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SuHi Alumni Association
History Page
Sweetwater Union High School is rich in pride and tradition dating back to 1882!  Some traditions have lived and died and once again rekindled.  Some traditions have stood the test of time, some just born yesterday, and still others are yet to be established.

The objective of this page is to capture the history and tradition of ol' SuHi and reveal facts and truths about Red Devils, Sweeties and all members of the SuHi family. 

The photos and facts on this page came from the National City Public Library Local History Room, past editiions of the SuHi News, Star News, and National City News, SuHi Red and Gray Yearbooks, SuHi Alumni, and other sources. 

We would like to remind you not to throw away any souvenirs or memorabilia.  The Local History Room in the National City Library welcomes donations of photos, journals, diaries, documents, souvenirs, memorabilia, heirlooms, or any other materials to preserve today's and yesterday's life and culture.  This is how tradition and memories are passed on! 

If you have a bit of SuHi history or photographs you would like to share, please email the webmaster at
[email protected].  Photos and information will be added to this website on a continual basis, anytime we are made aware of it. 

Research for this site was done by Maria Graham, SuHi class of 1996, with the help of Mary Allely at the National City Public Library.  Thank you, Ms. Allely for your assistance!
Did You Know...
Source: 100 Years of Education...National School District 1871-1971 [pg.10]  Courtesy of the NCPL Local History Room
...National School was the area's first high school and was built in 1882 near the present site of Central Elementary School at 9th Street and E Avenue... 
Source: 100 Years of Education...National School District 1871-1971 [pg.10]  Courtesy of the NCPL Local History Room
...National City High School was built in 1908 around that same location, where Central Elementary School now stands and the old National School was then used as a grammar school...
Source: Red and Gray Yearbook, National City High School 1919  Courtesy of NCPL Local History Room
...To accomodate the growing population of high school students, Sweetwater Union High School was built in 1921 at 2900 Highland Avenue.  The 100 building was originally a two-story building with the library upstairs.  After an earthquake caused severe damage it was rendered unsafe and now it is only one story.  This picture was probably taken sometime in the 1920s. 
Source: 1971 Yearbook (Picture taken around the 1920's)
Source: San Diego Historical Society Archives
Source: San Diego Historical Society Archives
Editorial from the Red and Gray Yearbook 1921

Salutamus Te Morituram
(We Salute You as You Perish)
Dorothy Schurch, '22
     Thirteen years have rolled around since the founding of National High.  Thirteen successive classes have now passed from beneath her archway; the time has now come when her old walls can no longer enclose her growing numbers; to this truth, the citizens have awakened; and the construction of the Sweetwater Union High will begin in the near future.
     With the passing of this year's class, the fulfillment of our school's duties as National High will draw to a close.  But the termination is in name only; for her memories will live in the minds of those whose fortune it has been to spend even a few years within her walls.
     National High has ranked with the highest in every respect.  In sports, in dramatics, in debating, and in scholarship, her name has not been unknown, despite the lack of many modern conveniences and the small size of the student body.  Although the climb to the summit has been hard, since accommodations have been lacking, and innumerable the obstacles making difficult the ascension; have not those who have reached the heights been the better equipped to undertake the task that is hard but worth while, and to over come the seemingly impossible problems that they must face when once out in the world?
     After all, the qualities and the personalities of the pupils bestow fame and bring home honors in later years.  Although our school may seem unknown and insignificant, can we apply those qualities to its members?  We believe not.
     It is our wish, of course, that the name "Sweetwater Union High" will become renowned and be connected with the names of famous men and women.  But though "National High" remains forever unknown to the outside world, her name is immortal to all who have known and loved her.  Her name, like that of a dear friend who is gone, will grow even dearer with time; her worth will appear more impressive with the passing of each year; and the love we hold for National High will never perish.
"Farewell! a word that must be, and hath been.  A sound which makes us linger; yet--farewell!"
Source: 1971 SuHi Yearbook
Excerpt from the picture above
...The lamp was presented to Sweetwater by the graduating class of 1922.
SuHi Red Devil
...Sweetwater athletic teams changed their official nickname from the SuHi "Sweeties" to the "Red Devils" in 1932. 
Source: Red and Gray Yearbook 1929 Courtesy of NCPL Local History Room
Photo taken by Alma Graham at the SuHi Band Room Dedication
...Harlan Skinner, former SuHi Band Director, was starting guard for the 1928-29 Sweetwater Varsity basketball team.  For his service as SuHi Band Director, the building was named after him in 1992 and is now known as the Harlan Skinner Music Center.  Mr. Skinner died October 11, 2001, leaving behind a legacy of musical inspiration in National City and the Sweetwater High School District.
...The Mr. Sweetwater scholarship was initiated in 1982 in honor of Mr. Wilbur Bradley, known for his dedication to Sweetwater and his radiant SuHi Pride, which has made a lasting impression on SuHi.

