History of Newport Harbor High School
The doors opened at Newport Harbor High School for the first time on September 22, 1930. The paint on the walls was still wet, the cement was still damp, and the rooms had no heat, but the students who came from Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Balboa Island, Lido Island, the Peninsula and Corona del Mar overlooked all inconveniences. At the end of World War I, the harbor area was a small town with few students of high school age. These students were attending either Santa Ana High or Huntington Beach High School. After a five-year battle to form a new district in the cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, the school was built on the border of the Costa Mesa area and the high tower was built so the people of Newport Beach could see it. At that time, Irvine Avenue was a dirt road with fields of sweet potatoes and lima beans on both sides. When ground was broken on June 14, 1930, the nation was in the midst of a depression. There were an abundance of workers willing to put in long hours and work fast and cheap. It took only four months and $410,000 to complete the original school building. Now school could begin.
The original school comprised a main building, the main gym, the tower, a wood shop, the bus garage, and a caretaker's cottage. The total enrollment that first year was just 178 students, taught by 12 faculty members. There were no seniors, as they had chosen to remain at their original schools to graduate with their alma maters’ class.
New additions did not appear until the late 1940's when the math building began construction. It was named Dodge Hall after Judge Donald Dodge who had campaigned for years to separate this school district from Santa Ana. During that same year, some students went down to Mexico to find a bell for the tower. In 1948, metal shop, and snack bar were built. Eight army barracks were also installed to use as classrooms.
As the student population grew, the girls' gym and Irvine Avenue pool were added (1949). The home arts building was added in 1955 and Beek and Sims Halls were added even later. These two building were named for James Sims, who was a popular English teacher, and Joseph Beek, owner of the Balboa ferry line and a member of the board of trustees.
Academically, the school has grown from a very basic program, which included agriculture, to a very sophisticated school with many academies and advanced classes. In the year 2000 the school offered 12 advanced placement (AP) courses, had 5 computer labs, and offered many classes that were never dreamed of when the school opened. Students from Newport Harbor are accepted at the most prestigious universities in the country.
Ralph Reed was the man who started the Athletics program at Harbor High. He was the first teacher hired and he coached all of the sports the school offered in the thirties. He served thirty-two years as Athletic Director before retiring in 1963. In the beginning, athletics had to develop its own traditions. Because of the proximity of the harbor, Newport Harbor athletes chose their mascot to be the Sailors.
Newport Harbor was the smallest school on the Orange league. There was a big rivalry with Huntington Beach High because these were the only two high schools near the beach. School was often dismissed early so that everyone could go to the football games. Fans sat on wooden bleachers made in our own woodshop. When the big football stadium was finally built, it was named Davidson Field in honor of Sidney Davidson, the school's first principal. He had the altruistic distinction of working for the first seven months without pay.
NHHS First Staff Photo-1930
In the early days of Harbor athletics, the basketball team played Catalina and would take a two-day trip sailing to the island to compete. In those days, the school had no pool, so the swimmers would practice and compete in the bay.
Since 1930, the school has won at least one league championship per year. The sailors have won more 'All Sports' trophies than any other school with which they compete. In 1985, every major sports team won its league. The major rivalry is now across the bay with Corona del Mar High School.
Social life and crazy fads have varied over the years When the school first opened, girls were required to wear white blouses with navy blue skirts. The boys had no official uniform, but everyone wore dirty cords. They were washed as rarely as possible. The dirtier they were, the more students liked them. In the forties, the girls wore their hair in high pompadours and the boys wore crew cuts. The first homecoming dance was held at the Santa Ana Country Club in 1941. During World War II, many evening social events could not be held because of the threat along the coast. Even car headlights had to be turned off when drivers reached 15th street.
Secret societies and fraternities became popular in the fifties. As the car became the big thing in students' lives, drive-in movies and drive-in restaurants were the place to go. The school had sock hops in the gym. This all changed with the rebelliousness of the sixties when school uniforms were brought to an end. Folk music, Elvis, the Beatles, and Woodstock led to the style of boys' hair growing down their necks. Balboa's Rendezvous Ballroom, which had been a major hot spot for many years, burned down and teenagers learned to dance apart from each other.
