This page will change as we collect more information about our principals. If you have any anecdotes about your experiences with our principals, please send them to sda dot alumni at gmail dot com.
No. 1: Arthur M. Main
Fall 1936 – Spring 1940
Mr. Main was the superintendent and principal of San Dieguito Union High School, overseeing all high school and middle school students. According to Bob Williamson’s book, The History of San Dieguito Union High School, 1936-1981, his contract was not renewed for the 1940-41 academic year after a disagreement about his management style.
According to an article in the September 23, 1943 issue of the Poston Chronicles, Mr. Main was hired as the principal of their high school in the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. All the Encinitas Japanese-Americans were glad to see Mr. Main, remembers Tak Sugimoto (Class of 1945) because “he was a piece of home.”
Thanks to this article, we know a little more about Mr. Main’s background: he attended “the College of the Pacific, the University of California and received his MA from Stanford University.”
No. 2: Donovan F. Cartwright
Fall 1940 – Spring 1946
During Mr. Cartwright’s second year as principal the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. His tenure saw the relocation (and eventual return) of his Japanese-American students, the loss of several teachers and staff who resigned to enlist, and the limited resources that were the result of wartime.
He acted as superintendent and principal, but only held the title of Superintendent.
No. 3: Tom Preece
Fall 1946 – Spring 1949
Mr. Preece’s tenure saw a post-war population growth in the student population. There was a shortage of teachers and a huge budget increase (255% from the previous year). He successfully lobbied the SDUHSD board to increase teacher salaries. Mr. Preece also created a committee to increase the standard of education required to graduate from San Dieguito.
A serious problem during his tenure included episodes of polio in the community. In 1948 the first day of school was delayed due to a terrible polio epidemic, which also curtailed San Dieguito’s sports programs.
Mr. Preece acted as superintendent and principal, but only held the title of Superintendent.
No. 4: William Mace
Fall 1949 – Spring 1952
Mr. Mace’s tenure witnessed the start of the Korean War as well as a good deal of school construction and a serious budgeting issue.
He acted as superintendent and principal, but only held the title of Superintendent.
No. 5: Matthew K. Korwin
Fall 1952 – Spring 1960
Mr. Korwin was the first principal to not also hold the job of superintendent. (Mr. David N. Davidson became SDUHSD’s first superintendent who was not also San Dieguito’s principal.)
When Earl Warren Middle School opened in 1954, Mr. Korwin became the first San Dieguito principal to oversee the education of high school students only. At that time San Dieguito was no longer a “union” high school, yet it continued to bear the name “San Dieguito Union High School” (SDUHS).
According to Cindy Korwin Thorpe (’65), her father and Mr. Davidson were proud that they were able to save the school district money by purchasing desks and other necessary furniture at discount rates from military surplus. They then gave the wood shop faculty summer jobs refinishing the used furniture.
When he left San Dieguito in 1960, Mr. Korwin took the job of principal at Vista High School. Cindy remembers that whenever the Mustang football team played the Vista Panthers, Mr. Korwin would say “I can’t lose,” because he still felt a kinship to San Dieguito. Rather than relocate to Vista with his job, the Korwin family kept their home in Encinitas and Mr. Korwin commuted to Vista. “He always said that coming to Encinitas was the best decision he ever made.”
No. 6: Donald Crickmore
Fall 1960 – Spring 1961
Mr. Crickmore is still remembered by many as the man who helped establish youth baseball in North County San Diego. He was only in his first year as principal when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. His death in 1961 caused an outpouring of grief from the community.
In 2008 one of his daughters asked alumni to share with her their stories of Mr. Crickmore; the deluge of letters she received and shared with the Alumni Association show that his influence on his students’ lives continues to be felt today.
Crickmore Field is named after him.
No. 7 John Clark
Fall 1961 – Spring 1969
Mr. Clark led San Dieguito through a tumultuous era in which growing fears of communism and a nuclear war competed with shocking events like the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights activist Martin Luther King, and Senator Bobby Kennedy, as well as the escalation of the Vietnam War, the rise of Soviet power, the “hippie movement,” etc.
Even San Dieguito’s student dress code became a serious issue of discussion at school board meetings as students began to experiment with short skirts, long hair and beards and everything in between. Students began to use the image of the American flag in ways that many found to be offensive. Parents also had concerns about books with adult themes being read in classrooms.
At one point a candidate for the school board won a seat on his platform of moral disarray in the classroom; he alleged that he held tapes recorded during a class in which one of San Dieguito’s teachers had said, “anybody who believes in God was an intellectual ninkapoop.” When he lost the seat in the following year without producing the tapes, the board decided the tapes probably never existed.
This was certainly a trying time to be a high school principal!
No. 8: Leonard Morris
Fall 1969 – Spring 1977
Mr. Morris, a former Navy aircraft tail gunner during World War II, was famous for his “Warm Fuzzies“, yellow sheets of paper that were sent to thank or compliment faculty, students, and staff.
His administration saw another student population pike, student anti-war protests that included the infamous march on the US Post Office in downtown Encinitas, the Oil Crisis, and the resignation of President Nixon.
