‘Original Scripps Ranch kids’ describe area’s growth

Susan Hannifin-MacNab played on the boys Little League teams in Scripps Ranch before there were any girls’ teams. (courtesy photo)

‘Original Scripps Ranch kids’ describe area’s growth

Part 2 in a two-part series

Scripps Ranch didn’t have a high school until 1993 or a middle school until 1998.
The nearest options were Wangenheim Middle School or Mira Mesa High School in Mira Mesa. Some local students opted to attend a math-science magnet program at Gompers Preparatory Academy 17 miles away, in San Diego’s Chollas View community.

“If Scripps Ranch High School had existed back then, I may have made a different decision,” said Paul Manoguerra, who chose to go to Gompers. “The other part of it was my attraction to the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula. And I got to meet other students from Clairemont, Linda Vista and North Park. They became lifelong friends.”

There were no sports programs at Gompers. If magnet students from Scripps Ranch like Nils Persson wanted to compete athletically, they would have to catch a bus to Mira Mesa High School at lunch.

“Some of my friends at Gompers played tennis, soccer and badminton,” said Persson, insisting that traveling wasn’t a problem. “We were adapting machines. You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

In addition to the lack of schools, there were few churches in Scripps Ranch at the time.

“I was raised Catholic,” Manoguerra said. “Our parish was Good Shepherd in Mira Mesa. That was the nearest Catholic church.”

In 1985, while Manoguerra was attending Gompers, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego established St. Gregory the Great in Scripps Ranch. At first, the parish had no building or property.

“Their first mass was celebrated outside in Hoyt Park,” Manoguerra said. “My parents were active as founding members.”

According to St. Gregory’s website, weekday masses were originally held in the living room of the church’s founding pastor, Father Jim Poulsen. Susan Hannifin-MacNab recalled her family attending services in the auditorium at Jerabek Elementary School, then later in a neighboring business park.

After 12 years of fundraising, St. Gregory the Great purchased its current property on Blue Cypress Drive. The parish broke ground there in 1997 and the first mass was celebrated in the new church in October 1999.

“The church is huge today, with close to 1,500 families,” Hannifin-MacNab said. “I Still go there.”

Another early Scripps Ranch institution that drew the community together was the Scripps Ranch Swim & Racquetball Club.

“It was the only community pool in the area at the time,” Persson said. “If young people wanted to play or socialize, that was the place. It was kind of the center of the universe when school was out and the weather was hot.”

Persson, Hannifin-MacNab and Manoguerra all spoke of Scripps Ranch in the 1970s and 1980s as a “bubble,” almost like an island in many ways. All agree that the shared experiences of bussing to another school, of building churches from scratch and gathering at one common hangout shaped each child’s character and guided their future.

Manoguerra, who now lives in Washington, acknowledged that there’s still a strong sense of community in Scripps Ranch.

“I notice it when I’m back at my folks’ house,” he said.

Rob Martin’s family moved to Scripps Ranch from Long Beach in the mid-1970s after his father, who served in the U.S. Army, returned home from a tour of duty in Vietnam. Martin remembers Pomerado Road then as very windy, lightly travelled two-lane back route to Poway.

“I had an aunt and uncle that lived in Poway and we only saw them a couple times a year,” he said. “Scripps Ranch and Poway were very separate. Nowadays there’s tons of traffic (between the two communities), but back then it was very sparsely travelled. We were pretty isolated.”

Hannifin-MacNab said
isolation gave Scripps Ranch “the feel of being a small town on the edge of a big city.” She theorized that the cohesiveness and unity of growing up in a small-town atmosphere created the charm and attractiveness that ultimately drew more people to Scripps Ranch and the surrounding area.


The street where Paul Manoguerra grew up was incorrect in part 1 of “Original Scripps Ranch Kids.” Manoguerra resided on Tribuna Avenue.

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