Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 4:10 pm | Mostly Cloudy 72º


Santa Barbara Middle School Students Receive Happy Homecoming After Expedition

Santa Barbara Middle School celebrates its 35th Homecoming and 2 million miles of biking since the school’s inception in 1977. The celebration marks a shift in the traditional homecoming celebration.

Hundreds of proud Santa Barbara Middle School parents, siblings, alumni and even family dogs gathered at Goleta Beach on Saturday afternoon to welcome home triumphant teens from the school’s weeklong fall biking and kayaking expedition to Morro Bay.

Colorful flags, personalized welcome home posters, music and lots of smiling faces lined the parking lot as close to 200 students, faculty and volunteer parents rode through the rainbow-colored banner. Parents beaming from the edge of the spiraling circle were eager to rush in for welcome home hugs, and to learn about their child’s week of accomplishment, growth and outdoor adventure.

Stories about bike rides along the Morro Bay coastline, challenging climbs up and over See Canyon, pedaling the scenic Montana de Oro single-track landscape or kayaking the Morro Bay estuary were soon to become topics of family conversation.

Students pitched their own tents setting up their makeshift home for the weeklong trip at Morro Bay State Park Campground. Seventh-grade student Jayna Toye suggests taking off your shoes and leaving them outside your tent as a good tip. Otherwise, “the tent begins to smell after a few days.” Great advice from someone who has experienced this first hand!

Many students were both surprised and amazed at their own strength and stamina on the 35-mile coastal ride from San Simeon through Cayucos and back to their campground in Morro Bay.

“I was one of the last kids to finish the ride just as the sun was setting, and it felt so great when I rode into camp and all my friends were cheering and clapping for me,” proud sixth-grader Katie Prudden said.

The evening meals drew the bike riders together around the “chuck wagon,” where the food had been partially prepared by the sixth-grade Humanities class the week before. The class, who is studying early civilizations and hunter and gatherer societies, was working to replicate parts of early civilization life. The class had visited Ellwood Canyon Farms and “gathered” produce such as tomatoes, persimmons, squash, apples and more. They then prepared tomato sauce, dried fruit, made butternut squash soup and dried herbs, all which were consumed by hungry students on the school-wide trip.

Evenings brought the whole group together singing and sharing stories around the campfire. This year’s school theme, “The Power of Story: Yours, Mine, Ours,” revealed unlikely heroes in the form of stories and special recognition. Over 35 student musicians either sang or performed around the campfire each evening.

When most people think about fall homecoming, images of a hopeful football win against the cross-town rivalry comes to mind. At Santa Barbara Middle School, the celebration of success and school spirit took a different form. All students are acknowledged for their external physical growth the biking expedition requires, and also the significant internal journey that takes students away from home — teaching independence, self-reliance, patience and perseverance.

Sophia Alexander, a seventh-grade student, stated, “I figured out that I was capable of a lot more than I thought I was, especially on the bike rides. I was stronger than I ever thought I would be.”

— Sue Carmody is a community outreach coordinator for Santa Barbara Middle School.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >