Beginning with the tune of a clean, commanding drum line, the Santa Barbara School Districts celebrated their 145th year on Thursday, May 12. The young percussionists were members of the Santa Barbara High School (SBHS) Drumline, and they started off the program that featured elementary, middle, and high school students from the area.

Superintendent Brian Sarvis hosted the celebration, thanking the drum line before welcoming the crowd and mentioning SBHS’s distinction of being the second oldest high school in the state. He then introduced Geoffrey Hahn, a SBHS senior on his way to study at Juilliard, who sang the National Anthem.

Karen Anderson from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation discussed the community’s earliest endeavors in education. She spoke of a time in the early 1800s when 32 kids paid $1 in tuition to learn reading, writing, and Christian tradition in a school that lasted only 19 months. Other early Santa Barbara schools suffered similar fates, but because of continual contact with people from all over the world through the harbor, Anderson said, “Where community members lacked in traditional knowledge, they made up for in practical knowledge.” The Santa Barbara elementary and high school districts were eventually established on June 6, 1866, and some 25 schools have educated Santa Barbara’s youths since.

During the ceremony, two elementary students from the Harding University Partnership School expressed their dreams of attending college (specifically UCSB) while wearing shirts that read “I’m Going to College!” One wants to be a doctor; the other, a chef. A girl from Harding School then performed a song from Snow White, in full costume and with a set. “Wasn’t that the cutest thing ever!” commented Sarvis, before passing the spotlight onto the Santa Barbara Youth Mariachi, which performed two songs to the tune of three girls’ strums on Spanish guitars.

The crowd was excited for a presentation of two songs performed a cappella by the San Marcos High School Madrigals, who recently traveled to the New York Festival of Gold and received the top score. Director Carolyn Teroaka-Brady lead the choir of 23 tux- and gown-clad high schoolers.

Excellence in Education Awards were given to Sela Viscara, a teacher at Adams Elementary School; Valerie Palmer, teacher at La Cumbre Junior High; Bill Woodard, teacher at Dos Pueblos High School; and John Becchio, principal of Santa Barbara Junior High School. They were presented with packages and told to open them on the spot. In the packages were checks for $5,145. In accordance with the wishes of the donor, the money is intended for the recipients’ personal use.

Among remaining events included a preview of La Cumbre Junior High’s rendition of Hairspray (which opened Thursday night), a performance of two songs by kids from the Roosevelt School (as part of the Elementary District Music Program), the unveiling of a mural from Franklin Elementary School (to be displayed in the courtyard at the district office), and a presentation given by Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy students of two robots they built for class.

Throughout the event, refreshments were provided by young chefs who participate in La Cumbre Junior High’s Teen Cuisine Program.


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