I was chatting with a fellow from our district office whose business it is to make sure we get technology right in big construction jobs when out of the blue he said: “You know, your band room is one of the best organized spaces I’ve seen.”
Taken off guard, my mind raced through the reasons this would be true: a fantastic teacher, amazing students, unflagging professionalism throughout the program, from tuba to timpani. I’d visited a rehearsal the day before and been wowed by their mastery of a Shostakovitch tune. Talented, I’d thought then, serious, focused, and impressive. The word organized hadn’t been on my list, though I supposed it was true.
“They’re great,” I said in response. “And you know we got that new guitar rack when Jon Foreman donated some guitars.”
“You know what it is,” he said, nodding. “Pride in ownership. Those kids really care about their program and it shows in the way they respect the space. It’s not like that everywhere.”
It’s not like this everywhere is a common observation about San Dieguito, where freedom, fun and funkiness are all part of the spirit that defines our school. We see it in the band room and the auto shop, the theater, the science lab, and out on the softball field. That pride in ownership is something on display in our audiences at Comedy Sportz, on the tie dyed SDA t-shirts our kids sell at our student retail store, Studio 800, and whenever a student led tour introduces a new group of prospective Mustangs to San Dieguito.
I thought about that comment throughout the day, as I visited classes, met with teachers, and talked with a parent (who had come to my office hoping for an answer I couldn’t give), a parent who surprised me as he shook my hand as he left and said: “This is a really special place.”
It is, and I was reminded later in the afternoon that that special something our students feel and parents recognize isn’t limited to kids and families.
My day ended with a gathering of former San Dieguito staff, a couple of dozen of them, who had taught, coached, or somehow been a part of our school family. Some were recently retired, still familiar with the current teachers who joined the party. Some had been at San Dieguito before Interstate 5 bisected town.
I heard the story of kids sitting on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway in the middle part of the last century, passing time by counting the movie stars whose convertibles were caught in the traffic jam that stretched from the Del Mar Racetrack back to San Clemente.
I heard lots of stories, of women called to teach at San Dieguito during the war years, of legendary cinnamon rolls once baked on campus, and of generations of families who all attended our school.
During a conversation with a friend who had graduated from San Dieguito and then come back to teach here, she leaned close to me and pointed across the room. “See that woman over there? She was my chemistry teacher,” she whispered “…in 1966.”
People who have been part of our San Dieguito family stay close. Some move to other parts of the world, though a larger number than you’d expect call Encinitas home. So many love this place where they worked or attended, sometimes worked and attended.
At that special event, put on by our parent Foundation, I saw a former principal, lots of teachers, and a couple of current district employees who are San Dieguito grads. …and I felt fortunate to be among the numbers who have a connection to this place.
As they talked, laughed, and shared stories of their adventures at San Dieguito, I saw that same pride in ownership my friend had noticed in our student musicians.
All of us who have been a part of San Dieguito feel it.
This is our school.