Words from the dedication in the 1982 yearbook:
Almost four hundred years ago, a man wrote about the death of his friend: "He was not of an age, but for all times." Al- though this was written for the poet William Shakespeare, it is also true about the man we dedicate this yearbook to.
" His death this past August ended an era at SuHi.  He would entertain us on the uke with his original compositions like 'Chew, Chew Chula.'  These were to spur up the Red Devils to victory.  Last year the Red Devils Football team presented him with a team cap at the Homecoming game and he knelt down and bowed to them.

The Senior Class of 1981 gave him his own 'Mr. Sweetwater' letterman jacket at last June's assembly.  According to his sons, both SuHi graduates, he treasured that jacket.  At their suggestion a scholarship fund was established and this June we will have the 1st 'Mr. Sweetwater Scholarship.'  We remember our friend and the happiness he brought into our lives.  He was a very special man; and as Shakespeare said: '...I shall not look on his like again.'
...SuHi's Football field, Hudgins Field is named for Guy Hudgins, the first Principal of Sweetwater Union High School who served from 1921-1932.  The 1923 yearbook has this dedication to of Mr. Hudgins:
Courtesy of National City Public Library Local History Room
"   We wish to express our appreciation to our able Principal and Executive, Mr. Guy Hudgins, who weighs all things in an even balance, and whose tireless efforts to advance and to dignify our school have found hearty support and cooperation from every thinking citizen of the District.  He is a true friend and fatherly adviser of every member of our Student Body. "
..."Senior Ditch Day" at National City High School and Sweetwater Union High School used to be accompanied by one class teacher and described in that year's yearbook including pictures from the event.  Now that's a tradition with some moderation but well preserved to this day!  The following are excerpts from the Red and Gray Yearbooks from 1917 and 1919 describing the annual event.  The old language alone is entertaining to read!
Senior Ditch Day
Lena Damren, '17
Senior Ditch Day
Ernestine Adams, '19
    No doubt the most fun, however was had May 3, 1917, Senior Ditch Day.  Leaving the library about 9:00 in the morning, the class and one class teacher motored to La Jolla for the day, arriving about 10:30.  Swimming, tennis, and numerous other sports that go to make up a jolly good day at the beach, were enjoyed by all.  A large battery of kodaks was on hand, consequently the happenings of the day were well recorded...
     It is very unnecessary to tell you that out class is right there when it comes to making the most of things.  If it were not, I am afraid that our senior ditch day would not be worth telling about.
     We all loaded into machines and started for La Jolla in the best of spirits.  Jokes, laughs, and songs made the journey more complete, and also make people open their eyes with considerable wonder when we flew by.  Of course, we did not mind this, because one look at us and our purple and gold ribbons, which were flying in the breeze, explained everything.
     Immediately after our arrival at the beach, amusements were sought.  The water appeared to be quite an attraction and many were the gay caps and suits that emerged from the depths every once in a while.  Shrieks of mirth floated to other parts of the beach where crowds were gathered to enjoy themselves.  With the assistance of a nickel the player-piano did its duty while those who cared to join in a dance.  Girls and boys together bowled, and I heard that the girls usually won.
     At 1:00 P.M. the crowd gathered on the cliffs for the "eats".  You can not realize the fun that we had.  Sandwiches, pickles, bananas, oranges, cakes, and a treat of ice cream by Mr. Blount, filled us to the brim.  In order to show you many of the sports that were enjoyed several cameras were taken along and employed.  Did you see the one of our class president wearing off a high bluff in a grand slide?  As it was very awkward to say the least, he was very much "fussed".  Food was flying in all directions.  So was the dust.  People scattered when they saw what was coming and then all stood back and nearly split their sides with laughter.  Mr. Blount controlled himself enough to take a snapshot of the scene.
