Cover Stories

The San Marcos High School Class of 2015 Wraps Up a Year to Remember

photos by Dawn at Nicoli Productions

The Knight’s Realm

The students and staff of San Marcos High School (SMHS) hold true to a strong tradition of supporting each other. Seniors from the Class of 2015 are proud to call themselves Knights – they credit the atmosphere of encouragement and acceptance for allowing them to fulfill their potential and achieve their post-graduation goals. As the end of the year draws near, the weeks are filling up with exciting events from bowling to ice skating to a day at the fair to the long-anticipated milestone of graduation itself. Principal Tiffany Campbell-Cunfare, several teachers, and SMHS seniors took a moment amidst the festivities to share their experiences and expectations with 92078 Magazine.smhs_teachers

Q&A with Principal Tiffany Campbell-Cunfare

Can you describe your experience so far as principal of SMHS?
Being principal of SMHS is really like being the mayor of a small city. Fortunately I have a strong team surrounding me which makes leading the school much easier. Yes, it is busy and a lot of work, but in so many ways it is a dream position. Our students are stellar, our teachers are great, and our community is very supportive.

When did you first join the SMHS administration?
I started in San Marcos in the 2006-2007 school year as an assistant principal at SMHS. In 2013 I became the principal of San Marcos Middle School. I returned this January as the principal of SMHS.

smhs_selfieWhat is the most rewarding part of your role? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part is when I am able to visit classrooms and see the stellar work that students are accomplishing. We are producing well-rounded, socially conscious, critical thinkers who will graduate from us ready to tackle the many issues that our world faces. In that way, we educators at SMHS are helping to save the world, one student at a time!

The most challenging? Simply managing an institution as large as this one. We have over 2,700 students and are steadily growing. Ensuring that their needs are met, that our staff is supported and ready to instruct them, that the facility and environment are safe and in good repair, and that our community feels welcome and informed – it is a large and challenging job.


smhs_cunfarePrincipal At-A-Glance

Name: Tiffany Campbell-Cunfare
Education: BA English/BA Education, MA English/MS Educational Leadership
Hobbies: Writing, hiking
Community: Oceanside
Family: Husband and a six-year-old daughter
Favorite Things About SMHS: Our community of students and staff


What can you share with us about the Class of 2015?
The Class of 2015 is unique in that they are the final class to have experienced all three iterations of San Marcos High School. They were students at the original campus, the interim campus, and now our gorgeous new facility. Being witness to that gives them a unique perspective on the school and the traditions that we hold dear to SMHS.

smhs_cunfarewickHow would you characterize the graduating seniors as a group?
Academic achievers that are also a fun and spirited group.

Are there any traditions or activities that are unique to SMHS?
Our graduation ceremony is quite unique. When our students come to us as freshmen, they become Knights by touching our Sword in the Stone at the first assembly of the year. At graduation they each proceed in and touch the Sword in the Stone once again to signify their achievement and their exit from the Knight’s realm. Our graduation ceremony also includes the reading of our “Legend of the Knight” that is accompanied by a knight riding a real horse around the field.

smhs_cunfarecampbellWhat are you looking forward to with the end of the school year?
The graduation ceremony on June 17!

What advice would you give the graduating seniors?
High school was a great training ground for the next step in their lives, but from here on out, the decisions they make and the actions they take will be purely their own. Become fully aware of who you are and who you want to be as a person – envision the life that you want to lead and commit to the actions that will get you there.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers of 92078 Magazine?
Simply that I am proud that I have been blessed to lead San Marcos High School. I believe that we truly have the best students, teachers, staff, and community in North County! I will end as I end all our communications, thank you and Gooooo Knights!

smhs_stoutQ&A with Brady Stout, Ceramics and Sculpture Teacher

What have been some of your favorite memories of the Class of 2015, or the past school year?
I enjoy the laidback yet conscientious vibe of this year’s senior class. We had a great time listening to music while learning life lessons from clay. It was a record-setting year for the Empty Bowl Project, a fundraiser that the ceramics department hosts every year. My seniors raised $5,400 for local San Diego Food Banks by selling their bowls at this annual charity event.

What makes SMHS stand out for you?
There is a mutual respect between students and teachers and an open, accepting atmosphere on campus. Our students, teachers, and administrators are all very proud to be Knights, and it is demonstrated every day in the classroom, on the sporting fields, and in every corner of our school.

smhs_campbellQ&A with Scott Campbell, English Language Arts Teacher

What have been some of your favorite memories of the Class of 2015, or the past school year?
My favorite memories of the Class of 2015 have been watching these students grow into young adults. I’ve had some of these students since they were sophomores and it is satisfying to know that they are ready to take the big step into adulthood when they leave SMHS.

