San Marcos High School (San Marcos, California)

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San Marcos High School
Established 1961
Type Public
Principal Julie Mottershaw
Teaching staff 83
Students 2,128
Grades 9-12
Location 1615 W. San Marcos Blvd,
San Marcos, California, USA
Coordinates 33°07′50″N 117°12′23″W / 33.13056°N 117.20639°W / 33.13056; -117.20639Coordinates: 33°07′50″N 117°12′23″W / 33.13056°N 117.20639°W / 33.13056; -117.20639
District San Marcos Unified School District
Campus Suburban
Colors Navy Blue, Columbia Blue, Silver
Mascot Fighting Knights
Website [1]

San Marcos High School is a high school in the North County city of San Marcos, California. San Marcos High School is a member of the San Marcos Unified School District and serves students from San Marcos, Vista, and Carlsbad.



  • 11th Best High School in Nation, 3rd Best in State
  • 98.1% Graduation Rate
  • 1st Place, Northrup Grunman High School Innovation Challenge
  • Team America Rocketry Challenge Finalist
  • National French Contest: 22 of top 35 in SD County are from SMHS
  • Great Schools Ranking 10/10
  • Homefacts Ranking: A+
  • Avocado East Champions: Softball
  • Avocado East Champions: Girl's Soccer
  • Valley League Champions: Boy's Volleyball
  • League Champions: Wrestling


  • "Most Positive School in the World", U.N. Nongovernmental Organizations
  • Team America Rocketry Challenge Finalist
  • 1st Place, San Diego County Fair High School Yearbook Contest
  • API Statewide Ranking: 9/10
  • API Similar Schools Ranking: 10/10
  • 7th in San Diego County, API Score 2010-2011
  • Avocado East Champions: Boy's Soccer
  • Avocado East Champions: Girl's Soccer
  • Valley League Champions: Boy's Volleyball
  • League Champions: Wrestling


San Marcos High School is a professional community of learners providing a quality education on a safe and orderly campus. SMHS is a California Distinguished School and is recognized as an AVID National Demonstration School & School of Distinction. In 2005, San Marcos was ranked the 419th best high school in the nation by Newsweek magazine. San Marcos offers eighteen Advanced Placement courses and many Honors courses, both weighted and unweighted. An average of one new AP class has been added every year for the past five years, with plans for more in the near future. The graduation rate for the '09-'10 school year was 95.8%.

With Cal State San Marcos and Palomar College as neighbors, San Marcos works in liaison with these educational institutions to provide students with a strong foundation in secondary education, including a coordinated, sequential 9-12 Humanities Program. Award winning specialized programs such as, Bio Tech Lab, Genetics, TV News Production, Computer Assisted Drafting, Digital Video Production, and Computer Animation give students many options that prepare them for life after high school, be it college entrance or a career field. SMHS is also planning to expand the world languages department by adding American Sign Language 1 and Mandarin Chinese 1-2 as alternative languages of study for the 2010-2011 school year and beyond.

Advanced Placement[edit]

AP Classes Offered Include:
Calculus AB
Calculus BC
English Language & Composition
English Literature
Spanish Language
Spanish Literature
French Language (when there are enough students)
Environmental Science
Physics B
World History
U.S. History
U.S. Government & Politics
Art History
Computer Science
Studio Art
Chemistry (*new*2014-2015)


Algebra II
French III (weighted)
Spanish III (weighted)
Genetics (weighted)
9th Grade English
10th Grade English
9th Grade World History

California State Testing[edit]

Notable Achievements:

  • For the 2010-2011 school year, the API score has increased by 29 points, making San Marcos High School, with an API of 859, the 7th highest performing high school in San Diego County. An API of 859 is higher than Poway, Rancho Bernarndo, La Jolla, San Dieguito, Mira Mesa, University City, La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad, as well as all south county high schools. Additionally, caucasian students, with an API of 914, now have the highest API score in San Diego County
  • With a score of 914, caucasian(non-Hispanic) students at SMHS have the highest API score in San Diego County for the 2010-2011 school year when compared to white populations at other traditional high schools, beating Scripps Ranch, Poway, Torrey Pines, Westview, La Jolla, and Coronado High Schools and Canyon Crest Academy, which are all located in highly affluent areas. A score of 914 is better than every traditional high school in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, second only to Troy High School in Orange County, and 4th in all of Los Angeles County (trailing La Canada, Mira Costa, and San Marino High Schools). The Caucasian API score is the 5th highest score in all of Southern California.
  • SMHS achieved an API score of 829 for the 2009-2010 school year, a 25 point increase from the previous year. The API score has increased by 152 points since 2004, the largest increase of any high school in San Diego County. In addition, a score of 829 gives San Marcos High the 14th highest API amongst 60+ San Diego county high schools.

