For those who didn’t know, San Carlos had its own high school once. San Carlos High, built on the hilltop location of Melendy Drive during the 1960s and lasted for 21 years. Since being closed down and demolished in the late 80s, the location of the former school has gradually become a site for luxury homes. Although the only remnant of the school left is a set of concrete bleachers atop the Upper Stadium field, the 20 alumni classes it produced are still going strong. In July 2013, in honor of their 51st anniversary, the Class of 1962 unveiled a bronze plaque adjacent to Highlands Park to honor San Carlos High.

San Carlos High School Campus 1965


We’ve been able to reach out to some of the alumni throughout the years of San Carlos High, and we’re grateful for Sandy Castagnino (Alumni 1967, whose grandparents were 11th family to become residents in San Carlos around 1918) and  best friends Deborah Cook & Debbie Morris (Alumni 1982, the last batch to graduate from San Carlos High) for sharing their stories with us here in San Carlos Life:


Sandy Castagnino Rolley: San Carlos High Alumni of 1967

Sandy San Carlos High Pic 2

Sandy’s San Carlos High School Picture 1966


“I am the granddaughter of the 11th family to come and take up residence in San Carlos, around in 1918. My grandparents bought a Sears House Kit and had it built on Chestnut Street, down the street from Central School. My grandfather was a local painting contractor. My grandmother was one of the Villagers Group that started in the early years (not sure). She was very active in the town, very well liked as she was always taking me to friends’ houses. Her name is mentioned in the book about San Carlos.”

“My father was born in 1920 in his family home there. He attended Central School which was right down the street, and eventually went to Sequoia High in Redwood City.”


Sandy San Carlos High Pic 1

Sandy in the 1950s


“My brother was born in 1944 and I was born in 1949. I lived in the same house in San Carlos for 25 years. My earliest memory was that of my grandparents’ house, spending time in their huge backyard which backed up to the creek that ran through their yard. In it was I think the only windmill which you could see from Cordilleras St…. They lived next door to Henry Wrigley and I remember his house and property, so beautiful.”

“I remember my grandfather taking me down to Laurel Street and buying me candy that was showing in the window at Laurel Variety… My grandma and I would take walks through Chestnut Street visiting all the neighbors, – this is the 50’s. There were only houses on that street during that time, which now there are all condos. I was probably about 7 years old or close to it.”



“People were so laid back and so very friendly and they all seemed so happy there. As I got older, and my father being a painting contractor mainly in that town, we would go a lot to the Gold Platter for dinner. The Gold Platter was a wonderful Italian Restaurant located on the El Camino. My parents always went there, it was I think about the only dinner house in the city. It was owned by Tony Derossi and he was good friends with both my parents.”

“I also remember loving the music store named Eddie Kramers, I would go there a lot. I especially loved that you could go in these little rooms and play the records before you bought them.”



“I went to San Carlos High School and graduated in 1967. I graduated early, mid-term, to attend Ponce Beauty College in San Mateo. I was not that involved in high school much, but looked forward to all the dances the school and YMCA had..”

“I remember so fondly of going with my friends off campus at lunch and straight to Pic and Pay we went. The sandwiches were 35 cents then. I did go to all my proms, Christmas dance, and took my boyfriend to all of them. He went to MA, but enjoyed our dances. The dances were oh, so fun. The popular music at that time always played.”

“The park in San Carlos (Burton Park) was named after POP Burton, the father of Ted Burton back maybe in the late 40’s or early 50’s… Ted Burton was my father’s best friend and his Best Man at my parents’ wedding in 1941. I always went to the Teen Club at the park and took tennis lessons. It was quite the place to go…so much to do there. My father played baseball there many times and as a family we would go and watch all the games.”


Cinnamon Tree At San Carlos

Cinnamon Tree at San Carlos, featured at the San Mateo Times, July 24, 1965


“I remember hanging out a lot at the Cinnamon Tree in San Carlos also. My favorite group that played there were the Knight Riders. I went a lot to the football games, especially the ones played at Sequoia HS, but mainly went just to hang out. The Cinnamon Tree was a teen-only mini night club very popular in the mid-to-late 60’s. Upcoming popular bands would always be playing there. It was also THE place to go.”

“It was so safe back then, never any violence either. So, I ended up living in San Carlos for 25 years, leaving after I married in 1975. I had my wedding reception at my grandparents’ home and the house was torn down shortly after to build apartments on that lot. Funny too is that the address is still the same: 730 Chestnut St….. My father passed away also in 1975 and my mother moved away.”


Sandy San Carlos High Pic 4

Sandy and boyfriend (now husband) San Carlos Christmas Dance 1965


“The rise of Silicon Valley came about quite a while after I moved away so I didn’t have a lot of recollection of it although I heard a lot about what was going on and how home prices were going up…”

“San Carlos holds many, many memories for me. I would go back and visit there quite often as I didn’t live too far away, but now as I am in my 70’s, it is quite a trip back there due to the traffic which has changed a lot!!!”


