(photo by Brandon Wise)

SAMOHI Richard McKinnon laughs when he remembers the day a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman was an hour late dropping off an order for a few Santa Monica High School tennis players, not because of traffic, but rather confusion as to how to enter the campus.

But when McKinnon tells the story, he doesn’t do it with a tone of ridicule, but rather understanding that the institution long known for its academic excellence doesn’t really have any markers along its campus to let the greater community know of its physical existence.

More than a year after the ill-fated pizza delivery, freshly painted signs identifying the campus as “Samohi” have appeared throughout its once bare-naked walls, part of a campaign by the school community to show some pride.

A group of parents, students and school officials who worked over the past six weeks to transform the campus gathered at the Roberts Art Gallery on Monday to celebrate the conclusion of their project, which launched in conception shortly after the pizza incident.

“What became clear is that nobody knew where Samohi was,” McKinnon, a school parent, said.

The project involved painting signs and placing banners at 11 different locations across the campus, including at each of its entrances, covering more than 2,500 square feet. Some of the locations for the blue and yellow signs include the corner of Fourth Street and Pico Boulevard and the Sixth Street entrance.

The Samohi Parent Teacher Student Association provided funding for the project, which was estimated to cost several thousand dollars.

“We are in the process of changing the culture of the school we have pride in,” Samohi Principal Dr. Hugo Pedroza said.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is also in the process of structurally enhancing its secondary schools using Measure BB construction bond money, covering improvements to Samohi, which has been equally known for its academics and sub-standard educational facilities.

The high school celebrates its centennial in 2013.

“We wanted to know what we could do now to affect the campus for students today,” Elizabeth Stearns, the Samohi PTSA president, said.

Interim Superintendent Tim Cuneo said the high school can be difficult to identify for strangers, mentioning a story he heard from another community member who read the “Home of the Vikings” plastered on the side of a building but didn’t know what that meant.

“The signs help identify and recognize the fine work in this institution,” Cuneo said.

Approximately six banners that will hang over fences and Barnum Hall are expected to be delivered and placed sometime this week, completing the transformation.

“We’re making the school more united, that as students we had put in (work) to let everyone know we’re Samohi,” said Alexis Cornejo, a junior and member of the Associated Student Body.


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