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Santa Monica High School (SMHS), informally known as Samohi or just Samo, is a public school located in Santa Monica, Californiamarker which was founded in 1884 . It is one of the oldest High Schools in California. It changed location several times in its early years before settling into its present campus at 601 Pico Boulevard.

Santa Monica High School is a part of Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. The current school principal is Dr. Hugo Pedroza.

The current campus opened in 1906 with one building, the current History building, and an enrollment of 50 students. The school sat on the hilltop of what is now 6th Street and Pico Blvd., from which one can still see the Pacific Ocean. In its first ten years, school enrollment grew with the population of Santa Monica until the administration decided to expand the campus to meet the population increase, and with this the English building was built. In 1921, the Greek Amphitheatre was built in front of the school campus, owned by a separate company. The Amphitheatre was soon bought by the school district for Santa Monica High School, since the school needed more land for more classrooms, gymnasiums and music facilities. After this land purchase, the campus contained six buildings; the Language, English, Business, History, Administration and Music buildings.

In 1952, Santa Monica High School was finally expanded to what it is now, 33 acres, and two new buildings were built, the Science and Technology buildings. As the school aged, renovations took place with Barnum Hall and a complete rebuild of the Music building. Currently the school is waiting for a state measure, Measure BB of the State of California, to be passed for grant money for renovations of the aging buildings, History, Language and rebuilding of the Business.

Samo has also been a location in a number of films. Most famously, it is the high school setting in Rebel Without A Cause, and James Dean walks up the History Building stairs. Recently, 17 Again, starring Matthew Perry and Zac Efron, was shot during the '07-'08 school year.


In 2003, Samohi adopted a house system, similar to college house systems; each student is part of a house. There are five houses, S, AM, O, H and I, with each house assigned a building or a floor of a building.The A house has been recently canceled due to fail of more enrollments. S House is stationed in the Language Building, Formally,A house is stationed in the Business building, M house is on the first floor of the History building, O house is on the second floor of the History building, H house is stationed in the English building, and I house is stationed in the Technology building. A principal oversees each of the houses, along with two counselors. Teachers with classrooms in a house building/floor are automatically deemed one of the house teachers. Upon enrollment in Santa Monica High School, students are randomly assigned to a house.


Santa Monica High School provides many Advanced Placement classes that are offered to all students. They range from Math and Science to Social Studies and Art.

Currently, Santa Monica High offers four foreign languages: Spanish, Latin, Japanese, and French. Japanese is offered up til the 4th level. Latin and Japanese are offered up to the fifth level, preparing students for the AP test. Spanish is offered up to the 6th level preparing students for AP Spanish tests in both language and literature.

Music department

The front of Barnum Hall
Santa Monica High School Music Department is home to five wind bands, six orchestras, ten choirs, piano classes, and guitar classes. The music department offers many concerts in the community throughout the year, with performances by the bands, orchestras, and choirs. The school hosts concerts on the campus in Barnum Hall, a 1,200 seat theater with a full stage renovated in 2004. The Band and Orchestra annually hosts the SCSBOA Band and Orchestra Festivals, usually during late March or early April.

Choral and vocal ensembles

Under the conduction of Jeffe Huls the Santa Monica High School Choral Department has recently competed in and won many competitions, both regional and national. Over 300 students are enrolled in the choral music program. The program is made up of twelve different student choirs. The choral program ranges from large mixed choirs to chamber/madrigal ensembles, women's choirs, men's ensemble and jazz. The Jazz Ensemble met after school on selected days of the week. In the past the choral department has traveled to New York Citymarker, Bostonmarker and most recently Honolulumarker, Hawaiimarker to compete in a national choral competition where Chorale, Chamber Singers, Jazz Singers and Madrigals Ensemble received 1st place with a gold rating. The Santa Monica choirs as a whole were then named the Grand Champions. The school has also competed in the Golden State Choral Competitions (South) both Large and Small Divisions. In April 2007, Madrigal Ensemble & Chamber Singers traveled to Italymarker and performed in cathedrals around the country. Chorale also competed in a competition which took place on a cruise to Mexicomarker. Chorale won first place over all other choirs competing on any cruise ship the entire year.

In addition to the regular Winter and Spring concerts, the choral department has a Masterworks Concert, Cathedral Classics Concert, and performs in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District's Stairway of the Stars every year.