     Once more the crowd gathered at the pavilion to dance, bowl, play pool, and sit at the tables, devouring ice cream and gossiping.  Some went to the La Jolla playgrounds and joined in games of tennis.  Once more the cool ocean water was enjoyed and many who could not endure to hear the screams sought refuge in the caves.
     After everybody had their fill of a good time, the home journey was started.  We certainly were a tired and sunburned crowd.  Each machine load had the pleasure of enjoying some special event, but it would take too long to tell about them all.  You probably wonder how so many things could happen in one short May day, but cheer up, my dear, you will be a senior some day, and then you will understand.  Here's hoping that you have the luck enough to have as well-liked and faithful a class teacher as Mr. Blount has proven to be for the class of '17 these last three years.
                                            From the Diary
                                                   of the
                                                March Hare
(One day's observations in my study of the group of human students known as the Senior Class of National High School.)
     March 7, 1919, 8:00 A.M. -- Arrived at a place called the City Limits and observed a number of automobiles and humans carrying numerous parcels of food, coming in from all directions and collecting at the curb.
     8:30 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. --Rode several miles out into the country past Hygeia Springs, on the top of the first machine, where I had taken up my station in order to remain with the party.  Stopped once on the road to wait for the other machines.  The humans got out.  Some boys, and a red-headed girl named Marvin, took some snapshots.  A tall boy executed a graceful dance, proclaiming in a sweet voice, that "Spring is here!" and allowed the red-haired girl to photograph him against a blossoming peach tree.
     Passed Mr. Spafford's machine, which had just had a blowout.  Arrived at a good picnic ground, where some of the students proceeded to play ball and to break Mr. Safford's windshield.  I was curious to know who this unfortunate man, Spafford, might be, and soon discovered that he was the official chef.  After he had cooked beans and made coffee, the students ate luncheon, all finally gathering around one girl and yelling with great enthusiasm, "Hey Merna!  Gimme some of that cake!  Oh-h-h!  Yum, Yum!"
     Mr. Colburn, the erstwhile exponent of nature interpretive dancing, entertained with a spectacular high dive into the creek.  A number of the students got up a game of ball; others climbed hills and hunted wild flowers.  I observed a group of them being initiated by Mrs. Spafford into the mysteries of mumble-peg.  Some of the venerable Seniors revived the days of their youth by jumping rope, in which accomplishment Miss Boulette proved her superiority by jumping "pepper" faster than anyone else.  Late in the afternoon, Mr. Petermann, with a company of fellow-explorers, discovered and killed a larger rattlesnake.  They were snapshotted with the trophy, and then skinned it. 
     One called John, who was, by the way, quite a power among the girls that day, and a group of fellow-students, were compelled to return home early in the evening because of business appointments.  The rest of the party went on to a place called Honey Springs and then a long way past it, but came back after a vain search for the springs.  An obliging chap, named Brainard, opened and closed all the gates. 
     Encamped by a bridge which spanned a shallow river.  The humans built a fire, roasted wienies and ate them with buns.  They sat around the fire, rested, and gazed at the moon.  Chef Spafford executed a spirited toe-dance around the fire, closely followed by his understudy, Brainard, both shouting and yelling in a peculiar manner, by which, I knew, they meant to imitate Indians.
     The students put out their fire and prepared to return home.  Their Ditch day--Ah, wonderful day!  when books and blackboards are forgotten, which comes but once in the lifetime of mortal students--was over.
...The Alumni Association can trace its roots to 1919...
...The 1919 yearbook describes the first Alumni Association and the adoption of its constitution at the 1st Alumni Banquet for National City High School on June 15, 1918 at 6:30pm. 

