May 23rd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1954, a story ran in the Los Angeles Times announcing that a second school would soon be built in Seal Beach.

Seal Beach Superintendent of Schools Jerry H. McGaugh had been planning the new school since 1948 to accommodate rising student enrollment. It took some strong arm tactics and behind the scenes wheeling and dealing, but ultimately land bordering between Bolsa Avenue and Bay Boulevard (later renamed Seal Beach Boulevard) was purchased in 1952 for an new intermediate school.

This was the second time McGaugh had spearheaded the building of a Seal Beach school. When the original 1913 Seal Beach elementary school at Twelfth Street and Pacific Coast Highway was severely damaged in the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, he guided the construction of a new school on the same grounds to completion in 1935.

The new school must have been a dream project for McGaugh. Beyond adding twelve new classrooms for grades six to eight, the layout and facilities seemed more appropriate for a high school with a spacious gymnasium, auditorium, music room, cafeteria shop building, and spacious playground.

When McGaugh retired in June 1955 a few months before the new school opened, the school board surprised him by naming it “J. H. McGaugh Intermediate School,” a fitting honor for a gentleman who guided Seal Beach’s education for nearly three decades and whose influence continues to be felt today in the form of the first-class school he gave the community.

– Michael Dobkins

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