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Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
December 7
1921 - William S. Hart marries actress Winifred Westover [story]
Bill and Winifred Hart

Children’s voices filled the air and food trucks filled their bellies Saturday as several hundred students, parents, alumni and educators convened at Sulphur Springs Community School to celebrate 150 years of elementary education in Canyon Country.

“This is truly a homecoming weekend for the district,” School Board President Denis DeFigueiredo told the crowd, noting that Ulysses S. Grant was president when it all began “seven score and 10 years ago.”

“Our students have (gone on to) become leaders in their communities as they have chosen careers in business, technology, science, the arts, education, the trades, medicine, law, public service as first responders and in local and national government,” he said. “Our little corner of the world in Canyon Country has had an influence for good literally all over the world.”

Organized over several months by a volunteer committee and emceed by district Superintendent Dr. Catherine Kawaguchi, the formal event included a living history portrayal of homesteader Thomas F. Mitchell and performances by the choirs of Sulphur Springs, Mitchell, Valley View, Leona Cox and Canyon Springs schools.

A museum exhibit spanning all 150 years lined both sides of a classroom building hallway and set the stage for the historic day. Kids from across the Sulphur Springs Union School District stepped back to the 1870s as they moved from booth to booth with hands-on activities such as rope making, gold panning, doll making, stick games and laundry.

Prepared for burial was a time capsule filled with mementoes and recent news clippings to show what Canyon Country living was like “way back in 2022.”

Saturday’s event was supposed to include the opening of a similar capsule buried 25 years ago, but nobody could remember where it was planted. The campus has changed considerably since then; a new, permanent building now stands where the main part of the quasquicentennial celebration took place in 1997.



A century before there was a place named “Canyon Country,” education in the area started in 1872 when Martha Mitchell began teaching her children and the neighbor kids inside the Mitchell family home at what is now the Vista Canyon Ranch development. A version of the small adobe house now sits across town in the Heritage Junction section of William S. Hart Park.

Within a couple of years, schooling moved over to the neighboring Lang family’s Sulphur Springs Hotel. The building was situated near the actual “sulphur spings” – a natural occurrence of smelly mineral water in the Santa Clarita River that the Langs advertised for its health benefits.

By 1879, there were enough school-age children in the area to meet the state’s requirement – nine pupils – to form a school district. According to the late historian A.B. Perkins, those nine children – actually 10 – included four Mitchells, four Langs and two Stewarts.

An enrollment of 17 youngsters from eight different families in 1885 put too big a strain on any family home, so the Mitchells are said to have donated a school site. A proper one-room school sprang up at the site of today’s Sulphur Springs Community School in 1886. It served admirably for 54 years when a second room was finally needed. The school board erected a new two-room, stucco sided schoolhouse in 1940, and the old one-room school became a wood shop. Florence Mitchell taught in one room, Geneva Dietrich in the other.

Thus were the humble beginnings of the Sulphur Springs Union School District, which now encompasses nine campuses and a total enrollment of 5,200. The “Union” in the name refers to the consolidation of two or more districts; Sulphur Springs absorbed the previously separate Mint Canyon School District in 1944.

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