In 1984 Ray Bradbury visited San Dieguito High School. He spoke to the student body in the gym, part of the Science Fiction Fair, and was “funny, but eloquent” as he talked to the students as part of the week long event organized by students. A senior in 1984, Monica was a writer, and her English teacher, Jane Mills, told her that she had to meet Bradbury. It was the kind of encouragement that typified the special support staff showed students, and the unexpected opportunities that seem almost expected at San Dieguito.
Cows still roamed campus, or at least a corner of it, in the mid 1980s, yet another opportunity, this for more agriculturally minded students. Monica remembered the student who crafted a “fully functional cannon in shop class” reassuring me that “it was NOT used to dispatch his ‘pet’ project in Ag class.”
For Monica, opportunity came through theater with Mr. Ligget, whose height and “wicked sense of humor” made him an imposing figure who was “so passionate about acting” that he inspired his students as the tread the boards of the theater in the round.
In addition to the fine arts, Monica and her friends made up the Radio Club, a group of student enthusiasts who titled themselves KSDH and whose photo in the yearbook looks like the poster from a John Hughes movie, complete with boom box.
As iconic is the group photo from the 1984 Hoofprint staff, a delightfully ‘80s bunch of which Monica was a proud member. “That was a great group,” she remembered as we leaned in over a copy of the yearbook. “I learned so many things outside the classroom, things and interests that have continued into my adult life.”
Monica is now the parent of current San Dieguito student, and our morning together drifted naturally into how her daughter’s experience compares to her own. “What I see at SDA,” she told me, “is more student interaction, and more acceptance of each other.” She paused thoughtfully. “I envision, and I am hopeful, for a future of more understanding, accepting, and generous human beings. Beyond all the academic accolades that SDA will no doubt continue to receive and humbly foster, it nurtures an environment for these amazing smaller human beings to thrive and move confidently forward.”
As a Mustang parent, and grad, Monica is vital part of making that dream a reality.
San Dieguito is blessed to have many parents, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, who have graduated from our school over the past eighty years. People like Monica, so kind and giving, are the lifeblood of our storied school. Their love of San Dieguito and commitment to keep the best that it has been and will come ensure that future generations of Mustangs will be able to find themselves, support each other, and create the memories (as diverse as KSDH and Ray Bradbury) that will help to build the foundations of their lives.
Monica left my office, her yearbook under her arm, with a smile, and her impact on me was profound. That such care and dedication to making the world, and our school, the best place it can be exists can’t help but inspire. Her memories of San Dieguito in the 1980s, and seeing those goofy photos through her eyes, made me remember my own high school years. It’s no accident that that decade spawned so many angsty teen dramas, and -as evidenced in someone like Monica- it’s no accident that as we children of the ‘80s become parents of teenagers we bring an appreciation of lessons learned.
Ray Bradbury once said: ““We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Monica knows how. She learned part of that at San Dieguito.