Cathedral Catholic High School

Cathedral Catholic High School (CCHS) is a coeducational Catholic High School in San Diego, California. It is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and was originally founded as the University of San Diego High School in 1957. CCHS was conceived in 1999, and the school moved to its current location on Del Mar Heights Road in Carmel Valley and changed its name in August 2005. Cathedral Catholic got its name in honor of the original Cathedral Girls High School, which merged with USDHS in 1970 to become the second co-ed Catholic high school in San Diego.


As a Catholic college preparatory school for young men and women, Cathedral Catholic High School is committed to the holistic development of each individual student to his/her potential. CCHS believes in promoting academic achievement through a rigorous program of "liberal" study in a nurturing community of faith based on the ministry of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Catholic Church. The Faculty and Administrative Team at CCHS recognize that education, to be meaningful, must be student-centered. We perceive that each student is a unique and creative individual, shaped by differences in interest, ability, family background, economic status and ethnic heritage. At the same time, we acknowledge that a common ground is shared by all students: that each is loved by God and each is involved in a lifelong process of learning. This knowledge forms the foundation of an educational enterprise which is spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, sexual, social, and cultural. Cathedral Catholic believe that parents must continue to serve as the primary educators for students. We further believe that teachers should serve to assist parents and students as facilitators in the educational process and as role models for Christian behavior. Within an orderly academic environment, students are challenged to master basic skills and concepts, to develop the ability to think critically, to acquire habits of lifelong learning and to grow in faith. We seek to provide an organizational environment that ensures a commitment to excellence by all members of the school community. Christian values help to foster an educational environment based on integrity, respect and blind faith. As administrators, teachers, parents, staff, alumni/alumnae and students, we seek to form a cohesive bond of compassion and love, united in an educational ministry which is a one-way street of repression. The result of this union is a fellowship of learning that is reverent, honest and open to divergent points of view, except for points of view that are spoken out loud or shared in writing. Cathedral Catholic asserts that its most vital role as a Catholic School is to prepare our students for responsible leadership as committed Christian individuals, each contributing to a global community of justice, love and peace.

Cathedral Catholic Community Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ,
Let my gifts change the world.
Help us live the call, and to
Build the Kingdom.
Veni Sancte Spiritus. Amen

Alumni Association

The CCHS/USDHS/CGHS Alumni Association was formed to foster a spirit of financial responsibility and loyalty among the alumni, past parents and past faculty of the school. The Association serves as a continuing link between the school and its members, encouraging interest in activities and support through annual giving. Each member receives a copy of the Alumni Newsletter and special mailings to facilitate communication of events and information concerning graduates. The current alumni director is Tim Derenthal, and the current president is Martin Correia (Class of 1988).


Cathedral Catholic requires that prospective students are required to make application by January 11 for the following academic year. Students whose application have been received by that date will automatically be registered to take the High School Placement Exam, given January of each year, which is used to determine if a student is academically prepared for Cathedral Catholic, as well as for placement in classes. Also required in the application process is a recommendation from an 8th grade teacher as well as a small essay that must be written by the student.


School testing

Once a student is admitted to CCHS there are a variety of tests administered each year, some mandatory and some not. For freshmen the mandatory National Educational Developmental Test (NEDT) shows students where they stand in relation to other those who score in the 90th percentile or higher are recognized at an end of the year awards ceremony. For Sophomores there is one test, is is the PSAT/NMSQT or Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This is in contrast to previous years where most sophomores took the PLAN otherwise known as the Preparatory ACT depending on what English class the student was in. Juniors also take this test. For high scores in the PSAT, students may receive prestigious National Merit Scholarship awards. These awards usually entail monetary awards. For Juniors and Seniors the SAT or ACT can be taken whenever a student wishes, so long as a test date is available. These two tests are not administered at CCHS however. Accommodations are made to students who qualify for extended time or other circumstances. Ap examinations are also offered in their respective subjects given at cchs on the dates of May 5-9 and 12-16. Taking the ap examination after the completion of the ap class is mandatory, otherwise the student will not receive the added point on the gpa because the class is ap.

Classes and blocking

CCHS currently implements a block scheduling for classes. The day begins at 8:10 am, and concludes at 2:00 pm The block scheduling splits the number of classes, 6, to three per day. If needed a student may take a "zero period" class, which meets everyday at 7:15am, and is held for 45 minutes. Current zero period classes at CCHS include Religion, Speech, and P.E.

