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San Diego high schools in the old days

San Dieguito strife, Poway wrestlers, Morse gangs, Helix football, Mission Bay reunion, Waldorf nurturing, Top 10 schools, and unusual homeschoolers

Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.  - Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.

SD’s Top 10 High Schools

“I think my eyes were opened freshman year [at Torrey Pines]. People think that when you go here, you’ve got this, like, perfect life made out for you, and, you know, you park your car in the parking lot and you’ve got your Beemer, and, you know, you can just pay for things, and you can buy your way into college. And I’m sure this is one of the reasons why people anywhere drink.”

By Matthew Lickona and Ernie Grimm, June 4, 1998 | Read full article

The “soldiers" of Morse High’s JROTC — like its notorious football team — are competitors of the ferocious sort. “We drill every, every evening. And if they don’t go out and win...I mean, they have got to win."

Sanctuary

“We do have a gang situation — I won’t deny that. But I don’t think it’s explosive. Lotta kids I deal with identify as belonging to this gang or that gang. And all of these gangs have identifying ways about them. You know, some of ’em wear certain colors, some of ’em wear their clothes a certain way, wear their hair a certain way, and it’s kinda int’resting — but it’s changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

By Ray Westberg, July 30, 1992 | Read full article

"These kids are so full of hate, for everything. They hate me, they hate you, they hate white, they hate black, they hate each other."

A Different Kind of Homecoming

High school students from Eden Gardens at one time attended San Dieguito, but are now sent to the new school in Del Mar, Torrey Pines High. The only significantly large Latino community now served by San Dieguito High is an area known as Tortilla Flats, a settlement of about 1600 people in Leucadia, located east of Interstate 5 between Leucadia Boulevard and Puebla Street, established decades ago, when San Dieguito was little more than a rural area.

By Coleman Warner, June 14, 1979 | Read full article

W.C. Atkinson: "The parents know we ah one uh the last institutions in the countra that abides by the principals uh yestahyeah.”

Sons of the Regiment

“You guys get to see enough girls around here?” I ask after she’s gone.

“Cheerleaders. We pick them ourselves. We just canned last semester’s because they were a buncha dogs.”

“Well, what about off campus?”

“Only the higher-ranking cadets are allowed off campus. But we don’t get along too well with the kids from the other schools anyway. They call us ‘Junior Jar-heads’ and ‘Bellhops.’ Our dances are pretty good though.”

By Steve Sorensen, Apr 8, 1976 | Read full article

One Poway grapplerette who has a boyfriend on the team said she made the mistake of walking into the wrestling room one day when practice was in session. “Coach made everybody stop wrestling until I left.”

On the Mat

There were 9000 people crammed into the auditorium watching the finalists in the lower weight classes put on the finest performance of wrestling skill most of the fans would ever see. Branstetter’s instincts as a coach made him almost envious of all that athletic talent before him. Then he realized, “My god, we’re the best wrestling team in the state,’’ and in that instant everything he’d been working for so long made sense.

By Steve Sorensen, Apr. 17, 1986 | Read full article

“The other day a kid wore a T-shirt to class that said ’Fuck You.’ He said he didn't have anything else to wear, so we called his parent, and his parent said she wasn’t aware that we had a dress code and that she’d just bought him the shirt the night before as a present."

Spring Fashion Update

“The gangs we focus on are Spanish and Indochinese,” says Hoover High vice principal Rick Novak. “Typically, they have lettering on the backs of jackets, or on hats, with their street nicknames written in Old English writing. So we don’t allow any clothing with any kind of personalized writing on it, even though it kind of presents us with a problem — kids not affiliated with gangs want to write their names on their jackets.”

By Thomas K. Arnold, Apr. 4, 1991 | Read full article

Tamara and Rose Dawn. Because I’m a modern kinda mom, Tam had a harder time than most kids rebelling.

The Only Kid at Whitebread Central Who Listened to Danzig

Many people have asked me why I’m not in school, and when I explain that I am on home study, they want to know why. Well, to be blunt, I hated school. I have a different style from the rest of the kids there, who normally dressed in overalls and crop tops. I preferred to dye my hair black, wear leggings and T-shirts. For such, I was considered a Satanist or “devil-worshipper.”

By Rose Dawn Scott, Apr. 6, 1995 | Read full article

David Berg (#63) with teammates before game at Qualcomm. “I thought the stadium would look bigger from the field.”

