Santa Cruz High School

Santa Cruz High School

Santa Cruz High School, an established public institution, is a haven for those seeking an inclusive and academically rigorous environment. The school holds an impressive track record in terms of college readiness, student diversity and engagement, and a rich history that reflects its commitment to education. This article provides an in-depth analysis of Santa Cruz High School’s academic performance, student profile, historical legacy, and other essential aspects that make it a standout institution.

An Overview of Santa Cruz High School

Santa Cruz High School, located at 415 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, California, is a comprehensive public school that first opened its doors in 1897. With a diverse student body in grades nine through twelve, the school is part of the well-regarded Santa Cruz City School District. Its mascot, the Cardinal, is an emblem of the school’s spirited community.

Santa Cruz High School offers a comprehensive range of academic opportunities for its student body. The school emphasizes college and career preparation and provides access to various programs and courses. Students at Santa Cruz High School can engage in a wide array of Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which are college-level classes that offer the chance for college credit upon successful completion of AP exams. Additionally, the school fosters a supportive environment for its students, including opportunities in athletics, leadership, career pathways, mental health support, and fine arts, thus catering to a wide range of interests and needs.

Historical Backdrop

The original Santa Cruz High School building was constructed in 1895, with classes commencing in 1897. The school has consistently demonstrated resilience, bouncing back from a destructive fire in 1913 to erect a new building in the same location. The current building, which opened in 1915, is a reinforced concrete structure housing 27 classrooms and an 830-capacity auditorium.

Academic Excellence

Santa Cruz High School is lauded for its high academic standards. According to the most recent data, the school has a 10/10 college readiness score, far surpassing the state average. This score indicates that the institution is well-equipped to prepare students for college-level academia. In fact, the school has an enviable 94.5% graduation rate, one of the best in the county. Over 75% of graduates do go on to study in college.

Test Scores

Test scores at Santa Cruz High are significantly above the state average, suggesting that the majority of students perform at or above grade level. This is a testament to the school’s commitment to educational excellence.

Courses and Programs

Santa Cruz High offers a diverse range of courses, catering to the varied interests and academic goals of its students. The school’s curriculum is designed to foster intellectual curiosity and academic growth, preparing students for success beyond high school.

Equity Profile

Santa Cruz High School is committed to ensuring equitable opportunities for all students. With an equity overview score of 7/10, the school is performing better than many others in the state. However, there is always room for improvement to close any existing achievement gaps.

Race and Ethnicity

Santa Cruz High School celebrates diversity, welcoming students from a wide range of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. The school is committed to fostering an inclusive environment where all students feel valued and respected.

Students with Disabilities

Santa Cruz High School is dedicated to providing students with disabilities the support they need to succeed. The school offers various resources and accommodations to ensure an inclusive and accessible learning environment.

Low-Income Students

An important part of Santa Cruz High School’s commitment to equity is its support for low-income students. The school provides numerous resources and assistance to ensure these students have equal access to educational opportunities.

The Student Environment

There are over 1,100 students at Santa Cruz High School, making it the fourth-largest high school in Santa Cruz county.  Creating a positive school environment is a priority at Santa Cruz High School. The school actively promotes a culture of respect and inclusivity, helping all students to thrive.

Teachers and Staff

Santa Cruz High School boasts a dedicated team of teachers and staff committed to students’ academic success and personal growth. The school’s low student-to-teacher ratio ensures personalized attention and support for each student.

School Culture

From its historic Cardinal Regiment to its free student farmers markets, Santa Cruz High School fosters a vibrant and engaging school culture. The school’s various initiatives and programs reflect its commitment to not only academic excellence but also community engagement and personal development.