In terms of a specific story, the day my former student and current senior Robert Mahoney came into my classroom after school and thanked me for helping him achieve his goal of being accepted into the Air Force Academy was a moment that I will never forget. I will always appreciate the Class of 2015 for their school spirit, willingness to work hard, and their wide-ranging perspective about life and what is important as they move into the future.

What makes SMHS stand out for you?
The best part of working at SMHS is the fact that I get to work with excellent administrators, teachers, and students on a daily basis. There is a positive culture at SMHS that starts from the top and spreads to every part of our school, from the academics to student participation to extracurricular activities.

smhs_donohueQ&A with Kristi Donohue, English Teacher, Yearbook Advisor, and Varsity Softball Assistant Coach

What have been some of your favorite memories of the Class of 2015, or the past school year?
I have a large map of the United States on the wall inside my classroom. Periodically my seniors will come to me and ask for pins to put onto my map – these pins represent the colleges from which they have received acceptance letters. They are so full of pride when they tell me they need pins for the map that they positively glow. Whether they’re pinning a CSU or UC school, a community college, an apprenticeship, military service, a university out of state, or even out of the country, I am filled with so much pride in them and the ownership they are taking over their futures.

What makes SMHS stand out for you?
I adore our student body. These are kids who will occasionally, just for the fun of it, dress up in formal attire for “Fancy Fridays.” They recognize when others struggle and pick one another up. They take the time to ask about how you’re doing and they really listen to the answer. When I look at my students and I see the empathy they have for one another, I know that we’re fostering qualities in our youth that truly deserve to be celebrated.smhs_chill

“Become fully aware of who you are and who you want to be as a person – envision the life that you want to lead and commit to the actions that will get you there.”

Q&A with Parker Wick, SMHS Senior

What activities have you been involved with at SMHS?
I am involved in the ASB and varsity baseball, and I am the president of “Blue Crew.”

What have been your favorite classes and teachers at SMHS?
My favorite classes that I took at SMHS were ASB and sophomore year history. My favorite teacher has without a doubt been Mr. Goldman, my Math Analysis teacher. Mr. Goldman really made a difference for me because he was the best teacher that I have ever had. Mr. Goldman did everything he possibly could to make sure that you not only passed his class but really understood the material. He never gave up on a student even given the student’s effort level. He always pushed me to be the best I could and overall is an awesome person.

How do you feel about the end of the school year coming up? What are your post-graduation plans?
With the end of the school year approaching I am very nervous to be starting a whole new chapter of my life, but at the same time I am extremely excited. After I graduate I am planning on attending Arizona State University to study Sports Management and Media Studies. Even though I am leaving my hometown of San Marcos, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me.

Can you describe a favorite experience or memory from your time at SMHS?
My favorite experience from my time at SMHS was joining our ASB. My first three years of high school I was not very involved in my school, but toward the end of my junior year I realized that I needed to be more involved if I wanted to end high school in the best possible way. So I applied to be in ASB. Since the first day of being in it, I have had such an awesome time and I have made a lot of awesome new friends. Without ASB my senior year would be nowhere close to as amazing as it has been so far.

smhs_hillQ&A with Sedona Hill, SMHS Senior

What activities have you been involved with at SMHS?
At SMHS I have been involved in ASB, dance, link crew, field hockey, swim, Key Club, WASC, the AP program, and Board Game Club.

What have been your favorite classes and teachers at SMHS?
My favorite academic class was world history both freshman and sophomore year. My favorite teachers have been Mr. Sterling, Mr. Pluciennik, and Mrs. Bagheri. Bonnie Bagheri has been my teacher since my freshman year in high school and I’ve had her every year since. She supported me in all my endeavors and helped me grow as a person and a leader. I will never forget her and everything that she’s helped me accomplish.

How do you feel about the end of the school year coming up? What are your post-graduation plans?
I don’t mean to be blunt but I’m incredibly ready to graduate high school. It has been a great experience but after four years I’m ready for something new and even better. In the fall I will be attending San Diego State University to study public relations and ancient history as a double major.

Can you describe a favorite experience or memory from your time at SMHS?
My favorite memory of high school would have to be when I got to be the Wicked Witch of the East in the homecoming assembly junior year. Being in front of the entire school and feeling confident and proud was so exciting and it’s just a perfect example of how San Marcos opens so many doors for people. I would’ve never gotten a chance to do something like that if I hadn’t had amazing mentors who believed in me.

smhs_waltonQ&A with Redmond Walton, SMHS Senior

What activities have you been involved with at SMHS?
I participated in the San Marcos High Surf Team, the San Marcos recycling program through ASB, various extracurricular clubs including Woodpushers and Global Awareness club, waterpolo, volleyball, and all sorts of student events, from athletic games to school dances.

What have been your favorite classes and teachers at SMHS?
My favorite classes at San Marcos included leadership, AP Environmental Science, AP Government, and sculpture. My favorite teacher was Mrs. Sano, who always kept us motivated and taught us well all while keeping the class interesting and fun.