It’s Not Easy to Snap a Football with a 250-Pound Noseguard in Your Face

Helix’s season started with a scrimmage against Chula Vista and it will end today battling the Spartans for the CIF championship. An indication of how enrollment affects a school’s success in football is the fact that of the 19 schools in Division II, Chula Vista and Helix are, respectively, the second and fourth largest at 1646 and 1565 students. However, Castle Park, the second-smallest Division II school at 1404 students, made it to the semifinals.

By Ernie Grimm, Jan. 14, 1999 | Read full article

"Huffman has all but commandeered this alumni website and turned it into his own personal ‘philsapimp’ chat room.”

No One Ever Dances

A vivacious, down-to-earth brunet, Reesa loved high school. “We were so lucky then!” she said. “There wasn’t the gang activity. You had your surfers.” You had your hard-rockers and jocks and “your rah-rah, pep-rally group of people — which Dan was in. I was sort of in-between. I liked everybody. It was nice because I didn’t clique off with one specific group. I was friends with a lot of different people in different types of groups.”

By Jeanette De Wyze, March 8, 2001 | Read full article

Wooton family."I was a smart kid but I got crushed by about third grade. My husband was a smart kid who thought school was too easy."

Home School

“My mother promised Jennifer a car if she would go to Serra for 11th grade. So Jennifer stayed at my mother’s house and Christopher and I moved into a condo. Jennifer moved back in with me in May of 2000. She was unhappy with the car my mother got her. Part of the problem is my mother’s constant undermining of my homeschooling attempts with Jennifer, and part of it is that Jennifer considers herself an adult.”

By Justin Wolff, Sept. 13, 2001 | Read full article

Miss Lea and children. She was a 14-year-old girl riding her bicycle to a housecleaning job. Her parents weren’t religious — her father, in fact, said “atheist” when Lea asked what religion she was — but her grandmother in Illinois talked openly about her conversations with God.

Follow Me

On the board, with colored chalk, Bonnie has sketched a complicated three-dimensional scene of Hannibal’s army crossing the Alps on the backs of elephants. Beside this she has sketched, with attention to what looks like every inlet, spit, and boulder, a map of the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean. Other evidence of the fifth- and sixth-grade curriculum is on the side walls: blurry student paintings of St. George and the dragon.

By Laura McNeal, Feb. 21, 2002 | Read full article

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Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.  - Image by Sandy Huffaker, Jr.
Class at Torrey Pines High School. The college-prep/career-prep seems to overshadow all else.

SD’s Top 10 High Schools

“I think my eyes were opened freshman year [at Torrey Pines]. People think that when you go here, you’ve got this, like, perfect life made out for you, and, you know, you park your car in the parking lot and you’ve got your Beemer, and, you know, you can just pay for things, and you can buy your way into college. And I’m sure this is one of the reasons why people anywhere drink.”

By Matthew Lickona and Ernie Grimm, June 4, 1998 | Read full article

The “soldiers" of Morse High’s JROTC — like its notorious football team — are competitors of the ferocious sort. “We drill every, every evening. And if they don’t go out and win...I mean, they have got to win."

Sanctuary

“We do have a gang situation — I won’t deny that. But I don’t think it’s explosive. Lotta kids I deal with identify as belonging to this gang or that gang. And all of these gangs have identifying ways about them. You know, some of ’em wear certain colors, some of ’em wear their clothes a certain way, wear their hair a certain way, and it’s kinda int’resting — but it’s changing so fast it’s hard to keep up.

By Ray Westberg, July 30, 1992 | Read full article

"These kids are so full of hate, for everything. They hate me, they hate you, they hate white, they hate black, they hate each other."

A Different Kind of Homecoming

High school students from Eden Gardens at one time attended San Dieguito, but are now sent to the new school in Del Mar, Torrey Pines High. The only significantly large Latino community now served by San Dieguito High is an area known as Tortilla Flats, a settlement of about 1600 people in Leucadia, located east of Interstate 5 between Leucadia Boulevard and Puebla Street, established decades ago, when San Dieguito was little more than a rural area.

By Coleman Warner, June 14, 1979 | Read full article

W.C. Atkinson: "The parents know we ah one uh the last institutions in the countra that abides by the principals uh yestahyeah.”

Sons of the Regiment

“You guys get to see enough girls around here?” I ask after she’s gone.

“Cheerleaders. We pick them ourselves. We just canned last semester’s because they were a buncha dogs.”

“Well, what about off campus?”

