History & Traditions » School History

School History


Established in 1950 on land purchased from Japanese immigrants – the Francis and Kuni Uyematsu family in 1947, Mira Costa High School (MCHS), or Costa, is a four-year comprehensive public high school serving the Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) that is nationally recognized for its academic and athletic excellence. The school was opened by Lloyd Waller, who was at the time (1948) a curriculum director in Redondo. The South Bay expected growth north of Redondo and wanted to put another high school there. The South Bay Unified School district purchased the land and Mr. Waller recruited (stole) Redondo teachers and coaches, many of whom would remain at MCHS for decades, thus establishing a long-time rivalry between the two schools. The newly constructed school sat on a hill just east of Manhattan Beach, overlooking the coast, hence “mira costa” or “coastal view”. Previously the 40 acres were used for growing trees and flowers to support the Uyematsu’s family nursery business – Star Nurseries. Remnants of this tradition can still be seen on campus in that there are many different types of trees, shrubbery and flowers.

Mira Costa was established in the fall of 1950 with 9th and 10th grade classes only. 

The first student to register was Carolyn Buehner. The first students attending lived on the north end of Southbay and would have attended Redondo. 

Mira Costa was given it's name by Mr. Gonzalez, a teacher at Redondo.

The school newspaper, La Vista was named by class of '53 graduate Lilah Landers.

The yearbook was named Hoofprints by class of '54 graduate Mary Jane Miller.

The classes of '53 and '54 voted the school colors green and gold.

The alma mater was co-written by the drama coach Helen Fowler and Girls vice-principal Joyce MacElvey.

The Mustang was picked as a mascot by class of '53 graduate Cecilia Whitespear.

The first tradition was the senior patio located on the south side of the original administration building.

The original motto of the school was "We are the Foundation; Upon Us the Nation Will Rest."

The campus was on the top of a hill in the middle of an open field. The school had an administration office and classroom buildings laid out in rows. The classrooms buildings, now referred to as "the finger buildings" were at that time called "the chicken coop."

Lloyd Waller was the first principal and first vice principal, Earl Brown, would become the Superintendent two years later. The following is a chronology of Mira Costa principals:
  1. Lloyd Waller (1950-1965) Lloyd was selected from among the administrators at RUHS to start the school.
  2. Carl Fisher (1965-1983) Carl began his career at Costa in 1950 as a counselor, then he served as a vice-principal before becoming the principal. He was an educator at Mira Costa for a total of 33 years!
  3. William Wilcox (1983-1985) William had served for 8 years as a driver's ed teacher, and 13 years as a counselor at Costa prior to becoming principal.
  4. Dr. Gary Hartzell (1985-1987) Gary started teaching Social Studies at Mira Costa in 1965 before becoming a vice-principal in 1981.
  5. LaGayle Black (1987-1991)
  6. Darlene Gorey (1991-1995) Darlene started at Mira Costa in 1985 as a counselor.
  7. John Giovatti (1995-1998) John started at Costa in 1990 as a vice-principal.
  8. Lynn McCormick (1998-2004)
  9. Dr. Scott Wilbur (2004-2005)
  10. Julie Rusinger (2005-2010) Julie started at Costa as a vice-principal in 2004.
  11. Dr. Ben Dale (2010-2021)
  12. Karina Gerger (2021-Present) Karina started at Costa as a vice-principal in 2015, then moved to Pennekamp Elementary in 2017 as Principal before returning to Mira Costa in 2021.
What is now Waller Stadium was dedicated in 1956 by the principal Lloyd Waller at a student assembly held before the Redondo-Costa football game. The game was a 19-19 tie and only partial revenge for the 6-0 loss the previous year in the inaugural rivalry game.
The first football win versus Redondo was in 1957. The score was 20-0. It was only the third meeting between the two teams as Mira Costa had been in the smaller Pioneer League from 1950-1954.
Our first league winner was boys basketball in 1951, winning the Pioneer league and advancing to the CIF semi-finals, losing to San Luis Obispo 55-40. The team MVP was Phil Irvin. The head coach of the Cee and Dee teams was a new young counselor on staff - Carl Fisher.
The first Student Body President was Tim O'Connor 1950-1951.  There were only Frosh and Soph class presidents in 1950-1951.
The first graduating class in 1953 of 247 students walked commencement at El Camino College. This was the tradition until the class of 1958 began commencement in the football stadium. A notable student in the first class was Carl Osterhaus. The Mira Costa baseball stadium is named after him. He pitched two shut-outs and one no-hitter that year and led Costa to its first CIF championship in any sport. He died in 1954 or 1955 as the 1956 yearbook is dedicated to his memory.

