Kareem's Memoir & Bio

1987

Welcome to PV
I became a Spartan when I entered Pinole Valley High school in '87. Pinole Valley High School (a.k.a. PV) was built in 1968 and its enrollment has steadily increased from 1,240 (campus capacity) to 2,200 students during Pinole Valley Highmy years there. It was considered the most crowded high school in the district. It was situated in the rural and residential part of the city of Pinole. Across the street was the frequented Bill’s Liquor store which has since been relocated. This was an “open campus” school which allowed us to leave the school campus for lunch. Red Onion was just a block down from PV and was the hub for many of our lunches. We used to go there and buy a bag of French fries for .90. The Lucky’s store was about two blocks down the street and served as our temporary bus stop if you caught the WestCat transit system home. If you used AC Transit, you simply walked across the street. The Pinole Library was also located across the street and its small parking lot served as the pickup place for teenagers who were waiting to meet friends or fight someone after school.

Some of my most favorite teachers were, Mrs. Sigg (French), Mrs. Turner (Art), Mrs. Domejean (French), Mr. Wagner (Economics), Mr. Moitoza (International Problems/Current Events), Miss Thomas (teachers aide in Physiology), Mrs. Delaney (English), Mr. Deuker (PE), Mr. Tietjen (Algebra), and Mrs. Love (Geometry). My counselor was Mrs. Oliver. I always enjoyed telling her how wonderful of a smile she had. The principal then was Mrs. Linda Lester.

The Rallies
I enjoyed the student rallies at PV. Rallies were basically extravaganzas held at fourth period iHigh School Rallyn the gym to invite all classes to participate in many contests, games, and other types of entertainment. The contests were based on each class's level of school spirit. If your class (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) could make the most noise, it was the winner. Each rally had a theme which the student officers and event leaders would create activities for. One of my most favorite rallies was the "Battle of the Genders". It did not involve usual competition of all four classes. Instead, it involved the male students sitting on one side of the gym and the females sitting on the opposite side. Usually, the female students took the trophy for the side that could make the most noise.

School Spirit at Pinole Valley
My class of 1990 was a very spirited class. Every year our class leaders created "spirit week". This was a week high school homecomingduring school where students could dress up according to that day's theme. This was also held during the school’s Homecoming. Such thematic days would include Monday for Nerd Day, Tuesday,Toga Day; Wednesday, Reverse Gender Day; Thursday, Disco Day; and Friday would be Hawaiian Day. I participated enthusiastically for each spirit week following each day's assigned theme. One year, I dressed up as my principal Mrs. Lester for Reverse Gender day. I wore a professional dress and suit, high hills, and a wig. It was very uncomfortable wearing the costume but I was a very loyal Spartan. When the Christmas season approached, I dressed as the school's first nontraditional Santa Claus. I wasn't sure how it was going to be accepted there but nonetheless it was. I had to special order the Santa costume from JCPenneys at Hilltop mall. I wore it on the last day of school prior to Winter break.

My efforts of participating in my class of '90's events earned me two awards, Best Laugh and Most Spirited.

Tragic event at PV
During my sophomore year at PV, a melancholy atmosphere befell PV when our class president was killed in a freak accident when her moped collided with a car in downtown Pinole. Everyone knew Mary McCaw. She was funny, bright, and popular with our class. It was a very strange week at PV. Most of the sophomore class seemed to be expressing their emotions due to this death in different ways. Later, several close friends of Mary climbed one of the hillsides in Pinole to create a message memorializing her, that could be seen from the freeway. This particular hill was a popular site for PV students to go and display various messages reflecting an event or season. This practice has since been prohibited by local officials.  Another terrible incident befell another popular PV student when Danton Dibble was killed at Briones Park. A memorial plaque has been placed on the campus listing other PV students who didn't live through their school terms at Pinole Valley High School.

Explorer Program 
During my first year at PV, I joined the Explorer Program. This program was perfect for those students who were interested in law enforcement and medical response work. It allowed students or “Explorers” to participate in actual jobs working with Police Departments, Ambulance, or other First Responder programs. They could ride along with cops or paramedics. They received training, attended meetings, met other emergency personnel and participated in many "real-life" events. They were also able to be called out of class when there was a special need to assist in an emergency.

The Cadillac Ambulance Company had an Explorer program. Later, Cadillac Ambulance was bought out by Regional Ambulance which took in the Explorer Program. So, I became an Regional Ambulance Explorer. It was fun riding in the ambulances and learning about emergency medical care. I met a new friend, Richard Yacorzynski, through the Explorer program and we became best friends throughout the latter years at PV. Richard was already with the Explorer program and he talked me into joining the organization. Later, Contra Costa Sheriff started an Explorer program with their Search & Rescue Team. Rich and I joined with them.
He Search & Rescue Patchwas appointed Explorer Captain and later I was appointed Lieutenant. We participated in rigorous training for rescue and medical response. We learned a great deal about police investigative work and forensic science. I received my first certification of medical training with Search & Rescue (SAR). Being a member of the SAR team, we were always assisting as medical backup at 10K events, parades, carnivals, and fairs. One of our busiest event was the annual Antioch Fair. At the fair, the SAR team was kept very busy responding to all the medical problems that would occur. Since SAR was a part of the Sheriff's Office, we were always surrounded by deputies and police officers. I often bandaged people who were injured in fights and accidents.

