Pacific Ridge School

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Pacific Ridge School, referred to as Pacific Ridge or PRS, is an independent co-educational college preparatory school for students in grades 7-12. The private school is located in the Bressi Ranch community of Carlsbad, a coastal resort town located in North San Diego County, California. The school educates 570 students enrolled during the 2015-2016 school year.

History and Leadership[edit]

In the fall of 2002, several families began thinking about the prospect for an independent middle and high school in the coastal area of North County San Diego, California. They crafted a mission statement to guide the development and operation of the school, formed a founding Board of Trustees, and purchased land in south Carlsbad for the campus. The school opened in 2007.

Dr. Eileen Mullady, an educator with an extensive background in secondary and higher education, came to Pacific Ridge School from Horace Mann School in New York. She took up the position of founding Head of School in the summer of 2005.

Current Head of School, Dr. Bob Ogle, joined the founding staff in 2006 and assisted Dr. Mullady and the Board of Trustees implement the vision for Pacific Ridge School, as well as its construction and programs. He became Co-Head of School in July 2011 and succeeded Dr. Mullady upon her retirement in April 2013.

Dr. Ogle holds an Ed.D and an M.Ed in Educational Leadership and an M.A. in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and B.A degrees in English and Economics from the University of California, Davis.

Pacific Ridge welcomed its founding seventh- and ninth-grade students in the fall of 2007. Additional grades were subsequently added and the first graduating class was in 2011.[1]


The 14.5-acre campus consists of a middle school, high school, arts and technology center, library, athletic center and artificial turf field.

The 27,750-square-foot Middle School and Administration building was built in 2015 and encompasses 11 seminar classrooms, three science labs, a lab prep room and administrative offices. A Middle School Reading room opens to an outdoor courtyard where students can gather to socialize and collaborate. Teacher workrooms overlook the reading room to promote interaction among faculty and students.

The 32,500-square-foot high school building was designed with environmental sustainability in mind. Features of the building include 19 seminar-style classrooms, four chemistry, biology and physics laboratories, four teacher workrooms and two double-story reading rooms. An outdoor town square provides space for student gatherings, dining and events.

The Arts & Technology Center built in 2015 includes studios for theater, dance and 2D and 3D art, music practice rooms and exhibition galleries. The Technology Design Center supports digital technology such as film/audio production, graphic design and computer programming as well as a Design & Fabrication studio for robotics work and theater set construction.

Pacific Ridge School's 35,265-square-foot athletic facility is one of the largest among San Diego private schools. The school also has a regulation-size artificial turf soccer and lacrosse field for hosting interscholastic competitions and physical education classes.[1]

Mission Statement[edit]

In a community that fosters academic excellence, ethical responsibility and global engagement, Pacific Ridge School prepares students for college and a purposeful life.

Academic Excellence[edit]

Pacific Ridge School’s curriculum was designed to emphasize rigorous, college-preparatory study. Classes are conducted using the “Harkness” style of teaching, in which 15 students and a teacher are seated around an oval seminar table, encouraging the exchange of ideas and opinions as course material is covered. The student-teacher ratio is 9:1.

Subject-based courses are designed so they align and intersect with other disciplines throughout the year, and both academic and co-curricular programs promote connections between traditional disciplines. The school also offers a number of interdisciplinary STEAM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math) in both the Middle School and the Upper School.

The school requires grade-level projects, including formal orations in ninth grade, a detailed service learning proposal in tenth grade, an integrated biography project in eleventh grade and the Senior Signature project (a legacy of each student’s Pacific Ridge education) in twelfth grade.

The San Diego private school’s curriculum exceeds University of California requirements and includes honors and advanced placement courses.[2]

Ethical Responsibility[edit]

As part of the Carlsbad private school’s standard curriculum, students in every grade level put ethics into practice, locally and globally, in a year-long Service Learning program. Students meet during a weekly class period to gain academic, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving skills to apply in real-world situations.

Each trimester, a series of ethical questions are presented to students in seventh to tenth grade. By eleventh and twelfth grade, the San Diego private school prepares students to recognize and consider ethical issues in their academic studies and the world around them.[3]

Global Engagement[edit]

Students pursue engagement in communities and cultures other than their own through academic enrichment, cultural and linguistic immersion and service work.

The final weeks of the school year are reserved for student trips. Seventh graders study ecology in the Santa Monica, CA mountains and eighth graders visit Washington D.C. to further explore concepts covered in American Studies class.

Ninth graders travel to China where they spend time in Beijing and Shanghai, volunteer in rural elementary schools and have the option for a homestay.

