Generations of Cardinals celebrate a history of towering traditions at Hoover High School

Posted: Thursday, April 4th 2019

A rendering of the new Hoover High campus being built

Since it opened in 1929, Hoover High School has remained a constant in a changing San Diego landscape, and soon the beloved campus will feature restorations to some of its iconic architecture. When it first welcomed students, its namesake President Herbert Hoover was in the White House and San Diego’s population was only 10% of what it is today.

“There is a lot of pride about being at Hoover,” said Lilia Ruvalcaba, a senior at Hoover High School in City Heights. “Our school has so much history to share, and I am excited that the coming changes will give us a beautiful exterior to reflect the amazing culture inside.”

Ruvalcaba is an active member of the Hoover High campus, active in both the Associated Student Body and the Social Justice Academy.

After nearly 90 years serving the community, Hoover is undergoing a major facelift from construction as part of the Proposition S and Proposition Z school bonds. As part of this process, Hoover will be restoring parts of its iconic original design, including a prominent tower. The original tower was removed in 1976.

The construction efforts on campus are aimed at improving and modernizing the school’s facilities, but the design team was open to hearing input from Hoover alumni. Generations of active Cardinals were quick to weigh in about their love for the school’s original look. Thus, the tower restoration was included in the project.

“For decades, the tower was a huge piece of the Hoover experience,” said Steve Barclay, member of the class of 1964 and the chair of the Hoover Alumni Organization. “Graduating seniors had a tradition of climbing to the top of the tower to sign a graduation book which commemorated their high school career.”

In addition to the tower, the bond-funded construction project also includes a three-story building that will contain administrative offices, a 500-seat auditorium and 20 new classrooms.

As one of San Diego’s oldest high schools, the tower tradition included participation by some famous alumni, including baseball legend Ted Williams and Jack Goodall, the first CEO of Jack in the Box.

Today, Hoover remains a vibrant school community where students are encouraged to take leadership positions that align with their interests and career goals. They can join on-campus academies, which are small learning communities that participate in job shadowing, hear from guest speakers and gain workforce experience: 

  • The Academy of Health and Healthier Communities, providing students with experience in the healthcare and biotech industries.
  • The Academy of Information Technology, giving students first-hand knowledge of the ever-expanding technology field.
  • The Academy of Literature, Media and Arts, welcoming students interested in journalism, music, theater or visual arts.
  • The Social Justice Academy, teaching students to advocate and organize for positive social action.
  • The Sustainable Academy of Building and Engineering, preparing students for careers as highly skilled engineers and construction specialists.

The school community has endured some inconveniences during construction, but faculty, staff and students are looking forward to the completed improvements. For example, the school’s library has been transitioned temporarily into administrative space for staff.

“The construction process is not easy, but our Hoover community has been incredibly supportive and positive throughout each phase of development,” said Principal Jason Babineau, who came to Hoover in 2017. “I commend our staff and students for being resilient with the temporary inconveniences and I appreciate how accommodating the construction teams have been. They recognize the importance of what we do every day.”

Construction began in 2018 and is ongoing. The project is expected to be complete in time for students’ return for the fall 2020 semester. School leadership plans to begin soliciting interest in naming rights throughout the building from alumni who want to commemorate their part in Hoover’s rich history.

“I am beyond excited to welcome current Hoover students and alumni when construction is complete.  Every Cardinal deserves excellence,” said Principal Babineau.

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