About Us


Nearly 27,000 people live in Imperial Beach, the “most southwesterly city in the continental United States.” The city is bordered by the Tijuana Estuary National Wildlife Refuge to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. According to the 2010 census, approximately 36% of the population identifies as white, 49% as Hispanic, 4.4% as African-American, 6.6% as Asian/Pacific Islander, and 4% other ethnicities. The median income in Imperial Beach is $46,574.

School Description and Mission Statement (School Year 2017-2018)

Mar Vista High School: We’re here for each other.  A coastal community honoring equity, integrity, and hard work where we learn to love and love to learn.

In accordance to our mission, we will prepare students to face an array of post-graduation choices through systems of learning distinguished by:

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Meaningful engagement in standards-based curriculum and instruction
  • A comprehensive, embedded network of student support
  • A safe and secure environment for all students
  • Development of critical thinking and academic literacy
  • Access to current technology and training in its effective use
  • A focus on individualized goal setting and reflective planning
  • Increasing global and environmental stewardship
  • Community and familial partnerships


Mar Vista is located in Imperial Beach, California, the “most southwesterly city in the Continental United States,” which occupies just over four square miles.  It is bordered by the Tijuana Estuary National Wildlife Refuge to the south and the Pacific Ocean on the west.  The San Diego Bay and the Silver Strand to Coronado lie to the north, and, just before reaching Interstate 5 to the east, one moves through a small section of South San Diego.  Mar Vista High School’s student population is drawn from both Imperial Beach and South San Diego.

According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), 28,680 people live in Imperial Beach.  In 2010 50% of these residents identified as Latino; 38% identified as white.  Asian/Pacific Islanders comprise nearly 8% of the city’s population.  Just over three per cent of the city’s population is African-American, and Imperial Beach is home to just over 200 Native Americans—less than 1% of the population.  The median household income in Imperial Beach is currently $52,148, while the countywide median household income is substantially higher, at $62,771.  From 2000 to 2010, the population of Imperial Beach declined by approximately 2%, while the population of San Diego County increased by approximately 10%.  In contrast, the demographics of the Mar Vista High School student body reflect the significantly different ethnic composition typical of adjoining South Bay communities.  Currently, 73% of our students identify as Hispanic/Latino, 12% as White (not Hispanic), 6% as two or more races, 4% Filipino, 3% as African American, 1% as Asian/Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American.

Mar Vista High School students enjoy access to a number of local resources including the Tijuana Estuary National Wildlife Refuge and the San Diego Port Authority, and are actively involved in waterfront projects, including lifeguard and retail services on the beach and the YMCA’s Camp Surf, which provides recreational and employment opportunities to families and youth of the community.  The city hosts a number of annual athletic (surfing competitions, triathlons) and cultural events (the Imperial Beach Film Festival, Imperial Beach Chili Cookoff and Jazz Festival).

Built in 1950, Mar Vista High School has an administration building, 62 classrooms (of which 13 are relocatables) a multipurpose room, 2 gymnasiums, a computer lab, two swimming pools, and a library.  Proposition BB, which passed on the November, 2000 ballot, provided funding for extensive renovations of the campus.  Proposition O, which passed in November 2006, provided funding for the total renovation of the administration building and student cafeteria, as well as construction of a student commons.  The ASB offices are located in the new student commons facility.  Construction funded by Proposition O is ongoing. Currently, all working spaces are being upgraded for HVAC.

The staff at Mar Vista High School includes 88.4 certificated and 51 classified personnel.  The school is in compliance with the NCLB requirement that all teachers be highly qualified.  Currently, there are no teachers on the staff on emergency or provisional credentials.  The teaching staff currently has 13 years of experience, on average, and there are only a few first or second year teachers.

The administrative team is comprised of the principal, four assistant principals, and the school psychologist.  This team shares responsibilities for discipline and oversight of facilities, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development.  The school psychologist supervises the Special Education Department, managing the revision of IEP’s and the annual monitoring of students in the program.  The school has 4.6 counselors.  They handle an average load of approximately 350 students and are the bridge between students, school, and home.

