Beverly Hills High School Explained

Beverly Hills High School
Motto:Today Well Lived
Type:Public high school
District:Beverly Hills Unified School District
Address:241 Moreno Drive
City:Beverly Hills
Enrollment:2,368 (as of 2005-06)
Faculty:100.4 (on FTE basis)
Colors:Black, orange and white
Principal:Josh Guidetti
Television Station:KBEV
Broadcasting Station:KBEV
Website:School website

Beverly Hills High School (usually abbreviated as "Beverly" or as "BHHS") is the only major public high school in Beverly Hills, California. (The other public high school in Beverly Hills, Moreno High School, is a small alternative school located on Beverly's campus.)

Beverly is part of the Beverly Hills Unified School District and located on 19.5acres on the west side of Beverly Hills, at the border of the Century City area of Los Angeles. The land was previously part of the Beverly Hills Speedway board track, which was torn down in 1924. Beverly, which serves all of Beverly Hills, was founded in 1927. The original buildings were designed by Robert F. Farquhar in the French Normandy style. The school also receives its funding from its on campus oil tower.

As of the 2005-06 school year, the school had an enrollment of 2,368 students and 100.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 23.5.[1]

Awards and recognition

During the 1999-2000 and 2004-05 school years, Beverly Hills High School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education[2] [3], the highest award an American school can receive.[4] [5] Newsweek ranked Beverly Hills High School as the 267th best public high school in the country.

Student demographics

In 2008, about 17% of the 2,412 students at the school are of Asian descent, about 5% are Latino and about 7% are African American. 68% of the students are white, a category that includes 655 students of Persian descent. [6] Most of them are Persian whose parents fled the Iranian Revolution. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that Persians make up one third of the student body at BHHS.,0,7972368.story?track=rss

About 35% of Beverly's current student body were born outside the United States, and 42% of its students speak a first language other than English. Many of these students are of Persian descent., many Russian,Israeli, and French students have also started to attend BHHS.

In the media

Diversity program issue (2007)

For many years, Beverly has selected high-achieving students from twelve LAUSD middle schools on diversity permits in an attempt to increase the number of minorities enrolled. Selections have been made based on test scores, grades and writing samples. However, according to enrollment data for the 2006-2007 school year, seven out of ten students who entered the school this way are of Asian ethnicity. In April 2007, due to pressure from parents and activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, who criticized the school for not recruiting more African-American and Latino students, Superintendent Kari McVeigh agreed to extend the application deadline until April 27, as reported in the Los Angeles Times and the Beverly Hills Courier, hoping that more students from these minority groups would seek to enroll. According to the Beverly Hills Courier (May 25, 2007), "civil rights leaders hailed the final student selections" as "an honest effort to obtain ethnic diversity." [7] [8]

Other media

In the media, students of Beverly Hills High School are typically portrayed as absurdly affluent. For example, in the fictional version of Beverly in the film version of The Beverly Hillbillies, Davids serve students gourmet coffee in the hallways.

Beverly has been featured in many movies, including Clueless, Real Women Have Curves, Whatever It Takes, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, and It's a Wonderful Life,, both of which featured a scene in Beverly's unique "Swim Gym," perhaps the only gymnasium that has a basketball court that can split open to reveal a recreational-sized, 25yd swimming pool.

Beverly has been featured in cartoons, including Beverly Hills Teens. The French animated series Totally Spies! also takes place at "Bev High."

The front of Beverly High is even shown in a short clip of Nickelback's music video for their song "RockStar," although it only shows the part that reads "Hills High School" (the "Beverly" portion was cut off).

The gym in Beverly Hills High was used in the video for boy band NLT's That Girl.

West Beverly Hills High School

Initially, the producers of the 1990s television drama Beverly Hills 90210 wanted the show to be set at Beverly Hills High School, and the show to be filmed on Beverly's campus. The Beverly Hills school board declined both requests, so the TV producers created the fictional "West Beverly Hills High School" (or "West Beverly") and the show was filmed at Torrance High School, in Torrance, California. "West Beverly" is a clear reference to Beverly, because Beverly's campus is located on the western border of Beverly Hills.