No. 9 William Hershey
Fall 1977 – Spring 1981
In June 1978, William Hersey was the first principal to sign diplomas printed with the name “San Dieguito High School” (SDHS) rather than “San Dieguito Union High School” (SDUHS).
No. 10: Salvador Ramirez
Fall 1981 – Spring 1993
Mr. Ramirez holds the record for the longest tenure as principal at San Dieguito, a record that may never be beaten!
Sal was my first principal. Sal was demanding and did not brook complainers. He expected loyalty in his staff. At the same time he was absolutely loyal to his students. They were always first in his thoughts. He was especially considerate of those who had difficult family circumstances.
Sal was also the one who cut me slack when a classroom high voltage demonstration went awry and I ended up accidentally sending a substantial electrical discharge through the school disciplinary officer. The students were thrilled. The officer was incensed. She demanded my hide. Sal laughed so hard he fell down on the floor. When he finally caught his breath he smiled and asked me to be more careful next time.
Condolences to Sal’s son Robert (San Dieguito grad), Sal’s wife Mitsuko, and his extended family.
Physics teacher George Stimson’s Facebook tribute to Sal Ramirez
No. 11: Penny Cooper Francisco
Fall 1993 – Dec 1994
As a brand new high school principal, Penny chose as her two assistant principals Don Rizzi and Duane Coleman, who became known as “The Green Team” because they were new. (Don Rizzi went on to be principal of Oak Crest, San Dieguito H.S. and San Dieguito Academy, and Sunset H.S. before retiring. Duane Coleman went on to become the superintendent of the Oceanside School District, so “The Green Team” turned out pretty well.)
Bringing together the staff and students was the biggest issue during her tenure in office. Well-known for her mastery of the spoken word and her excellent people skills, she united the staff and helped build trust among them toward the administration. Preventing the banning of books was one of her biggest battles.
No. 12: Don Rizzi
Jan 1995 – Spring 1996
Don Rizzi oversaw San Dieguito High School’s split into San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA) and La Costa Canyon High School (LCC).
He had three assistant principals to assist in this endeavor: Fran Fenical, Simeon Greenstein and Duane Coleman. Don and Duane took care of the students and programs of SDHS while Fran (who was to be the new principal of SDA) and Simeon (who was to be the principal of LCC) focused on opening SDA and LCC.
One of Don’s bigger jobs was determining which certificated and classified staff would continue at SDA or move on to LCC. He also had a hand in choosing LCC’s mascot and school colors. (Has anyone noticed that LCC’s colors are the same as Notre Dame’s?)
Don Rizzi has the honor of being the last principal to have signed diplomas printed with the name “San Dieguito High School” (SDHS).
No. 13: Fran Fenical
Fall 1996 – Spring 2002
Fran Fenical was instrumental in re-inventing San Dieguito High School (SDHS) as San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA). She was at almost every step of the planning process, including several years of refining the idea that became SDA, what one newspaper called “the district’s most ambitious experiment ever.” Her influence may still be seen in the unique student culture for which SDA is famous.
She is the 13th in the line of San Dieguito principals and the first principal to sign diplomas printed with the name “San Dieguito High School Academy” (SDA).
No. 14: Don Rizzi
Fall 2002 – Spring 2005
Don’s second tenure as a San Dieguito principal was to take over for the very popular Fran Fenical. As she’d been such an important part in developing SDA, many believed the reinvented high school would fall apart without her. He continued to move the school forward while honoring what Fran and the San Dieguito staff worked so hard to achieve at SDA.
Don Rizzi has the honor of being the 12th and 14th principals at San Dieguito; once as principal of SDHS, and once as principal of SDA.
No. 15: Barbara Gauthier
Fall 2005 – June 2008
No. 16: Michael Grove
July 2008 – June 2011
No. 17: Timothy Hornig
July 2011 – June 2015
Mr. Hornig came to San Dieguito from his previous position as Assistant Principal at Dana Hills High School. His tenure at San Dieguito “oversaw the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, integrated math, the school’s facility master plan (including the design and building of a new stadium and classrooms), and WASC Accreditation, while maintaining a culture intently focused on curricular supports for students. His responsibilities also included support for all students, including “at-risk” youth, management of the San Dieguito Parent Foundation, communications with key stakeholder groups, staff development and leadership of more than 100 staff members.” (“IUSD Selects New Coordinator of Student Services”, published July 2, 2015)
No. 18: Bjorn Paige
July 2015 – present
Mr. Paige came to San Dieguito after spending a year as the principal of Diegueno Middle School. Prior to that he was an assistant principal at La Costa Canyon High School between 2009 and 2014, and an assistant principal at Terra Linda High School in San Rafael for two years.
He has a Masters in teaching and Bachelor’s degrees in literature and philosophy from Pacific University in Oregon. He taught high school English, art, and leadership for 13 years in Oregon (his home state) and Northern California. (You can learn more about him on his blog or his Twitter feed.)
Mr. Paige asked us to turn his color portrait into a sepia-toned one, in order to better fit into our lineup of Principal Portraits!
SOURCES: The History of San Dieguito Union High School District: 1936-1981 by Robert Williamson. San Dieguito High School Academy yearbooks. Don Rizzi and Lois Delanty also provided some information. Other citations are noted above. Please note: dates are approximate and may not accurately reflect actual time in service.