Deborah Cook Rossi and Debbie Morris Griewe: San Carlos High Alumni of 1982

Deborah Cook Rossi

“I lived in San Carlos for childhood to 18, graduated from UC Berkeley, lived in San Francisco and other places, moved back to San Carlos for my 30’s to mid 40s. After high tech career, went back for a nursing degree at SFSU. My husband and I now live in Foster City, but we prefer to dine in San Carlos.  Appreciate still no parking meters, but boy it is getting crowded. My parents are still in San Carlos on Melendy Drive.”

“I was the President of the last graduating class (’82) of San Carlos High and gave the “closing our doors” speech at our graduation ceremony. Deb Morris and I were best of friends, growing up next door to each other up the hill on Melendy Drive, from the time we were at Heather Elementary.

“By chance or coincidence, she was Homecoming Queen our Senior Year, and I was crowned Senior Prom Queen as our year was ready to end. Our birthdays are also one day apart (hers 2/26, mine on 2/28). One memory that I recall for some strange reason, friends “kidnapped” us on the day in between (2/27) very early in the morning before school and took us to Lyons – in our PJs. That was thing that Juniors and Seniors did, kidnapped friends for breakfast, but not on their exact birthday.”


San Carlos High Photos 1 Rotated

From top left: Marjorie Kutzman Leonidas, Ann Francis, Deborah Cook Rossi (crowned Sr. Prom Queen later that evening), Lauren Graber. From bottom left: Debbie Morris Griewe (crowned Homecoming Queen earlier in the school year), Leslie


“We were “Courtyard” gals (translation, “good” students – strong grades, school politics / cheerleading – the fellas were mostly athletes);  not to be confused with those who hung out in the Parking Lot or Bleachers, for whom other interests seemed to be of priority.  Then there were the ROTC enrollees, and fellow students who came in by bus from East Palo Alto.  All in all, we were an eclectic group of young adults, having our individual experiences as a collective group of San Carlos Dons.”

“Deb and I (and a handful of other ”Courtyard gals”) worked at A&W as carhops.  Had to wear the belt with the change holders and when you brought the food to people’s cars and they paid you, had to click out the pennies, nickels and other change. If lucky, the customer would tell you to keep the quarters for your effort.”


Carhops AW

Carhops at A&W


“Downtown San Carlos was the best. MJB Ranch (a pizza place), Woolworths on Laurel Street (now Diddams) where for 25 cents you could get a grilled cheese and a milk at the counter.  JB Hobby-house were we used to buy beads to make necklaces and other crafts.”

“We grew up in an amazing town, at a unique time, and I cherish that experience.”


San Carlos High School Class Of 1982

San Carlos High School Class of 1982

Debbie Morris Griewe:

“I moved to San Carlos when I was eight years old and left when I was 18 to attend college at CSUS. I currently reside in Folsom, CA where I have lived for 32 years. My parents sold their house in SC about 28 years ago. It would be with millions today. They paid $43,000 for it when I moved there. This brings back mostly wonderful memories.”

“I used to love taking the mini bus to Laurel Street and going to Woolworth’s and eating French fries and milkshakes with Leslie Weiss Dennett at the counter. Today Laurel Street is very upscale and has lost that old time charm although it is still very nice just in a different way.”

“I remember going to “The Little Store” on Devonshire and getting candy there. We had a Bubble Yum Craze and Deb Cook always had more than me. It was kind of a competition to see who could hoard the most.”


San Carlos High School Class Of 1981 1982

The Legacy of San Carlos High

As we reflect on the cherished memories of San Carlos High shared by its alumni, it’s evident that the school was more than just a place of learning—it was a cornerstone of the community. From the rich tapestry of personal stories like those of Sandy, who has deep generational roots in San Carlos, to the spirited recollections of Deborah and Debbie, it is clear that San Carlos High played a pivotal role in shaping the lives of many.

The legacy of the school, though physically marked by a mere set of bleachers and a commemorative plaque, lives on through the fond memories and enduring connections of its former students. As we honor the past, we celebrate the lasting impact of San Carlos High and the timeless sense of community it fostered, reminding us that while buildings may fade, the spirit of camaraderie and shared history remains indelible.


Many thanks to these sites for preserving the memory of San Carlos High. We encourage you to visit them:

To read more about the history of San Carlos, visit our timeline here at : The Rich History of San Carlos

About San Carlos Life

Mark Martinho and Vivienne Kelvin are the hosts of San Carlos Life and have been residents of San Carlos for years. While running San Carlos Life together with an awesome team, Mark and Viv are also in the business of real estate. They are among the best Realtors in San Carlos CA and co-owners of Vabrato Real Estate, a luxury real estate brokerage serving the City of Good Living, and the whole of San Mateo and Santa Clara. With over 30 years of combined experience in the business and 95% of their clients coming in from referrals, Mark and Viv take great pride and joy in exceeding your expectations.

Need help in buying or selling a home in San Carlos?

We’re never too busy for you or your referrals. If you know anyone who needs help in buying or selling a home in San Carlos, we’d love to chat with them!

Contact Mark and Viv of Vabrato Real Estate


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