“Only the higher-ranking cadets are allowed off campus. But we don’t get along too well with the kids from the other schools anyway. They call us ‘Junior Jar-heads’ and ‘Bellhops.’ Our dances are pretty good though.”

By Steve Sorensen, Apr 8, 1976 | Read full article

One Poway grapplerette who has a boyfriend on the team said she made the mistake of walking into the wrestling room one day when practice was in session. “Coach made everybody stop wrestling until I left.”

On the Mat

There were 9000 people crammed into the auditorium watching the finalists in the lower weight classes put on the finest performance of wrestling skill most of the fans would ever see. Branstetter’s instincts as a coach made him almost envious of all that athletic talent before him. Then he realized, “My god, we’re the best wrestling team in the state,’’ and in that instant everything he’d been working for so long made sense.

By Steve Sorensen, Apr. 17, 1986 | Read full article

“The other day a kid wore a T-shirt to class that said ’Fuck You.’ He said he didn't have anything else to wear, so we called his parent, and his parent said she wasn’t aware that we had a dress code and that she’d just bought him the shirt the night before as a present."

Spring Fashion Update

“The gangs we focus on are Spanish and Indochinese,” says Hoover High vice principal Rick Novak. “Typically, they have lettering on the backs of jackets, or on hats, with their street nicknames written in Old English writing. So we don’t allow any clothing with any kind of personalized writing on it, even though it kind of presents us with a problem — kids not affiliated with gangs want to write their names on their jackets.”

By Thomas K. Arnold, Apr. 4, 1991 | Read full article

Tamara and Rose Dawn. Because I’m a modern kinda mom, Tam had a harder time than most kids rebelling.

The Only Kid at Whitebread Central Who Listened to Danzig

Many people have asked me why I’m not in school, and when I explain that I am on home study, they want to know why. Well, to be blunt, I hated school. I have a different style from the rest of the kids there, who normally dressed in overalls and crop tops. I preferred to dye my hair black, wear leggings and T-shirts. For such, I was considered a Satanist or “devil-worshipper.”

By Rose Dawn Scott, Apr. 6, 1995 | Read full article

David Berg (#63) with teammates before game at Qualcomm. “I thought the stadium would look bigger from the field.”

It’s Not Easy to Snap a Football with a 250-Pound Noseguard in Your Face

Helix’s season started with a scrimmage against Chula Vista and it will end today battling the Spartans for the CIF championship. An indication of how enrollment affects a school’s success in football is the fact that of the 19 schools in Division II, Chula Vista and Helix are, respectively, the second and fourth largest at 1646 and 1565 students. However, Castle Park, the second-smallest Division II school at 1404 students, made it to the semifinals.

By Ernie Grimm, Jan. 14, 1999 | Read full article

"Huffman has all but commandeered this alumni website and turned it into his own personal ‘philsapimp’ chat room.”

No One Ever Dances

A vivacious, down-to-earth brunet, Reesa loved high school. “We were so lucky then!” she said. “There wasn’t the gang activity. You had your surfers.” You had your hard-rockers and jocks and “your rah-rah, pep-rally group of people — which Dan was in. I was sort of in-between. I liked everybody. It was nice because I didn’t clique off with one specific group. I was friends with a lot of different people in different types of groups.”

By Jeanette De Wyze, March 8, 2001 | Read full article

Wooton family."I was a smart kid but I got crushed by about third grade. My husband was a smart kid who thought school was too easy."

Home School

“My mother promised Jennifer a car if she would go to Serra for 11th grade. So Jennifer stayed at my mother’s house and Christopher and I moved into a condo. Jennifer moved back in with me in May of 2000. She was unhappy with the car my mother got her. Part of the problem is my mother’s constant undermining of my homeschooling attempts with Jennifer, and part of it is that Jennifer considers herself an adult.”

By Justin Wolff, Sept. 13, 2001 | Read full article

Miss Lea and children. She was a 14-year-old girl riding her bicycle to a housecleaning job. Her parents weren’t religious — her father, in fact, said “atheist” when Lea asked what religion she was — but her grandmother in Illinois talked openly about her conversations with God.

Follow Me

On the board, with colored chalk, Bonnie has sketched a complicated three-dimensional scene of Hannibal’s army crossing the Alps on the backs of elephants. Beside this she has sketched, with attention to what looks like every inlet, spit, and boulder, a map of the Adriatic Sea and the Mediterranean. Other evidence of the fifth- and sixth-grade curriculum is on the side walls: blurry student paintings of St. George and the dragon.

By Laura McNeal, Feb. 21, 2002 | Read full article

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