Foothiller Footsteps: The Big G on the Hill

Posted: May 22nd, 2015 | Columns, Foothiller Footsteps, Top Stories | 1 Comment

By Connie and Lynn Baer

Next fall, Grossmont High School will celebrate its 95th anniversary. In honor of that celebration, over the next five months we will explore pieces of our amazing history, beginning with today’s column. Plan ahead to join us Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, when we honor the bonds that Foothillers have shared since 1920.

Since its beginnings, Grossmont pride has been shown through the use of the G. In the museum, for example, in our 1920s display, there is the G on a 1921 student ring, the Circle G pin given yearly to a select few outstanding seniors, and the G on student sweaters. However, there were larger G’s that proclaimed Foothiller pride.

Volunteers recently touched up the Big G. (Courtesy GHS Museum)

Volunteers recently touched up the Big G. (Courtesy GHS Museum)

In the early 1940s, a large G was painted on a hill behind the campus, in the Northmont area near Fletcher Hills. Later, according to Gene Chubb, Class of 1948, in 1947-48, the Hi-Y Club (YMCA), of which he was a member, built the Big G made out of shrubs blooming in colors of blue and gold on the slope in front of the original school building. During the 1960s the shrubs were showing their age, but still intermittently bloomed.

In the 1960s and 1970s, there was also a large G on Cowles Mountain (with an S for SDSU on the other side). Yearly, as part of a weeklong freshman initiation, ninth-grade students “whitewashed” the G with alkali or alum powder used to mark base lines on baseball fields, not white paint.

Class of 1964 alumna Carol Suggs Ambrosia remembers the ritual vividly.

“It was so hot that we all almost got heat stroke,” Suggs Ambrosia said. “I remember coming home and submerging myself in my bathtub, in the coldest water I could get out of the tap. I got ice cubes to make it colder. The fantastic tradition truly gave us a sense of pride in being able to become Foothillers with that initiation ritual!”

Then, over nine Saturdays in 1993, thanks to fundraising by the GHS band and the generosity of Gene Chubb of RCP Block and Brick, parents and band members created the Big G we now see on the hill in front of the original granite “castle,” with gravel and 770 bricks painted gold.

In 2004, alumnus Matthew Halgren remembers that the Key Club repainted both the Big G in front of the school as well as the little G by the flagpole on the lower quad. He recalls that his grandfather, Ken Whitcomb, Class of 1949, was also a member of the Hi-Y club that first created the G in 1947. The pride in the Grossmont G is multigenerational!

Recently, the Big G on the Hill was renovated due to the generosity of Chubb and GHS Benefactor Bill Woolman, Class of 1962. Thanks to these two wonderful men, the G was repaired and painted, the frame of the G redone in stone to match the 1922 granite of the original school, and the gravel replenished.

“These kinds of projects help keep our community proud of our school, staff, and students,” said Principal Dan Barnes. “These kinds of things would never get done if it weren’t for your efforts and care of Grossmont High School.”

Visit the Grossmont High School Museum to learn more about our nearly 95 years of history. The museum’s regular public hours are noon to 4 p.m. on June 3 and July 1, or by appointment.

—Connie and Lynn Baer write on behalf of the GHS Museum. Reach the museum by phone at 619-668-6140; by email at; or visit the website,

One Comments

  1. I would like to purchase a plaque for another alum. Her name is
    Nancy Mercer. Please advise me as to the next step in this process.
    Delphi BAllinger Class of 1954

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