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Jim Nichols, Instrumental Music Teacher, 1959-1987

nicholsDuring his tenure at Grossmont High School, Jim Nichols established an incredible legacy of excellence. The California State Legislature twice commended Jim for his superior bands, a result of Jim’s enthusiasm and dedication to instrumental music.

In 1967, Grossmont High’s Blue and Gold Marching Band won first place out of 281 bands from 40 states in a National Holiday Contest sponsored by Disney. The National Champion band, with a total of 208 students in the band, drill team, and flag corps, performed in 1968 in two shows at the Miami Orange Bowl: the Fireworks Pageant and the NFL Playoff game at the Orange Bowl. At the All-Western Band Review at Long Beach, the largest competitive parade in the West, the band won the Mayor’s Trophy in 1961.

During these years, the bands won 27 Parade and Field Show Sweepstakes, marched in the 1961 Rose Parade, the Hollywood Christmas Parade, 28 Mother Goose Parades. The bands were 11 times Corona, Chaffey, and Vista Tournament of Bands Sweepstakes winners. From 1968-1991, the GHS bands also appeared in 25 SD Charger halftime shows as well as 2 Pro-Bowls. The orchestra, concert and jazz bands received consistent superior ratings at yearly festivals.

In 1998, Jim Nichols was honored by the So. Cal. Band & Orch. Assn. with the Lifetime Gold Award and was the San Diego Youth Symphony’s, as well as San Diego County's, Music Educator of the Year for his lifetime commitment to instrumental music.



John L. “Larry” Hoefer, Physics and Chemistry Teacher 1966-1978

While his time at GHS was short, his impact was large as evident from two former student memories.  

Phil Kerig recalls, "Mr. Hoefer was my freshman Science teacher '69-70 and senior Physics teacher '72-73. The epitome of "tough but fair". Emphasis on the former.  I was class clown in every class but his!  His Physics lessons are with me still. We will miss him."  

Another alumnus Richard Hensel remembers, "I had him in '72-73 as 1/2 of a freshman chem/ physics intro course and also in '74-'75 physics class. Remember TTY punch tape computers?? Anyone remember the cream pie episode? He took it so well. We were very lucky with all the quality teachers at Grossmont High at the time. Thank you, John, for your dedication to your students. I cannot forget his white shirt, tie and pocket protector.”

John Neil Coach and Social Science Teacher 2003-2022

Tragically, Social Science Teacher and Soccer, Lacrosse, and Golf Coach John Neill passed away on September 10th.  After teaching at Grossmont for 19 years, John retired in June 2022.  A memorial was held to  honor and mourn his loss on September 25, 2022.  Here’s an online article about John early in his career at GHS.


Before he retired, John contacted us to donate several items documenting his time as a coach at GHS.  These reminders of John’s passing are many team photos, clothing, and even a historic wooden lacrosse stick.

Ken Lehr, GHS Auto Shop Teacher 1978-2004

For 26 years, Ken Lehr guided the GHS Auto Shop program into acclaim and modernization. Grossmont’s program was the first Auto Shop in California to be National Automotive Teachers Educational Foundation certified. Lovingly nicknamed “Dr. Motor” by his students, Ken was twice named California Master Teacher. Ken’s favorite quote was “What is the four stroke cycle?”

In June 2014, a bronze plaque dedicating the new state of the art Automotive Technology Facility to Ken was unveiled on an exterior wall of the building.   At the dedication,  Ken was celebrated by former students, students he mentored in the field, including Jordie Lehr, who followed Ken as the GHS Auto Shop teacher, as well as retirees and staff members.

As a colleague of Ken’s for 26 years, Connie remembers the refuge and “home” Ken provided for students who needed a safe haven as well as the “tough love” that Ken provided.  Lynn and I remember our dad Marlin Baer, after his retirement in 1983, substituting for Ken and thoroughly enjoying it and the program Ken had built.

The caption to the attached photo from the 1986 yearbook reads, “1986 Auto Shop Program was named "the model automotive site for the state of California" with teacher Ken Lehr”, demonstrating Ken's impact on the program.

Michael "Mike" Farrar, GHS English Teacher

Gilbert Michael Farrar, born July 1, 1932 in San Diego, CA, passed away on May 6, 2013 at his home in El Cajon, CA. Mike was the son of Gilbert Francis Farrar and Frances Margaret Farrar and brother of Gail Walker (R.D.). He is survived by his wife of 48 years Judith Elaine Farrar (Wise); children Cassandra Gegax, Andy Farrar (Brenda), Stephanie McDonald (Mark), and Ryan Farrar (Elizabeth); six grand- children; sisters-in-law Arlene Wise, Dee Tucker (Ray); brother-in-law Dennis Wise; and numerous nephews and nieces. Mike was a native San Diegan who graduated from San Diego State College in 1955. He taught for many years at Grossmont High School (1961-1977) and Granite Hills High School (1977-1996). A memorial service will be held on Monday, May 13th, at 4:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the First Presbyterian Church of El Cajon.

Mike Eddy, Class of 1958

GHS Social Studies Teacher 1969-1973, GHS Vice Principal 1974-1979, GUHSD Administrator until 1999

We received word of the passing of Mike Eddy.   Looking through the yearbooks and asking the retired GHS staff, we have discovered this information about his GHS and district involvement. 

Mike became a GHS Social Studies teacher in 1969, teaching until 1974 when he became a Vice Principal.  In 1979, a retiree believes he became Principal of Chaparral High School.  Later he moved to the GUHSD office, where he was the Grossmont Athletic Conference President for many years.  He was a Director in the district until 1999.

Mike and Curt Fauth were long-time friends.  Mike joined the Curt Fauth family for the dedication of Curt’s bench in November 2021.  Mike is seated beside Curt.

Retired teachers recalled Mike offering them advice and encouragement.