Students at Mar Vista have the opportunity to participate in several special programs.  The Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is regularly recognized by the Department of Defense as a Distinguished Honor Unit.  The Specialized Secondary Program Poseidon Academy (marine science emphasis) was recognized with a Golden Bell Award.

Currently, over 55.71% of Mar Vista students qualify for free- and reduced-price lunch.  This is down from 70% just three years ago.  19% of Mar Vista students are designated as English Learners, down from 34% two years ago.   At the same time, the number of Mar Vista students identified as Redesignated English Proficient has increased from 10% three years ago to 29% currently.   Approximately 15% of Mar Vista students are identified as “students with disabilities”, and the school offers appropriate services for students with mild to moderate/severe needs.

Mar Vista High school engages families of students though a variety of means, such as the English Learner Advisory Committee (ELAC) and the School Site Council, on which parents serve.  Mar Vista parent representatives also serve on district-level committees including the District Advisory Committee (DAC), District English Learners Advisory Committee (DELAC), District GATE Committee, and District Curriculum Committee.

Forums for parent input, such as the English Learners Advisory Committee (ELAC) and the School Site Council, which are both legally mandated, help to promote parent involvement.  Parents, students, and the community at large are informed regularly regarding achievement data.  Methods of communication include the School Accountability Report Card, Back-to-School Night, presentations at meetings with parent groups, and the Connect Ed automated calling system.  The 2013-2014 school year brought the implementation of Jupiter Grades, which gives parents access to grade information as well as a wide variety of other information.  Jupiter Grades also provides teachers with messaging capabilities.


The story of any school is essentially the story of its students.  Mar Vista students are diverse.  Their achievements are equally varied.  We are choosing to spotlight three programs that typify the character of our student body.

Mar Vista High School NJROTC:  Our NJROTC unit has been named a United States Navy Distinguished Unit for many years.  The unit has been continuously chosen as one of the top units among the more than 600 NJROTC units in the country.  Every year they compete in several NJROTC field meets in the Southern California area.  The unit always finishes in the top 5% among approximately 60 units in the region.  Daily after school programs include armed and unarmed drill teams, color guard drill, and academic and physical training teams.  During the past six years the unit has been commended for performing an average of 6000 person-hours of community service per year.  NJROTC cadets have volunteered for everything from supporting local sporting events and city-wide cleanups to performing in numerous patriotic ceremonies.  Another component of the unit’s community service consists of organizing and running on-campus blood drives four times a year.  Each year, Mar Vista High School collects more donated blood than any other high school in San Diego County, despite our small/medium size.  Our NJROTC program is authorized to offer Physical Education credit.  NJROTC students have a 90% success rate on the California State Fitness Gram in contrast to a SUHSD district wide success rate of 75%.  Current enrollment in the unit is approximately 200 students, which represents over 10% of the student body.  For the last several years, the UCSD ROTC unit has hosted our unit for a campus tour.  Each year the unit conducts field trips to sites such as the La Brea Tar Pits, the Museum of Natural History, the California Science Center, the Museum of Tolerance, the Queen Mary and USS Iowa ship museums, and various military installations in the region.  Our unit hosts an annual Basic Leadership Training camp for five high school NJROTC units which graduates approximately 125 cadets per year.  Our unit also hosts an aquatic fitness competition at Naval Base Coronado for 15 schools with approximately 350 cadets participating.  Over the past six years, several of our cadets have been nominated to attend service academies while many others have qualified for ROTC scholarships at various institutions.  Distinguished unit alumni include members of all U.S. Military Services,Special Forces, and the Department of Homeland Security.  One of our former unit commanding officers, Lt. Amanda Mathew, holds the distinction of being the first female to command a Combat Logistics Unit in wartime in a combat area.  This is a first in the history of the United States Marine Corps.  Another former unit commander, Cesar Paredes, is a head trainer for the Department of Homeland Security.  He has traveled extensively throughout South America coordinating cross border training with various immigration agencies.  These are just two examples of the caliber of Mar Vista NJROTC cadets.

