Located in the heart of our once small town, San Clemente High School has educated students, artists, entrepreneurs, and athletes since 1964. Before SCHS was built, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, and Dana Point students collectively attended historic Capistrano Union High School in San Juan. After speaking with Fred Swegles, a San Clemente native and a scholar from the second graduating class of SCHS, I received a better understanding of what our town and educational system was like before the school was developed.
“My brother would be getting out of school when I was arriving because there were two sessions, morning and afternoon. Two sessions were necessary because there were too many students for one classroom. It was very different back then because students from several cities joined to form one high school, and now each city has its own school and they compete with one another. When SCHS was built, there were no houses surrounding it and Pico was the only way to get to the school,” Fred said.
Teaching out of a home in San Clemente, Bernice Hayward Ayer was the first teacher in San Clemente in the late 1920s. The first school in San Clemente was the San Clemente Grammar School, built in 1927; now called Las Palmas Elementary. Some of Ayer’s first students were Eugene Hanson, Lloyd Hanson, Bob Hanson, and Roy Divel.
Devoted to the acceleration of student success, San Clemente High School has gone above and beyond to encompass programs that allow students to express themselves in every way possible. With time, the school has become renowned for giving students incredible opportunities and advising them with the best faculty, coaches and leaders to help young adults achieve their goals. The programs at the school allow scholars to further their interests not only academically, but politically, socially, and economically.
Not long after school starts, the students prepare for the Homecoming parade and football game. Each grade constructs a float that represents the homecoming theme and the students choreograph dances to perform at the half-time show. Undeniably representing the schools motto of being “one town, one team”, teachers, parents, and students collaborate to put on events that reaffirm the schools talent and dedication.
The Model Congress club allows students to travel across the country and respectfully debate with one another on affairs of the world, and it also offers a mock process of passing a legislative bill. The Drama Club is well-known for putting on incredible plays with students who appear well on their way to serious acting careers. And last year, the San Clemente High School football team claimed the incredible title of CIF State Champions.
Never falling short of amazing achievements, the students of SCHS are destined for greatness. Many dreamers, athletes, actors, and goal seekers have graduated from the school and made our town proud; pursuing their interests with drive and determination. A student who once played for SCHS’s football team and attended the University of Southern California as a star quarterback, Sam Darnold, has recently announced his entrance into the 2018 NFL draft.
Sam feels that, “being from San Clemente and going to SCHS has taught me how to keep my head up when things get tough, and how to keep a level head when I have success. The people here respect others and expect everyone to do the same no matter who we are or what we do.”
Another USC and SCHS graduate, Rian Johnson, went on to study cinematic arts and follow his dreams. Years later, Johnson is now a film editor, director, screenwriter, and actor for several films. His most reputable film, which he wrote and directed, is the well-known Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Aaron Johnson, Rian’s brother, pursued his love for music after graduating from San Clemente High School, immersing himself in the music industry in Southern California. After dedication and hard work, he landed an incredible opportunity to produce several songs and albums for the notable band The Fray. The songs he produced streamed across radio stations nationwide and have been featured in several movies and television shows.
The few people described here are among many who have graduated from SCHS and gone into the world with eyes wide open, stopping at nothing to achieve their goals and dreams. Life is put into perspective once your world expands farther than the loving, welcoming, and motivational arms of San Clemente, and the real pressures of the world become a bigger reality than ever. The students who have graduated from San Clemente High School have made our town proud by pursuing their ambitions, whether they are big or small.
The Beat Goes On
While the students that have graduated SCHS have achieved greatness, the reputation the current students have is just as admirable. These students have taken their interests and desires into their own hands, creating clubs and activities for everyone to take part in and enjoy.
Last year, several students created a club called the “Loud Crowd,” and this club was dedicated to motivating students to support our athletic teams and promote school spirit. Students filled the bleachers, dressed in bright red and black, to support our home team. One of the members, Robert Medrano, described the club as, “a means to rejuvenate the school spirit on campus and we set out to change the atmosphere.” This club became widely popular and was featured in newspaper articles and social media cites that reached thousands of people.
Not only have the students supported their athletic teams, but the Associated Student Body has created events for the students to enjoy and participate in. For example, ASB brought the snow to our sunny San Clemente school, and the students were able to create snowmen, have snowball fights, and slide down sleds in a miniature snow hill.
The possibilities are endless for the students at San Clemente High School and since the opening of the school, the building of dreamers and achievers continues on.