The school system of San Mateo County embraces the kindergarten, the primary schools, the grammar schools and high schools.
From the time children reach school age until ready for the university, they may attend school and remain at their own homes. Throughout all this time they arc pursuing a well laid out and carefully planned course which completely covers, in a minimum time, alll that is required by the laws of the state. Further than this, most of the pupils are not only taught the statutory subjects but are also given instruction in manual and domestic arts as well as in drawing and music.
To cover this work and to accommodate the five thousand boys and girls in attendance throughout the county, there are five kindergartens, thirty-three elementary and four high school districts, employing 190 teachers. The cost of maintaining this system during the school year of 1914-1915 was $308,761.00.
The teachers of San Mateo County are practically all university or normal trained, whose salaries, while not high, are so fair as to assure few changes in the department each year.
The buildings and equipment in the majority of districts are as fine as can be found.
The pupils of the public schools of San Mateo County represent most of the nationalities of the civilized world, and arc as a rule bright and active, responding readily to the instruction given them. A large percentage of those who graduate from the grammar schools attend high schools.
The high school students who are graduates of the elementary schools of this county, are in practically all cases found to be proficient in their work, whether they come from the graded town school or the ungraded, one-room school of the smaller communities. The high schools of San Mateo County maintain an unusually high standard, graduates being admitted to the different universities and normal schools without examination. The courses of instruction are varied; and while the scholastic branches are carefully followed, practical business instruction, skill in carpentering and home keeping or domestic science are so taught that pupils are well equipped mentally and physically to grasp the opportunities that present themselves upon graduation. In short, it may be said that San Mateo County has as good a school system as can be found in the State of California.
Concerning the high schools of the county, only two-those of San Mateo and Redwood City will be described in detail, as they are the largest.
The San Mateo Union High School is the largest in the county. having an enrollment in 1916 of 250 pupils and employing seventeen teachers. This high school has achieved a remarkable growth during the last ten years, in which time its enrollment has about quintupled, while the list of teachers has quadrupled.
In addition to being the largest high school in the county, the San Mateo Union High School has the distinction of being the only school in the state furnishing free text books, purchased by the school for both day and evening classes. They are the property of the school and arc issued on library cards for a designated period of time. Another interesting feature of the school work is the actual printing of a very creditable school paper entitled, “The San Mateo Hi.” A military feature has been added to the school curriculum which includes drilling and rifle practice. The equipment for the above is also furnished by the school.
A night school with an enrollment of 150 students is maintained by the San Mateo Union High School, in which practically all the subjects taught during the day may be studied in the evening.
An important feature of the school’s curriculum is the department of manual training in which the voting men may learn the fundamentals of carpentering, joining, cabinet making, turning and machine practice. Domestic Science is taught for the benefit of the young ladies, the course including full instructions in cooking, food values and the serving of a meal. Another pleasant branch of the school work is the School Band and Orchestra.
The San Mateo High School is constructed of reinforced concrete, and was erected at a cost of $295.000.00, including the value of the property upon which it stands. This includes a $35,000.00 gymnasium with ample provision for outdoor sports on the school grounds. An auditorium, seating five hundred, an automatic ventilating and cleansing plant, and a system of artesian well water are among the features of the school buildings.
Mr. W. L. Glascock is principal of the San Mateo Union High School, and San Mateo Union Evening High School.
The Sequoia Union High School of Redwood City, of which Samuel Pressly McCrea, A. M., has for ten years been the principal, has few peers among the small high schools of California. Serving the large territory. from Menlo Park to Belmont and from the bay front to the mountains, it is one of the most important educational institutions in San Mateo County, and considerably the oldest.
The Sequoia Union High School first opened its doors to students on September 16, 1895 with David A. Curry as principal, and for nine years was housed in the grammar school building of Redwood City. At that time it had an enrollment of only a few students, and the faculty had but three members. Under the first principal 27 students were graduated.
In 1899 Frank S. Rosseter was chosen principal and in 1900 the school gained a place on the accredited list of the State University which it has since retained. In 1902 the San Mateo Union High School was opened, thus narrowing to some extent the field from which students were drawn to Sequoia. In the five years he was principal Mr. Rosseter graduated 66 students, and gave the school some of the features it has since retained.
It has advanced steadily in usefulness and popularity, in time outgrowing its first quarters, and increasing in numbers until it comfortably fills its magnificent building which is one of the most imposing structures in Redwood City.
Its registration is now 107 and the faculty has eight members. Its expenditures are greater than those of a small college a generation ago, and its field of work is considerably broader. It now covers History, Civics and Elementary Economics; Latin, German and Spanish, the Physical Sciences and Mathematics, English Literature and Composition, Bookkeeping, Stenography and Typewriting, Drawing and Vocal Music, Domestic Science and Art, Carpentry and Cabinet Work.