Mar Vista Aquatics: Our aquatics teams have been very successful over the past six years.  Our boys’ water polo team has won the league championship in five of the last six years.  In 2014, the team was moved to the more challenging Mesa League due to having won too many championships in the South Bay League.  The team won the championship in its new league.  That team also made it further than ever before in the CIF regional tournament.  Its highest previous rank was seventh place, while in 2014, the team reached the finals and ended up second in the region.  The girls’ water polo team has made great improvements over the last six years, winning league championships every year, and earning the title of 2015 CIF Champions.  Many of these young ladies who play water polo are also the same athletes who helped take the 2015 Girls’ Volleyball team to finish CIF runner-up in the tournament. The girls’ and boys’ swim teams have also been highly successful.  Both teams have been league championships for the last five years and has qualified for the CIF championship meet in several events.  Our athletes also do very well academically.  Many have received scholar-athlete awards, have graduated as CSF scholars, and have gone on to colleges and universities to continue their educations.

Ballet Folklorico Nahuatlan was founded at Mar Vista in 1997.  The approximately 80 students who make up this dance group dedicate their time and efforts to promote cultural diversity and awareness of the fine arts.  Ballet Folklorico Nahuatlan participants perform in their community as well as throughout Southern California, presenting with great pride traditional dances from various regions of Mexico.  As dancers, students develop a sense of professional responsibility in preparing their performances, participating in practice sessions, and maintaining their elaborate, traditional costumes.  Students learn about body articulation, kinesthetic communication, and the complicated footwork accompanying the rhythms and melodies of traditional Mexican folkloric music.  The folklorico dance classes are composed primarily of students of Hispanic descent, but African-American and non-Hispanic students participate as well.  This mixture of students from diverse backgrounds has fostered a dance community which showcases respect for others, tolerance of differences, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds.  Dance and the arts help students who struggle to find their place in their school and community.  Ballet Folklorico Nahuatlan has a history of competition success over the past decade, including high placings in regional and state contests as well as regional contests in Mexico.  Ballet Folklorico Nahuatlan students are true ambassadors for Mar Vista High School.

Our students are what make our school outstanding, along with staff members and a leadership team who value the input of all stakeholders.  Therefore, in order to get input from all stakeholders, we surveyed students, parents, and staff with questions regarding Goal 1, Goal 2, and technology.  The survey results influenced discussions held during Faculty Advisory Committee (FAC), School Site Council (SSC), Parent Advisory Committee (MVPAC), English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC), and “Principal’s Advisory Team” (a student participation group).  Once we had our data and notes from discussions, we included our WASC findings to facilitate the creation of our action steps.



The academic program is organized on a rotating block schedule. Seven credits per semester is the maximum course load; students take six 110-minute block classes, and one 35 minute study period. Students attend 3 block classes and one study period class daily. Block classes are year-long; each block class meets every other day. Block scheduling was instituted in 2005.

AP courses are offered in, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, English Language, English Literature, Environmental Science, United States Government, U.S. History, World History, Spanish Literature and Spanish Language. AP is an open-enrollment program.

Honors classes are offered in English 11, English 12, Math Analysis, US History, Physics and Chemistry.
College Programs-The Compact For Success: A guaranteed admissions program between San Diego State University and the Sweetwater Union High School District. Students who meet the Compact for Success requirements ( GPA, coursework, test scores) are guaranteed admission to SDSU.

Grading and Ranking

  • A – Excellent 90 – 100 4.0
  • B – Above 80 – 89 3.0
  • C – Average 70 – 79 2.0
  • D – Below Average 60 – 69 2.0
  • F – Failure 59 or below 0.0

GPA Calculation– GPA is computed using the above quality points. Beginning with grade 9, all subjects, whether passed or failed, are included in the computation. A minimum of 44 credits is required for graduation. In addition to the required 44 credits, each student must complete 30 hours community of service. AP and Honors classes are weighted by one additional point. Grades are recorded on the students transcript and the grade point average is computed in January and June.