News services

BHHS has two award-winning news services. KBEV-Channel 6 is a student-run television channel that began in 1974 on Theta Cable as part of the PEG requirements for cable companies (free access by Public Access, Education and Government entities in the community). KBEV airs the longest running high school news program in the country, The Norman Newservice (now The Norman News). The program has hosted important guests such as Ronald Reagan in the past. Highlights, the school's newspaper, has also won numerous awards for its reporting and writing. In October 2007, Highlights won first place in the 13th Annual California State University Northridge Journalism Skills Competition, with a total of seven out of twelve possible awards in news writing, feature writing, opinion writing, sports writing and photojournalism. The Highlights staff recently took home awards from the national JEA conference in St. Louis, Missouri. At this time, the paper won its first Cartooning award when Junior Minki Kim took home the award for Best Cartoonist during the 2008-2009 school year.

Student life in 1980s

Perhaps the most recent published book on student life at Beverly is Hard Lessons: Senior Year at Beverly Hills High School, by Michael Leahy (ISBN 0316518158). Published in 1988, it is a comprehensive book that followed Leahy's sociological study of Beverly students in the mid-1980s. In 1984, Beverly had a 100% graduation rate but three students committed suicide. These suicides piqued Leahy's interest in Beverly; Leahy had "heard so many stories of excruciating academic pressure, cocaine abuse and drifting children" that he decided to study the school's student body by interviewing students, parents, and teachers. He followed the lives of six Beverly seniors from the day they started school until the day they graduated in 1985.

Leahy wrote, "It did not take long during my conversations with Beverly students before I understood that their world was nothing like the one I had imagined from casually observing teenage behavior in malls and at rock concerts. After that initial shock, the task became to listen to students long and carefully enough until I adequately understood the panorama of life at Beverly." Leahy learned that in spite of the media's typical portrait Beverly was "not a den of hedonism." Leahy observed that "Social attitudes and mores appear to be nearly identical to those found in the middle-class high schools of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley  - the evidence of drug and alcohol use no more or less high, the discussion of sex and birth control equally as obsessive."

Beverly's academic and social pressures created problems in the mid-1980s. Leahy quotes a teacher who said in 1985, "The admired kid here is not necessarily the good-looking athlete. The possibility of success in the future is important to someone's overall attractiveness. Kids are already planning their law practices or where they might set up their businesses. Sometimes you can't see their problems through that act of maturity they put on for you. If they're not well adjusted, then that illusion can be a real problem, because some of them are facing pressures that they don't know how to cope with. Your whole worth here, in these kids' eyes, is determined by how well you're doing academically and socially. A 'C' is a horrible grade to them, a failing grade. Sometimes a 'B' is, too. There's been a lot of cheating. The anxiety is only growing worse."

According to the 1985 edition of the school yearbook, "The Beverly Pursuit is the path to success. . . . One wrong move, and the student could be traveling in endless circles. Sure, he will have a chance to roll again, but he will have to take advantage of every opportunity. Sometimes a student will land in the wrong square, but he must be patient. Someday he will be able to cash in all his chips and reach the center of attention. Of course, everyone wants a piece of the pie. If a student does not have the right moves, he will go hungry. . . ."


The Beverly Hills High School "Swim Gym" was designed by Stiles O. Clements and built in 1939 as a New Deal project. It features a basketball court that opens to reveal a 25yd-long swimming pool underneath, as mentioned previously. It is featured in "It's A Wonderful Life" as the location of the dance. Sports including volleyball, basketball, swimming and water polo can all be played in this facility. Beverly offers the following sports:

BHHS's stadium is a multipurpose facility that is used for football, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, and track and field.

Performing arts

Beverly Hills High School claims that its Performing Arts Department is "nationally famous for the quality of its musical and theatrical productions and for its famous alumni," and the school claims that the department "is highly visible in the industry, with casting directors, writers and producers attending performances and visiting classes to speak with the students."

