Huntington Beach : Marina High Lauded as a ‘Model’ U.S. School

Marina High School in Huntington Beach has won recognition as a “model U.S. high school” because it has an excellent staff, a supportive community and a diverse, multi-ethnic student body, a school district official said Tuesday.

“I think it (Marina High) has an excellent teaching staff that’s very devoted to their profession,” said Marie Otto, superintendent of Huntington Beach Union High School District. “The school also has a very responsive community--parents and students with a lot of school pride and community spirit.

“And I also think a factor was that the school has a cross-section of population--some who are well-to-do and some who are not so endowed financially. The school has minority students--some from the large influx of Southeast Asians (into Orange County). I think its representation of a wide variety of population was part of the reason (the school won the national honor).”

Marina High learned last week that it had been picked as one of the top 104 high schools in the nation this year under the U.S. Department of Education’s National Secondary School Recognition Program. School officials will receive the award this fall in ceremonies in Washington.


Only four other California high schools were picked as “model” institutions: North Monterey County High; Piedmont High and Castro Valley High, both in Alameda County, and Borrego Springs High in San Diego County.

The immediate past principal of Marina High, Paul Berger, was ousted by district officials last year after being accused of “lack of leadership” at the school. Otto, when asked about the school now winning a national honor, said:

“I’m sure Dr. Berger left his mark on the school, and I wouldn’t want to take away from anything he has done. But the nomination was made last December (when there was a new principal, Ira Toibin) and the (national judges’) visitation team came to the school this past spring.”