The first director of bands is George Cather and the first drum major is 11th grader Don Collins. Dick Burroughs will be the first senior drum major the following year.

Clubs/Organizations - Boy's League, Girl's League, Dons, Donas, Student Council, Scholarship Society, Hoofprints, La Vista, Red Cross, Homemaker's, Latin, Boys Hi-Y, Thalians, Future Teachers of America, Girls Athletic Association, Usherettes, and Band Majorettes.

Assemblies/Shows - Varsity Show, June Mad, Why Teachers Go Nuts, and High Talent Battle.

Events - Football Banquet, Varsity Dance, Father and Son Banquet, Mother and Daughter Tea, and Old South Spring Swing.

Sports - Football, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, and Track (all only boys).

G.A.A. sports - Volleyball, Basketball, Tennis, Softball, Speed Ball, and Square Dancing.

In football and baseball Coach Jacobsmeyer takes the reins after leaving championship programs at RUHS.

Senior art piece - The Violinist by Francis deErdely.

Student Body President Denis Seltzer is successful in "tugging at the reins to get things under control for the first annual Paper Drive..."

Teacher Bob Brigham is teaching in the Math/Science department and in the English Department.  He also coached the wrestling team and was a featured performer in the P.T.A. variety show. Bob will serve the Costa for a total of 36 years, retiring as a counselor in 1986.  He will teach and coach just about everything in that time in addition to his counseling role.

Varsity basketball wins the Pioneer League and advances to the CIF semi-finals before losing to San Luis Obispo 55-40.

The fall play or "Junior Play" is One Night and the spring play is Uncertain Wings.

Major events this year are the Tree Planting project and the Second Annual Community Breakfast.

The 1951 Football "Sweetheat," Libby Wikoff, receives the gold football necklace at the Varsity Dance.  The Junior Prom theme is "Wish Upon a Star" and the Christmas Formal is titled "Snowflake Fantasy."

The La Vista editor is Andy Dimas and the Hoofprints editor is Carolyn Witt.  Mr. Watson is the faculty sponsor for both publications! 

There are 47 teachers on staff, a principal and two vice-principals, two counselors, and one administrator over attendance (Carl Fisher). 

Of the 47 teachers, 15 are what would be considered Vocational Education today.  The teachers are listed as Agriculture, Mechanical Drawing, General shop and metal, Homemaking (2), Business Education (3), Typing, Industrial Arts, Home Economics, Speech, Drafting, and Auto Shop (2).  Vocational teachers therefore comprise 31% of the teaching staff.  Today that would translate to 37 out of 116 teachers.  The 2012-2013 teaching staff has 2 vocational education teachers 1 Wood Shop and 1 Fashion.

Second year vice-principal Catharine McVey will continue at Costa for another 15 years as an administrator.

First semester student body president is John Baima and second semester is Dean Maurry.  Girls' League president is Helen Jensen and Boys' is Mike O'Dell.

Carol Ferguson is the editor-in-chief of Hoofprints guided by advisor Mr. Freier.  La Vista editor-in-chief is again Andy Dimas working with advisor Mr. Watson.

Penpushers and Artisans are new clubs on campus.

The junior play is Starlight, Starbright and the senior play is Out of the Frying Pan.  Both plays are directed by faculty advisor Mr. Schultz.

Peggy O'Reilly is the Varsity Sweetheart. 

The class of 1953 selects "Along the Beach" as their art piece class gift. The artist, Davis Miller, presents the piece to Lloyd Waller at senior assembly.

The Hoedown Hop is the biggest dance of the year.

The Father and Son banquet recognizes the athletes of the year in each sport: John Baima (football), Tom Strawn (Basketball), Carl Osterhaus (baseball), Don Askew (Track), Dale Doing (Wrestling and Cross Country), Don Holmes (Tennis), and Tony Arce (Golf).  Norman Becker is recognized at the Daily Breeze Outstanding Athlete of the Year for lettering in football, basketball, and baseball.

Basketball repeats as Pioneer League Champions.  Tennis wins the Pioneer League.

Hobart C. Uhls teacher at RUHS before becoming a vice-principal at Costa will serve for a total of 7 years, leaving in 1957 to become the first principal of Aviation High School.  He will be replaced by Hugh Cameron who has served as a counselor and teacher at both Costa and RUHS.  Hugh will be a vice-principal for 5 years before moving to the District office and eventually a long term on the school board.  When Hugh leaves for the District he is replaced as VP by Carl Fisher.