Each year around late March to early April, the school hold its annual musical performance by performing arts students. Many of these musicals are based on Broadway award-winning musicals such as Anything Goes, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man, Hello, Dolly!, and Beauty and the Beast (Herb Hall, director) Last year, the Spring Musical was How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, and this Spring it was Les Miserables, directed by Josh Butchart. Every fall, performing arts students put on a dramatic play. In 2006, the play was Shakespeare's Twelfth Night,, directed by Josh Butchart, yet more progressive works such as The Laramie Project, directed by drama teacher, Herb Hall (who also played the principal in Clueless) have been tackled by the students. This year's fall play was Inherit the Wind, also directed by Herb Hall. In addition, the performing arts department holds smaller performances in the form of short plays.

BHHS also has an almost 200 member marching band. The BHHS marching band has had the privilege of performing at Disneyland for the past couple of years, after strict training in the skills of marching and playing at the same time. After several months of training, the band auditions in front of a strict jury of professional marching specialists. About 300 worldwide marching bands audition every year and only 20 get accepted. The BHHS marching band has gotten bigger and stronger each year under the direction of Richard Farmer.

BHHS now has a very successful competitive Winter Drumline. The BHHS Drumline is in its second competitive season. They compete in the SCPA and WGI circuits. The BHHS Drumline has performed such shows as "A Tour of Technology: The Inner-Workings of a Computer" and "Censor State: The State, The Conceded, The Resistance".

Beverly Hills High School also has two award-winning groups, the Madrigal Singers (a chamber choir) and Minnesingers (currently an all-women's choir), conducted by Joel Pressman, a Beverly alum. Both groups have won a wide range of awards for their performances, usually at Heritage Festivals. They have traveled across the United States to well-known locales such as San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, Orlando,Washington, D.C. and even internationally to Mexico, France and New Zealand. Additionally, in December, both groups go Christmas caroling to raise money for their festival trips. The groups were founded by Robert Holmes, who also helped found the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts Summer Music Festival see Idyllwild Arts Summer Program

BHHS's Dance Company is renowned for their success in dance. They hold annual shows in January, which they practice for immediately when the school year starts. Last year, the Dance Company traveled to its sister school in Cannes, France, where they performed in front of many French students. BHHS also has a hip-hop group, AP Posse, which also performs in between Dance Company numbers.

Oil well

An oil well on Beverly's campus that is owned by the Venoco Oil Company can easily be seen by drivers heading west on Olympic Boulevard towards Century City. The oil well has drilled most of the oil out of Beverly's campus and has been slant drilling under many homes and apartment buildings in Beverly Hills for decades.

As of May 2006, the Beverly Hills High School well was pumping out 400 to 500 barrels a day, earning the school approximately $300,000 a year in royalties

In the mid-1990s, an art studio volunteered to cover the well, which at that point was solid gray in color, with individual tiles that had been painted by kids with cancer The studio created the design and drew the lines on the tiles, but children painted the tiles in between the lines. The studio made the design rather abstract: the design consists of random shapes on different-colored backgrounds. A ceremony inaugurating the design was held in 2001.

Beverly gained more notoriety when Erin Brockovich and Ed Masry announced having filed three lawsuits in 2003 and 2004 on behalf of 25, 400, and 300 (respectively) former students who attended Beverly from the 1970s until the 1990s. In April of 2003, the Texas-based lawfirm of Baron & Budd partnered with the law office of Masry & Vititoe to lend its expertise in lawsuits related to health risks of volatile chemicals. The number of actual cancer claims filed in Santa Monica was only ninety-four

The lawsuits claimed that toxic fumes from the oil well caused the former students to develop Hodgkin's lymphoma or cancer. The oil well is very close to all of Beverly's sports facilities, including the soccer field, the football field, and the racetrack. Beverly students -- not just athletes but students taking required physical education classes from the 1970s until the 1990s -- were required to run near the oil well.

