Founded by Bishop Charles F. Buddy, our school opened in 1960 as Marian High School, the first coeducational Catholic high school in the Diocese of San Diego. It was built on twenty acres of land just outside of Imperial Beach—generously donated by notable Catholic philanthropists, Emma and Robert Egger. The first school building opened with just three classrooms and expanded over the next 46 years. In 1985, Marian High changed its name to Marian Catholic High School, to more clearly identify it as a Catholic institution.
In 2007, thanks to a generous donation from the ALSAM Foundation, the campus moved to a new 50-acre state-of-the-art facility in Chula Vista. The school was renamed Mater Dei Catholic High School by the San Diego Diocese, but our “Crusader” mascot, spirit, and tradition, remain an integral part of our school. On the new campus, Marian Chapel was built in honor of our history and prior name.
Mater Dei Catholic High School (MDCHS) is located in Chula Vista, California, in a beautiful newly-developed area in San Diego County. We are a private, coeducational institution that is under the guidance of the San Diego Diocese. The school is fully accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA). We have a firm commitment to guiding each of our students to gain acceptance to a four-year university after graduation. We continually strive to make our campus a place for the community, with many sports, arts and cultural events that are open to the public.
The school is internationally recognized and deeply committed to diversity. We actively strive for a student body that includes a variety of races and ethnicities in the belief that classroom dialogues are more dynamic and more informed when students have the opportunity to interact and learn with others of different backgrounds.
“Education cannot be neutral. It is either positive or negative; either it enriches or it impoverishes…. The mission of schools is to develop a sense of truth, of what is good and beautiful. And this occurs through a rich path made up of many ingredients. This is why there are so many subjects — because development is the result of different elements that act together and stimulate intelligence, knowledge, the emotions, the body, and so on.”
Pope Francis, May 2014
Mater Dei is a comprehensive educational institution providing an outstanding education to all students with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. We balance face-to-face teaching with the use of state-of-the-art technological tools, community partnerships, and many opportunities for out-of-the-classroom education. We have services to help English language learners and students with diagnosed special needs. Our motto that Mater Dei is “A Place for Everyone” means we give personalized attention to each student, as we strive to help them succeed, and we do everything we can to support that philosophy.
With modern facilities dedicated to athletics, arts, theater, and spiritual development, Mater Dei has a commitment to creating well-rounded individuals, as well as excellent students. From Ceramics to Guitar, Financial Literacy to Campus Ministry, and over 20 competitive athletic teams, our students have a variety of ways to grow emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
In addition, with the goal of humanizing education, we have a strong focus on service and social justice. The Catholic Church has a long history of social justice in our communities, and in our world, and we expect our students to continue this tradition by becoming advocates for people in need, and by working to protect human dignity. We require our students to perform twenty-five service hours each year they attend Mater Dei Catholic; a requirement for graduation.
Our Academy of Science was founded to provide an exemplary science learning experience in two ways.
Selected students are placed in an advanced math and science curriculum in their freshman year. These freshmen are introduced to field scientists and their work through visits and partnerships with institutions that include The University of California San Diego’s Physical Sciences Department, The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, The Kyoto Prize lectures and the Scripps Research Institute. These partnerships include visits to their laboratories, providing mentors for our students from among the doctoral and post-doctoral scientists, and summer internship opportunities in the laboratories and research facilities they represent.
Mater Dei has always admitted students with special learning needs to the school on a case-by-case basis, but this year will be the first time they have a dedicated resource for support.
The new Learning Center will be in the Aquinas Center; the same building that houses the library. This program will help students enhance their strategies for independence, and learning. Students who have an IEP or 504 plan, or any documented learning disability, that interferes with his or her ability to learn in a general education classroom, will qualify for the extra support.
The first thing students will notice about the new Learning Center teacher, Jacquelyn Ackman, is her kind and patient spirit. Born and raised in San Diego, and a former Catholic school student herself, Ackman graduated from San Diego State with a Bachelor’s degree in English, and from Point Loma Nazarene with a Master’s degree in Education. She holds a California Special Education credential for grades K-12, with an autism specialization, as well as a Secondary English credential.
Ackman makes the goal of the program clear. “Just as God has designed each student uniquely and individually, we hope this program will cater to the unique qualities of each student.”
Mater Dei Catholic High School will prepare its graduates to be:
1. Christ-Centered Persons who:
· Are dedicated to the Catholic values of dignity, humility, and compassion
· Possess a generous heart and are committed to a spirit of service
· Embody a love of God and love of neighbor
2. Life-Long Self-Directed Learners who:
· Are determined to pursue higher education
· Demonstrate integrity as they form identity and discover their purpose
· Embody a growth mindset and apply their learning to real world issues
3. Effective Communicators who:
· Exemplify emotional and spiritual sensitivity
· Articulate ideas clearly, creatively, and logically
· Possess the skills to resolve conflicts in a global society
4. Collaborative Individuals who:
· Respect and value individuals from diverse backgrounds and abilities
· Demonstrate social awareness and good judgment
· Engage in a variety of leadership and supportive roles