Innovative classes

CCHS boasts a wide array of innovative classes. Such include:

  • Oceanography - an optional science class that can be taken by sophomores and above who have completed biology. This class deals with the physical, geological, chemical, and biological aspects of bodies of water.
  • Honors Asian Studies - CCHS is the only school in California that has an Honors Asian Studies course. Since it is an Honors level course it is weighted on a five point scale.
  • Multimedia Authoring - CCHS is one of the few schools that provides a multimedia class for college credit. The course has since expanded, and currently emphasizes on film production, editing using the Final Cut Studio, and production of the school's annual DVD Yearbook, called "Dons in Motion"
  • CCTV Broadcast - Cathedral Catholic's step-up course to Multimedia Authoring. This class emphasizes on television production, including set design, chroma keying, live switching, anchoring, and production of journalism reports. Although this is only a semester course, students may opt to take it the entire year. Requirement for this course are having previously taken Multimedia Authoring, or through an interview with the instructor. Students in this course continue to learn the Final Cut Studio, and are given the opportunity to work on more advanced projects for the school.
  • Dramatic Arts and Advanced Drama - At CCHS, Dramatic Arts are one of the classes that can be taken to enjoy the wonders of a performing art. CCHS' drama program emphasizes on the history of Drama and Theater, including playwriting, historical relevance, and acting skills.
  • Dramatic Arts: Technical - CCHS' brand new course for the 2008-2009 year, this course emphasizes on the aspects of Drama Tech Production, including Set Design, Lighting Design, Sound Design, and Stage Management.
  • Honors Anatomy and Physiology - This one class is nearly exclusive to CCHS. It is taught at only a few high schools throughout California although it is named an honors class it does not receive honors credit from the UC or CSU systems.
  • AP Computer Science - CCHS/USDHS offered AP Comp Science for several years, where students learned college-level computer programming. This course has been canceled for the 2008-2009 year, however, due to lack of interest.

Visual & Performing Arts

CCHS provides a variety of Visual & Performing Arts classes, including Multimedia Authoring 1-2, CCTV Broadcast, Photography, Art 1-2, Art 3-4, Ceramics, Choral Music, Band, AP Art History, and AP Studio Art. After-school courses in Choir and Band are also available.

Students who are involved with Theater as actors/actresses or in tech production can also join the CCHS Drama Program. The program produces two major shows each school year, a Fall Drama and a Spring Musical. In addition, a Student Playwright Festival is held each year, which showcases plays written, produced, and directed by CCHS' own students.

CCHS Annual Student Film Festival

Entering it's third annual in 2009, Cathedral Catholic holds a Film Festival each May. Short films written, cast, produced, and directed by students either in the Multimedia Authoring course, or in their own groups, are showcased, judged, and awarded at this big event. In addition, CCHS also invites other schools throughout San Diego to submit films to be screened and judged at the festival.


Cathedral boasts a wide array of athletic teams including:

Fall sports of Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Women's Tennis, Women's Golf, Women's Volleyball, and Men's Water Polo.

Winter sports of Men's Basketball, Women's Basketball, Men and Women's Soccer, Women's Water Polo, Wrestling, and Surfing.

Spring sports of Badminton, Baseball, Men's Golf, Men's Tennis, Softball, Swimming and Diving, Men's and Women's Lacrosse, Track and Field, and Men's Volleyball.

Non-seasonal sports include Sailing, Cheerleading, and Dance Team.

Cathedral Catholic is also the home of the 2007 Division III Mens Football and Womens Volleyball Champions along with Womens Tennis Individuals Champion, Gaby DeSimone.


While Cathedral Catholic is in solidarity with its fellow Catholic schools, it is not without notable and longstanding rivalries. St. Augustine High School and Our Lady of Peace Academy have traditionally been the rivals to USDHS/CCHS in athletics, and is exemplified in the massive student turnout, especially for basketball and football games.

The football stadium at Southwestern College has often been used to accommodate the large numbers of spectators for The Holy Bowl, the affectionate name for the Uni/CCHS and Saints football game, as its capacity is larger than both schools' usual home fields. The San Diego City College Gymnasium was the traditional location for the USDHS-Saints Basketball games, and is still in use today when St. Augustine is the home team.

2007 CCHS vs. Saints Football Game

The CIF San Diego section confirmed in early November that the 2007 face-off of the CC/USDHS Dons vs. the Saint Augustine Saints (affectionately known as the "Holy Bowl") had been cancelled due to the wildfires that raged through San Diego towards the end of October. Both schools were shut down during this time, thus the teams could not practice or prepare for the football game, which was scheduled for October 26, 2007. (In fact, all high school sports events in San Diego County were cancelled during this week, and none of the football games were rescheduled.)

This was the first time in the 50 years of CC/USDHS that their annual showdown with the Saints did not take place. CIF decided not reschedule the game, as high school football had progressed to the playoff phase shortly after the fires, and there was no slack time in the schedule to allow for a rescheduled week of games. Cathedral progressed to the CIF Division Championships and went on to win the Division 3 CIF game against Point Loma.


