El Modena High School

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El Modena High School
El Modena High School, midday, 5-2-21.jpg
3920 Spring St

EstablishedOpened September 1966, Graduated first class June 1968
School districtOrange Unified School District
PrincipalSandra Preciado
Enrollment2,114 (2019-20)[1]
Student to teacher ratio22:1
Color(s)    Maroon, Gold, and White
MascotThe Vanguard
Feeder schools

El Modena High School, colloquially called El Mo or ElMo, is a traditional four-year public high school located in the El Modena neighborhood of the City of Orange in Orange County, California. It is one of four high schools in the Orange Unified School District, along with Villa Park High School, Orange High School, and Canyon High School.

Founded in 1966, its first class graduated in June 1968,[2] the school celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2016-17 school year. In 2019 construction began after district voters approved Measure S in November 2016.[3]


Nature Center[edit]

In 1972 El Modena chemistry teacher Jeanne Cater established the school's Nature Center. It is dedicated to teaching water conservation, ecological principles and research techniques to students and community members. On February 2nd 2023, the Orange Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to rename the center the "Jeanne Carter Nature Center" in honor of its founder.[4][5]

Gender-Sexuality Alliance[edit]

In August 1999, Anthony Colin ("Colin") decided to form a "Gay-Straight Alliance" (now Gay–straight alliance) after Matthew Shepard, a young man from Wyoming, died after being brutally assaulted due to his homosexuality. Colin wanted to form the club to promote acceptance among and for gay and straight students at the school. Colin asked Mrs. Maryina Herde, a drama and English teacher at the school, to serve as the faculty advisor and she accepted.[6]

Public schools have an obligation to provide an equal opportunity for all students to receive an education in a safe, nonhostile, nondiscriminatory environment. Our goal in this organization is to raise public awareness and promote tolerance by providing a safe forum for discussion of issues related to sexual orientation and homophobia. We wish to stress the need for people to put aside their personal prejudice and agree to treat everyone with respect when the situation calls for it. We invite ALL students, gay or straight, to join us in discussions, field trips, lectures, and social activities that will counterattack unfair treatment and prejudice. We respect privacy and require NO one to make disclosures regarding his or her own sexual orientation. This is not a sexual issue, it is about gaining support and promoting tolerance and respect for all students.

— Shannon MacMillan, Colin's friend, The club's submitted mission statement

The Orange Unified School District board refused permission for students to form the club. Students in the club sued the school board, claiming that their rights under the First Amendment and the 1984 Equal Access Act had been violated.

In the first ruling of its kind, Judge David O. Carter of the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction ordering the school to allow the GSA to meet.

Extracurricular activities[edit]


A vanguard, used as the school's mascot, is a soldier in the foremost division or the front part of an army. Vanguards are the troops assembled in the front line when going into battle, which is why the school newspaper is titled The Frontline.[7] The school contains a variety of sports that they excel in, including but not limited to : Tennis, Basketball, Football, Volleyball, Sprints, Hurdles, Distance Running, Cross Country, Pole Vault, High Jump, Long Jump, Shot Put, Discus, Water Polo, Swim, Soccer, Lacrosse, Baseball, Wrestling, Dance, Cheer, Pom, and Softball.

  • Wrestling: CIF champions in 2000, 2003, and 2014.
  • Softball: CIF champions in 2008
  • Football: CIF champions in 1978, 1983,1984 and 2017
  • Volleyball: CIF and State champions in 2019


El Modena's instrumental music program consists of a concert band, orchestra, jazz band, and marching band. As of 2023, the program had 90 students.

The marching band and color guard compete in the AA Gold competition of the California State Band Championships circuit and compete in the Western Band Association. They play their field show every home game during halftime.

During the winter season, the marching band percussion section forms the Vanguard Percussion Ensemble (VPE). The Colorguard forms the El Modena Winter Guard. These groups, since 1975, traditionally perform on a tarp inside of the basketball court of high school gym. The Vanguard Percussion Ensemble has compete in circuits such as ADLA and WGI, winning ADLA championships in 2017[8]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "El Modena High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  2. ^ "History - El Modena High School". www.elmodenahs.org. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  3. ^ "Press Release - Orange Unified School District". www.orangeusd.org. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  4. ^ Sentry, Foothills. "Nature Center to be renamedin honor of founder". Foothills Sentry. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  5. ^ "Jeanne Carter Nature Center - El Modena High School". www.elmodenahs.org. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  6. ^ Colin Ex Rel. Colin v. Orange Unified School Dist., vol. 83, February 4, 2000, p. 1135, retrieved 2022-05-15
  7. ^ "Frontline".
  8. ^ Huanosto, Natalia. "VPE Takes Home the Gold". Frontline. Retrieved 2023-03-04.
  9. ^ Whitehead, Brian (January 30, 2013). "Skateboarder rides into business world". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  10. ^ Leal, Fermin (November 20, 2013). "ElMo High grad's words are live on Saturday night". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Writer gives 'SNL' some Orange flavor". April 1, 2014.
  12. ^ Bowman, Mark (March 30, 2011). "Divergent paths bring pals together for opener". MLB.com. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Fryer, Steve (June 11, 2007). "Freeman a shot in the arm". Orange County Register. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  14. ^ Glick, Shav (January 20, 1990). "Gordon Opens Busy Year With New Ride". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
  15. ^ "TV's 'Political Animals' has O.C. connection". The Orange County Register. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  16. ^ "Jeff Spek Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com.
  17. ^ "Michael Terry Bio, Stats, and Results | Olympics at Sports-Reference.com". April 18, 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-04-18.
  18. ^ "Tom Hansen Medal Winners | Pac-12". pac-12.com.
  19. ^ "Milo Ventimiglia". Wizard World. Archived from the original on April 13, 2014. Retrieved April 10, 2014.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°47′23″N 117°48′44″W / 33.789634°N 117.812115°W / 33.789634; -117.812115