Photography by Zeena Gregg Photography

Creating a dynamic community of lifelong learners who make significant contributions to the world is the vision. Torrey Pines High School; a California Distinguished School is clearly focused on adhering to that vision. The community surrounding TPHS is on the front row of watching the Falcons soar to great heights. The establishment clearly values education while facilitating student growth. Students and staff are well-known for their notable achievements, their driven personalities and their desire to contribute to the world in a meaningful and genuine way while displaying positive character traits.

All students aim to achieve and surpass standards to become confident lifelong learners. The school community strives to foster a safe, motivating and creative environment. Students find a friendly, nurturing and competitive environment at Torrey Pines High School where they are dedicated to success.

One thing that is clear, education comes first in the community. Unlike anywhere else in the county, 92130 provides its students and their parents with one vital advantage…


Private?  Public?  Programs?  Courses?  What’s Right for My Child?

by BRETT A. KILLEEN, Torrey Pines High School Principal | Special to 92130 Magazine

This is the time of year when eighth-graders and their parents begin to think about where they may be next year – high school. The 8th graders are anxious, even if they pretend not to be, but their parents, particularly if this is their oldest child, do not hide their level of anxiety – for some, it’s the source of a lot of stress. Let’s face it, by the time kids get to the high school level, much of what they are about to do lays the groundwork for the rest of their lives – no wonder it’s important to us. I understand this as a principal for the last ten years, but perhaps more importantly, as a parent of a high school student who went through the high school selection process last year. My goal is to reassure you in the steps you are about to take.

Here’s the good news: It’s hard to go wrong in our neighborhood. The Carmel Valley area alone has top-notch school choices in Torrey Pines, Cathedral, Canyon Crest, and the Jewish Academy. The private offerings, in my opinion, make our public schools better. We know many in our community have the means to choose either, so it feels good to continuously improve and offer the best education possible – public or private. I am pleased that the San Dieguito Union High School District gives students the opportunity to choose the high school they want to attend. Though our schools look different from the outside, they are remarkably similar on the inside with respect to our terrific students, our highly-qualified staff, our supportive parent community, our creative and nurturing programs, and our high academic achievement. Take advantage of school tours and the Choices Nights. Information about high school selection for SDUHSD may be found on our district’s website at or our website at

When selecting a high school, much like selecting a college, it often comes down to the intangibles. What “feels” right to your student? Does it appear that there are programs, clubs, courses, and people that would offer a nurturing connection for your child? Where are the friends going? As parents, we want to support our kids into making connections with a positive peer group, and this is often achieved through a like-minded interest in school or extra-curricular related activities. At Torrey Pines High School, we encourage students to be well-rounded. We want them to choose an appropriately rigorous course load (but not overdo it), such that they have time in their lives for sports, or visual and performing arts, or academic teams, or community service or journalism – in short, we want them to be “whole” and multi-faceted to complement their academic success.

Students have diverse interests and learning styles, and we listen to our community’s desires. For many years, we were asked, “Why don’t you have a Chinese language program, since kids are taking the AP test in that area?” We were pleased to be able to offer Mandarin Chinese courses this year in our world language department at all levels, including advanced placement. Because some of our kids like to learn independently and in a software-enhanced environment, we now offer CSU/UC approved college preparatory Independent Studies Online Learning courses for enrichment in English, math, and social studies. Many of these students look to accelerate their learning or create some flexible learning and scheduling options in their course schedules.

So – you’ve selected your high school, and you’re done, right? No. Perhaps more important than the school you select are the courses you choose to take in high school, especially as a new ninth-grader. The best advice I can offer is to not try to do too much. There is plenty of time to take honors and advanced placement courses, and there are no barriers but common sense, but students need a strong foundation and to experience academic success first. Be cautious and responsible in choosing rigor. For example, if your 8th grader is strong in English and at grade level in math, consider an honors class in English, but college preparatory in math. Err on the side of caution, and you will be doing your child a favor: They’re more likely to experience a smooth transition, and earn good grades, and still have time in their lives to be human beings as part of your family. For those few gifted kids who seemingly can do it all – and we’re blessed to have them – there are exceptional opportunities available in the high school setting, including numerous Honors and Advanced Placement courses, and college courses in math offered through San Diego State University.

