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History & Our Campus

Vistamar School was founded in 2005 by a group of civic-minded families following four years of research, planning, fundraising, and personnel recruitment. With an eye towards helping the South Bay region keep pace with its changing population and economic growth, the founders set out to offer a high-quality, college preparatory learning environment, serving a student body that reflects the diversity of Los Angeles.

The founding Board of Trustees appointed Jim Buckheit as Head of School in 2004. Prior to Vistamar, Mr. Buckheit served as Head of School at several schools in the U.S. and abroad. As founding Head of School, Mr. Buckheit played a pivotal role in creating Vistamar’s curriculum by combining the best traditions of American independent schools with exemplary practices drawn from other education systems around the world. Mr. Buckheit also set the highest standard for faculty by recruiting only those who demonstrated the highest level of expertise in their curricular fields and in teaching. That tradition has continued and expanded as the faculty has grown to accommodate enrollment.

Chris Bright joined us July 1, 2018 to serve as our third Head of School.

There is much to celebrate about Vistamar School’s first nineteen years of operation. We are proud of our progress in fulfilling the vision of the founders to create one of the finest independent secondary schools in the nation. As we continue to grow and expand, we have much to look forward to in the years ahead.

Today, Vistamar has graduated 16 classes, beginning with the class of 2008. Vistamar alumni have been accepted at the nation’s best colleges and universities (learn more about Vistamar's college matriculations) and are making their mark as global citizens on their campuses and in their fields.

Our Campus

When Vistamar School was founded in 2005, the Hawaii Street physical plant was a 76,000 square-foot blank canvas. Our founders and school administrators worked with architects and researchers to envision a multi-phased plan ideal for high school students. Our campus was designed to facilitate the comfort, interaction, and flow of a teenage population, incorporating technology into every facet.

Today, the Vistamar campus boasts a state-of-the-art performing arts space; a practice gymnasium; a large, open atrium space; and 22 classrooms clustered into department pods, including four full-sized science laboratories and a contemporary creative commons housing the visual and performing arts pod. A recent addition is the Viking Commons, a new commercial kitchen and gathering space for the school. The commercial kitchen provides a nutritious lunch daily for the entire school community and the innovative communal space has expanded ways for Vistamar’s students, faculty, and staff to connect. Future plans for campus expansion include updates to our gymnasium. 

Vistamar School is located at the intersection of four cities: Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hawthorne, and El Segundo. Whether you’re a prospective student or family, a current member of the Vistamar community, or an alumnus/alumna, we invite you to visit us.

high school private school el segundo exterior

Vistamar's campus is an innovative facility that challenges the norm of educational architecture. The flexible, open space was created in the model of successful collaborative and leading edge companies like Google. Intentionally designed with a sense of openness and with "hang-out spaces" throughout enables classroom discussions to flow into the halls and into the comfortable seating areas.  Students and faculty have a place to continue their academic conversations as an extension of the classroom. As a school committed to best practices in education, we deliberately designed a campus that accommodates and supports the interaction and flow of our community.

Hallway to Creative Commons

Creative Commons Digital Media Room

Creative Commons 2D Art Room

The Viking Commons

Creative Commons Music Room

Vistamar Gym NBA floor

Vistamar Gym


Vistamar Gym NBA floor