On June 3, 1887, 11 seniors from Santa Barbara High School were celebrated in a standing-room-only graduation ceremony at Lobero’s Opera House.

The Lobero was lavishly decorated with flags and bunting and a large floral banner proclaiming “Class of ‘87” spelled out with marigolds set against a background of evergreens.

Santa Barbara High School opened in 1875 on the corner of Anapamu and De La Vina streets. The sunny, seaside educational facility was one of the first ten high schools in the entire state of California. In its initial years, the number of students at the high school was astoundingly small. School attendance in California was only mandatory from ages 8 – 14, and, as most families were more occupied by either domestic labor or gaining employment outside of the home, only a small percentage of children went on to pursue a high school education.

On September 23, 1886, the Santa Barbara Independent reported that of a total of 2,864 students in Santa Barbara schools, only 14 attended high school.

However, by 1887, the high school finally had enough seniors to justify an elaborate graduation ceremony, and Jose Lobero’s newly built Opera House was rented for an elaborate evening ceremony.

In addition to the bestowing of diplomas, the graduation was filled with festivities fitting for the elegant Opera House. The momentous occasion was scored by piano, violin, and vocal performances. Students also read essays and gave orations in celebration of their educational achievement.

The Lobero would continue to host Santa Barbara High School graduation ceremonies in 1888, 1889, 1890, 1891, and 1893.

While we wait in the wings for things to return to normal, we hope you enjoy a peek into the Lobero archives.

We hope you’re staying safe and enjoying the arts from the comfort of your own home. Go ahead and read more stories below.