Santa Cruz High School Math Curriculum

At Santa Cruz High School, the mathematics curriculum offers a comprehensive and progressive range of courses. It begins with Integrated Math 1, 2, and 3, each building upon the previous level’s mathematical concepts and techniques. Algebra 1 and Geometry are fundamental courses, with Intensive Geometry and Intensive Algebra 2 available for students seeking a more challenging experience. For college-prep students, Algebra 2 covers a wide range of topics from linear equations to trigonometry. Pre-Calculus/Analytical Geometry and its Honors version prepare students for calculus, emphasizing advanced algebra topics. AP Calculus (B/C) and AP Statistics are available for those seeking university-level courses, covering extensive topics in calculus and statistics, respectively.

Santa Cruz High School Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways program

Regarding computer science and engineering, Santa Cruz High School participates in the Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathways program, which blends traditional academics with career-focused curriculum. This program offers hands-on training, mentoring, and internships in areas related to computer technology, networking, cybersecurity, and programming. Students can also take advantage of dual enrollment opportunities with Cabrillo College to earn college credit in Cybersecurity/Networking or Information Support and Services. This dual enrollment program allows students to take college courses for free while still in high school, providing an early start on higher education goals and career exploration.

Santa Cruz High School Arts Department

Santa Cruz High School’s arts department provides a robust and diverse range of programs to engage students in various creative disciplines. The music section offers courses like Jazz Band, where students practice, rehearse, and perform jazz, and Band, focusing on a variety of marching, pep, and concert band literature. There are also individualized courses for students to improve their skills on specific instruments, as well as vocal courses like Women’s Chorus, Men’s Chorus, Concert Choir, and Jazz Singers, each offering different focuses on vocal music performance and theory.

The school also offers courses in Guitar and Music Technology, covering areas from guitar playing techniques to audio recording and sound design. Piano Theory is available for students interested in improving their piano skills, with emphasis on music fundamentals and improvisation.

In the realm of theater and visual arts, Santa Cruz High School offers Theatre Arts, focusing on technical theatre and acting, and Advanced Theatre Arts for more in-depth study and performance opportunities. Play Production/Musical Production allows students to engage in main stage performances. The visual arts curriculum includes Art 1, introducing students to various artistic mediums and techniques, Intermediate/Advanced Art for more advanced drawing and painting, and Ceramics 1 and 2, focusing on sculpture and pottery. Special Studies in Visual Art and Advanced Studio Art (AP) are available for students with a deeper interest and prior experience in visual arts, offering advanced studies in art history, aesthetics, and various mediums.

Santa Cruz High School Sports and Athletics

Santa Cruz High School, located in the picturesque coastal city of Santa Cruz, California, boasts a vibrant and comprehensive athletics program that plays an integral role in the school’s community. The school is a proud member of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League, actively participating in a variety of sports across different seasons. The primary objective of the school’s athletics department is to foster the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of its students. This is achieved by offering competitive opportunities that highlight the importance of sportsmanship, effort, teamwork, and commitment.

The Santa Cruz Cardinals, as the school’s teams are known, engage in numerous sports activities each fall, winter, and spring. The athletic programs are designed not only to promote physical fitness and competitive spirit but also to instill values like dedication, camaraderie, and achievement in students. These values are fundamental to the school’s ethos and are reflected in the success and spirit of its sports teams.

The school’s athletic offerings are diverse and cater to a wide range of interests. During the fall season, students can participate in football, cross country, girls’ golf, and boys’ water polo. The winter season includes sports like boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, boys’ wrestling, while the spring season offers baseball, softball, boys’ golf, lacrosse, cheerleading, girls’ volleyball, girls’ tennis, girls’ water polo, and girls’ basketball. This broad spectrum of sports ensures that every student has the opportunity to find a sport they are passionate about and can excel in.

Santa Cruz High School’s emphasis on athletics as a key component of its educational offerings demonstrates its commitment to nurturing well-rounded individuals. The school’s athletic programs are a testament to its dedication to creating an environment where students can thrive both in academics and in sports, preparing them for future challenges and successes.


Santa Cruz High School’s high academic standards, diverse student body, and inclusive culture make it a standout institution. The school’s commitment to equity and student success is evident in its array of supportive resources and initiatives. With a rich history and a bright future, Santa Cruz High School continues to pave the way for academic excellence and student achievement.

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