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History of Sequoia High School, Redwood City

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After Stanford University opened its doors in 1891, the people of this community wanted their children to have an equal opportunity with others to attend this new university, so a group of twenty-one citizens, elected to represent seven elementary school districts, met at the San Mateo County Court House, August 24, 1895, and proceeded with the organization of the Sequoia Union High School. They followed closely the advice of Dr. David Starr Jordan, then the president of Stanford. The first principal selected for Sequoia was David A. Curry, who developed facilities at Yosemite National Park.

After Redwood City had been decided upon as the site for the school, the name Sequoia was chosen as the most fitting to stand for the district as a whole. Sequoia, the name of the great redwood, is named after Sequoyah, the great Cherokee Indian scholar and inventor of the writing system for the Cherokee language.

School opened September 16, 1895 with an enrollment of 53, and as it was the only high school on the Peninsula between Santa Clara and San Francisco, a five-dollar tuition fee was charged to students from outside the district. Classes were held upstairs in the old Central School building, which was razed to permit the construction of the Sequoia Theater, presently the Fox Theater, on Broadway in downtown Redwood City. In 1899 Frank Rossiter, the principal of the Redwood City elementary and grammar school, became the principal of the high school. At that time that building held all the school children of Redwood City as well as the high school students. In 1900 the University of California accredited the school.

In 1904 the High School District constructed a building on Broadway between Middlefield and Jefferson, and except for the reconstruction period after the 1906 earthquake, that building housed Sequoia's students until completion of the present plant in 1924. Immediately this new structure on the present campus was famous for its Spanish renaissance architecture. At the time, its spacious auditorium was the largest theater with modern equipment between San Francisco and San Jose.

S. P. McCrea became Sequoia's third principal in 1905 and A. C. Argo followed as the fourth principal in 1921, a position he held until 1948. A. C. Argo's contribution, and that of the faculty he hired between 1923 and 1945, was not only a modern physical plant for Sequoia High School, but also the expansion of the institution's educational scope. The Bell Tower is named in Mr. Argo's honor.

Sources: The Cherokee Manual, Sequoia Union High School, Second Edition, 1930 and Third Edition, 1941 (A handbook for Sequoians published by the Associated Students of Sequoia Union High School)

National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared by Kent L. Seavey/Preservation Consultant, on behalf of the Sequoia High School Alumni Association, September 1, 1994