Fourth year P.E. teacher June Cope will continue to serve at Mira Costa until 1977. She was a pioneer in girls athletics, advocating for the inclusion in CIF competition. 

First Semester student-body president is Dick Craig, and second semester is Jim Arney.  The student council hosts the annual Pioneer League meeting with the other member schools: El Segundo, Morningside, Hawthorne, Bellflower, and Culver City.

Girls' League President is Mary Glenn Heilman and Boys' League President is Dick Bibee.  They host the varsity dance where Jeri Leggitt is named Varsity Sweetheart and presented the Golden Football necklace.  Spirit Days includes Slack and Pedal Pusher Day allowing girls to deviate from mandatory skirts or dresses.

The Hoofprints editor-in-chief is Claudia Archuletta and the La Vista editor-in-chief is Anita "Skeeter" Deeter.  The band drum major is Tom Silk.

New clubs on campus include: The Record Round-up, Footlighters, and The Future Farmers, Future Teachers, and Future Business Leaders of America. The Jr. Gems are "rock hunters at heart."

Six assemblies this year include: Girls' league, the Marine Band from Camp Pendleton, a meeting to establish a student Constitution, a diver demonstration, a car show, and a barbershop quartet.  Faculty and administration donate their time on November 15 to cook for the Community Breakfast to raise money for Girls' and Boys' State.

Fall musical is "History Made" and the spring musical is "The Miracle of San Isidrio."  The junior play is "Nothing But The Truth" and the senior play is "You Can't Take It With You."

The first annual coronation ball crowns Libby Wikoff and Dick Craig Homecoming Queen and King.  This event will soon overshadow the Varsity Dance and Sweetheart and the central coronation event at Costa.

The faculty beats the Key Club 29-26 in intramural basketball in front of a packed student crowd.

Work is begun on a new football stadium and track.  The stadium will eventually be named after principal Lloyd Waller and the field after Bill Cooper who will begin his teaching career in the next few years.

The senior art piece selected is "Oil River" by John Bernat.

After game dances, Valentines Dance, and the Hawaiian Hop are huge successes.

Athletes of the year are: Paul Glennan (cross country), Don Holmes (tennis), Pat Roberts (football), Gary Schloo (baseball), Eddie Plaza and Bill Said (wrestling), Jack Swartz (basketball), Tony Arce (golf), and Dick Shoemaker (track). 

Bill Said wins a CIF championship wrestling in the 95-lb. weight class.

The graduating class of 336 includes Elroy Lang who would return in 1964 and teach History at Mira Costa for 30 years, retiring in 1994.

Dick Burroughs is the first senior to serve as Student Body President both semesters.  The other officers switched at the semester still.  Senior class officer for the 1st semester Bev Woods, later Bev Rohr, will return and serve as a teacher, coach, counselor, and District Superintendent until her retirement in 2010.  She will be a member of the inaugural class of the Mira Costa Alumni Hall of Fame.

Hoofprints editor is Andy Edwards and the new adviser is Sue Stansbury.  The La Vista editor is Lee B. Dell.

New clubs include The Travel Club, Projectionists, Stamp Club, Camera Club, Astronomy, Future Meds and Nurses, The Rifle Club, and Future Homemakers.

Yell Leaders were Wally Zeller, Diane Roberts, Al Pitzer, and Beverly Roberts. Drum Major is Tom Silk.

Homecoming Queen is Diane Roberts and King is Dick Burroughs.  Diane is also the Football Sweetheart.

One of the 8 school dances is called Cotton and Cord Capers, and Tom Silk's band plays at another.  One of the 8 all school assemblies features a Barbershop Quartet.

Coach Cogswell tap dances and Bob Brigham perform a poetic Beatnik routine at the PTA show.

The Fall Play is Chanson d'Amour, the Senior play is High Ground and the Junior class play is Father's Been to Mars.

The faculty makes it two in a row with their intramural victory over the Key Club team 37-30.

Jimmer Lindsay is named Athlete of the Year at the Lions' Club breakfast.  

Football players started wearing face masks on their helmets.  James Bevins wins CIF in Cross Country.  Future Alumni Hall Famer Dewey Weber wins CIF in wrestling (112) and Wally Zeller (138) also wins a CIF championship.

Baseball plays its' first season on their home field.  The new Math/Science building now sits on the location of the original ball field.

Although the stadium is not finished, Track hosts the 1st annual Mira Costa Relays.  In 2013 the Mustang Relays are still going strong.

Pat Robison is named Mira Costa's first Outstanding Girl Athlete of the Year.  She is a GAA multi-sport athlete.

Don Coughtry wins the school wide photo contest.

