Beverly Hills High School Explained

Beverly Hills High School
Motto:Today Well Lived
Type:Public high school
Grades:9th–12th
District:Beverly Hills Unified School District
Established:1927
Address:241 Moreno Drive
City:Beverly Hills
State:California
Zipcode:90212
Country:
Enrollment:2,348 (as of 2007–08)
Faculty:100.4 (on FTE basis)
Ratio:23.5
Nickname:Normans
Colors: Orange White & Black
Rivals:Culver City High School[1]
Principal:Carter Paysinger
Television Station:KBEV
Yearbook:Watchtower
Newspaper:Highlights
Broadcasting Station:KBEV
Rivals:Culver City High School

CCHS Centaur

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 D. Farquhar in the French Normandy style. The school also receives its funding from its on-campus oil tower.

The current Principal is Carter Paysinger.

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

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,[3] [4] the highest award an American school can receive.[5] [6] Newsweek ranked Beverly Hills High School as the 267th best public high school in the country.[7]

Student demographics

In 2008, Beverly Hills High School had 2,412 students: 70% Caucasian, 17% Asian, 5% African-American, 4% Latino.[8]

About 35% of Beverly's current student body was born outside the United States, and 41% of its students speak a first language other than English.[9]

Student Life

Perhaps the most recently published book on student life at Beverly is Hard Lessons by Michael Leahy. 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 and he followed the lives of six Beverly seniors from the day they started school until the day they graduated in 1985.

Leahy had heard many stories about Beverly having intense academic pressure, rampant cocaine abuse, and being a "den of hedonism." However, after speaking to Beverly students he concluded that sex and drug abuse were neither higher nor lower than other high schools of the LA area. Beverly's social attitudes and morals were also nearly identical to these schools.

Leahy did note that Beverly's academic pressure was unusually high which led to cheating and high anxiety amongst students.[10]

In the media

Beverly has been featured in many films and TV shows, either as part of the plot or a filming location. 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. The gym in Beverly Hills High was used in the video for boy band NLT's That Girl.

The front of Beverly High was 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 school was also in the cartoon show Totally Spies!.The book series The A-List follows a group of privileged teenagers and young adults from Beverly Hills, many of them who attend Beverly Hills High School and come from entertainment families and are known for their proactivity.

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. The fictional school, East Beverly Hills High School was in the book series The Privileged Life.

Enrollment controversies

The Beverly Hills Unified School District has faced controversies in student enrollment, mainly regarding diversity, and more recently, legacy enrollment (alumni preference).[11]

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. According to enrollment data for the 2006–2007 school year, however, seven out of ten students who entered the school this way were 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."[12] [13]

The school board voted 3–2 in the spring of 2008 to offer the children of alumni, who live outside the district's boundaries, preference in enrollment. The intended purpose is to influence these alumni to support the school district regarding bond measure or tax issues and fund-raising. Critics protest that, while legacy preferences are long established and constitutional for institutions of higher education (colleges and universities), legacy enrollment in public schools is anti-democratic, constitutionally questionable, and subvert public education to the benefit of the wealthy.

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 Public, educational, and government access (PEG) Channels requirements for cable companies (free access by Public-access television, Education-access television and Government-access television (GATV) 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. In April 2009, the Highlights staff ranked 3rd place among the nation in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to regularly winning individual awards at the JEA/NSPA fall and spring conferences, Highlights placed seventh in the nation at the 2011 Minneapolis conference in November.

Athletics

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, wrestling, 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."[14]

Each year around late March to early April, the school holds its annual musical performance by performing arts students. Many of these musicals are based on Broadway award-winning musicals, directed by the 3 theater teachers, Herb Hall, Joel Pressman, and Josh Butchart. BHHS is also famous for its Theater Acting Workshop, where only Juniors and Seniors who audition get in. Nicolas Cage once enrolled in this class, as did his son.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. now under the direction of Bill Bradbury.

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".[15]

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. A few years ago, the Dance Company traveled to its sister school in Cannes, France, where they were invited to perform. BHHS also has a hip-hop group, AP Posse, which performs in between Dance Company numbers.

Oil wells

A cluster of 19 oil wells in a single "drilling island" on Beverly's campus, owned by Venoco Oil Company, can easily be seen by drivers heading west on Olympic Boulevard toward Century City. The oil wells have pumped much of the oil from under Beverly's campus, and many have been slant drilling into productive regions of the western part of the Beverly Hills Oil Field under many homes and apartment buildings in Beverly Hills for decades.[16]

As of May 2006, the Beverly Hills High School wells were pumping out 400oilbbl to 500oilbbl a day, earning the school approximately $300,000 a year in royalties.[17]

In the mid-1990s an art studio volunteered to cover the well enclosure, which at that time was solid gray in color, with individual tiles that had been painted by kids with cancer.[18] 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 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.[19] The number of actual cancer claims filed in Santa Monica was ninety-four.[20]

The lawsuits claimed that toxic fumes from the oil wells caused the former students[21] to develop cancer. The oil wells are 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 wells.

