Principal Cara Dolnik moves from Diegueño to San Dieguito

The new San Dieguito High School Academy Principal Cara Dolnik.
(Karen Billing)

The San Dieguito Union High School District has announced that Cara Dolnik will serve as the new principal of San Dieguito High School Academy (SDA).

Dolnik is currently in her 12th year in the San Dieguito district, spending the last four years as the principal at Diegueño Middle School. Prior to becoming principal at Diegueño, she held leadership roles as principal at Carmel Valley Middle School and assistant principal at Torrey Pines High School.

In 2021, she became the most recent San Dieguito principal to lead a school site to the prestigious California Distinguished Schools Program honor, a program that recognizes schools for their excellent work in one of two categories: closing the achievement gap and achieving exceptional student performance.

“I am beyond excited to be joining San Dieguito High School Academy as principal for the 2022-23 school year,” Dolnik said in a news release. “SDA is well-known for being a creative, caring and inclusive place and I am honored to carry on the legacy and tradition of the esteemed Mustang family.”

At a special meeting on Aug. 9, the board approved the hiring of Dr. Celeste Barnette to take Dolnik’s place as principal at Diegueño Middle School

Barnette comes to Diegueno with over 17 years of K-12 and postsecondary administrative experience, including five years as an elementary school principal in the Poway Unified School District. Most recently, Barnette served as an assistant principal at Earl Warren Middle School and at San Dieguito High School Academy.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Diegueño Middle School family as its next principal,” Barnette said in a news release. “The Diegueño school community is well-known throughout the San Dieguito Union High School District for its experienced and caring teachers and for its supportive parent community. I’m honored that the district leadership and board of trustees have selected me to be the principal, and I feel so lucky to have landed here.”

Three new assistant principals were also named for the 2022-23 school year: Katie Bendix at La Costa Canyon High School, Jaime Garman at San Dieguito High School Academy, and Nathan Molina at Carmel Valley Middle School.