Bob Fults is the 1st semester Student Body President and Al Pitzer takes over 2nd semester.

The lead-in page to the Freshman section in the yearbook is a photo of a 9th grade student shining a Senior student's shoes with other seniors sternly looking on.

A class entitled Freshman Problems allowed students to explore various vocational opportunities.

Bryan Watson and Carleen Weeding are the band Drum majors.  Carleen is the first female student to hold this position.

The cheer squad are called the Micoettes.

The football team finishes their first year in the Bay League 4-4-1, losing to Redondo 0-6 and finishing 3rd place.

All-school activities include Lion's Club Banquet, the first Back-to-School night, Community Breakfast, Bermuda Day, Friendship Day, Religious Emphasis Week, and the After-game Dances.

The senior play is Death Takes a Holiday and the junior play is One Wild Night.

The Varsity Dance honors sweetheart Anita Hunsucker with the Golden Football necklace.

The school adopts an everyday six-period schedule beginning at 7:55 and ending at 2:35.

Mira Costa boys basketball under new head coach Dean Sempert finishes 3rd in Bay League, barely missing the playoffs, but beat RUHS 44-42 in their first ever league meeting.

La Vista editor is Pat Funge and the Hoofprints editor is Susie Heilman.

The variety show "Give 'em What They Want" raises money for the senior class end of the year activities.

New clubs include: The Railroad Club, The Valcries, Crystalography, Modern Tanz, French Club.  There are now 33 total clubs.

Wrestling wins the Bay League led by Costa Hall of Famer Dewey Weber.

Costa fields a Swim Team for the first time and members of the first squad broke 9 school records in the League Finals.

The senior gift is the painting "Mexican Shrimp Boats" by artist Robert Frame.

Cliff Warren is named the school's Most Outstanding Athlete at the Father-Son Banquet.  Other honorees are: Trent Castricone (football), Cliff Warren (basketball), Denny Owens (baseball), Don Grish (track), Jim Bevins (cross country), Alan Tarkington (swimming), Dewey Weber (wrestling), Rudy Arce (golf), and Howard Johnson (tennis).

The first-annual Spring Music Festival features performances from vocal to instrumental in the gym on a stage that is now covered by the large mural on the north end of the court.

The Costa - Gardena football game is televised on KTLA for the 3rd year in a row. The game ends in a 0-0 tie.

Costa students appear on "The Gene Norman Show".

The graduating class includes the first ever named valedictorian Patty Kline.  The Baccalaureate ceremony for honors students takes place in the Sea Hawk Bowl in a joint procession with RUHS.  Commencement takes place at El Camino for the last time.

Ditch Day is a day cruise to Catalina on the S.S. Catalina.  

Homecoming is Queen Pat O'Reilly and the King is Gary O'Dell.

Millie Thomas in her 6th year at Costa becomes a school counselor.  She will serve at Costa until her retirement in 1972.

Don Cogswell begins his 5th year as a P.E. teacher at Mira Costa.  Coach Cogswell will continue 15 more years serving in nearly every capacity imaginable: club advisor, football coach, P.E. teacher, director of student activities, and vice-principal.  He will organize the all-sports banquet for many years.

Student Body President for the 1st semester is Bryan Watson and the 2nd semester is Buck Segerblom.  Future Distinguished Alumni Hall of Famer Gil Archuletta (class of 57) serves as the Commissioner of Campus and Health.

Sally Spracklin is awarded the Gold Football necklace at the Varsity Dance.

The Senior Play is The Curious Savage with Suzi Towler and Dave Forsyth performing lead roles and the Junior Play is a comedy written by Costa English teacher Aletha Browne.

Carlene Weeding is the Band drum major. La Vista Editor is George Stoneman. 

Cross-Country wins a C.I.F. Championship led by Val Newell, Ed Drotning and Bob Rothenberger.  In their first year in the Bay League, basketball beats RUHS 59-49.

The Key Club, Future Retailers, Fishing Club, and The Debate Club, Printers Devils and the Latin Club are new student organizations on campus this year.

The first pep rally takes place in the new stadium.  The Thanksgiving Assembly takes place on the auditorium stage in the gymnasium which is now covered by the mural on the north end.

The graduating class of 1957 includes future Distinguished Alumni Hall of Famer Don Long.

Teams have been putting MICOHI on sports uniforms since the beginning.  The MC logo though is evolving.  In the beginning it is an offset MC with the C in the foreground.  Baseball is the first to stack the MC on their hats with the M in the foreground.  Years later the C would be moved forward on the stacked MC and today the M and C are equal on the stacked logo.  The mascot, Melvin, is another story....