Its first year, San Mateo High School was located in the Dixon Cottage on Ellsworth Avenue. The faculty was composed of A.G. Van Gorder, Principal, and two assistant teachers. School was opened on September 15, 1902, with an enrollment of 27.
The following year, the school outgrew the cottage and the school board purchased St. Margaret’s estate. Classes were conducted in this building from 1903 until 1911. Although the school building was considerably damaged in the earthquake of 1906, no class time was lost. The building was one of the first to be repaired after the earthquake and by 1907 there were 90 students enrolled. In 1906, all departments were accredited by the University of California at Berkeley and since then, San Mateo High School has been recognized as a leading institution of learning in this community. In 1991, the school was named a National Distinguished Blue Ribbon school by the United States Department of Education. In 2005, it was recognized with a Gold Standard Award for Academic Excellence by California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE) in conjunction with the California State University system. The award recognizes ten high schools which have shown measurable gains and strong academic performance by getting students ready for college and the workforce while showing evidence of reducing achievement gaps between various subgroups of students over time.
The school moved to Baldwin Avenue in 1911, and remained there until 1927, when the present day San Mateo High School was built at Delaware and Poplar. The new facility followed the architectural model of Henry VIII’s Hampton Court in England. The school was structurally reinforced for earthquake safety in 1934-35 and entirely rebuilt for earthquake safety again in 2005.
Other improvements to the school have occurred since the 2002 Centennial including transformation of the main athletic stadium with all-weather surfaces for football and soccer and an 8-lane all-weather track; remodeling of the swimming pool in 2003-05; an expanded weight room; and the building of a joint-use Community Gym housing the wrestling and dance rooms and a full-court basketball area.
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