Orchestral program

The orchestra program has been led for the past five years by director Joni Swenson, following longtime director Christopher Schawbe. In 2005, Symphony Orchestra was labeled the best High School level orchestra in the nation by the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) at the National Orchestra Festival in Reno, Nevadamarker. The orchestra program is made up of many different ensembles, ranging from the smaller Beginning Strings / String Orchestra to the large Symphony Orchestra. Many of the orchestras from Santa Monica High School have had the chance to travel around the nation and the world. In February 2006, Symphony Orchestra became the first public high school orchestra to perform in the Walt Disney Concert Hallmarker in Downtown Los Angeles. In April 2006, the orchestra traveled to China and toured and performed in Beijing, Hong Kongmarker, and Shanghai. In 2004 the Symphony Orchestra performed various cathedrals and churches in Viennamarker, Austriamarker and in Praguemarker, Czech Republicmarker. In 2002 the Symphony Orchestra performed in Carnegie Hallmarker. Recently, the orchestra program was selected for the elite Partnership Program with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. In April 2007, the Philharmonic and Chamber Orchestras traveled to San Franciscomarker, where they participated in the California Music Educator's Association (CMEA) festival. Symphony Orchestra returned to Europe for a trip in March 2008, performing in such esteemed halls as the Rudolfinummarker and Orangerie of Schönbrunn Palacemarker.

Band and marching band

Samohi's band program is under the direction of Mike Corrigan, a CSULBmarker graduate and Terry Sakow, a UCLAmarker graduate. The Santa Monica High School Viking Marching Band is one of the oldest high school marching bands in the state of California. The marching band performs for home football games, and competes in many different field shows and parades in Southern California. In their 2006-2007 season, the marching band received several sweepstakes awards and participated for the first time in the SCSBOA (Southern California Student Band and Orchestra Association) 5A division championship. In 2007 they attended a new marching band circuit, the Western Band Association, where they competed in the 4A devision. The band won several awards, including Best Music in 4A category at their first WBA competition. The Marching Band traditionally performs in a Disneyland Resortmarker parade every year. They were invited to be part of the London New Year's Day Parade opening in 2009, and performed extremely well in cold weather!

There are currently four concert bands at Samohi, with the Wind Ensemble recognized as one of the most exceptionally talented high school bands in California. They performed at Carnegie Hallmarker in May 2007, and regularly perform in festivals, conferences, and invitational concerts. Mr. Sakow is currently celebrating 20 years of teaching and directing the band program at Santa Monica High School. One of his most significant achievements has been the development of a comprehensive concert band program. The program has grown to 270 students from 80 his first year. During his tenure he eliminated the requirement for concert band students to concurrently enroll in marching band. He wanted to make sure students who had athletics, religious commitments, or other activities would still have the opportunity to play in a school band. The concert band enrollment swelled shortly after this change. He served as Music Department Chair from 1995 to 2006 overseeing the entire department curriculum. At the end of his time as department chair, the music department enrollment reached an excess of 800 students. He was intimately involved in the renovation of the music facilities and performance hall - which are now state of the art facilities. He worked closely with parent volunteers to increase fund-raising, purchase new uniforms for the marching band, purchase quality instruments for students to use, and to provide for all the many expenses of an outstanding music education program.

The bands, orchestras, choral groups and theatre are supported in their efforts by parent and community volunteers. Extensive fundraising is required to supply such things as music, instruments, music/dance/guard coaches, transportation, concert dress, uniforms, entry fees for festivals and competitions, and other items not budgeted or minimally budgeted by the school. An independent 5013 organization, the Santa Monica Arts Parents Association (SMAPA) governs these efforts.


Santa Monica High School there is 3,201 students, of the student population 50.4% are White (non Hispanic), 31.1% are Hispanic or Latino, 9.3% are African American, 7.9% are Asian and 0.2% are Native American.


Santa Monica High School has multiple clubs that operate within the school. The clubs are dedicated to various causes and hobbies and embrace philosophies of acceptance as they are free for all to join. Some of the premier clubs at Santa Monica High are Students Determined to Help Laotians (a humanitarian club dedicated to aiding the Laotian people by providing medical aid and shoes) and the Gardening Club (primarily focused on gardening, although there is a small focus on ethnobotany).


Samohi offers a variety of common sports including basketball, cross country running, volleyball, swimming, tennis,

Water Polo

Coached by Matthew Flanders. Two different levels: Frosh-Soph and Varsity. Known as the "Greenies." Every year the Greenies paint their bodies at the Homecoming Football game and run around the field. This "Green" tradition is dedicated to their Irish coach. Flanders is not Irish. His wife is.


The boys volleyball team, lead by Liane Sato (olympic medalist) won the southern section CIF championship in their division in 2006. They returned to the championship in 2007, but lost to Valley Christian. Ari Feldman, a member of that team, recently signed with Cal State Northridgemarker to play volleyball. The girls volleyball team made it to the finals in the 2009 season but lost.


Although just a freshman it is believed that Ari Friedman will one day lead the vikings to basketball greatness.


The Samohi varsity baseball team, for the first time since 1973, made the Division IV Southern Section Championship in 2007. However, they lost 7-1 to Charter Oak in the championship game at Dodger Stadiummarker.

Cross country

The Cross Country team aka XC team is on an 6-year league winning streak going into the 2008 season with Sr. Ezana Tesfu leading as their captain.


