SDA Foundation works to support students, celebrate seniors

The SDA Foundation supported the Chalk the Lot event with beach towels and cookies.

Despite the challenges of this school year, the San Dieguito Academy High School Foundation continues to work to enrich the school experience for every student.

“We have definitely missed opportunities for fundraising but mostly we miss just connecting with our community,” said Leslie Saldana, the foundation’s executive director.

The nonprofit foundation serves to fill the gap between state funding and what is needed to provide enrichments such as academic support, athletic and academic teams, the arts and events like Grad Nite.

They were not able to hold typical events such as their annual fall fundraising gala or meet new families at back-to-school night, however, Saldana is excited for the month ahead as on June 4 they will hold the New Mustangs Mingle for incoming freshmen and this year’s freshman class of 2024.

At the event, the newest Mustangs will be able to safely get together on campus while the band Poncherello performs, featuring SDA teacher Collin Elliot on lead guitar and vocals and SDA Principal Adam Camacho on drums.

This year the foundation was again able to provide a writing lab instructor at the school to provide extra support for students on papers and reports, as well as help seniors applying to college with their admissions essays. Throughout the year, Sam Shrader (a 2012 SDA graduate) was able to provide support virtually. As students are now able to return to school four days a week, he is available for in-person sessions in the Mustangs Common lab as well as for those who remain in distance learning.

SDA Foundation passed out cookies at the Chalk the Lot event.

A fun project the Foundation did this year was SDA t-shirts. The Foundation purchased 2,500 t-shirts and worked with the school’s screen printing teacher Caroline Ceseña to print up an “I am SDA” shirt for every student. As a bonus for the class of 2021, their names were printed on the back.

For the class of 2021, the Foundation has tried to do something special every month.

“We are all working hard to try and honor them as best we can,” Saldana said.

They have done senior drive-throughs with treats like coffee and ice cream, handed out class of 2021 yard signs and as much as they can have collaborated with school Associated Student Body to create memorable experiences for seniors. Recently, they were able to hold the time-honored “Chalk the Lot” event where seniors decorate their parking spaces. The Foundation handed out beach blankets for seniors and moms made cookies.

Working with senior representatives, the Foundation also created a combination prom and Grad Nite event the seniors coined “Grom”, a name fitting for the surf culture of Encinitas. On June 11, seniors will get the chance to dress up like it’s prom night and celebrate a shorter Grad Nite-like event.

Grom will have low ticket prices and scholarship opportunities: “We want every senior to experience that,” Saldana said.

Saldana knows none of these extras and enrichments would be possible without the generosity and support of SDA families, both past and present.

“We are really so grateful to our community,” Saldana said. “As an alumni of the school and a parent of alumni, I really do feel like this is a special place.”

A SDA senior's Chalk the Lot illustration.
A SDA senior’s Chalk the Lot illustration.