Although only twenty years old, some of the county’s leading men and women are listed among its graduates. In the last ten years 131 students have been graduated from the school, many of whom continued their studies until graduation in Stanford University, the State Normal schools and other institutions. Of the graduates of the last two classes, seven went to Stanford in 1915, one to the College of the Pacific, two to the San Jose Normal, and one to the San Francisco Normal. At least, the school is inspiring many students to go higher.
To meet the modern school demands in secondary education many new departments have been added. Drawing, Music, a four year Commercial course, Domestic Science, and Manual Training are all features added during the last ten years. The school is now planning to erect a special building for the work in carpentering, blacksmithing, machine shop practice and other industrial arts.
This High School has already found it necessary to establish four regular courses Literary, Scientific, Commercial and Industrial. Two of these are designed to prepare for higher institutions, and the others for various occupations.
For the first twelve years Geo. C. Ross of Belmont presided over the Board of Trustees of the school. Since that time L. P. Behrens has acted in that capacity, and except for two years, the latter has been a trustee of the High School since it was opened in 1895. With such a record of achievement the future is bright with promise.
The private schools of the county are known throughout the country for their standing, ranking high among the famous institutions, both east and west. One of the most important of these educational institutions in the county is the Belmont School for Boys, now in its 31st year. This is primarily a college preparatory school, as 329 of its 381 graduates have entered colleges or schools of science, as follows: 175 entered the University of California, 100 entered Stanford, and 54 entered Harvard, Yale, Cornell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Eight other colleges received one or two each, leaving 44 to go directly into business.
The school was founded by W. T. Reed, Harvard ’68, soon after his retirement from the presidency of the University of California. Through the financial assistance of NV. H. Martin, he was enabled to purchase a portion of the famous Ralston estate at Belmont, and the school was opened in August 1885 with fifteen pupils.
Mr. Reed’s varied experience in the Boston Latin School, in superintending the public schools of Brookline, Massachusetts and in the San Francisco Boys’ High School had given him a familiarity with educational requirements that was of great service to him in laying out the work that Belmont should do.
The grounds 45 acres in extent, lie on the lower slope of wooded hills almost surrounding a valley which fronts the Bay of San Francisco. From the summit of these hills may be seen Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tarnalpais and the chain of Crystal Springs Lakes. A picturesque brook, edged by live-oaks, divides the buildings of the school into two groups. On -the north arc two dormitories, the dining room and the new Physical and Chemical Laboratory; on the south are the Senior House, gymnasium, swimming tank, Head Master’s house, the manual training shop, power house and steam laundry.
The laboratory, Senior House and swimming tank, all lately built, have an outside finish of plaster and red Mission tile roofs. The swimming tank has a pool 75 by 32 feet, lined with white, glazed tiling and surrounded by a red tile walk. The water is 8 feet deep at one end and 3 feet deep at the other. It circulates through a heater, being kept at a temperature of about 68 degrees, and also passes through a filter which, it is claimed, keeps it freer from germs than when fresh drawn from the water main. The gymnasium, with which the swimming tank is connected, is supplied with shower baths, dressing rooms and lockers.
The recreations include football, baseball, tennis, basketball, swimming and dramatics; and to boys who are fond of tramping and picnics, the hills, lakes and even the ocean furnish inviting objective points.
Two housemothers give their entire time to the well-being and happiness of the boys, while the matrons and the wives of the teachers are all interested in creating a pleasant school atmosphere.
As a means of securing the best physical development, habits of neatness and prompt obedience, and to add to the esprit de corps of the school, either the ordinary military drill or the regular setting up exercises of the army are required three times a week. The course of study covers 9 years. Pupils satisfactorily covering the 45 units necessary for graduation, are admitted upon the recommendation of the Head Master to all Colleges that admit on certificate.
The system upon which, so far as practicable, the discipline of the school is founded may be inferred from the school motto, “On Honor” and the motto, “Ring True,” which is cast into the school bell. The faithful, straightforward boy is sensible of little restraint, but it is intended to make the restraint seriously felt by boys who are not readily reached by appeals to their sense of duty and honor.
The school is non-sectarian but it is intended that it shall be a Christian school and that its daily influence as well as its Sunday services shall further the development of Christian character.
On 63 Griffith Avenue, San Mateo is the San Mateo Collegiate School for young ladies, conducted under the able principalship of Mrs. Dora H. Shinn.
Notre Dame Convent at Redwood City, Sacred Heart Academy, St. Joseph’s Parochial School and St. Patrick’s Seminary at Menlo Park comprise the Catholic institutions of the county. The first three give the usual courses, while the last named, with its magnificent equipment and location in the center of a beautiful natural park, is intended solely for the education of boys and young men desiring to devote their lives to the priesthood. The seminary was dedicated in 1898 by Archbishop Riordan. The buildings comprise an administration building, a junior and senior college, a central chapel, a detached service building, a distinct refectory, in grandeur of conception, the peer of any in the country-all in Romanesque style of architecture.