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01/29/2007: Principal's Message

I am constantly amazed at the growth – intellectual and emotional – that the students at Santa Barbara High School show day after day. This growth is really borne of many factors, chief among them (in my humble opinion) being diversity. Now, I am aware that the term diversity has gone beyond being a popular idiom in schools. Diversity is a requirement in schools now, with many schools using the term only to describe its ethnic makeup or the variety of family incomes represented within its student body. But truly, diversity represents all the things that can make schools remarkable. A diversity of thought, a diversity of ideas, and a diversity of practice all interact simultaneously on campuses every second of every day. At Santa Barbara High School, we welcome these interactions because they contribute to the growth of our school’s very unique and complex culture.


In 1887 (twelve years after Santa Barbara High School opened its doors) Franz Boas determined that the state of a culture at any given moment is a function of its whole history. Franz Boas was a social scientist, and was the first researcher to use the plural form of “cultures”. He understood that the history and the diversity of people defined a culture, just as our history and diversity has defined Santa Barbara High School.


Today, our history and culture represents 131 years and the lives of the hundreds-of-thousands of students and adults who preceded us. Our school – our diverse little part of civilization – represents the 2,450 students and more than 200 adults who support them. We are the sum of each person’s whole history – families and nations included – and we are fortunate to have a diversity of ideas and beliefs.


You may ask, what is the result of our diverse culture? Great innovations like the student-invented and maintained, championships in athletics, representation in 4 of the 5 spots in the SB Film Festival’s 10-10-10 competition, a new academy (Academy of Public Policy and Leadership), a new club (Model United Nations), student produced and directed theater at Casa de la Raza, and so much more. These are all reflections of the plurality of ideas and the myriad opportunities that our school holds every day, for every student.


This month we are also celebrating innovations in teaching and education. Harvard University is writing a case study about Santa Barbara High School because we are taking progressive steps to close the achievement gap through a continued focus on teaching. Our school was the only high school in the district to improve its State ranking last year, which is but one small sign of good things to come. We are honored to be recognized by one of the most influential universities in the world, and we are honored to be visited by several nearby school districts, all of whom wish to investigate Santa Barbara High School for its innovations and student successes.


As Franz Boas reminded us, any culture reflects its entire history in a given moment. Our history includes some of the greatest minds of the 20th century. How will tomorrow’s culture reflect the needs of the 21st century? Just walk down our halls and sit in our classrooms; the answers lie within our immense human capital – our teachers and our students. Our diversity and our culture represent not only history – they represent a lasting tradition of excellence that asks us to live up to our predecessors. At Santa Barbara High School, we gladly accept this challenge and we look forward to the success that tomorrow holds.


Finally, we must thank the secretaries, the buildings and grounds crew, the office assistants and teaching assistants, the PTSA, and myriad volunteers that contribute to our school daily. Without their support, we would be lost.


Go Dons!

Paul Turnbull

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