Helix High School

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Helix Charter High School
Helix High School logo.jpg
Once a Scottie, Always a Scottie
7323 University Avenue
La Mesa, California 91942
United States
Coordinates 32°45′16″N 117°2′14″W / 32.75444°N 117.03722°W / 32.75444; -117.03722Coordinates: 32°45′16″N 117°2′14″W / 32.75444°N 117.03722°W / 32.75444; -117.03722
Type Charter public comprehensive secondary
Established 1952
School district Grossmont Union High School District
Principal Mike Lewis
Faculty 92
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 2,450
Color(s)         Green & Gray
Nickname Scotties[1]
Accreditation Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Newspaper Highland Fling
Yearbook Tartan

Helix High School, in La Mesa, California, is a charter high school built in 1952. It received its charter in 1998. Part of the Grossmont Union High School District, it serves a mid-level socioeconomic community and has a student body of approximately 2,400 pupils. Helix serves parts of La Mesa, Lemon Grove, and Spring Valley; however, as a charter school, all high school students in the state of California are eligible to attend.

Helix High School is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and is a California Distinguished School in 2001 and 2009.[2][3][4]


Helix Charter High School opened as the second high school in the Grossmont Union High School District in September 1951, to relieve record enrollment of 3000 at Grossmont High School. In November 1950, East County voters overwhelmingly approved a local bond issue for $1.9 million that financed "the University Avenue high school." Helix's first year of studies were held at Grossmont while the new campus was being built. The two schools operated on double sessions that year.

Helix, receiving half of Grossmont High School's students, attended class in the afternoon. Grossmont's 1500 students attended in the morning. Because of rapid population growth in the area, Helix soon grew overcrowded itself. This resulted in plans to build and open El Cajon Valley High School four years after the opening of Helix.


Since the opening of the school, much of the campus and technology has deteriorated or become outdated. With voter approval of Proposition H in 2004 and Proposition U in 2008, Helix High School will undergo remodeling projects. These projects include a new administration building, a new science building, a new performing arts center, and remodeling of all standard classrooms.

The remodeling of the campus has already started, and has been completed for buildings 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, the new science building (1800) and the performing arts center (900), which officially opened in January 2014. The remaining buildings to be remodeled include 700, 1000 (Gym), 1100, 1140, 1200, 1300 (lecture hall), and 1600 (cafeteria). Building 800 will be demolished, and the new Administration/Student Services Office will be located in its old location. In addition to the renovation efforts of the campus buildings, all of the landscaping on the school grounds will be rehabilitated.


Bagpipe Band[edit]

Helix Charter's Scottish tradition is brought to life by the school's pipe and drum corps. The pipe band includes several pipers and a drum corps consisting of several snare drummers, tenor drummers, and one bass drummer. During autumn, the bagpipe band accompanies the Helix Highlander Band in parades, football games, and sometimes field competitions. Additionally, they march the varsity football team out onto the field before home games. During the rest of the year, the pipe band frequently performs at paid as well as volunteer gigs, and competes at various Scottish Highland Games in Southern California.[5] The bagpipe band is funded by the Helix Instrumental Music Association.

Battle for the Musket[edit]

Every year since the school's opening in 1951, Helix and Grossmont High School have competed against each other for this musket, given to the winner of the Grossmont vs. Helix varsity football game.[6] Typically, this football game is one of the most attended of the season. This is just one of several weapon-themed rivalry games that Helix holds with the surrounding high schools.

Sexual misconduct[edit]

Since 2006, four former Helix High School teachers (hired by the Grossmont School District) have been convicted of sex crimes. In June 2008, the school hired an ethics consultant to develop a training program for employees to prevent future cases and improve reporting of illegal and questionable conduct around students.[7] Because of controversy over the way the school handled the misconduct cases, the Grossmont Board of Supervisors voted to issue a letter of "Intent to Revoke" the school's charter.

In 2010, the Grossmont Charter Board voted, and Helix was able to keep its charter under the condition that its principal, Douglas Smith, step down at the end of the 2009–2010 school year. Many believed the district was aiming at Smith because of his charter against the district in 1998.[8][9] After Smith resigned as the school's principal, Rani Goyal was hired during the summer of 2010 to fill the vacancy. Goyal served as school principal for nearly two years before resigning in May 2012.[10] She was succeeded by former assistant principal Mike Lewis.[11]

Notable alumni[edit]

In 2004, two of the five finalists for the individual honor in college football, the Heisman Trophy, were Helix graduates quarterback Alex Smith and running back Reggie Bush. This was the first time ever that two graduates from the same high school achieved this. Bush would then go on to claim the 2005 Heisman—since vacated.[24]

Notable faculty[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://helixscotties.com
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "2009 Distinguished Middle and High Schools - California Distinguished Schools Program (CA Dept of Education)". Cde.ca.gov. 2010-04-02. Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  4. ^ List of California Distinguished Schools in San Diego County
  5. ^ http://helixband.net/HIMA/Ensembles.html
  6. ^ http://lamesa.patch.com/groups/sports/p/helix-and-grossmont-football-to-battle-for-the-musket-league-title-friday
  7. ^ "Helix OKs policy on teacher behavior". Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  8. ^ Sanchez, Leonel. Trustees take Helix to task over sex abuse cases. The San Diego Union – Tribune: Feb 13, 2009. pg. B.3
  9. ^ Sanchez, Leonel. "Helix 's charter on the line after vote by trustees", San Diego Union-Tribune, February 12, 2010
  10. ^ "Helix Mystery: Head of Charter High School Quits After Less Than 2 Years". Retrieved 2012-05-30. 
  11. ^ Stone, Ken. "Ex-Assistant Principal Mike Lewis Chosen as Executive Director at Helix". Lemon Grove Patch. Patch. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c Shanahan, Tom (January 25, 2003). "Allen has legendary stature in San Diego Lincoln High product isn't the only local icon". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. SPECIAL: SUPER BOWL XXXVII-1. 
  13. ^ Brand, Steve (November 9, 2010). "High school Top 50". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Cecil to join College Football Hall of Fame". The San Diego Union-Tribune. July 15, 2010. Archived from the original on February 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Infusino, Divina (February 4, 1990). "Helix High's Hopper rebels without pause". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. E-1. 
  16. ^ Blair, Tom (October 15, 2010). "The high cost of losing . . .". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. 
  17. ^ Trotter, Jim (December 14, 1998). "From Pacific Bell to NFL: It's a snap". The San Diego Union-Tribune. p. C15. Marc Raab, a 29-year-old manager with Pacific Bell, thought he was having a pretty good week when his alma mater, Helix High, won its first CIF-San Diego Section football championship in 16 years on Tuesday. 
  18. ^ "Versatile Helix QB has foes guessing". U-T San Diego. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  19. ^ Sullivan, Tim. "Alex Smith answers call as top choice by San Francisco 49ers". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on December 15, 2011. 
  20. ^ BasketballReference.com, Bill Walton
  21. ^ "Title IX helps baby brothers, too". San Diego Hall of Champions. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Scouting the Raiders". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Steven Haynes, founder of Athletes for Education, dies at 56". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. 
  24. ^ Article on Heisman trophy winners

External links[edit]