Why San Bernardino High School is known as “Cardinal City”

Photo Tyro Yearbook 1963: Former California Governor Edmund Brown discussing the Cardinal City Charter with SBHS alumni Michael Lippitt.
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By Maria Santoyo

San Bernardino High School, also known as​ ‘’Cardinal City​,” is the only high school to be considered a city. The idea of Cardinal City was introduced in 1949 but was only official for
Cardinal citizens.

In 1956, San Bernardino Mayor Donald Mauldin, who was a cardinal alumni as well as SBCUSD superintendent, signed the Cardinal City Charter, making SBHS an official city in San Bernardino. In 1963, Michael Lippitt, a student at SBHS who was serving as the unofficial mayor of Cardinal City, took the next step, presenting the idea to Governor Edmund Brown who signed what is now known as the Cardinal City Charter.

56 years after he graduated from San Bernardino High School Lippitt was enthusiastic to hear back from his alma mater and explain how the idea of the city charter came about.

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“As a junior I met an intellectual, introverted, and, basically, socialist democrat – although that term did not exist. His name was Richard Rodriguez. He was wildly curious and acutely aware of the political environment at the city, state and federal levels. He saw something in me that I didn’t know about myself at the time: that I could have a future in politics. He was an avid reader and had some deep familial relations with The Sun. Because of those contacts, he had access to then-Governor Edmund Brown. Richard led the charge, through my leadership but his vision, to approach our Principal Keith Dolan with the idea of getting a City Charter. This idea passed our student council and we appealed to our local assemblyman to create a bill to make that a reality. Over a period of time, several months, the bill passed and was signed by the Governor. At some point after that, the Governor came to town to hand deliver and bestow on us the charter.”

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