Aragon High School

Aragon High School

Infobox Secondary school

name = Aragon High School
established = 1961
type = Public Secondary
faculty = 87 []
principal = Andrew Bleich
students = 1,570 []
grades = 9-12
city = 900 Alameda de las Pulgas
San Mateo
state = California,
country =
United States 94402
campus = Suburban
colors = Red, Black
mascot = Dons
website = []

Aragon High School is an American public high school in San Mateo, California, and is part of the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD). The school has a six-year, clear accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).

SMUHSD utilizes a policy that enables parents and students in the district to request to attend any of the six district schools, provided there is space available. Due to this policy, every fall for the last seven years, Aragon has been enrolled at full capacity, with a yearly waiting list of 50-100 students.


Aragon High School was established in 1961 to accommodate development and population growth in San Mateo. The campus is located in the Foothill Terrace neighborhood [] to the north of State Route 92 and west of State Route 82 (El Camino Real), on the border with Hillsborough [
] .Schools in San Mateo, Foster City and Hillsborough feed into the high school.


Aragon is the sixth high school opened in the San Mateo Union High School District. Built during a period of rapid growth on the peninsula, it followed Hillsdale in 1954 and Mills in 1958 as the third school designed by John Lyon Reid in a “modern modular” style of construction. The district passed bond issues of roughly the same size for each of the three schools so increasing construction costs coupled with the small size of the Aragon campus led to a school that was smaller than its two sisters. The school only had a little theater – no auditorium. Ceilings were lower than the other two schools and rooms that faced the parking lot were narrower as the architect explained the windows would give an illusion of space.

The buildings were not ready for the scheduled September 1960 opening so the 525 freshmen and 375 sophomores who were to make up the opening student body had to be housed elsewhere. The future sophomores remained at San Mateo and Hillsdale where they had spent their freshman year, and the new freshmen were all bussed to Burlingame where they were triple-lockered and placed in classes taught by Aragon faculty members who were temporarily assigned there. Principal Ken Allen oversaw this makeshift arrangement as the first of many hurdles he would face during his time at Aragon. The school was finally set to open for the spring semester on January 30, 1961. As teachers gave their fall finals at Burlingame, textbooks were sent to the library where they were packed and trucked overnight to the new campus and moved to the correct classrooms by librarian Arthur Pettinnichi. Only one class did not find books in place on opening day! Being turned down in the request to open with a half day session, Principal Allen ordered all teachers to give a double homework assignment the first night to send the message to the new students that Aragon was going to be serious about its purpose.

The district quickly realized that Aragon could not continue taking classes of over 500 and a boundary change was instituted to cut the size of incoming classes to the 350-375 range. This meant that there was the class of 1964 working its way through the school with over 500 members. New faculty members were being hired and in some cases “stored” on other campuses until the students they would teach arrived. The heaviest burden may have fallen on the Social Studies Department. Many of its members found themselves the first year teaching Safety Education; the next year they became United States History teachers and finally a year later, they were American Government staff.

Even with the boundary change, Aragon continued to grow, and by the mid-1960’s the enrollment was getting to be more than 1800. Two changes occurred to handle this growth, and again the Social Science faculty was at the forefront in one of them. Freshman Social Science and American Government classes were taught three periods a day each in the Little Theater. A full teaching load for the teachers was three periods during which they had contact with a full load of more than 150 students. Various teaching strategies were employed, hours of film were shown, and pull out groups of students led to the experience that would finally become modular scheduling.

The second change involved placing the school on an eight period day. Sophomores, juniors and seniors attended periods one through seven and had lunch during period five. Freshmen came for periods two through eight with lunch during period six. Teaching large P.E. sections (it was required at that time for all students) during periods two, three, four and seven allowed the students to fit. This schedule also allowed other experimentation with large and small group instruction. The Mathematics Department had sixty students assigned to Algebra and sixty more assigned to Geometry during period five. One day, the sixty Algebra students had a lecture presentation by one teacher while the other three teachers in the program had “small” groups of twenty in geometry. This pattern reversed the next day.

Based upon the results the staff was seeing in Social Science and Mathematics as well as other indicators, the faculty voted and received Governing Board approval to begin a modular or flexible schedule program in 1968. While the growing pains suffered in the early years of this effort were great and new Principal Andrew Jezycki had his work cut out to overcome negative publicity and make sure that all students were fully benefiting from the program, modular scheduling did continue until 1980 when Principal Robert Palazzi oversaw a return to the more traditional six period day. At its height, flexible scheduling allowed students the opportunity to take an average of one half more classes each semester than students in the other district high schools, and it created a teaching atmosphere that permitted and encouraged much greater interaction with students by faculty members. For a period of time, the district was financially able to recognize these benefits and assign additional teaching staff to the school to make the program work well. However, the late 70’s saw a withdrawal of the additional support, and the faculty slowly came to realization that the program could not continue in the way it had been foreseen, and by 1980 they were ready to end the program.

Extracurricular activities

Aragon offers numerous extracurricular activities, including music ensembles, youth leadership clubs, student theater productions, and publications.