President:                 Richard Allen
Vice-President:         Eunice Harris
Secretary:                 Alice Crandall
Treasurer:                 Donald Burnham
Director:                   Harold Requa

Honorary Members:  Mr. Martin
                                 Mr. Seymour

All members paid their dues of 10 cents.
...The 1960 Alumni Association, according to the 9/28/60 SuHi news, was comprised of the following members:

President:                 Bill Sumpter '35
Secretary:                 Helen Rice '50
Treasurer:                Jeanie Johnson '50
Ticket Sales:             Libby Flegal '50
...The first nominating convention at SuHi was held May 18, 1961 and was started in order to give SuHi students an idea of how our political system worked, and a chance to participate in the proceedings for electing A.S.B. leaders.
...The first GradNite for Disneyland was in 1960.  It is described in the SuHi news as a chance to be among the first to ride the Monorail and a new event for Disneyland.  The cost was $6 plus $2.20 for transportation. 
...The Inter-Club Council, or ICC was formed in 1960 to organize and link the various clubs on campus. 
...The Red Rebels were first formed by the class of 1995.  They are a group of wild and crazy guys dressed in red tights and wild outfits who run around during pep assemblies to excite the crowd and fuel the Red Devil Spirit.  They get the crowd going every time with crazy stunts, squirt guns, tossing candy and hilarious dance routines. You've gotta see it to believe it!
...The Link Crew was also started by the class of 1995 under the leadership of Ms. Marieanne Perrault.  It is a buddy program that links every incoming freshman with a senior link crew leader for a day of orientation and a year of success at Sweetwater High School.  Link Crew Seniors help their freshman by giving them a tour of SuHi, teaching them the Alma Mater, getting their books, showing them their classes and offering them the guidance they need to start high school with confidence. 
... Following the September 11th Tragedy, SuHi ASB students launched a fundraiser selling navy blue t-shirts with the U.S. Flag across the front to raise money for relief efforts and Firefighters in New York.  The students sold 16,000 t-shirts in the first 2 months.  The entire county took notice and schools throughout the county and state faxed in orders to participate in the fundraiser.  It was an experience that united the community and inspired the children.  They created something huge and the fruits of their labor benefited fellow americans in need.  In March 2002 the students flew to New York City to present $83,000 to the New York City Fire Department following the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  The students viewed ground zero first hand, visited the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and caught a Broadway play among other activities.  Sweetwater High School A.S.B. and donations paid for the air fare. 
...The National City High School Alma Mater was written by Paul Springer in 1916.

Alma Mater

Here's to our N.C.H.S. dear,
Here's to the flag she flies
Here's to her sons the best on earth
Here's to her daughters wise,
Here's to success in future years
Here's to our banner above.
Here's to our lives within these walls,
And teachers and school we love.


Oh N.C.H.S. kind and true
  Thy sons shall ne'er forget;
The golden lessons they have learned,
  Will live around us yet.
Those joyous days may come again,
  But through the passing years,
Each thought of you, so good, so true,
  Shall full our eyes with tears.
...The Sweetwater Union High School Alma Mater was written by Seebold in 1922, arranged by Parker.

Alma Mater

Our lamp glows bright,
Our colors wave on high.
Eternal praise, to our school,
Old SuHi.
Allegiance pledged,
Our service, gladly give.
Where e'er we may roam
In our hearts, SUHI LIVES!