher Bernard of the 227th class is a prime example of the types of great individuals who enter Central’s doors as students and leave as aspiring young adults. Central promised Bernard the world, and he took it up on its offer.
Zoey Miller (275)