Hills school struggles with public’s perception

Wednesday was the first day to register little ones into kindergarten in the Del Mar Union School District and Del Mar Hills Academy wants parents to know: We’re not closing so come check us out.

Over the last six months, Del Mar Hills was on the short list for schools that might be closed or reconfigured into a district office or early education center. Even though the school board voted against closing or changing the school, rumors still persist. Parent Teacher Association President Vanessa Black said the rumors have kept some parents away.

“I want parents to know that Del Mar Hills is not going to be closed or reconfigured and it is still a strong, viable option for all incoming kindergartners and families,” Black said. “I’m not surprised that people are still worried that Del Mar Hills may be an unstable choice but I want everyone to know that the board voted not to close out school and the new superintendent has expressed no interest in reconfiguring our school.”

Parents in Del Mar are in a unique situation as they have two Del Mar schools to choose from with the Hills and Del Mar Heights School across the Del Mar Heights Road.

Principal Susan Fitzpatrick told parents at the campus on Tuesday during a visitation event, that both the Hills and Heights are fine schools with a lot of similarities.

She said the Hills emphasizes the integration of the Extended Studies Curriculum of art, music, physical education, technology and science.

“The small environment lends itself to cohesive staff and parent community,” Fitzpatrick said. “The staff will all know your name and your children’s name; it just gives a sense of family and community.”

During a visitation meeting on Tuesday, parents saw how, in technology lab, the children were using technology and art skills to draw the life cycle of a frog, something they are learning in science.

In a short film, they saw how in a two-day span at the Hills there were students flying kites, reading, writing, bubble blowing, singing in a performance, playing the theme song from “Star Wars” on instruments in music class and putting on a fashion show with clothes made from recycled materials.

Black, who has a second grader, an incoming kindergartner and a preschooler soon to be a Hills kid, is happy that she will be at the Hills for at least another 10 years. Her pick of the Hills was based on the integration of art and the feeling she got when she walked on the campus.

“For me it was the way that the teacher showed me how much she was going to care about my child,” Black said.

Fitzpatrick echoed the importance of the level of caring at the Hills to the parents on Tuesday.

“I promise you that we will do out best and I promise you that we will love your child,” Fitzpatrick said.

For information on kindergarten registration, visit