The seventies found Harbor girls in mini-skirts and the boys with hair down their backs. Students toilet-papered houses, raised money with donkey basketball games, and initiated 'Can you top this?' pranks at graduation ceremonies. The school population topped 3,000 and there were over 150 teachers on the faculty.
The eighties saw the enrollment dwindle to around 1,100, and many of the older faculty members from the forties, fifties, and sixties retired. A $25,000 donation allowed Heritage Hall to be developed which preserves the history of the school through photographs and memorabilia.
In 1994 the school's football team brought the CIF championship to Newport Harbor High for the first time. Amazingly, just five years later, in 1999 this feat was repeated, and again in 2005. At the turn of the millennium, the senior class dedicated a monument to seventy years of school excellence. The enrollment rebounded to approximately 2,200 students. Currently, during the 2016-2017 school year, the enrollment is at 2,370.
During the 2013-2014 school year, Newport Harbor High School inducted its first Hall of Fame class-five faculty and fifteen alum were part of the inaugural class. This school year, 15 more members of Newport Harbor High Schools' illustrious history are being inducted.
Milestones in Newport Harbor High School History
|September 21, 1929||Newport Union High School district created by 894-23 vote of citizenry|
|December 29, 1929||Irvine Company offers 20 acres to district at 15th and Irvine for $15,000|
|February 8, 1930||Bond election to raise $410,000 to build NHHS succeeds|
|1930||Harbor Area Boy Scouts raise flag at Ground Breaking Ceremony|
|1930||Ralph Reed is first teacher hired at NHHS|
|September 22, 1930||12 faculty and 178 9th, 10th and 11th grade students open school|
|1931||First school play: âThe Jade Necklaceâ|
|1931||First school musical: âBelle of Barcelonaâ|
|1931||GAA formed under direction of Miss West|
|June 1932||54 students become first graduating class|
|March 10, 1933||School and tower withstand Long Beach earthquake|
|1934||First school dance held in cafeteria in afternoon|
|1935||Senior Class buys first piece of art, Thomas Huntâs âSnow Sceneâ, as class gift|
|1937||Federal Art Projectâs mosaic murals, âThe Girlsâ by Jean Goodwin and âThe Boysâ by Arthur Ames, are installed in Inner Quad|
|1940||Math wing (5 classrooms) added to main building, cost of $44,470|
|1940||Bell added to tower|
|1941||First Homecoming Dance held at Santa Ana Country Club|
|1942||Football wins first league (Sunset) championship; plays in CIF title game|
|1942||Student Victory Corps established (one job: prepare school for possible air raids and fires)|
|1942-1945||NHHS students raise $50,000 for War Bonds|
|1943||Galleon dedicated to 33 âformer Harbor menâ who had become âa part of our armed forcesâ in World War II|
|1946||First of 21 annual Newport Harbor Art Exhibits takes place in the library; 46 oil and watercolor paintings are added to the Newport Harbor art collection|
|1948||Metal and machine shops constructed|
|1949||Girls Gym and A.H. Fitzpatrick Pool (Old Pool) built|
|1949||Bob Hope broadcasts from NHHS auditorium with Les Brown and his orchestra featuring Doris Day|
|1949||Teen Canteen opened|
|1950||Dodge Hall dedicated|
|1950||NHHS adopts Chonju Senior Boysâ and Senior Girlsâ High Schools in Korea|
|1955||Domestic Home Arts building completed|
|1957||Beek Hall completed|
|1957||Clock added to tower (gift from classes of 1952 through 1956)|
|1958||First CIF Championship: C Swimming|
|1962||Ralph Reed, first NHHS Athletic Director, retires after 32 years at NHHS|
|1963||Female students vote to keep dress/uniform code and add âcivie dayâ|