Chinese Language Program[edit]

San Marcos Unified School District is initiating a new Chinese language program that will allow grades 6-8 at San Elijo Middle School to begin studying the Chinese language as an elective as early as the 2011-2012 school year. This sets the foundation for the growth of course offerings of Chinese currently at San Marcos High School, with an eventual full-fledged program including advanced placement Chinese Language and Culture. Course offerings currently include Years 1 & 2 at both the middle and high schools In addition, San Marcos Unified offers 4 levels of Chinese over the summer holiday for a two month span. Each level corresponds to one semester of Chinese. The best part? The course is FREE.


The San Marcos High School Class of 2009-2012 includes students that have been accepted to a variety of notable learning institutions such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Princeton University, Washington University in St. Louis, New York University, UC Berkeley, UC Los Angeles, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Davis, Pepperdine, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, Vanderbilt University, Boston University, as well as many other prestigious and accredited universities.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


Growth in the student population has contributed to more competitive athletics. At one point, SMHS was near the bottom of North County for win-loss ratio. League standings over the last five years:

Fall Sports

Fall 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
Football 7 5 2 3 2
Field Hockey - - - 5 5
Waterpolo (B) - - - - -
Tennis (G) - - - - 2
Golf (G) - - - - -
X Country (B) - - - - 1
X Country (G) - - - - -
Volleyball (G) 7 5 6 6 4

Winter Sports

Winter 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
Basketball (B) 3 1 5 2 1
Basketball (G) 7 6 5 4 1
Soccer (B) 5 7 1 5 5
Soccer(G) 4 3 1 1 1
Waterpolo (G) - - - - -
Wrestling - - - 1 1

Fall Sports

Spring 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013
Baseball 6 5 3 3
Softball 3 3 2 1
Tennis (B) - - - -
Track (B) - - - -
Track (G) - - - - 1
Lacrosse (G) 16 5 6 4
Lacrosse (B) 6 6 3 8 1
Swimming (G) - - - -
Swimming (B) - - - -
Volleyball (B) 3 3 1 1 3

Performing arts[edit]

Dance: -The 2008-2009 SMHS JV and Varsity repeatedly won first place in many Southern California Dance Competitions. -The 2008-2009 SMHS All Female team is known across Southern California for their unique choreography and their energetic routines. Cheer- The 2007-2008 SMHS Competition Cheer Squad was crowned the American National Champions in Anaheim. Art, Dance, Chorus, Band & Jazz Band, and Color Guard The San Marcos High School Knight Regiment has won first place in many competitions. The 2010 Knight Regiment is the first school in 15 years to join the highest division (6A) in SCSBOA history. In their first-ever appearance at SCSBOA Southern California Champiopnships (Nov. 2013), the SMHS marching band and color guard, Knight Regiment, placed 9th in the 6A division, ranking them among the best high school marching band and color guard in Southern California. In April 2014, SMHS Winter Guard earned divisional Gold medals (both Varsity and JV squads).


  • American Sign Language Club
  • Anime
  • Art
  • AVID
  • Book
  • Christian
  • CSF
  • Ecology
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)
  • FFA (Future Farmers of America)
  • French
  • Global Awareness
  • Harry Potter Guild
  • Interact (Rotary)
  • Key (Kiwanis)
  • Lacrosse
  • Link Crew
  • Martial Arts
  • Model UN
  • Mudslingers Guild
  • National Honor Society
  • Quill & Scroll
  • Rosies
  • Spanish
  • Surf
  • World Awareness


ASB includes 5 student elected positions as well as 12 roundtable positions. The SMHS ASB coordinates pep assemblies, the Airbands talent show, music and games at lunch, and 4 dances throughout the school year. Also, each 4th period class has one representative for student congress.


The student body of San Marcos High School is one of the fastest growing in San Diego county. Upon completion of Mission Hills High school in 2004, the population at SMHS dipped under 1300 students during the 2005-2006 school year. This made San Marcos one of the smallest open enrollment, public schools in San Diego County. Since then, over 100 additional students have been added to the student body each year and the school currently has approximately 2366 students. The population growth has been mainly due to a growing resident population in south San Marcos and southeast Carlsbad within the communities of La Costa and San Elijo.