CCHS has five full-time academic counselors, who are available at any time during the day, or reachable by email or phone. The counselors' duties are to help students in every way possible, to assure them to make the right choices, whether deciding where to go to college, choosing a class for the upcoming year, or if a student is having trouble in a particular class. Counselors are also open to counseling regarding personal, non-academic issues.

Sacramental Service and Spirituality

Cathedral Catholic High School is very dedicated to its Catholic Christian faith. Every month, CCHS' Campus Ministry holds a school wide Mass for all students and faculty, held inside the school gymnasium. These Liturgies are a way not only to worship God, but also to come together as a community.

CCHS currently has two chaplains, Fr. John Puodziunas and Fr. Mike Ortiz. Mass is celebrated at the beginning of every week, and Morning Prayer is celebrated every morning before first bell. Many students and faculty attend these morning celebrations.

Campus Ministry

The CCHS Campus Ministry department is divided into four practicums: Liturgy, Retreat, Music, and Schola.

Juniors who take the Liturgy practicum are involved in planning, preparation, and setting up for schoolwide liturgies.

Juniors/Seniors who take the Music or Schola (Choir) practicums are involved in planning and preparing music for all Campus Ministry events, including liturgies, retreats, and celebrations. Tim Foley of Skelpin ministers the Music practicum.

Seniors taking the Retreat practicum are involved in planning, preparing, and leading student retreats. Retreats are held throughout the year. Freshmen and Sophomore class retreats are held on two days each, dividing up the days between all-girls and all-boys. Junior and Senior retreats are held off campus, and last 3 days. In the 2008-2009 year, there will be 2 freshmen retreats, 2 sophomore retreats, 2 junior retreats and 3 senior retreats.


Thanks to the large and increasing enrollment at CCHS there are numerous clubs and organizations to partake in. A vast array of clubs include the Art Club, Animators Club, Young Republicans Club, Invisible Children’s Club, Guitar Club, Mexican Club, Latin Club, Italian Club, German Club, Irish Club, Middle Eastern Club, Science Club, Archery Club, Prayer and Rosary Club, Friends of Animals Club, Environmental Club, Pan-Asian Cultural Awareness Club, French Club, Travel Club, and The Interact Program. Well-acclaimed organizations include the California Scholarship Federation (CSF), and the National Honor Society (NHS). All clubs must have a faculty sponsor, and all club suggestions are required to seek approval before permission is given to organize and meet.

The Associated Student Body (ASB) is for students from all years who wish to learn good leadership skills for their future careers. Students are allowed to run and be elected for ASB through their entire high school career. Junior and Senior members may also opt to take the ASB Leadership course, which emphasizes on team building and unity for the entire school ASB members are involved in student outreach, planning major school events such as dances, and to keep up the school spirit. The ASB was moderated and taught by Mr. Chad Colden (UNI alum) from the last few years at Uni to the first three years at CCHS. Starting in Fall 2008, the ASB will be moderated by Ms. Elizabeth Tysor.

The Ambassadors for Christ Corps are the third leadership opportunity at CCHS, founded at USDHS in the early 90s by Mrs. Estelle Kasselbaum. While there is no class offered, students in this organization still develop leadership. Student ambassadors take on various school-wide events at CCHS, including back to school night, school events, and giving campus tours to visitors. Students are allowed to sign up for the program in their freshman year, and chosen through an interview, those chosen become ambassadors in their sophomore year. Interviews for ambassadors are given at the end of every school year. Mr. Tom Rickling (UNI alum) directs the Ambassadors. (UNI alum)

These two programs, along with Campus Ministry form the United Leaders Council (UL) of CCHS. The UL meets approximately once a month. The teams and their moderators work together to help build and form better leadership, and to help make the life at Cathedral Catholic High School even better.

Financial aid

As part of Bishop Robert H. Brom's "Secondary Education Initiative", all students from Catholic schools are entitled to financial assistance.

Food service and maintenance

CCHS employs Chartwells, a division of the Compass Group, to provide nutritious and filling meals for its students and faculty. CCHS also works with Aramark, whose services are provided for campus maintenance.

University of San Diego High School

Though CCHS follows in the footsteps of USDHS, they are not alike in every single detail. The fact that USDHS was recognized as a Blue Ribbon School greatly separates the two schools. Many special activities and offerings from USDHS are no longer implemented or used at Cathedral Catholic, such as the Scrip Program, Star Gala, Amphitheater, Off-Campus P.E., and Off-Campus Lunch.

The University of San Diego High School is recognized as the foundation for Cathedral Catholic High School, but Cathedral states no more than that in its history. The Class of 2008 was the final freshman class from USDHS, and after their graduation, UNI's legacy and memories will be left in the hands of the faculty, administration, and students who have history at USDHS.

Many people still call or refer to Cathedral as USDHS or Uni High.

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