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Part 4 — The Age of the Vikings: La Jolla High alumni share memories from throughout the decades

La Jolla High School, pictured in 1940, has given its alumni many memories.
(La Jolla Historical Society)

As La Jolla High School marks its first century, alumni from several decades look back at their time there.

La Jolla High School, part of the San Diego Unified School District, opened in September 1922 and has remained an educational fixture in the community. This is the final part of a La Jolla Light series marking the school’s 100th anniversary.

As La Jolla High School marks a century of students, the La Jolla Light asked several of its alumni to share their memories from across the decades.

1940s

Rudy Friberg, a member of the LJHS class of 1947, said he loved pole vaulting and cross country, often spending more time on those activities than studying.

“I was No. 1 on the cross country team and we were really, really a good team,” he said.

Friberg said he was “awful busy” with the student council as well.

1950s

Diana McGraw, who graduated from LJHS in 1950 as Diana Bryson, said she remembers being a song leader in her senior year.

“We were four girls elected by the student body to skip around in cute uniforms waving pom-poms at football games whenever the band played,” she said. Song leaders were the counterparts to cheerleaders, who encouraged the crowds to cheer, she added.

“High school years are intense formative years,” McGraw said. “Looking back, I realize how much both faculty and student body impacted my life. … The overall atmosphere was of encouragement and caring.”

She said her time at LJHS helped her “fit in anywhere I went with confidence.”

1960s

Trudie Breen, a member of the class of 1963, said she most remembers “the night little ole La Jolla High School beat mighty San Diego High in football. I didn’t feel that again until the [former San Diego, now Los Angeles] Chargers started winning.”

Bob Vogt, a member of the class of ’67, said he feels “so fortunate that my parents made the decision” to move to La Jolla for his final two years of high school.

LJHS is “idyllic,” given its proximity to Windansea Beach, Vogt said. He recalled students arriving to school after early-morning surf sessions.

“The beach is the thing that dominates [La Jolla],” he said. “We’re defined by it.”

1970s

Beth Brust (born Beth Wagner) sits with friends at La Jolla High School in 1971 in a yearbook photo provided by Brust.
(Screenshot by Elisabeth Frausto)

Beth Brust (born Beth Wagner) graduated from LJHS in 1972, unaware that she and her classmates were the school’s 50th-anniversary class. There were no “Established in 1922” signs at the school then, as there are now.

Brust said La Jolla was smaller in the early ‘70s and easier to get around.

She said she was among the second class of girls allowed to wear pants to school, and the first Earth Day was celebrated her sophomore year.

Bruce Robinson, also a member of the class of ’72, went on to play major-league baseball for the Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees before becoming a professional musician. He said he was fortunate to attend LJHS.

“I have fond memories of being raised in what I think to be the best era of our nation’s history and in probably the best little village in America,” he said.

Robinson said he cherishes his high school memories of friends and teachers and the school as it was before it was modernized in the past three decades.

1980s

Jane Clough, the La Jolla High valedictorian of 1981, said that unlike most other high schools, success at LJHS is “being able to return home” and afford your own house in La Jolla.

She said she enjoyed the school’s humanities program, which felt like a “private school within a public school” that allowed her to explore classes in a small cohort of students.

Clough also remembers the diversity of the student body, with teens being bused in from all over. She made friends from southeast San Diego.

“It was an interesting array of characters,” she said.

Kenny Schroeder, a member of the class of 1987, said he’s thankful for the opportunity “to get a very good education from a public high school.”

He said LJHS in the 1980s carried “more of an open, free spirit than exists now.” Some of his best memories are of skateboarding down Nautilus Street with a group called Cosmic Riders.

1990s

San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, whose District 3 includes La Jolla, graduated from LJHS in 1996. She said her high school years were marked by organizing students to fight to keep off-campus lunch permissions.

Her activism continued with organizing students to walk out of class in protest of Proposition 187, which passed in 1994 and limited services to undocumented immigrants.

Lawson-Remer said she was removed from student government for organizing the protest, “but a whole bunch of students [successfully] organized to get me reinstated.”

She said her activism, along with the school allowing her to take an Advanced Placement government class and a political science class through San Diego Mesa College that met at the same time, were signs of things to come.

2000s

Daniel Dubois, a member of the class of 2005, said his favorite memory of LJHS is meeting his now-wife, Christie Mitchell, there.

Saying his closest friends were Vikings, Dubois called the alumni community “magical” and said, “I’ve been able to keep those close friendships for so many years, even with everyone really spread out.”

Dubois, whose grandmother graduated from LJHS in 1938, said he thoroughly enjoyed his years at the school and is thankful “for the time I have had there and the friends I was able to make.”

2010s

Peyton Heine, a third-generation LJHS alumna (after her mother, Megan Heine, and grandfather Richard Lee), graduated in 2019.

She had “very unique teachers,” she said, and she likes “knowing there’s people who honor La Jolla and the community.”

She would like her future children to attend LJHS as well. “That’s really important to me,” she said.

Now

La Jolla High School's students "are the future,” Principal Chuck Podhorsky says.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Current LJHS senior Daphne Adum said it’s exciting to be part of the school’s centennial.

“When I was in middle school, [my friends and I] calculated we’d be seniors in 2022,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’ve thought about.”

Adum, the team manager for the school’s volleyball team and editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, said the community’s pride in the school makes it special.

“We have a good group of families here,” she said, with people constantly trying to improve the school.

Chuck Podhorsky, LJHS principal for the past nine years, said the school is special “because of the amazing students we are so fortunate to work with.”

“The strong support from our families and our incredibly gifted teachers and support staff makes our La Jolla High Viking community an amazing place,” he said.

Podhorsky said students attend LJHS from all over San Diego because of the learning opportunities the school provides.

“Ultimately, we want our students and our own children to see themselves as agents of change in the world,” he said. “I am so honored to be the principal of such a proud school with an incredibly prestigious history. We are poised to continue that legacy of greatness.”

He said the school will continue to work to “help students to think beyond, to become visionaries, to dream the impossible and to continue to change the world in positive ways. La Jolla High students are the future.” ◆