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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Cerritos High turns back the time in prelude to 50th anniversary celebration

Former Cerritos High principal Dr. Gary Smuts retrieves a 25-year old time capsule that was housed inside one of the walls to the east gymnasium during a mini walk down memory lane as part of festivities leading up to the school’s 50th anniversary celebration, which will be held on Mar. 26. PHOTO BY LOREN KOPFF.


March 10, 2022

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter


Cerritos High will be celebrating its 50th anniversary on Mar. 26 but the school wanted to give a sneak peak of its past this past Monday afternoon. A time capsule that was stored inside one of the walls of the east gymnasium 25 years ago was taken out to give the current staff and students a look of what life was like in the mid to late 1990s.

Doing the honors of removing the plastic storage bin of memorabilia was former Cerritos principal Dr. Gary Smuts, who also served as the superintendent of the ABC Unified School District. Also on hand for the festivities was longtime former Cerritos athletic director Dennis McReynolds.

“Schools, I think, are the most fun four years of a child’s life,” said Smuts. “If done well, what school does is develops and increases the index of our life. When I was in school, I was in athletics, I was in the scholarship association, and I was even in the choir. Now, I have a horrible voice, but I have an appreciation for choral music because I was in the choir.

“Good schools look both backwards and forwards,” he later continued. “You want to keep the legacy of what’s important; of what works at this school. A lot of the faculty that are here [today], have been here and that’s an indorsement of the history of the school.”

Some of the items Smuts removed from the storage bin was a cassette tape, a Tower Records weekly release of albums for November, a Walkman, a ticket stub for Forrest Gump, posters and some    copies of the school’s newspaper, The Informer.

Smuts was a teacher at Cerritos from 1974-1986, then became an assistant principal before coming back to Cerritos in 1990 to serve as the school’s principal until 1998. Seven years later, he became the ABCUSD superintendent until 2012.

While Smuts couldn’t point out a top moment or two during his time at Cerritos, he said that the older you get all the good moments rush together and the times he was the proudest of to be the principal of Cerritos was when the kids were doing something with one another or when they came together.

“Probably one of the proudest moments was when I wasn’t even directly associated with,” he recalled. “When Dennis and Joan McReynolds retired, their past student body presidents all got together and all the student body presidents in the history of the school showed up at their house. That’s unprecedented. These people were all over the country and they came back and they spent the entire night [at their house] telling stories. To me, when there’s that siren call to come back to something that was so important to you, I can’t not be there. I have to be there.”

The 50th anniversary festivities will take place throughout the school from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Mar. 26.


After one season, Cerritos is making another coaching change with a familiar face returning to the varsity ranks. Jonathan Watanabe, who spent last season coaching the freshman team, replaces Lance Convento, who was the co-head coach this past season, as the varsity head coach. Also joining Watanabe will be Kevin Enomoto, who shared the coaching duties from the 2015-2016 season to the 2020-2021 campaign. Former standout Ryan Scammahorn will be coaching the junior varsity team as well as be the program’s strength and conditioning coach and Julian Dimacale, who was the other co-head coach with Convento, will be the coach of the freshman team and serve as the program’s skill coach.


Artesia High, which has already surpassed last season’s win total, has split its first eight games prior to this past Wednesday’s game against Bolsa Grande High. The Pioneers will host Fairmont Prep on Saturday and travel to Westminster High on Tuesday.

Cerritos edged Downey High 4-3 in nine innings this past Monday and faced the Vikings again this past Wednesday. The Dons (5-1) travel to Los Altos High today before facing South East High and Buena Park High on Wednesday and Thursday in the first two games of the Anaheim Lions Tournament.

Gahr is off to a slow start, winning once in its first six games against CIF-Southern Section Division 1 teams. The Gladiators faced El Toro High this past Wednesday in the first game of the El Dorado Steakhouse Tournament and will be home to Mira Costa High on Saturday, Mission Viejo High on Monday before facing Hart High on Tuesday.

John Glenn High is winless through four games, scoring eight runs thus far as it hosted Norwalk High this past Wednesday. The Eagles won’t play again until Mar. 24 when they host Western High.

La Mirada High, which has won three straight and not lost in five straight, faced Santa Margarita High this past Wednesday in the opener of the Perfect Game Showdown. The Matadores (5-1-1) then played Poudre High out of Colorado on Mar. 10 and will meet Temecula Valley High today before ending the tournament on Saturday. La Mirada will open Suburban League play on Tuesday at Norwalk.

Norwalk is off to one of the program’s best starts in recent history at 7-2 as the Lancers hosted Garden Grove High on Mar. 10 before another home game against Mary Star of the Sea High on Saturday.

Valley Christian High fell to Ontario Christian High 8-3 this past Tuesday to fall to 5-6 as the Defenders will next be in action on Tuesday when they go to Whittier Christian High.


Artesia (2-6) will play a pair of games on Saturday as part of the Santa Fe Tournament before visiting Paramount High on Tuesday while Gahr is off to a solid start at 8-4. The Gladiators hosted Kennedy High on Mar. 10 and will entertain Bishop Amat High on Tuesday.

Glenn is so far proving that last season’s 10-6 mark was not a fluke as the Eagles have won seven of their first 10 games heading into this past Wednesday’s game against Norwalk. Glenn will travel to Buena Park today, host Gabrielino High on Monday and visit Bravo High on Wednesday.

La Mirada is off to a 5-2 start as it plays in the Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, AZ through Saturday. The Matadores will then visit Norwalk on Tuesday and Etiwanda High on Thursday.

Norwalk (8-3) hosted Western on Mar. 10 and will play twice on Saturday in the Santa Fe Tournament while Whitney High is winless in three games, being outscored 46-7. The Wildcats hosted Costa Mesa High on Mar. 10 and will go to Cabrillo High on Tuesday.


Award-winning HMG-CN is a  hyper -local community news and investigative reporting print newspaper in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.  Covering Cerritos, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, Norwalk, La Mirada Lamplighter Community Newspaper, La Palma, Commerce, Downey, Bellflower, Pico Rivera.