Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 2:30 am | Overcast 57º


Santa Barbara School District Celebrates Students, Teachers in Marking 145th Anniversary

Students share their talents and dreams in a showcase of education at its finest

The second-oldest school district in California celebrated its 145th birthday in grand fashion Thursday at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

In its present form, the Santa Barbara School District opened June 6, 1866, Superintendent Brian Sarvis said to a crowd of families, staff and community members. It was later split into elementary and high school districts and has operated as two separate yet centrally controlled districts for decades. Of course, administrators want to unify this year for more than nostalgia’s sake — the move could net the district $6 million in savings.

California became a state in 1850, and the Santa Barbara district was one of three — along with Montecito and San Buenaventura — in what was then one much larger county.

A statement of philosophy was first developed in 1900 and evolved into the mission statement that now hangs above the school board’s meeting place. That year, just 1,534 students were enrolled and the annual cost of education per pupil was $36.42.

Sarvis said a commitment to educational values and strong community partnerships have contributed to the district’s leaps and bounds during the past 145 years.

“How proud I am to be mayor of a city that cares so much,” Mayor Helene Schneider said.

The museum’s courtyard was a performance space for dozens of students Thursday afternoon, who showed off the breadth and depth of enthusiasm for learning.

Santa Barbara High School senior Geoffrey Hahn sang the national anthem and was followed by a performer half his size — a petite Harding University Partnership School student who sang Snow White’s famous “I’m Wishing” song, complete with a costume and homemade well.

Two other Hawks read essays about their future ambitions. Mario Hernandez aspires to be a doctor and said his trips to UCSB have already made him think about college — and how he’ll pay for it.

Franklin Elementary School students reveal their mural that will hang in the courtyard of the Santa Barbara School District office.
Franklin Elementary School students reveal their mural that will hang in the courtyard of the Santa Barbara School District office. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

Diego Miranda, a third-grader, said he wants to become a chef after attending culinary school, adding, “In order to make my dreams come true, I need to go to college.” He tried to download the application to UCSB since an early start would help ensure he gets in, he told the crowd to widespread chuckles.

Musical performances included the Santa Barbara High School Drumline, Santa Barbara Youth Mariachi, the San Marcos High School Madrigals, La Cumbre Junior High School’s Adia Hernandez as Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray, which opened Thursday night, and Roosevelt Elementary School singers from kindergarten and second grade.

All the while, students from La Cumbre Junior High School’s Teen Cuisine program served refreshments they made themselves. Students from Franklin Elementary School presented a mural to the district, which will now hang in the district office’s courtyard.

Team 1717 of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy showcased their basketball-shooting robot from 2009 and this year’s creation for which they won second place for their division at the FIRST world championships. The robot is driven by members of the team and uses a forklift to pick up inflated tubes and hang them on corresponding pegs. Shapes and colors of the tubes were inspired by the FIRST logo, students said.

Once the new Elings Center for Engineering Education is completed this summer, the academy can triple its enrollment to 100, said Amir Abo-Shaeer, the academy’s founder and instructor.

Four teachers were given Excellence in Education awards for their dedication to their students, as well as checks for $5,145 each from an anonymous donor.

Valerie Palmer teaches core knowledge and advanced courses at La Cumbre Junior High School, John Becchio is leaving his post as Santa Barbara Junior High School principal to become Santa Barbara High School’s principal next year, Bill Woodard is a Dos Pueblos High School English teacher and Mock Trial coach, and Sela Viscarra is a kindergarten teacher at Adams Elementary School.

Click here for more stories about the district’s past.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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