As a snapshot in history, yearbooks are a great way to see what was happening on campus in any particular year. Over the next few months I’ll choose a yearbook from each decade of San Dieguito’s history and share a few of the highlights, photos, and memories, doing my imperfect best to remind our 21st century audience what life at San Dieguito was like in years gone by.
Arrows flew, aimed by teenage girls in long skirts, determined to hit the mark. The 1930s were a time archers might ply their trade on a high school campus, and these young women represented the spirit of youth that populated San Dieguito Union High School during the Roosevelt administration.
San Dieguito was just three years old in 1939, facilities still freshly painted, and new classrooms filled to the brim with youthful school spirit. Looking at a yearbook shows a school alive with smiling faces, optimism, and strength.
History books tell us that 1939 wasn’t an easy time. War was brewing in Europe, the US was still staggering from the depression, and the lives of the students of San Dieguito reflected the struggle of the nation. Tucked inside one page of the yearbook, printed in an upper corner without explanation is a the anonymous quotation: “A man’s character is the sum total of all that he has overcome.”
San Dieguito students of the late 30s were strong, and despite the challenges they’d faced and had yet to face, or perhaps because of them, the students pictured in the 1939 Hoofprint seem to be looking toward a better future with determination and optimism.
Campus was still new in 1939, a collection of beautiful buildings designed by Lilian Rice, a local architect of much renown, whose outdoor breezeways provided shade and funnel cool air coming off the Pacific during the warmest days, and shelter from the rain in the winter. This vision still holds true eighty years later.
Looking at the faces of the students in the 1939 yearbook I see teenagers whose expressions would look familiar on campus today. Some share the easy smiles of high school years, others lean forward with an eagerness to experience life, and some seem patiently waiting for the photographer to snap the picture so they can get on with their lives. So too there are the tentative expressions of those not yet sure, and the smirk of youthful mischief that someday may mature into delinquency or leadership.
In these faces, so human and so familiar, are our mothers and grandmothers, our fathers and uncles, our past on the cusp of their own future. When we stop and really look at the photographs we can see not only the San Dieguito students of 1939, but the human condition distilled.
But these faces are not static; theirs was a busy campus life of dances, musical productions, athletics, and school activities.
It was in 1939 that San Dieguito introduced baseball to the pantheon of school sports. The seniors held an Armistice Day Dance in the fall and a Backward-Backwoods Dance in the spring. Faculty played students in a volleyball game (that the students won), and clubs gave students with interests in everything from drama to agriculture opportunities to pursue the learning they loved.
While the world swirled around them, the students at San Dieguito lived their lives, building friendships, making memories, and laying the foundation for a vibrant place of learning that would support decades of change, growth, hope, and success.