Here’s the bottom line: You’re doing the right thing by being involved in the high school selection process, and your child is going to get a great education, public or private. Stay involved way beyond the selection process, because this is what makes places like TPHS so special. Good luck, and if you ever have questions about the process, feel free to contact me at


  • Our Academic Team consistently wins North County Academic League and ranks among the very best in the country.
  • Our Speech and Debate team has 130 members – so many that we are going to also offer it as a course next year.
  • The Science Olympiad team competes in Regionals in February, and is looking forward to another strong showing at state.
  • We now have two competitive robotics teams and the program is growing each year!
  • Members of the Falconer newspaper and Freeflight yearbook staff gathered at the Fall National High School Journalism Convention in Minneapolis in November 2011 where The Falconer won 4th Place Best of Show for newspapers there.
  • Mandarin Chinese has been launched for the first year in Torrey Pines High School – the first school in the district to have a 4 year, College Board certified Advanced Placement program taught by “Kuang lao shi,” Mr. Kwong. Over 50% of the students in 1st year Chinese come from a non-Asian heritage background.
“As Falcons, we know that the sky is not the limit, and we consistently fly high above expectations.”
                    ~Missy Pittard


  • The Torrey Pines Players is an all volunteer, after-school program open to all TPHS students.
  • Over the last 20 years, the TP Players have produced more than 60 plays and have never repeated a production.
  • The Torrey Pines Players have performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival twice (2006 and 2009).
  • TPHS Visual Artists’ spring showcase of talent, FOR ARTS SAKE, gives every student at TP an opportunity to exhibit and sell their very best artwork to our entire school community.

  • The multi-award winning TPHS dance team competes and performs throughout the year, ending with the energetic “Expression Session” in June.
  • In our award winning video/film classes, students learn all the aspects of digital filmmaking from concept to distribution.  Students enrolled in the program regularly compete in local film festivals and many pursue careers in the film and television industry after high school.
  • The diverse music program at TPHS gives students a chance to perform as part of an award winning orchestra and/or our very popular jazz band.  Both ensembles regularly perform at community events and compete in regional competitions.
“There is nothing you can’t do at this school. TPHS provides limitless opportunities, so every student has the chance to shine.”
               ~Gracie Perkins


  • Torrey Pines was named the #1 athletic program in North County. The Falcons’ overall winning percentage in 2011 was .806. This marks the third straight time Torrey Pines has captured this honor.
  • Torrey Pines had the best girls program with an .881 percentage and 10 league titles in volleyball, tennis, cross country, soccer, water polo, swimming, track, lacrosse, field hockey and golf.
  • Both Boys and Girls lacrosse teams were crowned 2011 Division 1 CIF Champions.
  • The Falcon Swim and Dive program won both the Boys and Girls CIF Section titles.
  • Torrey Pines athletic teams won more 2011 CIF championships than any other school in the San Diego section.
  • The Girls Soccer team was nationally ranked the #3 girls program in our division.
  • Over 28 Student athletes will have signed a letter of intent to play college sports next year. At least one Torrey Pines athlete has been selected to attend each of the four US Military Academies.
  • Torrey Pines is fortunate to have head certified athletic trainer Christina Scherr working with our athletes. After completing her master’s in Education specializing in Athletic Administration from Washington State University, Christina has spent the last 6 years at Torrey.  She is currently working with Beth Mallon and Advocates for Injured Athletes for the Athletes Saving Athletes Program coming to TP in March.
“I’m proud to be a Falcon because I get to attend one of the best academic and athletic schools in the district; it’s a great privilege. ”
                ~Camille Doan


  • The “Science Garden” was a joint project between the Global Green Partnership, science students, and the National Honor Society.  They took a formerly messy area and transformed it into a drought-tolerant, comfortable area featuring a lot of native plant species.  They planted it and maintain it, and like the atriums, almost no water is necessary.  There is also a small pond in the area that the science department uses as part of some of their experiments and learning.
  • The trash cans were beautified by the National Art Honor Society.  They took our ugly trash receptacles and turned them into attractive canvases for art.