The History of Peninsula High School

  • Peninsula High School (PHS) is located in the suburban community of San Bruno, California, 15 miles south of San Francisco. PHS was opened in July 1980 as the continuation high school to serve the San Mateo Union High School District.  Students transfer to PHS from the six comprehensive high schools in the district. PHS serves the cities of San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame, San Mateo, Foster City, and Hillsborough.

    In the early 1990’s, PHS established its permanent home at 300 Piedmont Avenue, formerly the location of Crestmoor High School, which closed in 1980.  In 2001, PHS received its first six-year (with 1 day mid-term visit) WASC accreditation.  In March of 2006, the school was designated a Model Continuation High School (2006-2011) by the CA State Department of Education.  In 2007, PHS received its second full-six year WASC accreditation (2007-2013).  In 2013, PHS received another six-year accreditation (2013-2019).

    In Spring 2013, the District made the decision to transition PHS from a continuation school to an alternative high school.  Peninsula Alternative High School (PAHS) opened in August 2013.  The decision to convert to an alternative school was based on the premise that over the years, PAHS’s instructional design had moved away from the continuation model and aligned more with an alternative high school model.  The instructional minutes, bell schedule, and graduation requirements closely resembled a traditional high school.  It was anticipated that more students would choose to access PAHS if they were allowed to compete in the athletic programs at their comprehensive high schools while attending the alternative high school.  However, in reality, few students took advantage of this opportunity.

    During the period of 2013-2016, the District began referring its most at-risk students to the San Mateo County Office of Education’s Court and Community School rather than PAHS. With close monitoring, in Fall 2016, the PAHS principal and the District decided to re-establish a continuation school and took steps to create this change.  The goal of reverting back to a continuation school was to better serve students aged 15-18 who had not experienced academic success in the traditional high school environment nor in district programs such as Court and Community School.   Only a handful of students have been enrolled in Court and Community Schools since 2014, as PAHS is now better equipped to serve many of these students.

    In the Fall 2017, PAHS was approved by the California Department of Education and converted back to primarily a continuation school while still being allowed to serve a small portion of students benefitting from the alternative setting.  Thus, in 2017 the name of the school returned to Peninsula High School (PHS).  It is anticipated that Peninsula High School will begin Fall 2017 with approximately 155 students and eventually grow to 220-250 students, with an average of 220 students per year.  The academic programs will offer more flexible bell schedules, both seat-time and on-line course options, and work experience.  The school will work closely with the Adult School and local community colleges (College of San Mateo and Skyline Community College) to better prepare students for a variety of post-secondary opportunities.  The next chapter in PHS history looks bright with increased academic and social-emotional counseling supports, additional opportunities to access community colleges, and upgraded classroom facilities.