How do you feel about the end of the school year coming up? What are your post-graduation plans?
I’m pretty excited. High school has been a huge chapter, filled with times running the gamut from amazing to not so great, so many friends made and friends forgotten. Senior year has definitely helped prepare me to move on to new experiences and start a new chapter. (Looking forward to summer also makes the anticipation and excitement to graduate greater.) I plan to attend UC Santa Cruz in the fall, majoring in environmental studies bio/pre-med, and work as a lifeguard during the summer.

What advice do you have for the next senior class?
They say high school goes by quickly, and it does, but senior year goes by way quicker. Enjoy all the good times as they come, plan fun things with friends, and write solid college essays (or train hard for boot camp or whatever your future endeavors involve). You will be sitting where I am now with very little time left quicker than you think, so make the most of high school and senior year in the meantime.

smhs_maxinQ&A with Jennifer Maxin, SMHS Senior

What activities have you been involved with at SMHS?
I participated in junior varsity cheerleading for my initial two years of high school. Since then I’ve been an active member of ASB, where I serve as the school board representative currently, and the Mudslingers Guild. I also was active in planning the Empty Bowl Project Lunch for the last two years.

What have been your favorite classes and teachers at SMHS?
Despite liking pretty much every class, my favorite classes have been sculpture/ceramics and ASB. Of all the teachers I’ve encountered in high school, the one who has made the most lasting difference has been my English teacher, Jonathan St. John. Mr. St. John has literally been there since day one. He fostered my passion for English and he has always been someone I can go to when I am at my best or my absolute worst. When I felt as though I had nowhere to go on campus freshman year, I knew I had his room. He still reads my essays when I need a critique about what will make them better, and he is always quick to give me a good book recommendation or any life advice I need.

“As much as you want to get out of school and start your independent adult lives, keep in mind how fortunate you are right now.”

How do you feel about the end of the school year coming up? What are your post-graduation plans?
I love San Marcos High and yet I am also very excited for the next chapter in my life. Being involved in high school makes the transition bittersweet, but all good things must come to an end. Thankfully, I am fortunate to say that I will be attending California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in the fall, where I will be a Mustang and part of an amazing community of students.

What advice do you have for the next senior class?
As much as you want to get out of school and start your independent adult lives, keep in mind how fortunate you are right now. You still have the opportunity to explore any and all of your passions. You still have the opportunity to leave a legacy. Every week until you graduate you will mature and learn so much more about yourself. The person you are when you enter this year is not the person you will be when you end this year. You are going to grow and become such amazing people and I have immense faith in you all. Good luck in all of your ventures, Knights!

smhs_spencerQ&A with Rylee Spencer, SMHS Senior

What activities have you been involved with at SMHS?
ASB, Blue Crew, Board Game Club, National Honors Society.

What have been your favorite classes and teachers at SMHS?
Every teacher at SMHS has really been amazing and left some sort of impression on me as a student. If I had to choose the teacher who has made the most difference it would be Bonnie Bagheri. No matter what, she has always been open and supportive to ideas of every student no matter how crazy. Her heart for SMHS might just be the biggest of anyone on campus. Her dedication and support to ASB and the school as a whole is really inspirational and she has taught me so much. She has shown she believes in me and so many others. I’m very lucky to know her.

How do you feel about the end of the school year coming up? What are your post-graduation plans?
I came to SMHS sophomore year and I was super scared about coming here at first, but after the first couple weeks I had already felt like I was part of the Knight family. Being in my last semester I am surrounded by so many close friends and supportive staff – I feel like I will be leaving a part of myself the day I graduate. I will be attending SDSU majoring in theater with a performance emphasis. I am really in love with performing and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in the future.

Can you describe a favorite experience or memory from your time at SMHS?
SMHS – and ASB especially – has taught me how to be part of a community and always support those within the community. Our school is so supportive of every individual group and student, it truly amazes me. One specific memory that I personally have the most connection to was our school talent show. I decided to produce a talent show for my big project as a senior in ASB. I was really hesitant at first because it’s hard to start up new events, but in the end I couldn’t have been happier. Seeing football players, dancers, band kids, and all different kinds of students sit together and support the various acts made me so proud to be at our school and call these people my peers.


smhs_sillySenior Events

June 1 – 5
Senior Passport Week
– Monday: Bowling
– Tuesday: Senior Sunset
– Wednesday: Ice Skating
– Thursday: Senior Movie Night
– Friday: Del Mar Fair

June 11 – 12
Senior Finals

June 15
– Senior Movie Day at Edwards Cinema
– Cap and Gown Pick-Up
– Senior Class Picture

June 16
– Senior Breakfast
– Graduation Rehearsal

June 17
– Graduation
– Grad Nite

June 19
Diploma Pick-Up

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