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Nov 2 2011 12:00AM
Carlos visits his Alma Mater, Mission High School
Carlos Santana’s dream was to “come home” to Mission High School, where he attended as a student. Milagro Foundation Executive Director Shelley Brown and Program Associate Ruthie Moutafian reached out to Principal Eric Guthertz who has proclaimed that “Mission High School is NOT waiting for Superman!” and made that happen. In the eyes of Santana and Milagro, Mr. Guthertz is secretly “Superman” who has come to Earth seeking a better way for the students of Mission High School to graduate and go on to college.
Mission High School (Mission) founded in 1890 is San Francisco, California’s oldest high school. It is a deeply diverse, large urban institution.
Over the last five years, Mission embarked on an ambitious plan and program to dramatically decrease its drop-out rate, increase graduation rates, increase scores on state tests, and send more students to college than ever before. Given today’s economy, cutbacks and living with smaller budgets, Mission began to challenge the preconceived notion that only smaller “players” working outside the public school system can make a difference.
In 2011, it achieved that goal by developing, implementing, and nurturing a connected and unified community plan in the city by building strong personal relationships between the faculty, the community and its students.
Today, Mission High School has achieved an impressive goal of 84% of all of its Mission High School seniors being accepted into college last year. Students, parents, staff, teachers and administrators have created a community at Mission High School where children feel safe, respected and thrive.
Principal Eric Guthertz has helped guide this program that serves grades 9-12. Mission has been on 18th Street, between Dolores and Church, since 1896. The original campus burned in 1922, and the replacement was completed in two stages, the west wing in 1925 and the main building was dedicated by San Francisco mayor James Rolph on June 12, 1927. And, it has undergone a restoration program over the last few years helping to complement its overall program and its academic success.
The school is two blocks from Mission Dolores, from which it gets its name. The current student body is diverse with Latino, Chinese and African American students’ making up the majority of the student body.
On October 24th, the lobby that leads to a theater that has 1,750 folding wooden seats on two levels with a gold leaf ceiling (and is perhaps one of the nicest historical auditoriums in the city), one of its celebrated alumni, Carlos Santana returned to his school, 45 years later, to help honor, celebrate and bring awareness to the achievements of Mission High School with the help of his Milagro Foundation (Shelley Brown, Executive Director).
Carlos Santana has sold more than 90 million records and reached more than 100 million fans at concerts worldwide. To date, Santana has won ten Grammy® Awards, including a record-tying nine for a single project, 1999’s Supernatural (including Album of the Year and Record of the Year for “Smooth”). In 1998, the group was ushered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, whose web page on their induction notes, “Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.” Among many other honors, Carlos Santana has also been cited by Rolling Stone as #15 on their list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” With last year’s CD release of “Guitar Heaven” Santana joined the ranks of The Rolling Stones as the only musical act in chart history to score at least one Top 10 album in every decade beginning with the 1960s. It was Santana’s 29th Billboard Top 200 charting release, 12th Top 10 album debut and third Top 10 debut in the past 5 years.
Other recent graduates of Mission include: American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" Maya Angelou; State Senator Leland Yee; and, Charles Phan (world famous chef and owner of Slanted Door). Early graduates include: James Rolph: governor of California (1931–1934) and mayor of San Francisco (1912–1931); 1950s pop singer, Guy Mitchell; and, Alan Gallagher, former San Francisco Giants third baseman.
Photo credit to Jay Blakesberg, Kenny Wardell and Barbara Ries (photo gallery)