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History & School Culture

From the pre-World War II period to the 1950s, Sunnyvale's population had doubled and the most pressing need of the Fremont Union High School District was to address the growing student population in the northern part of the District. To meet this demand, Sunnyvale High School opened in January 1956. With the District's second campus in place, the next school, according to the master plan, would be located in the southeastern portion of the district. Anticipating the need for new schools, the District had begun to pocket some money beginning in the late 1940s. And by 1953, a $2 million dollar bond had been collected as seed money to begin the task of acquiring land and funding construction. That year, District Board Trustee Lester Bocks identified the site he preferred for Cupertino High School—a prune orchard along the city’s future main drag on the eastern edge of town. The District had to purchase the site in pieces from two different owners. But by 1956, the future campus of 30 acres was secured for an average cost of $3,200 an acre.

The future campus was adjacent to the emerging Rancho Rinconada housing sub-division, a 300 acre development with over 1,500 homes that would soon populate the school with its first students. California architect Cliff May and his revolutionary and affordable “Miracle Home” would inspire the eventual look of the school. His ranch style home design was modular, had low-lying roofs, and prominent windows—features the new school would adopt in its own architecture. These first homes of Rancho Rinconada that sold between $7,000 and $10,000 proved affordable to the influx of new families.

With the site purchased, and with over-populated elementary schools preparing the students that would someday need a high school education, it was now necessary to ask the community for another bond. And since the bond was to be voted on by the entire district community, it needed broad appeal. Most of it would fund the construction of Cupertino High, with some funds set aside to finish construction at the already open Sunnyvale High School. Fremont would gain by avoiding an overcrowded school; but convincing the entire community to fork over another $2.5 million dollars was a concern.

Cupertino High School opened on September 15, 1958, with a school population of 700 9th and 10th graders and 30 staff members, with George Fernandez as principal. At its inception, the school contained four classroom buildings a school office, and a cafeteria.