We've Got History

Our school's roots go deep in San Diego. The original school began in 1913 in Normal Heights, near what was then the original San Diego State College.

Then as the city's growth began booming and pushing into the northern reaches of the city in the 1970s, less children in the area led to enough declining enrollment that the school closed as an elementary. Instead the need for continuation high school providing an alternative for students caused the district to change the focus and reopened the school as Garfield Continuation High and then as Garfield High in 1976.

When Garfield High moved downtown, the original school returned to its roots. In 1999, it officially reopened as Garfield Elementary.

Community leaders remained loyal to their old school. Even though with the school's reopening there would now be two schools named for President Garfield, the Normal Heights community decided to stay true to their roots and retain the original school name, to help give the community its strong sense of history and pride.

Old Garfield

The old Garfield School, circa 1961

Old Garfield Exterior

Our Namesake, James Garfield (1831-1881)

James Garfield

20th President of the United States. The Ohio-born lawyer served Abraham Lincoln fighting to preserve the United States as a major general in the Civil War.

As a boy, Garfield wanted to be a sailor. The nearest he came to life at sea was as a deckhand an a a canal barge. In the early 1800s, without major highways or roads, the best way to get around and to transport goods to towns and cities was by waterways, rivers and canals. Even then, his life as a deckhand did not last long. Sickness sent him home, and there his thoughts turned toward a different kind of career.

Garfield's life began and ended like Lincoln's. Both men were born in frontier log cabins, and both were fatally shot while serving as president. Both men also earned their own educations, but Garfield worked his way through college.

After college, Garfield worked as head of Hiram College, Ohio, then as a state senator. He became a major general fighting in the Union Army and while serving, he was elected to Congress. Few leaders in American history have risen to fame so rapidly.

But only four months after entering the White House, Garfield was shot by a violent man angry because he blamed the president for not giving him the job he wanted. The wounded President lay near death for two and a half months before dying.

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