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Burcham History


David Daddy Burcham was born in Green County, Indiana, July 1, 1875, on his family's farm.  He began his education in a traditional little red school house in Green County, Indiana.  At age 14 his family moved to Washington.  He graduated from Washington State Normal School at Ellensburg and began teaching in the rural schools in the area for the next five years. 

David BurchamHe was then accepted into Stanford University where he prepared to study law.  However, he was pulled to education and graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1903 and began a career in education.  He was qualified to teach Mathematics.  In 1907 he moved to Long Beach to become head of Long Beach High School, now called Long Beach Polytechnic High School or known simply as Poly High School in 1907 and was principal there until 1941.  He was affectionately called Daddy Burcham  to thousands of men and women who graduated from Poly.  When he became principal, there were 347 students enrolled.  During his tenure, enrollment grew to over 3,000 students making it the largest high school in the state for the time.

David Burcham retired after 34 years of service to Long Beach Unified School District in June of 1941.  Long Beach Polytechnic High School's athletic field is also named after him.  In addition to being an educator, David Burcham was active in may other civic activities.  He was the superintendent of the Sunday School of the Japanese Church, treasurer of the Long Beach Tuberculosis and Health Association, superintendent of the Calvary Presbyterian Church Sunday School, member of the Long Beach Rotary Club, and a member of the Long Beach Retired Teachers Club. 

David Daddy Burcham died December 30, 1954, at the age of 79.  The quotation below was written by David Burcham during his last year as principal at Poly and it is still appropriate today:

"In these trying days we find ourselves drawn to a new and increasing appreciation of the priceless heritage that has come down to us as citizens of America.   ...Our hearts are stirred as we review the events of the past which gather 'round these great monuments to freedom and the American way of life.  We in the schools will not overlook the fact that the American public school holds a place in our national life which gives it high rank among the shrines of democracy.  From the days of the little red school house down to the present time it has been dedicated to the important task of training a loyal and intelligent citizenry, without which democracy cannot long survive."

--David "Daddy" Burcham, circa 1940