Santa Cruz High School

Santa Cruz High School is a comprehensive public school in Santa Cruz, California which originally opened in 1897 and now serves an enrollment of about 1,040 students in grades nine through twelve. It is part of the Santa Cruz City School District. The school's mascot is a cardinal.

Santa Cruz High School
USA-Santa Cruz-High School-1.jpg
415 Walnut Ave.

Coordinates36°58′18″N 122°02′01″W / 36.97153°N 122.03351°W / 36.97153; -122.03351Coordinates: 36°58′18″N 122°02′01″W / 36.97153°N 122.03351°W / 36.97153; -122.03351
School districtSanta Cruz City School District
PrincipalMichelle Poirier
Staff46.28 (FTE)[1]
Enrollment1,142 (2018-19)[1]
Student to teacher ratio24.68[1]
Color(s)  Cardinal
AthleticsBaseball, Basketball, Cheer, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Lacrosse, Marching Band, Color Guard, Jazz Band, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Track, Volleyball, Water Polo, Wrestling
Athletics conferenceCIF CCS - SCCAL
WebsiteSanta Cruz High School


The original Santa Cruz High School building was built in 1895 and first opened in 1897. Previously, all High School classes had been taught on the fourth floor of Mission Hill Middle School.[2] The first class graduated at Smith's Opera House on June 7, 1878, with a total of four pupils: Evelyn Pope, Cornelia Chappelmann, John Cooper, and Underwood McCann, receiving diplomas.[3] In 1894, a vote of 530 to 175 decided that a separate building was needed, leading its construction in 1895.

Fire and ReconstructionEdit

On October 1, 1913 at approximately 6:00 in the evening the school caught fire. The cause of the fire remains unknown, however the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported the following day that the blaze appeared to have broken out on the third story of the building. The alarm sounded at 6:40 pm at the firehouse and the beach, the fire department arrived on the scene, and unsuccessfully tried to combat the blaze with its singular "fire auto" and various hoses placed all around the building. Neighbors used their garden hoses from across the street, with reports of people climbing on the roofs of their houses to better aim the jets of water.[4]

The frame structure of the building and the ignition point of the fire made it extremely difficult to combat. While the firefighters made several advances, most notably by getting onto the second story balcony at the North corner of the building, they ultimately were forced to retreat. The school was deemed unsalvageable around 7:00, after the water from the fire hoses was dissolved into steam by the heat of the flames. The fire threatened neighboring homes until the building eventually collapsed in on itself.[4]

Approximately 5,000 onlookers watched the blaze, according to one source, having abandoned early efforts to salvage school property; however some things, such as 40 new typewriters, and the school records and trophies, were saved.[5] At the time, there were 345 students attending the school and the principal was George A. Bond.[3] For the next few years the classes were held at various locations around town, for example Bay View and Mission Hill schools,[2] until March 17, 1914 when a vote of 5 to 1 [6] made the decision to construct a new building in the same location. The current building was opened in the fall of 1915,[3] is made of reinforced concrete, and contains 27 classrooms and an auditorium with a capacity of 830.[6] It was designed by architect W. H. Weeks, of San Francisco.

World Wars and MemorialEdit

A total of 11 former students were killed in World War I, between 1917 and 1918.[7] In 1919, the graduating class carved the names of those alumni into the marble facing of the wall of the entry hall, as a memorial to those lost in the war. Above the names is carved the inscription, "Freedom Cometh Not Free." George A. Bond wrote a letter in the 1919 year book dedicating it, saying "Their names are carved...not only on the marble of our school walls, but on the ineffaceable marble of our memories and our hearts."[8]

In the early 1920s, eleven black walnut trees were planted around the athletic field, one for each of the alumni who died during the war. In 2008, there were tensions between neighborhood residents of Myrtle Street and the Santa Cruz City School District over plans to cut down four of the trees as part of a track renovation project for the Santa Cruz High School Memorial Track and Field. The residents argued that the trees were a valuable part of the school's history and the plans should be altered to accommodate them, whereas the District argued that it would cost too much money and the trees, which showed indications of interior rot, would have to be cut down anyway.[9] As of 2009, two of the trees had been removed, with plans for the removal of the remaining two of the original four disputed trees, much to the displeasure of several members of Veterans of Foreign Wars, who saw it as breaking a "covenant" made when the trees were planted.[10]

After WWII, a second memorial was constructed along the same wall as the first, listing the names of the students who had fallen in service. Each year, these students' biographies and photos, as well as those of women who served but were unharmed in the war, are placed next to the names upon the wall.


