Setting an independent course for its future, Bishop Garcia Diego High School officially became the first school in Southern California (and one of only a few in the nation) to separate from its governing archdiocese and become an independent, private Catholic high school on May 24, commemorating the announcement with an assembly for students and the press.
Dubbed as “a brand new day for Bishop High,” the principal, Rev. Thomas J. Elewaut, C.J., said that the board of trustees would take over the management of the high school. “We are all committed to ensure a Catholic tradition of Christian secondary education here in Santa Barbara,” he said at the assembly, where leaders of the archdiocese formally signed over the building.
The school began in 1932 as Catholic High and became Bishop Garcia Diego High School in 1959. Elewaut characterized the new management model as a sequel, stating, “It is now commonly accepted that blockbuster movies will have sequels. It is also well known that for sequels to be successful they must carry the moviegoer to new places.”
The board of trustees — which includes Patricia Aijian, John Ambrecht, Keith Berry, David Borgatello, Randal Clark, Eileen Curran, Peter Da Ros, John Gherini, Sr. Angela Hallahan, John Hebda, Carol Hoffer, Ralph Iannelli, Barbara Najera, Carla O’Neill, Lynette Patters and B. Williams — has been open with the community about its intentions to take over Bishop High’s management for more than a year, frequently publishing letters which address the changes in governance. The group has also stated that financial assistance will be made available, on a sliding scale, to every family that cannot afford full tuition of $8,500.
According to Elewaut, “We have celebrated 100 percent college admission by our graduates since 2002. This is our inheritance and our legacy to the future students of Bishop Garcia Diego High School.”