The city, the school district, and the oil companies named as defendants disputed this assertion, claiming that they had conducted air quality tests with results showing that air quality is normal at the high school. In 2003, the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine published a "Community Cancer Assessment Regarding Beverly Hills, California" which failed to support Masry's claims.

After receiving complaints about Beverly's oil well, the region’s air-quality agency investigated Venoco Oil (doing business as Veneco, Inc) and in 2003 issued three "notices of violation" regarding the operation of the well. Venoco, Inc's penalty settlement included requirements that the company maintain continuous air quality monitoring at the high school, and prevent any oilfield gas (which is primarily methane gas) from being released into the atmosphere.

On December 12, 2006, the first 12 plaintiffs (of over 1000 total) were dismissed on summary judgment because there was no indication that the contaminant (benzene) caused the diseases involved and the concentrations were hundreds to thousands of times lower than levels associated with any risk. In Fall of 2007, the plaintiffs agreed to pay the School District and the City up to $450,000 for expenses from the lawsuits

The oil well may have inspired a 1991 episode of the sitcom Saved By the Bell titled "Pipe Dreams." In it, oil is discovered at fictional Bayside High School in Pacific Palisades, California. There's excitement about the financial possibilities, but when a company comes in to drill, the character of Jessie realizes that it could be detrimental to the local environment. It may have also inspired a similar episode of The Simpsons, namely the "Who Shot Mr. Burns?" episode. The strike oil, but Mr. Burns undercuts them, draining the oil for himself with a slant drilling project, which ends up destroying parts of the town. This, coupled with his actions later on in the episode, result in Burns being shot.

In June 2004 Beverly Hills Courier Editor Norma Zager was named "Journalist of the Year" in the Los Angeles Press Club's Southern California Journalism Awards competition for her coverage of the Erin Brockovich-Edward Masry lawsuit A book about the oil well and lawsuit, "Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School" by Joy Horowitz was published in July 2007.

Notable Clubs and Activities

Comrade Crunch (2006-7) Eating cereal and discussing politics.

Silly Hat Party (2007-8) Music and mayhem.

Special events included: the first Annual Ninja Pride Parade, Pinata Abuse Rally, British Water-Balloon Warfare.

The Syndicate(2008-???)The Syndicate is neo-Dadaist performance group acting as liaison for the populace.

The Syndicate condones eating babies.

The Syndicate is watching you.

Notable alumni

BHHS has a number of famous alumni, many of whom are entertainers, the children of entertainers or the offspring other prominent people. In addition, many famous people have taught at the school; soap opera actor John Ingle taught the drama and acting program at the school from 1964 to 1985. While Beverly Hills High School alumni are known predominantly for their connections with the entertainment industry, BHHS has also produced well-known scholars in many scientific disciplines.