Much of the historical information known about Santa Cruz High School comes from the old school newspaper, "The Trident". First published in 1906 and edited by George Griffin (class of 1907), it gave accounts of events around the school, student opinion, activities and administration at SCHS.[11] After the boys' Manual Training program was introduced in 1916, the Trident was printed on two small student-operated presses in the printing department. The newspaper continued at least into the 1990s. The newspaper returned in the fall of 2017. There is also a separate Trident Building, now used to teach classes in.[12]


Santa Cruz High is the only school in the district that uses an Excel Block Schedule. This allows students to choose to take either three or four ninety-minute classes that meet every day in the fall, and then switch to three or four new classes in the spring. This was implemented in 1995 and as of 2001-2002, students were allowed to add a fourth class. One of the programs that utilizes this schedule in particular is the Math Academy program. Students have the option to add an open first period or an open fourth.

Some other notable academic programs at Santa Cruz High School are the English Intensive and World History Intensive—as well as the many AP and honors classes that the school offers. Some examples of these are AP Calculus BC, AP English Lit & Comp, AP English Language, AP US History, and AP Physics (another year long course that allows students to take both the Physics I and Physics II AP tests).[13]

Math AcademyEdit

Math Academy is a program founded in approximately 1994 by Stuart Kumaishi, a mathematics instructor at Santa Cruz High.[14] This ongoing program is for freshmen and sophomores only, and utilizes a highly conceptual approach to learning upper math in the high school environment.

While most math programs spend an entire semester or year on a single subject (e.g. Algebra 2) in Math Academy multiple subjects are studied in parallel throughout the year. Emphasis is on projects, mastery of concepts, and application of principles. Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, Statistics, Trigonometry, and Calculus are covered. The student may move on to more advanced Calculus and Statistics following the two-year course.

In 2009 Stuart Kumaishi was recognized for his excellence in teaching with an "Eddy."[15] This is an educator award given to the top teacher for Santa Cruz City Schools.


Fall Winter Spring
Cross Country Basketball Baseball / Softball
Football Soccer Track
Girls' Golf Wrestling Boys' Golf
Girls' Tennis Swimming
Girls' Volleyball Boys' Lacrosse
Waterpolo Girls' Tennis
Boys' Volleyball

Extracurricular activitiesEdit


After being established in 1925, the band program is one of the oldest in California. The Cardinal Regiment, the Santa Cruz High School’s marching band, is the only competitive marching band left in Santa Cruz County. The Santa Cruz High School Cardinal Regiment is far Superior to that of Benicia.

Woman's Honor SocietyEdit

The Woman's Honor Society (or Girl's Honor Society, as it was known until 1989), was founded in 1922.[7] It still exists at Santa Cruz High School today.


The Drama Club was founded c. 1912, along with the arrival of a stage in the original building. It is a student-run after-school activity that still exists today. [7] Well known actress and alumna ZaSu Pitts participated in school theater productions while attending SCHS, between 1914 and 1915.[16]

Notable alumniEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Santa Cruz High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "0512". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^ a b "High School Burns to the Ground." Santa Cruz Morning Sentinel 2 Oct. 1913: 1. Print.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Young, Ann. "Santa Cruz County History - Santa Cruz Public Libraries". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  7. ^ a b c "History of Santa Cruz High School | SCHS Alumni Association". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  8. ^ Bond, G. A. "Presentation of Memorial." Letter to Year Book. 1919. MS. Santa Cruz High School, Santa Cruz, California.
  9. ^ Brown, J. M. "Neighbors Intent on Saving Memorial Grove of Walnut Trees in Santa Cruz."Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz Sentinel, 08 Sept. 2008. Web. 23 May 2017. <>
  10. ^ Brown, J. M. "Veterans Miffed over Memorial Trees Felled for Track." Santa Cruz Sentinel. Santa Cruz Sentinel, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 May 2017. <>.
  11. ^ Young, Ann. "Santa Cruz County History - Santa Cruz Public Libraries". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  12. ^ "Location/Maps - Santa Cruz High School". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  13. ^ "Home - Santa Cruz High School" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  14. ^ "Home - Santa Cruz High School". Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  15. ^ "2009 Eddy Awards". 2009-03-30. Retrieved 2016-12-16.
  16. ^ Young, Ann. "Santa Cruz County History - Santa Cruz Public Libraries". Retrieved 2016-12-16.

External linksEdit