My first official search detail
One late evening, when was returning home from a church event, I received a phone call from my Explorer Captain, Rich. He notified me that there was an active search underway in the city of Pinole for a missing child named Amber Swartz Garcia. I had to immediately drop everything that I was doing and respond immediately to the Pinole Police Department where all other rescue team members were gathering. There, I met with Rich and a Pinole Police Cadet, named Drew. We headed for the main command poSearch and Rescuest known as the "CP" which was located at Ellerhorst Elementary School. This school was in the area where the girl disappeared. All other search officials were there - law enforcement officials, officers from other departments, sheriff deputies, blood hounds, horses, Pinole firefighters, local media officials and even the FBI. My team was assigned to search a nearby field and creek area from midnight to about 3 a.m the following morning. We trekked through creeks, mud, poison oak, wasp nests, and residential backyards to search for the missing child or any possible clues. Our assignment lasted for about 48 hours. When it was time for a break, we returned to the school’s auditorium for food and a place to rest. There were many cots available for all of us to sleep if we chose to. I was tired, sore, and hungry after the exhausting walk. So I chose to sleep. The following morning, my team returned to the field to continue searching. We utilized our portable radios for communication between all of us and the command post. At one point, I found myself in trouble when I was cornered by a large dog while I was searching an area near someone's residential back yard. I had to quickly call for assistance from Rich. After a few days, our team was pulled off the field and the search was finally called off.

Call Chasing 
My buddy Rich and I found a new hobby. We loved what we called call-chasing. Rich and I would listen to police scanner and wait to hear something "big" happening in the area. Rich owned a portable Bearcat scanner and I bought my own portable scanner from Radio Shack. Yes, I was a huge fan of Radio Shack where I received my Realistic brand 50-channel police scanner. Once we heard the location of the problem, we would drive directly there to see the action unfold. Most of the time, the problems were relatively minor. Other times, we responded to things like shootings, vehicle accidents, fires, fights, domestic disturbances, medical emergencies, etc.. Many times, we arrived at the scene before the police or any other emergency units did. One of our most exciting moments was when we heard that there was a gunman who had
barricPolice Scanneraded himself inside his home and was periodically firing shots from automatic weapons. The neighborhood was located in Montalvin Manor, an unincorporated residential section of San Pablo. We drove to the scene. Fortunately, there were many officers already there. Rich and I managed bypass some of the police roadblocks and get within just a few houses from the gunman’s location. I had my brand new camcorder and I captured some of the action as it occurred.

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At one point, I had even recorded the moment when the suspect started firing shots.  The standoff lasted for about four hours. After realizing that I was too close to this gunman’s line of fire, I repositioned myself with Rich. We were three blocks away when we heard the SWAT team use flashbangs. The standoff came to an end. This was our favorite pastime. Rich was very familiar with the involved areas because of his experience with Cadillac Ambulance. I knew all of the police codes and communication jargon that was used by various departmental agencies. Together we formed the perfect team of call chasers and usually managed to cover the active areas from Richmond to Crockett.

Maple Court
Yet, we moved again to Maple Court. It was on this street that I spent most of my life and Maple Court house met other friends Tina, Mark, and Sheryl who were our new next door neighbors. Our house was a two-story house which was perched on the edge of a hillside overlooking Refugio Valley, the jogging path, and a portion of the future location of the City’s Swim Center. My sister and I spent most of our playtime with Tina and Mark. We had Atari 2600 but they had introduced us to another more newer and advanced console game system called Nintendo. We always played Nintendo with Mark and Tina. My favorite game was Resident Evil.

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Tina and Mark also owned skateboards and often rode them with my sister. I chose to stick with my 18-speed Team Murrray dirt bike.

Television
Iran Contra HearingThat summer started out like any other summer. When my neighbors and I weren't playing outside, we were watching tons of television. This summer, however, the airwaves were dominated by the live coverage of the Iran Contra Hearing. While it may have been interesting at first, it quickly became boring. The news coverage was on the air for what seemed like months and months.

Damaging Quake in Southern California
Southern California was shaken by a very strong earthquake that hit an area very close to downtown Los Angeles. The city was called Whittier. The quake did a lot of damage and was caught on tape by many TV cameras which were rolling when the news anchors were on the air. It occurred at 7:42 in the morning. It apparently had scared quite a few people and brought back a lot of memories from a very bad quake that had occurred in Sylmar in 1971.

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