Gates, Oprah Winfrey Visit High School

Thursday, February 16th 2006, 11:14 am
By: News On 6

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and talk show host Oprah Winfrey visited a high school on Wednesday, surprising some of its students.

Gates and his wife, Melinda, spent about three hours at San Diego High School and met with nine students for an upcoming segment of ``The Oprah Winfrey Show'' about the billionaire's school reform efforts.

Wednesday's visit was not publicly announced and reporters were not allowed on campus. Mark Toney, 42, said his 16-year-old daughter, Daejha, called him about the visitors.

``She said 'Dad, you're not going to believe it. Oprah is here. I waved at her and she waved back at me,''' Toney said.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave $11 million to the San Diego Unified School District in 2003 to reform three large high schools, said Music McCall, a spokeswoman for the district.

The district used some money to divide San Diego High School into six smaller schools specializing in business, international studies, media, and science, among others, McCall said.

``Instead of being at a big high school with 1,400 students, you're at a school with 400 students where people know you better,'' McCall said. ``They learn more and get more out of school.''

The goal of the program was to increase the number of college-ready San Diego high school graduates, particularly among low-income and minority students.