One Incredible School Day

It’s like a circus, full of fun, friends, and emotions, but it’s just one long day once a year at Southwestern Academy’s campus in San Marino. It’s Opening Day at the 91-year-old boarding prep school, with tents and umbrellas dotting the sports field, the jazz ensemble warming up, student government’s popcorn machine at work, and vanloads of new and returning students arriving every few minutes from local airports.

It’s a family day, parents and friends joining students and faculty for a picnic on the lawns after families “check in” and receives their dormitory and locker assignments and information. Student Proctors prepare the weekend before to welcome newcomers and greet old friends, helping them move into dorms and see what’s new on campus after summer remodeling. Hundreds of hamburgers and hot dogs are served, with lots of salads and desserts for everyone well into the evening.

School teams will be picking up some 70 students flying into LAX or Burbank airports from other American states and from several dozen other countries, ranging from Germany and China to Kosovo and Japan and many points in between. It’s bewildering for many new travelers to get through U.S. Customs and immigration procedures, but once they emerge with piles of luggage there are smiling faces holding welcome signs with the student name, those Proctors greeting and escorting them to campus.

Pasadena area students who attend Southwestern’s sixth through 12th grades come to the picnic with their families too, and help welcome their out-of-area friends. Music teacher Josh Gerowitz puts together the jazz group members who didn’t graduate last June, plus a few early arrival musicians, to entertain the families, and athletics director Bob Gibbs is sizing up prospective players to join the fall soccer and girls’ volleyball teams for CIF competition starting in very few days. Deans Robin Jarchow and Russ Osmonson worry over class schedules, while headmaster Kenneth Veronda keeps busy shaking hands. The food service crew has worked long hours preparing the picnic, and chef Ernesto Mercado is sweating over the barbecue grill filled with burgers and dogs.

Southwestern is accredited by WASC, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Southwestern’s small number of students, only 175 between its two campuses in California and Arizona, is special in allowing each student to participate in any and all of the sports, clubs, music and arts groups, and a wide range of other opportunities.

This past June all 37 graduates were accepted to 71 different universities and colleges in the United States and Europe, where they will be matriculating this fall. In addition to the college preparatory A-G course offerings, Southwestern offers exciting courses which include: psychology, advanced photography, media art, portfolio development, and leadership training.

Students may choose to divide their time between two campuses of the same school with very different environments. The San Marino campus is situated on eight acres, surrounded by the serene residential suburb in the Pasadena area of southern California. The Beaver Creek Ranch Campus is located on 180 acres in its own beautiful Red Rock canyon, southeast of Sedona, Arizona.

The Southwestern student body represents the rich diversity of U.S. and international students, creating a unique, cultural learning environment. The non-profit school’s trustees and faculty are very proud of their many successes and accomplishments.

For more information, please view the school website at and or schedule a visit. Walking around either campus, feeling the unique environment, explains why the school says: You Belong at Southwestern Academy!

Southwestern Academy, 2800 Monterey Road, San Marino, (626) 799-5010 or visit



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