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Kearny High School is named after General Stephen Watts Kearny, who joined the U.S. Army at the time of the War of 1812 and served through the War with Mexico. A former military base on the land, Camp Kearny, was near where the current campus is located.
Kearny High opened its doors in 1941 in Linda Vista. The original school was a building in the neighborhood before moving into what is now Montgomery Middle School located at 2470 Ulric Street San Diego, CA 92111. The Class of 1943, was the first graduating class. In September 1945, Army ROTC was introduced on-campus. In 1953 the high school moved to its present location on Wellington.
Mary Viletta Hutchinson, b. in Kenesaw, Nebraska. Graduated from San Diego State University(BA) and Pomona College (MA). The class of 1965 dedicated the yearbook to her. Tess Gerritsen (an author noted below) wrote of Hutchinson's powerful and positive influence.
Maynard Glen Albertson (1918-2013), b. in Blackstone, Virginia. Joined the US Navy in 1937 and retired in 1957. He then graduated from San Diego State University and became a history teacher. He taught at Kearny for almost 20 years and had a profound influence on many who later followed him into the teaching profession.
During the 2004-2005 school year, Kearny transformed from a traditional high school into a campus with four specialized small schools, each with an emphasis on a different field of study. The schools are:
The small school system is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kearny is one of three such small schools in the San Diego area, the other two being San Diego High School and Crawford Educational Complex. The class of 2005 was the first graduating class from Kearny's small school system. The small schools are distinct from one another with different principals, teaching staff and course requirements. Each school offers specialized classes only available through their specific program.
Kearny High uses a 4x4 block schedule, which means that students are able to complete four full classes a semester (fall term and spring term) totaling eight full classes a year, rather than the traditional six year-long courses. This enables students to complete a year's full curriculum in a more condensed term and allows them to enroll in additional electives or ROP courses.
Since Kearny has specialized academies, each school is able to offer a variety of elective courses not commonly taught in public schools. Each academy offers individual AP, ROP, and electives pertaining to their specific theme. All four schools have come together with a common emphasis on planetary changes and global warming, using various technological skills to educate the student body.
Exclusive to Kearny High, students who display academic excellence are able to take Mesa Fast Track their junior and senior years. This program allows students to enroll in college courses at Mesa College for both high school and college credit during the school day, and further enables the students to succeed post high school.
The current Athletic Director is Wrestling Coach Jonathan Sachs.
Kearny has had many notable coach/teachers. Tom Barnett graduated from Hoover High School, but taught and coached at Kearny for more than 30 years. He was preceded as football coach by the legendary Birt Slater who taught and coached from 1959 to 1977. Slater died at 89 in 2013.
1973-74: men's basketball team was undefeated, 32-0, coached by Wayne Colborne and Tim Short. Players included Mark Hoaglin, Donald Page, Alan Rhodes, and Rick Taylor. 
1975: men's golf team was undefeated, 13-0-1, coached by Wayne Colborne and Tom Barnett. Players included Tom Zamora, Steve Olson, Chris Maggay, Terry Kersey, Cameron Fellows, Jim Spawton.
^Gordon, Jeff. "Scott Travels Clean Path to Success", St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 3, 1999. Accessed August 12, 2007. "Darnay Scott left St. Louis in 1988 as a combative teen-ager who would take on all comers.... He blossomed at Kearny High School, starred at San Diego State with his buddy Marshall Faulk and moved on to play for the Cincinnati Bengals."