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News from Maria Carrillo High

News from Maria Carrillo High
The 2021 Maria Carrillo Pumas football team. Source: Thomas Laughlin


By Brandon Sparks

Maria Carrillo High School is one of the top schools attended by students coming out of Kenwood Elementary School. It just recently hosted its Homecoming game and dance, which had a huge turn out as it was one of the largest gatherings of students since the pandemic started.

The game was played against Piner High School, and was Maria Carrillo’s first win of the season, with a final score of 47–7. Cheerleaders performed, along with the Advanced Dance class, which hadn’t performed for over 18 months. Sports in high school have been tough to organize as of late, with the pandemic, so to have a hint of normalcy return to the athletics department really brought a lot of smiles all around. Jerry Deakins, the athletic director for Maria Carrillo, was ecstatic about the game and what it meant for the students and faculty.

“The atmosphere was great; students filled the stands,” Deakins said. “Both students and parents were excited for the event, and both were very thankful to have some normalcy associated with school events and to see students, athletes, coaches, and spectators enjoying high school athletics. And, as a teacher, it is another step toward providing opportunities for adolescents to be adolescents.”

Maria Carrillo’s first game of the season was against Casa Grande, which was a special game as it was the first game since the pandemic that was allowed to be opened up to a larger crowd, because last year only four guests per athlete were allowed. Football wasn’t the only sport that had been suffering, of course. Indoor events such as volleyball and basketball were limited to two guests per athlete, which really demotivated the athletes due to not having the same amount of support from fans and family as they normally would.

Before the game, the school hosted a sidewalk chalk competition, in which many students were able to show off their artistic skills. This was a huge success overall, with parents and community members helping make it happen. Thomas Laughlin, the art teacher at Maria Carrillo, was thrilled that the students’ talents were seen and rewarded, and he hopes to make the competition a tradition from now on.

The Homecoming dance, staged the night after the game, had 800 students in attendance. The Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”-themed dance was held outdoors. Miu Dieter, parent of a student who attended the dance, told us how exciting it was to have events like this again.

“After almost a year-and-a-half of no school events, the students were excited that the Homecoming event was held, and the parent community also was very appreciative that the event was held. I run the Parent Association Facebook page and the post about Homecoming received a lot of reaction, which is very rare,” Dieter said.

Maria Carrillo is seen as one of the top schools in the county, and for good reason. Laughlin told us how special it is to be working at the school, and how it really feels like a community.

“Kenwood and eastern Santa Rosa are blessed to have a high school that operates at such a high caliber, with such amazing students and staff. It is my 11th year at Carrillo in a 23-year public teaching career, and it feels like it is a family. The four-year homerooms, or “Advocacy” periods, create smaller communities within the school that support relationships and academics. Our arts and athletics are also some of the best in the county,” Laughlin said.

Dieter also loves the school, telling us how the teachers and staff go above and beyond to make the school feel more like a community. During the last couple of years, with all the fires, the power outages, and the pandemic, the school came even closer as a community. Even with the distant learning, the school was very supportive of students, staff, and family, to get through the unprecedented times.

Maria Carrillo High School hopes to continue these larger events as time goes on, and with the success of the Homecoming dance and game, the school is headed toward a bright future.