Every spring San Dieguito hosts a reunion for former faculty and staff. Guests from across the decades arrive to the library to socialize and share stories from their time on campus. The smiles and hugs are inspiring and the tales told are like something out of a surfer friendly Arabian Nights.
San Dieguito is unique, among other reasons, for its longstanding place in the local community. Eighty years of graduates have passed through its breezeways and many of those souls make the decision to stay close to home to raise their own kids. Lots of our current students are the second or even third generation to come through San Dieguito. This is their town; San Diegutio is their school.
That sense of ownership is true for faculty too. At this year’s Faculty and Staff Reunion I spotted two SDUHSD superintendents, three San Dieguito principals, and more former teachers than I could count.
Mary and Jay, two former San Dieguito teachers who spoke at the soiree, telling stories about the bus barn fire and the bank that was once on campus, also graduated from San Dieguito …in 1940 and 1942 respectively.
More recent graduates attended as well; alumni are always welcome. They listened as staff from across the school’s history told stories, laughed, and enjoyed the company of others with whom they shared the bond of working at this special school.
Toward the end of the night, as I was grabbing a last cookie and making my way toward the door, a graduate from 1974 stopped me. Pointing her finger at me she said: “Mr. Paige, I have a story.”
I leaned against a nearby table, curious. My time at San Dieguito has taught me the importance of stories in a school’s history. More than anything else, more than buildings or photographs or trophies or even art, it is the stories of those people who make up a school that matter most.
“Remember that post you wrote about the streakers?” she asked. I did. Bonnie Wren, San Dieguito’s Alumni Coordinator had been kind enough to reprint Buns, a post about some marvelous stories by Mike Koslowski, in the alumni newsletter.
“Those streakers weren’t all guys.” She smiled. “What Koz was talking about was me and my girls.”
I must have smiled back.
“You see we had it all planned and were getting ready at lunchtime,” she went on. “Our getaway driver was a fella. I won’t tell you his name. He’s pretty prominent in the community now. Anyway, we were up in the bathroom here by the library.” She motioned to a spot that is still a girls bathroom today. “He was at the far end of the parking lot. We all gave our clothes to another person, who took them out to the car. Then, as the lunch crowd was breaking up, we ran!”
I could picture the route she was talking about: down the “San Dieguito Ten Step,” past the door to the principal’s office, and out through the archway at the front of the school.
“You got away?” I asked, hopeful.
“Of course.” She smiled again. “Though the fella who was riding shotgun in the getaway car brings up the story at every reunion. It was a …memorable experience for him.”
To have a school that remembers its alumni and former staff, makes time for them to come together and reminisce, and honors their many and diverse experiences makes our school community stronger.
San Dieguito is a land of stories, some told with a smile and a streak of nostalgia.