Nestled against the Saddleback Mountains, Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s campus provides an ideal environment for students to worship, learn, and thrive. The school began as a dream of the late Bishop William R. Johnson, who saw the need and potential for a Catholic high school in South Orange County.
In 1985, Bishop Johnson’s enthusiasm caught the attention of religious and business leaders and soon plans were under way to fund and build an extraordinary school. With God’s blessing, a handful of dedicated people, and the generosity of donors, Santa Margarita Catholic High School established its roots. The school opened its doors in the fall of 1987 and the charter class of 218 students graduated in June of 1991. Now home to about 1,650 students each year, Santa Margarita boasts dedicated faculty and staff, unmatched academic programs, faith-filled activities and competitive athletics.
In October of 1995, the school launched its Auxiliary Studies Program to provide additional support to students who learn differently. Santa Margarita is the only Catholic school in the state to offer such a comprehensive program. In 1997, the school was accepted as a prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) World School and is the only Catholic school in the county to offer the academically-rigorous IB track. Santa Margarita also offers Advanced Placement courses and an Interdisciplinary Program which emphasizes hands-on learning and weaves together subjects beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. In 1998, the United States Department of Education awarded Santa Margarita its highest honor – the Blue Ribbon, an
award given to only the nation’s finest schools.
In 2007, the much anticipated Aquatic Center opened boasting an Olympic-sized, 50-meter pool. The Sacred Heart Chapel was renovated in 2008 and serves as the spiritual center of campus. The campus expanded in 2010 with the addition of the Eagle Athletic Center – the first LEED-certified, green building in the city of Rancho Santa Margarita and the Diocese of Orange. This facility rivals athletic facilities at the nation’s top universities. The school’s commitment to the environment continues with the Academic Services Center completed in the fall of 2011, also a LEED-certified building. With a focus on the future, the Academic Services Center offers innovative technology and enhanced counseling services.
Santa Margarita graduates become leaders in business, medicine, law, not-for-profits, military, finance, government and in the Church. With more than 8,900 alumni, Santa Margarita Catholic High School continues to produce exceptional graduates – spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally – just as Bishop Johnson envisioned.
SMCHS is in it's 27th year and is under the direction of Principal Ray Dunne.