In 1896, under the watchful eyes of Miss Mary Cogswell, twelve excited children climbed the steps of a livery stable located at Wall Street and Herschel Avenue and became the first students to attend La Jolla Elementary School.
Classes continued to be held on the second floor of the livery stable until 1899. When public-minded Mrs. Anson Mills asked the San Diego Board of Education for a more suitable place for the children to study, a lot was purchased from Mr. Botsford and a one-room school was built on the West side of Herschel Avenue, just south of Wall Street.
In 1906, a more elaborate school affectionately referred to as “The Little Red School House” was constructed farther south on Herschel Avenue, between Kline and Torrey Pines Road. Although it was a two-story structure, the second floor was never used. A small green building was built beside the main structure to house the first and second grades. A lot adjoining the school was put to good use as the children were given their choice of seeds and allowed to raise their favorite vegetables.
The student population continued to grow and, in 1916, the first section of a Mission Style school was begun on the present Girard Avenue site. Many parents were unhappy with the location because they felt it was “too far out in the sticks”. During the rainy season, a wide expanse of mud became so formidable that the children were asked to wade to school in their bare feet, carrying shoes, stockings, books, and a towel. The first few minutes of the school day were spent washing up.
As the population of La Jolla grew, so did the number of children. The original school was expanded five times, until it reached its maximum enrollment of 925 students in 1950.Between 1951 and 1963, Bird Rock, Decatur, Scripps, and Torrey Pines elementary schools were opened to ease overcrowding at La Jolla Elementary.
In 1961, construction began on five new buildings to replace school structures that had been built before the 1935 Field Act (Earthquake Standards for School buildings). In 1962, construction was completed at a cost of $387,740 and the old buildings were razed.
La Jolla Elementary School has enjoyed a rich and diverse history in the Village of La Jolla for more than 100 years. From its modest beginnings on the second floor of a livery stable, to its present location on Girard Avenue, our school has thrived through generous community support and participation.
As a result of our efforts to provide the best educational experience possible for our students, we have received five recognition awards in the last ten years. In 2008, and then the next time possible in 2012, our school community worked together to achieve the California Distinguished Schools Award, an award given to the most exemplary schools in the state.
In 2016, La Jolla Elementary School received the California Gold Ribbon Schools Award, an award created to honor exemplary schools in place of the California Distinguished Schools Program, which was on hiatus while California created a new assessment and accountability system.
In 2018, the California Distinguished Schools Award was back, based on new criteria and we were recognized again. In 2016, our school also received the National Blue Ribbon Schools Award in the category of Exemplary High Performing Schools. With your support, we can continue our long history of excellence and keep La Jolla Elementary a place of encouragement, exploration, and inspiration for our children.