The Wrestling Team is lead by Mark Black, Head Coach and Varsity Coach Brent Wright. Also on the coaching staff are Assistant Varsity Coach Dave Waters, Rehabilitation and Freshman Coach Bob Forster. Most of their time and resources are volunteered.

In 1986 Lawrence Jackson won the CIF State Championship. He was undefeated. In 2007 Yusaf Syed won the CIF State Championship in 152 weight class. He was undefeated in 152 lbs. that year. For the past 7 years, the team has qualified individuals for the Southern Section CIF Masters, (one of the toughest high school tournaments in the nation) and CIF State Championships.


Coached by Frank Gatell (Class of 1989) and Jimmy Chapman, Samohi went undefeated (29-0-1) during the 2007-08 boys soccer season. Winning the Southbay/Westside Torunament, South Torrance Holiday Tournament (first time for a Varsity squad to win), undefeated Ocean League title (Back-to-Back), CIF Division IV Championship (first time in Samohi Soccer history), and the first ever CIF Southern Regional Championship Division I (a Southern State, Fresno through San Diego, where eight top teams of their region competed).Along with the championships, the Samohi men set many new records. 29 wins, 0 losses, 17 shutouts, only conceded 17 goals, scored 110 goals, and were the men's team to win CIF in the 36 year history of the program.Players to receive CIF honors: Artur Jozkowicz, Offensive Player of the Year for D. IV, Nick Ferro, Defensive Player of the Year for D. IV, Charlie Paris, First Team D. IV, Alessandro Canale First Team D. IV, Alex Kovacs, First Team D.IV, Luis Zavala, Second Team D IV, All CIF Selection. All players were in their senior year.


Coached by Debbie Skaggs, the lady Vikings have been undefeated in league games since 2004.


Sean Proctor coaches the Freshmen Football team. There are different levels: freshman, junior varsity, varsity.


The Varsity Cheer team won CIF in 08'-09'. They also won USA nationals 07'-08' and compete in Florida.

Memorable events

• On May 9, 2005, Newsweek magazine, during its ranking of the 100 top high schools in America (a list of 1061 high schools), ranked SMHS as the 203rd top high school.

• On December 5, 2005, after the school won a Power 106 FM contest, Hip-Hop mogul Kanye West performed in the Greek Theatre.

• Shooting for the 2009 New Line/Warner Bros. film 17 Again starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry commenced on campus December 14, 2007.

Racial tensions

On April 15, 2005, after several fights broke out between students, Santa Monica police were called in, as well as backup from Beverly Hills and Culver City police. Police ordered all students into their next classes and the school was put on a lockdown for 4–5 hours. After the campus was secured, police escorted students off campus building by building.

As a result of the fighting, at least two police officers are permanently stationed on campus, and students must show their school identification cards to security guards or administrators in order to enter campus or exit during lunch. When students leave for home, identification cards are not checked. After school, anyone is able to enter the campus.

Tension brewed once more on February 3, 2006 when students arrived at school to find racial epithets targeting blacks spray-painted on four different walls around the campus, along with the symbols of the Santa Monica Gangs, SM13 and SM17. Retaliation graffiti was written throughout the day slandering both Latinos and African-Americans. A mediation session was set up in Barnum Hall to try to relieve these tensions, but it suffered from limited participation.

Notable alumni


The Samohi Songs )

Hymn of Praise

(The Santa Monica High School Alma Mater)

by Ken Darby (Class of 1928)

Oh Samohi, dear old Samohi,

Queen of the setting sun,

For you we toil,

For you our banners fly,

We win for you when victory's won.

All hail to thee, Mighty Samohi,

Our faith in thee ne'er will fail,

For the love that we give

is thy po'er to live,

To thee, All Hail!

Vikings Bold

(The Santa Monica High School Fight Song)

by Carl Hammer (Class of 1984)

Forward they go together,

Onward they surge ahead,

Inward they bond together

To the very end.

Waves crash around the ship-mast,

Yet still they hold

Fast to the FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

For Samo Vikings Bold!

Rah! Rah! RahRahRah!

Rah! Rah! RahRahRah!

Rah! Rah! RahRahRah!

Go . . . . Sa-Mo-Hi!


(after 2nd time)



Vi-kings, Vi-kings,

Sa-Mo-Hi! (uhhh!)


  1. Schools Chief Pick Sees Enemy in 'Anonymity', Washington Post, 23 February 2006.
  2. Santa Monica High School Symphony Makes Its Walt Disney Concert Hall Debut..., LA Phil Presents
  3. Really.Last.Champs_Grid_11(1).14.06.xls
  5. CIF List of Winners
  6. The 100 Best High Schools in America - Newsweek America's Best High Schools -
  7. Surf Santa Monica Link to story
  8. Santa Monica Mirror
  9. Samohi taggers reignite tensions
  10. Samohi Band website

External links

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