Sierra Canyon School

Sierra Canyon School
Chatsworth, CA
Type Independent, Private, Coeducational
Motto Latin: Excellentia propter se
(Excellence is its own reward)
Religious affiliation(s) Non-sectarian
Established 1978
Head of School James P. Skrumbis
Faculty 150
Enrollment 1,000
Average class size 17
Student to teacher ratio 10:1
Campus Suburban, 37 acres
Color(s) Blue and white
Athletics conference CIF Southern Section
Alpha League
Mascot Trailblazers

Sierra Canyon School (SCS) is a private, coeducational day school located in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth, California, USA. Sierra Canyon enrolls students in preschool through grade 12.

Sierra Canyon School is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). SCS is a member of National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)


Sierra Canyon School began in 1972 as the Sierra Canyon Day Camp, started by founders Mick Horwitz and Howard Wang, a proprietary endeavor that became the impetus for starting the school. In 1978, the needs of the North San Fernando Valley spurred the evolution from a day camp into Sierra Canyon Elementary School. The elementary school began with 150 students, spanning Early Kindergarten through 6th grade.

In 1990, Sierra Canyon was the only school in Los Angeles, and the only private school in California, to be honored as a Recognized School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Founding directors Mick Horwitz and Howard Wang, and Principal Ann Gillinger received the Blue Ribbon Award of Excellence in Education from President George H. W. Bush at the White House.

By 2001, the school had grown to nearly 700 students from early kindergarten through 8th grade. An independent, non-sectarian, co-educational high school had not been built in the San Fernando Valley since 1961, during which time the Valley's population had grown by 60 percent. The need for a high school prompted the founders to appoint Jim Skrumbis as head of school in 2004 in order to expand and open an Upper School. The new Upper School opened in 2006, serving 7th through 12th grades. The upper and lower schools merged and incorporated as a non-profit organization for early kindergarten through 12th grade and established itself as a college preparatory private school. Sierra Canyon graduated its first senior class in June 2009.

Each summer, over 600 campers still come to Sierra Canyon for its Sierra Canyon Day Camp program.

Educational program

Sierra Canyon School offers all students a fully UC-approved, comprehensive, four-year curriculum that includes extensive honors and advanced-placement courses. At the beginning of the seventh grade year, each student is assigned an academic advisor.

The SCS International Program welcomes nearly 70 foreign students from countries such as Russia, India, Korea, and China to its Upper Campus each year to study with fellow students in 9th through 12th grades.

Athletic program

Sierra Canyon School participates in a full range of interscholastic athletics as a member of the CIF Southern Section. Boys' teams include lacrosse, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, wrestling, cross country, track, golf, and swimming during the school year. Girls have the opportunity to compete in soccer, basketball, tennis, softball, beach volleyball, cross country, track, swimming, and volleyball.

In 2015, the boys' and girls' basketball teams won California Interscholastic Federation State championships. It was the first time in school history that both the boys' and girls' teams won a state basketball championship in the same year. The girls' basketball championship was their third consecutive state title.

In 2015, the girls' soccer team won the California Interscholastic Federation Regional championships.

In 2015, the football team won the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section championship.

Campus facts

The campus is park-like with more than 700 trees, groomed lawns, beautiful flowers and the lower campus has a custom designed horse trail which continues into Brown’s Canyon. The lower campus includes a computer lab, a music room, and library. The upper campus includes a technology center, a media center for digital filmmaking, the black-box theater, and the Upper School Library. In the Spring of 2010, the student-designed Community Garden was added at the top of the campus.

Notable alumni


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