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Staff Start


Q: What kind of kids go to Sunset High School?
A: ALL kinds of kids come to Sunset, and for every imaginable reason. Some students choose to come here because they like the small size and family atmosphere; others want to work hard and graduate early; some students are behind in credits and want to make them up; others are referred from their comprehensive high schools for various reasons. So what we have is a wonderful blend of students who get to work together in a very diverse and interesting environment.

Q: Can I go to college if I graduate from Sunset?
A: You can definitely go to college after graduating from Sunset. Sunset is a fully accredited high school (by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges--WASC), and we have students every year who go directly to four year colleges or universities. We have the same graduation requirements (230 credits) as the comprehensive high schools.

Q: Is a diploma from Sunset a real diploma?
A: Our diploma is a real diploma from the San Dieguito High School District and has the same 230-credit requirement and the same required class requirements as the other high schools in the district. It is a regular high school diploma just like those from the other high schools which include Canyon Crest Academy, La Costa Canyon HS, San Dieguito Academy, and Torrey Pines HS.

Q: How do colleges view me if I have a Sunset High School diploma?
A: Colleges accept our students to four-year colleges and universities every year. If you complete the required classes, have the necessary GPA for a given college, and complete the required testing (SAT's or ACT's and all), you have the same opportunity to attend four-year colleges as any other graduate from other schools. In the past few years Sunset students have been admitted to many UC schools (including Berkeley and UCLA), many CSU's (including SDSU, Cal State Sonoma, and so on), and many private schools. Many of our students also attend community colleges and later transfer to universities. We encourage and assist our students in finding post-high school options of their choice.

Q: Do you have a graduation ceremony at Sunset High School?
A: We have an awesome graduation ceremony at Sunset. Every student is celebrated, and we invite you to come and view one of our graduation videos or attend the ceremony itself. Graduation here is an inspirational experience!

Q: Do you have extracurricular activities at Sunset such as sports or dances?
A: We have extracurricular activities which include Yearbook, the Sunset Garden, and Career Field Trips.  Students are interviewed and selected for these programs. We also participate in WorldLink through USD. WorldLink is a program which brings students from all over the county together to discuss current world issues. We don't have any official sports teams or dances, but our students can attend events offered at the other district high schools with permission slips.

Q: Is Sunset a safe campus?
A: Sunset is a very safe campus, and student feedback from the California Healthy Kids Survey indicates that students often state that one of the things they most like about the school is a sense of community and safety within that community.

Q: Are the teachers at Sunset credentialed?
A: All of the teachers, the counselor, and the principal at Sunset are credentialed. The majority of teachers possess Master’s degrees and are highly qualified in their subject areas.

Q: How many credits can I earn in a semester?
A: The number of credits you can earn in a semester depends on how hard you want to work. There is no cap on the number of credits you can earn. We expect our students to complete a minimum of 6 classes per semester; however, highly motivated students can complete many more.

Q: Do you have a counselor at Sunset?
A: We have an amazing counselor, Sara Balderas, who serves Sunset. She is available to students and parents for academic planning, college and post-high school options planning, community resource information, personal issues counseling, and more.

Q: What are some things that Sunset offers that most other schools don't?
A: Sunset offers advisors who offer one-on-one daily contact, individualized instruction addressing the various learning styles of students, and support groups where students can discuss challenges they are facing and learn to more effectively communicate.

Q: Is Sunset HS accredited?
A: Yes. We are accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges), the same agency that accredits all of the other high schools in the District and in the state of California. The longest term of accreditation a school can receive is six years, and our most recent term of accreditation (Spring, 2014) was for six years.

Q: How do students get along?
A: Students get along very well overall. Our school motto is “respect and responsibility”, and this is a very real part of Sunset. Many new students comment on how friendly the other students are and on how the school atmosphere feels safe and relaxed.

Q: Does Sunset offer any courses for elective credits?
A: Sunset offers a variety of elective credits including college preparatory electives. In addition, we work with students and families to explore other elective credit opportunities (such as ROP, community college, and so on), depending on a student’s interests and goals.

Q: How do students enroll or get referred to Sunset?
A: Students/parents can request (self-refer) from their current school by meeting with their counselor or Assistant Principal.  APs may also initiate the referral, but an intake meeting with the Sunset HS Principal, Mr. Ayala, is mandatory before enrolling at Sunset.  Appointments typically last about 30 minutes and provide parents and students a great opportunity to ask questions and/or voice concerns.  Please call Michelle Miller at 760-753-3860, ext. 5534 for an appointment.
Q: How are the classes taught?
A: A variety of teaching methods are used to address various learning styles. Because each teacher is responsible for a variety of classes and levels, our delivery system of instruction varies depending on the need of the student. Upon enrolling in a class, a student is given the class cover sheet, showing all requirements of that specific class. Students have access to teachers at all times to clarify assignments or materials. Students have opportunities for collaborative group learning through mini-courses (which are direct instruction) and projects.

Q: Is Sunset an "open" campus?
A: No, we are not. Our students are required to be here 4 hours and 15 minutes daily, and we do not allow students to leave campus during that time. Additional hours are available before and after school daily for interested students. Students often arrive as early as 7:30 a.m. and stay until 3:00 p.m.

Q: How do students get P.E. credit at Sunset?
A: We offer a regular P.E. program during 4th period daily (11:50-12:45pm), offering a variety of physical activities including: basketball, ping pong, horseshoes, and volleyball.