|1963||Davidson Field dedicated|
|1966||NHHS becomes part of Newport-Mesa Unified School District|
|1966||Girlsâ dress code is eliminated|
|1966||First Advanced Placement Test (English) is taken by NHHS students|
|1967||Boysâ Water Polo wins first of 12 CIF Division 1 Championships (67, 68, 70, 75, 77, 78, 79, 80, 83, 84, 2000)|
|1967||Boysâ Tennis wins first of 3 CIF Championships (67, 70, 71)|
|1969||Governor Ronald Reagan addresses NHHS student body at assembly|
|1971||East Hall (renamed Sims Hall around 1974) completed|
|1972||Band marches in Rose Parade|
|1972||Environmental Nature Center created by NHHS teachers Robert House and John Echtenach|
|1975||NHHS enrollment tops 3,000 students|
|1975||Environmental Nature Center wins Disneyland Community Award (environmental ecology)|
|1978||Band marches in Disneyland Parade celebrating Mickey Mouseâs 50th birthday|
|1979||Major renovation of auditorium completed|
|1979||Girlsâ Volleyball wins first of 7 CIF Championships (79, 87, 94, 97, 98, 99, 03)|
|1980||Over 1,000 alumni attend 50th Anniversary Celebration|
|1980||NHHS ASB begins Adopt-a-Family tradition|
|1984||Girlsâ Cross Country wins AAAA CIF championship|
|1984||PTA holds first Grad Night on campus|
|1984||Heritage Hall opens|
|1985||âChanging Times/Changing Styles: The Ruth Stoever Fleming Collections of Southern California Artâ is published in conjunction with retrospective exhibit|
|1986||NHHS library earns John Cotton Dana International Library Public Relations Award for school and community activities|
|1986||NHHS earns the first California Distinguished School Award|
|1987||Girlsâ Cross Country wins Division II State Championship|
|1988||Girlsâ Cross Country wins Division II State Championship|
|1991||Boysâ Soccer wins CIF Championship|
|1991||Girlsâ Cross Country wins Division III State Championship|
|1992||Girlsâ Volleyball wins first of 4 state championships (92, 94, 98, 99)|
|1993||Girlsâ Track wins first CIF Championship|
|1993||Navigators parentsâ group is founded|
|1994||Football team wins first ever CIF championship game|
|1994||Implementation of the academy program begins (smaller learning community)|
|1995||Newport Harbor Educational Foundation is founded|
|1995||Girlsâ Tennis defeats Peninsula, unbeaten in prior 122 matches|
|1996||Tie in ASB election results in historic co-ASB Presidency (Michael Hoevel and Reagan Roney)|
|1999||NHHS earns California Distinguished School Award|
|1999||Girlsâ Volleyball wins CIF and State Division I championships|
|1999||Boysâ Golf wins first CIF championship|
|1999||Girlsâ Water Polo wins first CIF championship|
|1999||Football wins CIF championship|
|2000/01||Boysâ Water Polo wins CIF championship|
|2000/01||Girlsâ Field Hockey wins league championship and 2nd in Tournament of Champions|
|2000||Plaque dedicated to honor students killed while serving in armed forces in 20th century|
|2000||NHHS earns National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Dept. of Education|
|2000||NHHS receives Digital High School grant|
|2001||First Evening of the Arts showcases performing, visual and culinary student art|
|2001/02||Boysâ Swimming wins CIF championship|
|2002||NHHSâ first website, www.NewportHarborHigh.com, is inaugurated|
|2003/04||Girlsâ Volleyball wins CIF championship|
|2003/04||Girlsâ Field Hockey wins league championship|
|2003/04||Girlsâ Water Polo wins CIF championship|
|2004||Beek Hall is renovated|
|2004||NHHS Culinary Arts team wins 1st Place in the California Restaurant Association statewide culinary competition and 4th Place in the National Competition.|
|2005||California Distinguished School|
|2005||Football Wins CIF|
|2007||Boys Waterpolo Wins CIF|