Country Day History
Over 50 Years of Independent Education in Sacramento
The Building of Country Day School
Over fifty years ago, the trailer that was destined to be Sacramento Country Day School was on a flatbed truck heading to a site on Sierra Boulevard, just a few blocks from the present-day campus. It was September 14, 1964, and the twelve students ranged in age from six to fourteen. As the students matured, grades were added and by 1969 there were students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The concept for Country Day School was formulated around a kitchen table, when CSUS educator Dr. Baxter Geeting and wife Corinne sought an academically challenging school for their son Greg. Dr. Geeting met Herbert Matthews at a small school in Carmichael where Matthews was teaching math and convinced him to join the discussion. Soon the school envisioned by the Geeting and Matthews families became a reality. Headmaster Matthews even made house calls to interview parents and children.
The founding families envisioned an academically enriched, independent day school modeled after the very best schools in the country. As stated in one of the early brochures, “The intent of the teachers is to impart to our students an appreciation of the fine arts, an understanding of the techniques and values of scientific inquiry, and the knowledge of foreign languages and their associated cultures.”
Within a few months of operating out of the trailer, it was clear that more space was needed and the school moved to its present site on Latham Drive. The founding families were courageous in securing our present site and believed in the school’s mission so strongly they mortgaged their homes. The first buildings were “portables” – one of them serving as the headmaster’s office, the faculty lounge, the lunchroom, and the workspace for volunteers.
A gymnasium was built in 1980 and, in 1982, an unoccupied bank branch, donated by the George Tsakopoulos family, was moved to the site to house Middle School classrooms. In 1985, the administration building and two libraries were built. Additional portables were delivered to campus in 1991 for an ever-growing High School student body, and in 1992 the school started looking for additional land for an upper school expansion.
A campus development vision adopted by the Board of Trustees on September 14, 2001, articulated a “One School, Two Campus” model. The plan included a capital campaign to improve and redevelop the Latham Campus facilities for the Lower and Middle School and the development of a second campus for the High School. Over a 15-year period, dozens of sites for the High School were investigated, each one stymied by one obstacle or another, including vernal pools and fairy shrimp, the fire department and fuel tanks, access to water, excessive noise, and unsuitable locations. The 80-acres of land in the foothills off Highway 50 gifted to the school by GenCorp in 2001 proved unbuildable. In mid 2009 an opportunity arose to lease the unoccupied Newton Booth School at 26th and “V” for our High School. With a 2.5 million dollar goal set by the Board of Trustees, enthusiastic fundraising began; unfortunately, due in large part to the economic downturn, the goal was not achieved and plans for Newton Booth were put on hold.
Attention turned back to the Latham site, the location that had stood the test of time for 50 years. The first phase of the Latham Campus redevelopment commenced in 2003 with considerable re-engineering and updating of campus-wide infrastructure and the removal of Tsakopoulos Hall to clear the way for the Frank Science Center. The Science Center opened in May 2005, in time for the AP exams, and was dedicated on September 18, 2005. This multi-lab, state-of-the-art facility serves our Middle and High School students.
As 2006-07 school-year closing ceremonies were ending, the demolition crew arrived to take down the portables from 1964 and prepare the ground for the construction of the new Lower School building. Temporary buildings housed the lower grades during the 2007-08 school year and the SCDS community followed the construction process through peepholes in the fence located especially for young ones. The two-story Lower School building, with spacious classrooms and a multi-windowed library, opened in August 2008 for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. In addition, our youngest students – the pre-kindergartners – moved into a freshly remodeled Early Childhood Center, with an adjacent play area.
In 2010, portable classrooms were removed from the Middle School area to create a beautifully landscaped quad for students to gather for lunch, meetings, and outdoor classes. The High School modernization during the summer of 2012 opened up classrooms with large windows and doors, added a tile-covered passageway, and reconfigured the quad area. During the summer of 2013, the Middle and High School Matthews Library was remodeled with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, an eye-catching wooden ceiling, new carpet, and a redesigned office and Cochrane Reference Room.
In 2014, the Middle School Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology replaced the sixth-grade building from 1974, and Middle School students moved into the two-classroom, two-laboratory complex in January 2015. In addition to the opening of the new Science Center, the 2014-15 year commemorated the school’s 50th anniversary events with a birthday party family festival on September 14, 50 years from the day that Country Day first opened its doors, and festivities on Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2015.
As the physical plant and enrollment continue to grow, so does the strength and breadth of the school’s educational programs. Over the decades, SCDS has added many advanced placement, honors, and elective courses in addition to co-curricular programs such as Mock Trial and “Renaissance Day,” multi-day field trips such as Sutter’s Fort, Marin Headlands, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Boston; and over two-dozen interscholastic athletic teams.
The founders’ foresight in anticipating the need for a school like SCDS was astute. Country Day remains the premier independent, college preparatory, pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade school in the region. Children at every grade level are guided toward the skills and knowledge which, when the time is right, will enable them to be accepted at selective colleges and universities across the country. Excellence in Education continues – we are proud of our graduates whose SAT scores are consistently the highest in the greater Sacramento area.
Read the full history here: “This We Remember: Sacramento Country Day School, 1964-2014.”