Canyon High School celebrated more than just a new school year during Back to School Night Tuesday. From current to former students and staff, hundreds gathered to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary.
“Congratulations, Canyon High School on 50 years,” Principal Shellie Holcombe said to the large crowd that overflowed the school’s performing arts center.
To commemorate the milestone, a two-part program was offered to all attendees. The first half opened with a performance by the Canyon wind ensemble, followed by the theater department, which presented a rendition of Garson Kanin’s “A Gift of Time,” the first play performed at Canyon High in the 1960s. The school’s concert choir, Madrigals and women’s chamber ensemble then sang “What a Wonderful World.”
What had many laughing, clapping and cheering all throughout was a 30-minute video by the Canyon High film production, highlighting the history of the school and what Cowboy pride looks like, as told by those who teach and once studied there.
“Canyon High School is more like a hub for students to become better citizens,” said one teacher at the start of the video with footage of past school events.
Others recalled the “the fresh, new place in a sleepy, little town,” referring to when Canyon High School first opened its doors in 1968 before Canyon Country was recognized as a district within the city of Santa Clarita.
Since then, more than 25,000 students have graduated from the Nadal Street campus, many of whom have emerged as leaders in and outside the community, Holcombe said. To celebrate them, the school recognized 50 of its most influential people, including alumnus and current math teacher and athletic director Derek Rusk.
“I just knew that it was something I wanted to do,” he said, on returning as an educator. “I started teaching here in 2003, and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made. There’s a feeling of family at Canyon High School.”
And many agreed with him, including Holcombe, who said, “When you think about half a decade of students and families that have come to Canyon, gone through Canyon, graduated from Canyon, it’s its own legacy.”
To honor the moment, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste presented Holcombe with a certificate congratulating the school’s 50th anniversary.
“Make 50 more years happen and 100 years more,” Weste said. “This Canyon High School will be as great as it has been…They are as strong as ever, always will be and we are very, very proud.”
The event also featured a car show, a memorabilia walk and more student performances.