Active music ensembles at Aragon include the Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Choir, Symphonic Band, String Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Mixed Choir, Concert Band, and Women's Choir. The Jazz Ensemble and the Chamber Choir meet during the "zero period" before the regular school day. Aragon's Chamber Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and Chamber Choir were invited to Beijing to play in a festival celebrating 2008 Olympics. []

The Model United Nations Club was established in 2003 and has attended conferences at Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. Aragon also boasts a Mock Trial team that competes against similar teams in the area. The Model Congress Club sends delegates once a year to a conference held in San Francisco by Harvard students. An Aragon Public Forum was founded in the fall of 2008 for public debate and discussion on current topics.

"The Aristocrat" was a 12-page newspaper published monthly during the school year. It was renamed "The Outlook" at the end of the 2007-2008 school yea. It is produced by twelve editors who are enrolled in an advanced journalism course. A large staff of writers, photographers, and graphic artists contributes most of the content. The newspaper staff remodeled their [ web site] and began printing in color during the 2006-2007 school year.

Aragon also boasts an exceptional mathematics team, with two USAMO qualifiers in 2008 and an AMC 10A team score of 291/300, easily putting Aragon in the top 5 schools in the nation. Furthermore, as of 2008, Aragon High School is the second largest contributor to the 15-member San Francisco Bay Area ARML A-Team. There has also been some talk of Aragon High School students creating a mathematics contest to develop and encourage mathematical talents in middle school students. The school also sponsors the [ Aragon Robotics Team] (ART), a student-run organization founded in 2000 that provides opportunities for exploring robotics through collaborative design and team competition.

Aragon has recently made efforts to reduce its environmental impact. In addition to the student-operated Recycling Club, which services all the common bins in the school, there is a location in the main office where alternative materials (such as ink cartridges and overhead transparencies) can be deposited for recycling. There is also an Environmental Impact Committee; unique to Aragon, administrators, faculty, parents, and students from the school community serve on it.

Other extracurricular groups include the editors of the yearbook "El Tesoro", an improvisation team, and many other clubs. Most of these typically meet during the lunch period.


Aragon competes in badminton, baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, gymnastics, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling.

For the past few decades, there has been an ongoing rivalry between Aragon and nearby Hillsdale High School, ritualized every year by the fall football rally.Fact|date=February 2007

Parent/Community Involvement

Parents at Aragon are involved in a number of ways. The school's 719-member Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) holds monthly meetings, often with guest speakers to address parenting issues. The PTO also raises money for the school, sponsoring professional development grants for teachers and staff as well as funding clubs, departments, and school-wide programs. Funds raised by the PTO pay for Aragon's use of Edline, an online student grade software that allows parent and student access to grades and assignments.

Parents also get involved in the school through the Friends of the Library program and three active booster clubs in Athletics, Drama, and Music. Together, these organizations have paid for and supported Aragon's library, theater, library resources and athletic facilities.

Recently, parents and administrators have collaborated to create Latino, Asian, and Pacific Islander parent organizations. At the monthly Latino and Pacific Islander meetings, Spanish and Tongan, respectively, are spoken, with translators available when English is used. Each parent group advocates for the school in their respective communities and provides enrichment opportunities for their specific student groups. All groups send representatives to take part in the larger PTO and other school-wide events.

chool/Business Relations

Many outside organizations provide guidance and support to Aragon students. Ninety-three service organizations, individuals, and institutions provide scholarships to students at the school. After-school internships are available for Aragon students interested in information technology at Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale. Students also take part in several "School to Career" field trips, which in the past have included the Professional Business Women's Conference, California Culinary Academy, and Mills Peninsula Health Day Center.


* 1,570 students;

* 87 certified staff [ Source: California Department of Education]


Aragon has surpassed the STAR testing academic performance index level of 800 the last two school years. []

Notable alumni

*Robert Bazell: 1963, chief NBC science and health correspondent
*Ann Kiyomura: Wimbledon ladies' doubles tennis champion
*Darick Robertson, comic book artist
*Neal Schon: guitarist for Santana and Journey
*Alisa Rabin: 2001, Notable Environmental Activist, World Record Holder: Most Consecutive Days in a Redwood (734) and part-time Pantene Pro-V hair model. ]
*Dan Sullivan: professional pole vaulter
*David Orta: 2000 PAL Wrestling Champion, actor, writer, Executive Director for charitable arts
*Kory Storer: professional golfer on the PGA tour, played in the US Open
*Sarah Light: 2001, Deep Sea Travel book writer and two-time World Wide Whale Song Impersonator Finalist (WWWSIF). ]
*Brad Lewis: 1976, Academy Award winner for producing "Ratatouille", current mayor of San Carlos, California
*Linda Bilmes: Harvard professor at the Kennedy School of Government
*Bryan Stewart: 1984, President of CA State Organ Donor Program
*Manase Tonga: 2001, BYU Starting Fullback
*George Lee: 2000, International Mathematics Olympiad Gold Medalist

ee also

*San Mateo County high schools

External links

*Aragon's Homepage []
* [ Aragon High School athletics]
* [ Aragon High School student newspaper (Aristocrat)]
* [ Great Schools profile]

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