The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

The Official Student-Run Newspaper of California High School

The Californian

Cal High’s history spans half a century

Cal High website
Before Cal’s campus was remodeled in the 2000s to what it looks like today, the campus consisted of a hexagonal shaped library where the quad is now with “pods” on four corners.

Fifty years ago, Cal High began as a small middle school in an agricultural area most students wouldn’t recognize today.
But over the years, Cal has transformed into a diverse and growing community of nearly 3,000 students in suburban city of about 90,000 residents today.
Cal was founded in 1973 in an unincorporated part of Contra Costa County known as the San Ramon Village. The city of San Ramon wasn’t incorporated until 10 years later in 1983.
Since Cal opened with a small number of students, it didn’t start as a traditional high school. Cal only offered grades 7-10 until 1977, when Pine Valley Middle School opened.
The first principal, Ernie Berger, who led the school from 1973 until his passing in 1983, helped the small community thrive. Berger and the next principal Phil White (1983-86) built the foundation of the school’s culture, according to Cal’s website.
Some early milestones included the school’s marching band performing at Chevron’s grand opening in San Ramon in 1985 and Cal offering students membership to the National Honors Society for the first time in 1984.
Some of Cal’s early staff are memorialized on campus today. Cal’s stadium is named after Berger, who passed away from cancer, and Cal’s baseball field is named after late math teacher Ed Noble.
Cal’s campus has changed dramatically in other ways since the 1970s. Today, the campus sits in the middle of a neighborhood and is open with a spacious quad encircled by modern classroom buildings. But it used to look much different.
“Cal High was not surrounded by many houses and there were not a lot of places to shop,” said English teacher Donna Montague, who has taught at Cal since 1986 and is the school’s longest tenured teacher.
Instead of the quad, there used to be a hexagonal library at the center of campus with connected buildings on four corners. The Mountain Pod was located where the library is today. Across from it was the Desert Pod, which was closest to the back parking lot. The Valley Pod was near the commons and the final building was the Coast Pod.
Each pod was named after a different California region, which were featured around a bear in the middle of the school’s original banner.
Each pod was not built as a traditional classroom either. One room in the middle of each pod was shaped like a rectangle and the surrounding classrooms were shaped like triangles. The walls could fold up like an accordion so classroom could be made larger for meetings or greater student collaboration.
The locker bays were in between the pods, with orange, brown and blue lockers for different grade levels. A fine arts building was built in between the Mountain and Desert Pod, with the theater opposite to it.
In the early 2000s, much of Cal’s campus was demolished and rebuilt. The pods were replaced by a quad and the main 67-classroom building and library opened in 2006-07 school year.
Many areas of the back parking lot and on campus were roped off because of construction at the time, which made campus difficult for students to navigate. Still, students at the time were mostly happy with the new development.
“I miss not having to go up so many stairs, but I like the new [main] building,” Krisan Davidson, a 2007 Cal High graduate, said.
Campus was often cluttered with scraps and garbage from the demolition until campus construction was completed with the opening of the Event Center and theater in 2010.
“There was less walking,” 2009 graduate Madeline Simmons said. “Everyone had a place to hang out. Now we’re all mixed up.”
As the new campus was constructed, so was another high school: Dougherty Valley, which opened in 2007. The new high school was first created to help accommodate the influx of students and the growing population of San Ramon, which more than doubled from 35,303 residents in 1990 to 72,148 in 2010, according to the census.
Cal has also created fond memories for teachers.
“I met my husband here and my two kids graduated from here,” Montague said. “I think a lot of teachers are kind of connected to the school because we have a lot of people who graduated from Cal High.”
She also reminisced about some old Cal traditions.
“The staff would host a Thanksgiving dinner and teachers would cook turkeys all day long and the [other] staff members would bring in all the sides,” Montague said.
While that tradition hasn’t lasted, Cal’s annual homecoming parade and powderpuff game have all stayed the same for most of the past 50 years.
At the time the school was still taking shape in the late 1980s, the football stadium didn’t have proper lighting needed for football games at night. This meant all games had to be held before sunset, Montague said.
As the school continues to grow, here’s to another 50 years of Cal.

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About the Contributor
Melissa Nguyen
Melissa Nguyen, Staff Writer
Melissa Nguyen is currently a senior at Cal High and returning for her second year as a staff writer for The Californian. She also plans on working on the social media team this year. In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking, baking, and spending time with friends.

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    MattMar 9, 2024 at 11:30 am

    I love San Ramon and Cal High! Great teachers, staff and students! I graduated in 1993 and to this day I hear wonderful things about Cal high! Keep representing in a postive way Grizzlies!

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    Mark ErisMar 8, 2024 at 1:10 pm

    I grew up not a 100yrds from Cal high and watched them build it.We moved to San Ramon in 1970 when it wasn’t even a bedroom community.Had to go to Dublin for everything.There was one cop,a loaner from CoCo could run and ride bikes all day without a care in the world.Open campus and some of the coolest teachers ever.Great times.