La Jolla Country Day School

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La Jolla Country Day School
La Jolla County Day School sign.jpg
Entrance sign
9490 Genesee Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
MottoScientia Pacifica (Peace through Knowledge)
Established1926 (as the Balmer School)
Head of schoolDr. Gary W. Krahn
GradesNursery through Grade 12
Number of students1,120[1]
Color(s)Royal Blue, White
MascotTorrey Pine

La Jolla Country Day School (known informally as "Country Day" or "LJCDS") is an independent school in University City, a community of San Diego, California. The school contains a lower school (consisting of nursery through fourth grade), a middle school (grades 5–8), and an upper school (grades 9–12).

The school's motto is "Scientia Pacifica" (peace through knowledge).

La Jolla Country Day School was voted the best private school in San Diego in 2007 by the San Diego Union-Tribune.[2]


In 1926, Louise Balmer moved to California from Illinois with her four children after the death of her husband, and earned her teaching certificate. She used a one-room cottage on Coast Boulevard as a makeshift schoolhouse for four students and three teachers.[3] Balmer, an alumna of Bryn Mawr College, was an expert on the Winnetka Plan, a learning model that advocated for innovative pedagogies in the classroom, expanding education to include creative activities and an emphasis on the socioemotional development of each child.[4] By 1942, the Balmer School expanded, eventually holding classes in kindergarten through fifth grade in Wisteria Cottage which had been redesigned by famed architect Irving Gill and is now the La Jolla Historical Society on Prospect Street. In 1955, the school received its charter to teach middle and upper school classes, and in 1961 moved to its current location. The first class of high school seniors graduated in 1964.[5] A new chapter of La Jolla Country Day School began in 1957 when it welcomed new headmaster Don Leavenworth who brought with him new school traditions. The young Yale alumnus established the school’s official colors as white and blue (inspired by his alma mater), added a French language program, offered optional uniforms, and started a letterman sweater day on Fridays. [6]\

Over the course of the school’s history, many notable public figures have visited the school such as Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, who visited the campus to find inspiration for new characters in his stories. Jonas Salk, M.D., founder of the polio vaccine, addressed the first graduating class as commencement speaker and revisited the campus 20 years later to dedicate the student-built observatory. The late movie legend Debbie Reynolds filmed her television special Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children on campus in 1969. The film featured nearly all 500 of the school’s students, along with her own children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.[7]


La Jolla Country Day School is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). In addition, the school is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).


La Jolla Country Day offers more than 25 Honors courses and 29 Advanced Placement courses in the Upper School. 92% of LJCDS AP students received scores of 3 or higher. In 2019–2020, a total of $5.1 million of financial assistance was given out to students and their families. [8]

Reputation and Rankings[edit]

The Class of 2020 had over 581 college acceptances.[9]


The campus spans 24 acres and now contains a theater, a library, an outdoor amphitheater, a double gymnasium, a football field, soccer field, baseball field, 6 tennis courts, a maker's lab, art studios, and computer and science labs.[citation needed]

Student life[edit]

Extracurricular Activities[edit]

La Jolla Country Day students produce publications including the annual school yearbook, the school newspaper The Palette, and a literary magazine Pegasus. LJCDS also publishes an alumni publication, 1926.[10]


La Jolla Country Day School won its first athletic championship in 1966. Since then, Torrey athletes have won a total of 193 championships: 115 League Championships, 57 CIF Championships, 14 Southern Regional Championships, and 7 California State Championships. Currently in 2020-2021, 69 LJCDS graduates are competing at colleges and universities around the nation with 10 alumns competing at Ivy League universities and 8 alums competing in "Power-5" conferences.[11]

LJCDS students participate in athletics at a rate that is among California’s highest; 80 percent of the Upper School and 98 percent of the Middle School students participated in at least one athletic team in 2019–20 with 140 Upper School students playing two sports and 26 earning triathlete recognition.[12]

La Jolla Country has 55 varsity, junior-varsity (JV) and club sports teams, including football, cheerleading, basketball, field hockey, rock climbing, lacrosse, tennis, cross country, track & field, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, surf, sailing, dance, and yoga. Athletics are divided into fall, winter, and spring sports, with some programs holding practices during all three seasons.[13]

Visual & Performing Arts[edit]

There are over 50 performances and art exhibitions each school year such as the upper school drama performances, musicals, dance programs, marching band, orchestra, glee club, and choir. The Upper School offers 17 introductory courses in the arts and 15 AP, advanced, honors and student-run classes. The Middle and Lower Schools offer 9 after-school art programs in addition to in-school teachings. In 2020, there are 10 Artist-in-Residence Day and year-long immersive experiences.[14]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "San Diego Independent School | la Jolla Country Day".
  2. ^
  3. ^ "History of LJCDS | Day School in la Jolla, CA".
  4. ^ "History of LJCDS". February 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "Louise Balmer: Founder, Teacher, Pioneer". February 7, 2017.
  6. ^ "History of LJCDS". February 2, 2021.
  7. ^ "History of LJCDS". February 2, 2021.
  8. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School At A Glance: Academics". February 2, 2021.
  9. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School At A Glance: Academics". February 2, 2021.
  10. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School Clubs and Organizations". February 2, 2021.
  11. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School History of Excellence". February 2, 2021.
  12. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School Athletics". February 2, 2021.
  13. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School Sports". February 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "La Jolla Country Day School Performing Arts". February 2, 2021.
  15. ^ "MarketInk: Fox News' Tucker Carlson had 'Happiest Childhood' in la Jolla". April 24, 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°52′42″N 117°13′1″W / 32.87833°N 117.21694°W / 32.87833; -117.21694