Chuck Williams (born 1969) Adult film producerDennis Bendersky (born 1990) Actor


External links

Notes and References

  1. Beverly Hills High School
  2. Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 1982-1983 through 1999-2002 (PDF)
  3. U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 2003 through 2006 (PDF)
  4. CIBA cited as one of the best by Education Department
  5. Viers Mill School Wins Blue Ribbon; School Scored High on Statewide Test; The Washington Post. September 29, 2005 "For their accomplishments, all three schools this month earned the status of Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor the U.S. Education Department can bestow upon a school."
  6. Joel Rubin, Diversity program mostly benefits Asians, Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2007.
  7.,1,5857081.story?coll=la-news-learning Los Angeles Times article
  8. Beverly Hills Courier article - page 4
  9. Via Associated Press."As Congress sweats, Abramoff will tell all: The lobbyist's plea paves the way for him to name names in a scandal that may snare several lawmakers.", St. Petersburg Times, January 4, 2006. Accessed December 2, 2007. "EDUCATION: Beverly Hills High School, Brandeis graduate, Georgetown University law degree."
  10. Isenberg, Barbara. "Theater; This Gofer Has Become a Definite Go-To Guy; With 'Mizlansky/ Zilinsky's' return, Jon Robin Baitz looks back at how far he's come.", Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2000. Accessed April 24, 2008. "A graduate of Beverly Hills High School, Baitz honed his craft not in college, which he did not attend, but rather at the now-defunct Padua Hills Playwrights' Festival."
  12. Kaufman, Peter of The Washington Post, "The background on Albert Brooks", The Buffalo News, January 22, 2006. Accessed April 24, 2008. "Albert Brooks, who grew up in a showbiz family and attended Beverly Hills High School, has never been interested in being an outsider."
  13. Steve Burton: Jason Quartermaine on General Hospital
  14. Kasindorf, Martin. "Lawyers calling Beverly Hills High a hazard", USA Today, April 28, 2003. Accessed March 12, 2008. "Beverly High, as the school is known, outranks Brockovich in connections with Hollywood. Many children of the rich and famous go there. Former students include actors Nicolas Cage, Richard Dreyfuss, Carrie Fisher, Rob Reiner, David Schwimmer and Alicia Silverstone, as well as musician Andre Previn and former presidential intern Monica Lewinsky."
  15. Yardley, Jonathan. "Nora Ephron's 'Crazy Salad': Still Crisp", The Washington Post, November 2, 2004. Accessed April 22, 2008. "Ephron wasn't exactly born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, but she got off to a head start. She grew up in Beverly Hills, a daughter of prominent screenwriting parents. She hung around with the children of other Hollywood notables, attended Beverly Hills High School, then went to Wellesley College."
  16. Rochlin, Margy. "Angelina Jolie: For a Fighting Machine, a 'Bad Girl' Image Is Good", The New York Times, June 17, 2001. Accessed March 12, 2008. "Still, Mr. Voight didn't realize Angelina had plans for an acting career until after she left home at age 16, having just graduated from Beverly Hills High School's learn-at-your-own-speed alternative education program."
  17. Grove, Lloyd; and Lipsky-Karasz, Elisa. "COMMISSIONING A FILM", New York Daily News, October 15, 2003. Accessed April 23, 2008. "Gershon and Kravitz, who showed up sans Nicole Kidman and performed two songs with the star, are old friends from Beverly Hills High School - where yours truly passed through the ninth grade many, many years earlier."
  19. Via Associated Press. "Lil’ Romeo planning to play basketball for USC", MSNBC, April 20, 2007. Accessed September 8, 2008. "Lil’ Romeo, whose full name is Percy Romeo Miller, is currently a guard on his Beverly Hills High School team."
  20. Wilson, Kathryn. "So, Did You Hear The One About The Iranian Deadhead In Hollywood?",, March 17, 2006. Accessed April 23, 2008. "With ceaseless support from her family, Bahar graduated from Beverly Hills High School to pursue a degree in environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara."
  22. Koltnow, Barry. "`Fire in the Sky' hero still blazes alien trail in tiny Arizona town", Orange County Register, March 9, 1993. Accessed April 25, 2008. "In early November 1975, Tracy Torme was sitting in the library at Beverly Hills High School, listening to rock music on his headphones while pretending to read a book."
  23. Reynolds, Christopher. "ART; Onward means going upward; Edward Tufte has spent his career fighting the visually dull and flat. Even his sculpture is a leap.", Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2002. Accessed April 23, 2008. "Edward Tufte
  24. Lyman, Rick. "Frank Wilkinson, Defiant Figure of Red Scare, Dies at 91", The New York Times, January 4, 2006. Accessed January 19, 2008. "He attended Beverly Hills High School and then the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 1936."
  25. Redburn, Tom. "'Energy Future' Goes Beyond Ivory Tower", Los Angeles Times, August 19, 1979. Accessed December 15, 2007. "Fifteen years ago, Daniel Yergin left Beverly Hills High School to attend Yale University and, except for summer jobs and brief visits, he hasn't been back here since."