Tenth graders develop teamwork and leadership skills in California’s northern Sierras, and eleventh and twelfth grade students can choose from a number of school-designed trips to destinations around the globe or can plan their own individual travel experience.

Since the school’s founding, students have traveled throughout 30 countries on five continents


The admission process consists of a campus tour, submitting an application, scheduling an interview for both parents and students, taking the Independent School Entrance Exam (ISEE) and submitting academic records and teacher recommendations.

The San Diego private school accepts students that will be a good fit for the school’s mission of academic excellence, global engagement and ethical responsibility.

Tuition is $27,800 for the 2015-2016 academic school year and 30 percent of students receive financial aid.


Members of Pacific Ridge’s faculty have diverse backgrounds and are from across the country and around the world, having studied at top universities. Currently, they come from 23 different states and nine different countries and most have lived, worked or studied abroad. Teachers are organized into grade-level, collaborative teams that meet twice a week to share instructional best practices, discuss ways to integrate the curriculum and ensure each student is challenged and supported to reach his or her potential.

There are 74 faculty members. All faculty members hold a Bachelor’s degree and over 80 percent have a Master’s, J.D. or PhD.[4]

College Acceptances[edit]

Graduates from Pacific Ridge School have been accepted to top colleges and universities in all regions of the United States as well as several countries abroad. The school’s college acceptance web page provides a comprehensive list. [5]

  • The diploma requirements are as follows:
  • English – 4 consecutive years
  • History-Social Studies – 3 years
  • Science – 3 years
  • Mathematics – 3 years
  • Foreign Language – 3 years of same language
  • Visual or Performing Arts – 2 years
  • Service Learning – 2 years
  • Health – 1 trimester
  • Athletics/Physical Education – 2 years (or equivalent)

Student Life[edit]

Activities and Clubs[edit]

A variety of activities and clubs are offered at the San Diego private school, including weekly Community Life sessions and Service Learning, A full list is available online.[6]

Some of the Upper School extracurricular activities include Astronomy Club, Digital Arts club, Finance & Investment, Gardening Club, Improv Theater, Robotics, School Newspaper and Student Council. Some of the Middle School options are Chinese Arts, Dance Club, Robotics, Rock Band, Wood Shop and Yoga.

Academic Competition Clubs[edit]

Model United Nations:

The award-winning Pacific Ridge School team participates in several regional and national MUN competitions each year, and hosts the annual North Coast Regional Conference in partnership with High Tech High North County.

Academic League:

Pacific Ridge School participates in the Coast Division of the North County Academic League, competing against Carlsbad High School, San Dieguito Academy, La Costa Canyon High School, Oceanside High School and El Camino High School.

Science Olympiad:

Pacific Ridge School competes in the San Diego Regional Science Olympiad in Divisions B and C.


Pacific Ridge School hosts both Middle School and Upper School Robotics teams and competes in FIRST Lego League and FIRST Tech Challenge.

Student Publications[edit]

Global Vantage, a student-run publication and service learning group collaborates with students from Kibera Girls Soccer Academy in Kibera, Kenya and Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego. The print and online magazine collects and edits stories from authors around the world, and has won numerous national awards. These include the Edmund J. Sullivan Award (2014), Gold Crown Award (2014, 2012) from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and the U.S. Department of Education's 2012 National Education Startup Challenge.

The Element is a student publication featuring digital media arts, studio arts and poetry.

Ridge Report is a weekly online student newspaper.

Visual and Performing Arts[edit]

All seventh and eighth graders participate in a year-long Middle School Arts Program that explores art forms including dance, digital media arts, theater, studio art and music. Student performances are part of the Middle School arts curriculum and take place throughout the year.

Upper School students have the option of taking year-long classes in the arts. More than 30 classes are offered.

Students also have numerous opportunities throughout the school year to participate in arts activities and performances.[7]


Middle and high school students have the option to participate in team sports at multiple levels during the fall, winter and spring. Ridge Firebirds sports is available. A full list of Pacific Ridge Firebirds sports is available.

Pacific Ridge School is a member of the California Interscholastic Federation San Diego Section and competes in the Coastal Conference. High school teams have earned CIF championships and Coastal Conference championships, and athletes have earned All-American, All-CIF, and/or UT San Diego All-Academic Team honors. In 2015, both of the girls’ and boys’ head lacrosse coaches earned CIF “Coach of the Year” honors.

Middle school teams compete in the South Coast Middle School League and offer a “no cut” participation policy, so that all students have the opportunity to play team sports and try a sport with which they may not already be familiar.

The San Diego private school also offers a comprehensive Physical Education program which teaches fitness concepts and conditioning techniques used for achieving and maintaining lifelong physical health.