There’s always something happening after school on a high school campus. Performances, sporting events, tutoring, art shows, movie nights …pick any evening and you’re likely to find students extending their school days by doing something they love.
I’ve been asked about the biggest difference between being a middle school principal and working at a high school, and while it’s easy to talk about the explosion of academic options (engineering classes, art electives, advanced study in everything from bio-tech to art history), I think perhaps the greatest difference is the enormous amount of opportunity students enjoy outside of the classroom.
Here at San Dieguito, students create their own clubs, a dizzying array of options from Skateboarding to Girls Who Code, from the Creative Writing Club to Midwives in the Making. With these kindred spirits, students organize food drives, lunchtime activities, and trips to learn more. They seek out cultural events and opportunities to help those in need. Clubs make a difference in students’ lives, and together those students make a difference on our campus and beyond.
Along with clubs, extracurricular activities abound in high school. Beyond the limited palette of middle school athletics, high school sports burst into technicolor with multiple options for student athletes from field hockey to basketball to water polo.
The arts in high school take center stage, giving students a chance to join musical theater, orchestra, and opportunities to play guitar. Heck, at San Dieguito, add learn to build a guitar in our wood shop to the list of options.
On Friday I was reminded of just how bustling campus life is every night. I split time between a hard played basketball doubleheader and a rousing Comedy Sportz performance. At a school without football, Fridays at San Dieguito take on a kaleidoscopic tone; no single sport or activity dominates the after school landscape. Students are as likely to come to “Cabaret Night” as they are to cheer on our volleyball team with the familiar “S-D-Ace!”
So Friday I found myself in the booth overlooking the stage in our performing arts center, peeking over the shoulders of the students coordinating lighting and sound. Below, a packed house chatted excitedly, ready for the annual alumni game where past graduates return to campus to challenge present students in an improv contest.
The evening was a blur of wit and motion. With the crowd applauding, these student comedians mixed intelligence and perfect timing as marvelously as Dan Aykroyd once blended a fish in his bass-o-matic. Unselfconscious, positive, and really, really funny, this, I thought, was the spirit of San Dieguito.
And then I went to the gym.
There on the court were student athletes working together, cheering for each other, and representing our school with sportsmanship and class. These students, who had put in so many hours of practice, showed that the same collaboration that helped them complete labs in science and skits in Spanish on the basketball court is simply called teamwork. Performing in front of a crowd, taking chances, and giving their all, these student athletes were the epitome of what is right with teenagers today.
These actors and athletes don’t just come alive on stage or on the court. As I watched them on Friday night, I recognized students who I’d seen collaborate on successful egg drops in Physics, others who had participated in our Student Forum, and even our ASB representative to the school board. The students who participate in extracurricular activities are the same who participate in class discussions.
Involved students are often the most successful students. Whether they love building robots or dancing, are on the academic team or tennis team, come to campus for a school dance or movie night, students always keep a light burning at San Dieguito. It’s a place where students always have an opportunity to be part of something special.