History and Lore

Here are several stories worth sharing:

Link to Redwood Construction

A recent discovery of a copy of the 16mm film that was made during the construction of Redwood High School has been located. The original 16mm film and DVD copy are in the Principal's office safe room. In the link below, you can see the first Principal Don Kreps and Superintendent Chet Carlisle supervising the construction. Pay special attention to the tiling process, meant to last a lifetime! Dick Hart, Basketball Coach in red jacket, and the first Assistant Principals Emmy Wulzen and Jack Baat stroll the allmost finished campus. It's hard to believe that I was among that first group of students... yes... that's what it looked like in the late 50s! Link to Redwood Construction


And yes... the "Mondrian" tile still graces the halls of Redwood High!

Photo by Nick Suntzeff '70


LICACUIT..."WHAT'S IN A NAME ANYWAY? " ...Jason Lewis '87
Why was this school named Redwood?  It's ridiculous.  There isn't a Redwood
tree in sight.  The only actual Redwood in the area can be found in the
backyards of neighboring homes -- their lawn furniture.
I did a little research on the question.  It seems like Redwood once had
another name.  Back in 1956 when The Third School was being built, the Board
of Trustees received many name suggestions from the public.  At least 66 of
these were seriously considered.
Some people thought about combining the names of local towns.  There was
Larkcort, Madera Lark, Larkspur-Corte Madera, and Twin Cities High.  Others
thought in terms of trees.  Their suggestions included Laurel, Madrone, Oak
Island High, and Manzanillo.  Doesn't the Manzanillo tree grow poisonous
Other suggested names referred to the school's geographic location.  These
included Fairview, Hillcrest, and Bayview High School.  Wait a second.
Fairview?  What view?  Hillcrest?  What hill?  Bayview?  Give me a break.
The only place on campus where the Bay is visible is from the roof.
One group of young Larkspur residents came with a Polynesian theme for the
school.  Can you imagine attending Bali High with a stadium called The
Coconut Bowl and a team known as the Outriggers?
Eventually, on July 16, 1956, the Board of Trustees selected the name of
Licatuit in honor of an Indian tribe in this area.  Our county was named
after Marin, its great chief.
This was not a wise choice.  The community was appalled  and I don't blame
them.  Personally, I would hate to attend a school called Licatuit.  Many
people feared that during athletic events, the opposing team would be likely
to call out such obscenities as "Lick-a-t..."  The Board was forced to
withdraw their decision immediately.
On August 6, 1956, the name Licatuit was rescinded by the Board of Trustees.
Two days later, a new committee was formed.  Eventually the name Redwood was
selected on the romantic notion that was school was located "at the
beginning of the highway through the Redwood Empire."
I guess the name Redwood isn't so bad.  Anything's better than Licatuit.

TIKI DOWN! Richard Torney '66

Many years ago, as the Redwood High School Class of 1966 prepared to graduate, suggestions were made about how to use the surplus money in the class treasury. A vote was taken to purchase either a new piece of equipment for the School Office Staff, or a Tiki God Statue for the quad. No surprise, the Tiki won!

Sausalito’s TIKI JUNCTION artist Barney West was commissioned to carve an 8 foot tall, 2 foot diameter Polynesian War God out of a solid redwood tree trunk. My research has not been able to determine how and when the statue was installed, but it stood sentinel over the many students attending Redwood for years to follow.

In January of 2004, I was taking an Adult Ed class, and wandered in to the quad during a break. To my dismay, our Tiki’s base had deteriorated, and he was face down in the mud! I returned the following day, enlisted the assistance of some students, and got the statue up on some blocks. I then met with long time staff member and Vice Principal Sue Chelini (she was Miss Susan Fitzharris, the Home Ec. teacher in our day). Sue introduced me to Joe Downey, the woodshop instructor, and with his help, the Tiki was moved to a safe and dry location to sit out the winter. I was interviewed by Redwood Bark reporter Stefanie Lynch, and an article about the downed Tiki was printed in the January 30, 2004 issue. Planning then began for restoration.

Ed Goudie of Walnut Creek, the Structural Engineer involved with my San Francisco residential remodel project, approved my plan to insert steel pipes up through the legs of the Tiki to provide support. He suggested 2 inch pipes set in to 24 inches of concrete. It turns out that Ed’s sister-in-law is Ricki Zoellner’66! It is a small world.

As the start of the 2004 school year approached, the Tiki was prepared for reinstallation. I began by cutting off the rotted base at the bottom of the feet. I used epoxy to stabilize the remaining deteriorated wood, and mahogany “soles” were attached to hold the fragile toes together. Deep holes were bored in to the legs to receive the steel pipes.
Dan Dickson ’66, supplied and installed a copper cap on the top of the head. Rory Cameron ’66 and Bill Dunn ’66 excavated a new hole in the ground near the original location in the quad. I fabricated a form for the concrete with raised lettering to permanently emboss “1966” below the statue’s feet.

Finally the “TIKI ERECTION COMMITTEE” was assembled to put the 250 pound carving back in place. 1966 classmates Jim Bedillion, Rory Cameron, Jeff Craemer, Tucker Crosby, Art Curley, Bill Dunn, Lowell McKegney and I all worked together to complete the installation. Our Principal Don Kreps arrived to observe, along with my wife Tracy Stott ’74, with her camera. The IJ sent a reporter and a photographer to document the event, and Stefanie Lynch returned to report for the Bark. The Tiki was lifted on to a temporary support, braced into position, rebar installed, and concrete was placed to make a new footing. After curing, the braces and forms were removed, the Tiki was pressure washed, and a coat of sealer was applied to help our class icon remain for years to come.

On August 6, 2005, the IJ ran a front page banner photo of our Tiki, and had a full photo and article on the first page of the Marin Section. The September 16, 2005 issue of the Bark also included an article on the reinstallation.

Next time you visit the campus, be sure to go in to the quad and see the restored Tiki. Remember that this War God supports our fighting spirit, and the all heart redwood represents the love we have for our Alma Mater REDWOOD HIGH! Go Giants.

(Recently cleaned and varnished by Richard Torney... thank you!) 2023


What a year 2020-2021 has been for Redwood students! They've been back on campus for six weeks. Graduation took place on June 11 on the Troppmann Football Field. Graduates and guests spread out and kept social distances as California didn't officially open up until June 15, 2021. No matter how the school year went, the students and staff excelled at making an outstanding education their top priority. Charlotte DeForrest, a BARK Journalism student wrote a wonderful article on the history of Redwood's Graduations...
Breaking Down the History of Redwood Graduations.