There’s a photograph from 1936 that hangs in our library and shows the collected students and faculty of San Dieguito standing together near their interim campus and a collection of tents that served as classrooms as the school was being built.
I love the juxtaposition of the stern, bespectacled, and dark suited principal and the fact that just to his left are the hindquarters of a large, black dog.
It’s this jarring reality, something that wouldn’t happen organically in a school photo today, that strikes me as emblematic of the long running spirit of our school. At San Dieguito the unexpected is never far away.
Mr. Main, that first principal, was shown the door after just four years at San Dieguito, pressure put on him to leave by a staff who felt too “circumscribed in their activities” by their frowning leader. This spirit of freedom is another part of the San Dieguito DNA. We’re a school that values academics, of course, but also has fostered the independent spirit of students and faculty for almost eighty years.
The result of this expectation of the unexpected and culture of creativity has led to a list of alumni that reads like a who’s who of diversity. Professional musicians, actors, and athletes have learned their craft at San Dieguito. Surfers, scientists, and school teachers began their careers while Mustangs.
As we enter our 80th year as a school, it’s amazing to hear the range of stories of the alumni who visit campus. Some are funny (sitting along 101 to watch 1950’s celebrities caught in the traffic jam between Hollywood and the Del Mar Racetrack). Some are moving (1945 Mustangs petitioning to allow an interred Japanese student to return to walk in graduation). Some are patently fantastic (the time the seniors, with a little help from the art department, built a life sized zoo of animals and surprised everyone by putting them up around campus).
I’m looking forward to our Founder’s Day reception in October and all the events this year that will give our alumni a chance to come back to San Dieguito and to share their stories. When they do, I hope they’ll find me so I can listen. I’ll be the fellow wearing a tie, and wishing that just beside me was a big, black dog.