San Marcos High School is an ethnically diverse campus with no majority race or ethnicity. At 44.7%, Hispanics account for the largest segment of the population, although the percentage of Hispanics has declined since reaching a high of 52% in 2006. Demographic trends are showing an increase in the percentage of Caucasians and Asians, while Hispanic population growth is stagnant. San Elijo Middle, the main feeder school of SMHS, currently has a Caucasian population of 939 and Asian population of 123 in grade 6-8, while San Marcos High only has 751 Caucasians and 74 Asians in grades 9-11.

There is an anticipated growth in the Asian-American population and Caucasian population in future years as schools in the southern part of SMUSD experience an influx of these races as they move into new, upscale housing developments. As the 2010 Census recently revealed, the Asian-American population of San Marcos has nearly tripled over the last decade, which indicates a future growth in the Asian student population.

The majority of students come from nearby San Elijo Middle School, while approximately half of the students at San Marcos Middle School will attend. San Marcos is expected to have a future population of 3,000 students after completion of the new campus.


  • Hispanic 44.7% (-3.0%)
  • White (Non-Hispanic) 42.1% (+2.2%)
  • Asian 4.9% (-0.1%)
  • African American 3.0% (+0.3%)
  • Filipino 3.1% (+0.1%)


Knight Zone[edit]

Knight Zone after class activities provides students a safe and enriching place to be after school between the hours of 3PM and 6PM. M-F. Students are able to access academic tutoring, Advanced Placement class support as well as engage in interesting and fun activities such as dance, digital photography, multi-media presentation, and film appreciation. Students can participate simply by showing up to an activity of their choice or by showing up to the library for academic tutoring and quiet time homework help. A snack is provided half way thorough the program.

PACE Promise[edit]

The PACE Promise, a joint program of San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) and California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), guarantees CSUSM admission to all district students continuously enrolled in the district from 9th through 12th grade who meet entrance requirements. This program begins with the SMUSD graduating classes of 2009.

The Promise provides a step-by-step plan of preparation for college. Beginning in seventh grade, San Marcos students must work to fulfill program expectations. Meeting these requirements also prepares them for admission to most California public and private universities and colleges. Students who meet all the program’s academic benchmarks and the financial need criteria, as determined by CSUSM, may receive monetary assistance from a private foundation associated with the Promise while attending the university.

Improving college options for this generation of students, the Promise provides dynamic, accelerated services which include tutoring and mentoring, visits to the university campus, enhanced test preparation for English and math entry-level exams, and extensive information regarding college preparation and admission. The Promise thus provides a vital link from the secondary school setting to the university.

Japanese Exchange[edit]

The San Marcos Unified School District and the City of Nakagawa in Japan have shared an enriching student cultural exchange program for 20 years. Each year a delegation of eight or nine students is selected from San Marcos and Mission Hills High Schools to participate in the two-week summer program. *This program is currently inactive at the moment(2014)*

School Updates[edit]

  • During the 2010-2011 school year, San Marcos High school will be introducing AP Macroeconomics as part of the American Studies II courses.
  • During the 2011-2012 school year, San Marcos High will add AP Computer Science and AP Calculus BC to its list of advanced placement courses offered, bringing the total to 18.
  • The World Languages department recently expanded to include American Sign Language and Mandarin Chinese, the first and only program of its kind in San Diego County.
  • As the student population grows, SMHS is focusing on establishing more classes for specific career paths such as engineering, media arts, agriculture, sports medicine, and Air Force ROTC.
  • San Marcos High School recently was awarded "The Most Positive School in the World", by a non-profit United Nations group.
  • With the passage of Proposition K in November 2010, SMUSD confirmed plans to completely rebuild SMHS. Demolition of the Eisenhower-era campus is slated for winter 2011-12, with full completion anticipated in winter 2013-14. Classes will continue to be held on-site during construction and will be located in portapble classrooms set up on the school's parking lot and practice fields.
  • The 2010-2011 San Marcos High School Talisman's vintage themed yearbook won first place at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.
  • During the 2011-2012 school year San Marcos High School was ranked # 3 in US New's list of the best high schools in California. San Marcos High's national rank is #11 with a high level of college readiness index.

Notable alumni[edit]