We've Got History
Our school has so much history. It was founded in 1924 so it is approaching a century old. We have been rebuilt and modernized over the years, but through it all, we have remained proud Balboa Bulldogs. One of our graduates even became a U.S. Congressman: Bulldog Bill Lowery represented San Diego's North County from 1980-90.
This historic school is named for the bold Spanish explorer famous for being the first European to explore the Pacific Ocean from its eastern shore: Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
Balboa's amazing adventures captured the world's growing interest in the New World that led to the centuries of exploration that settled the Americas.
The Spanish-born Balboa was inspired by Christopher Columbus's great discovery of the New World in 1492. He believed fortune and glory could be found there, so with an equally visionary partner he sailed west toward Colombia, South America, searching for treasures like pearls and gold. But their treasure hunt had to be abandoned because their ship started leaking. Their riches were confiscated by the island government where they became stranded.
Desperate and in debt, in 1510 he stowed away on a ship bound for Panama with his faithful dog, Leoncico. When they arrived at San Sebastian, their hopes were crushed when they discovered it had been burned to the ground. Balboa convinced the others to travel southwest with him to a spot he had seen on his earlier expedition. In 1511, Balboa founded a colony, the first European settlement in South America. He befriended local Natives and married the chief's daughter. Soon after, in 1513, he sailed with hundreds of Spaniards and Natives across the sea and then made the difficult journey over land through extremely dense tropical rainforests. It was a brutal journey in brutal times. Along the way, his expedition fought many local Indians and killed Natives.
Balboa became the first European to see the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean in September 1513, when he and his dog climbed a mountain peak in Panama and first spied the Pacific. Balboa traveled to the ocean and claimed it and all the land that touched it for Spain. He and his expedition explored the coast conquering Natives and stealing their gold and pearls.
Once again fortune and glory did not last long for Balboa. In 1514, his enemies back in Spain turned the king and others against him. They accused him of treason, had him arrested and beheaded in January 1519.
But in the end, glory was restored to Balboa. History honors him as the first European to cross the Americas. Today parks and major streets throughout Panama bear his name and they erected monuments to him honoring his discovery of the South Seas. In Panama, the money is called the Balboa and his face is on many coins there. There is even part of the Moon named after him, the lunar crater Balboa. In California including in San Francisco and San Diego, Balboa's name is on many important places, like Balboa Park. Next time you are in Balboa Park, look upon one of the highest points there, the cupola tower near the Old Globe Theater and see Balboa's ship at the very top.