Overall a terrible school. No conditions for 3000 students;maybe 1500 max! Not even enough bathrooms. All my time at this school was wasted in absurdly long bathroom lines to wait for disgusting and leaking toilets barely fit for use. Most cafeteria food sucks and lack of resources for all these people. The majority of my teachers were nonchalant and uninspiring, assigning copious amounts of busy work. Also, most people at this school are very cliquey, closed-off and rude. Couldn't be happier to get out of this hell hole.
I graduated from San Clemente High School ("SCHS") in 2007 and then attended UCLA. I would argue that there are two "tracks," and implicitly two different schools, within SCHS: honors/AP/IB, and everything else. I did the former of the two, so my experience and comments are limited therein. I had an excellent experience at SCHS, particularly in the International Baccalaureate program where deeper thinking, not simply rote learning, was encouraged. Students in the honors/AP/IB track generally know the same kids for four years, and that fosters both a sense of community and one of hard competition (net positive). Nearly every teacher has at least a masters degree in their subject (again in the honors/AP/IB route) and most were outstanding instructors, not just knowledge stores. Students rarely lack extracurricular activity options (orchestra, band, multitudes of sports, dance, theater, etc.) and many of those are nationally and regionally ranked and well-respected. I strongly recommend taking any classes from Kathleen Sigafoos, Patrick Harris, Lisa Kerr, Jeff Kolasa, Jennifer Morris, Rob O'Rear, Allison Schick, Rob Urquidi, Pat Wilsey, and Duncan Wilson.
SCHS has been a great school for my daughter, who is currently a junior. They offer a variety of classes that other schools may not. From fashion to surfing classes, there are many options for kids who want to explore the courses that may very well turn out to be professions for them one day. As for the drug issue, there are many kids who are involved with it, however, in my opinion it seems more like a county wide problem rather than a school problem. We are a military family and not exactly in the same financial bracket as many of the other parents. I have noticed that much of the problem lies with parents who are so busy making money that they tend to ignore the needs of their kids. Some of these kids are given as much as 6,000 a month to do as they please! Eventually they are going to turn to drugs without parental support and free spending. My daughter has a good head on her shoulders and we don't have that kind of money so she has stayed on the right course. If you stay involved in your kids lives, most likely you will not have an issue.
I attended this school in 2012, and the school may seem nice at a glance. However, there is a SERIOUS drug problem and students can often be found engaging in extremely inappropriate PDA everywhere. Bullying is extremely common, but campus is generally well-maintained . There is an over-emphasis on sports over academics, as well as a low budget and lack of discipline.
I have three children who have either graduated from or are still involved in the AP and IB programs. The teachers are all exceptionally capable, dedicated and hard-working. Unfortunately Capistrano USD receives even less funding than the woefully low average for the state of California, and it shows in the facilities. In spite of that, the school performs well both academically and athletically, with equally dedicated coaches.
I have a son currently enrolled, have had 2 nephews who attended this school. Both of my nephews had terrible experiences because of learning disabilities and they would've graduated 5 and 6 years ago. Instead they were low performers and rather than receive the help and education they deserved they were pushed out. Now my son is experiencing the same. No change means no accident and in fact points to a likely policy. This school is terrible.
No doubt SCHS is a big school, but the athletic programs are great, although many of them cost HUNDREDS of dollars to compete in just to buy uniforms, jerseys, shoes, etc. HAs Japanese, French, and German. Plenty of AP/IB classes and many music programs(band, orchestra,choir, jazz band, marching band, color guard.)90% of the teachers I had, I liked. Because it is a big school it is important to remember what your goals are because it is relatively easy to ditch, and find trouble because this is a large school.