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.[22] [23] 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.[24]

After receiving complaints about Beverly's oil installation, the region's air-quality agency investigated Venoco Oil (doing business as Venoco, Inc)[25] and in 2003 issued three Notices of Violation regarding the operation of the drilling island. 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.[26]

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.[27] In Fall of 2007, the plaintiffs agreed to pay the School District and the City up to $450,000 for expenses from the lawsuits.[28] This payment of expenses is without prejudice to any of the plaintiffs in the case, which is on appeal.

The oil wells 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.

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.[29] Two books about the oil wells and lawsuit have been published, "Parts Per Million: The Poisoning of Beverly Hills High School" by Joy Horowitz was published in July 2007 and "Erin Brockovich and the Beverly Hills: Greenscam" by Norma Zager was published in October 2010.

Notable alumni

BHHS has a number of famous alumni, many of whom are entertainers, the children of entertainers or 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.

Sources

External links

Notes and References

  1. http://www.culvercitynews.org/sports/centaurs-blank-normans-43-0-visit-top-seed-serra-in-playoffs/Cohen, Mike (17 November 2011). "Centaurs blank Normans, 43-0; visit top-seed Serra in playoffs". Culver City News. Retrieved 26 December 2011
  2. http://nces.ed.gov/ccd/schoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&DistrictID=0604830&ID=060483000471 Beverly Hills High School
  3. http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/list-1982.pdf Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 1982–1983 through 1999–2002 (PDF)
  4. http://www.ed.gov/programs/nclbbrs/list-2003.pdf U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 2003 through 2006 (PDF)
  5. http://www.journalinquirer.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17475750&BRD=985&PAG=461&dept_id=161556&rfi=6 CIBA cited as one of the best by Education Department
  6. 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."
  7. http://www.newsweek.com/id/51671/output/print
  8. Joel Rubin, Diversity program mostly benefits Asians, Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2007
  9. http://bhhs.beverlyhills.k12.ca.us/pdf/BHHS_profile_updated.pdf?rn=9738 Beverly Hills K12
  10. Hard Lessons: Senior Year at Beverly Hills High School, by Michael Leahy (ISBN 0-316-51815-8)
  11. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-legacy16-2009may16,0,474770.story Legacy enrollments offered in two top L.A.-area school districts, Los Angeles Times on-line, May 16, 2009, retrieved May 29, 2009
  12. http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-bevhills13apr13,1,5857081.story?coll=la-news-learning Los Angeles Times article
  13. http://www.thebeverlyhillscourier.com/editions/files/05-04%20Issue.pdf Beverly Hills Courier article – page 4
  14. http://bhhs.beverlyhills.k12.ca.us/performing_arts/?rn=9087
  15. http://www.bhhsdrumline.com
  16. http://opi.consrv.ca.gov/opi/opi.dll/WellList?UsrP_ID=100124496&SortFields=WMtr_LeaseName&NewSortFields=WMtr_WellStatus&StartRow=1&FormStack=Main%2CField%2CWellList&PriorState=Fld__Code%3D054 West Beverly Hills Field query
  17. http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1942646&page=3
  18. http://www.dailybruin.ucla.edu/archives/id/14356/
  19. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_AbslM0KC0tk/STxKvKFmoEI/AAAAAAAAAGQ/5svi4380hqA/s1600-h/bhhs+lawsuit+3.jpg
  20. http://www.cjr.org/issues/2004/2/umansky-muck.asp
  21. http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=10745
  22. News: Brockovich Zeroes In On Beverly Hills. CBS News. April 29, 2003.
  23. News: http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/West/01/03/brockovich.beverly.hills.ap.
  24. http://www.usc.edu/schools/medicine/departments/preventive_medicine/divisions/epidemiology/research/csp/assets/pdf/BHHSreportfinal3.pdf
  25. http://www.venocoinc.com
  26. http://www.aqmd.gov/news1/2003/venocosettlementpr.html
  27. http://www.cjac.org/publications/news/files/SUMMARY%20JUDGMENT%20ORDER%20-%202006-12-12.pdf
  28. http://www.bhusd.org/ourpages/auto/2007/10/8/1191872207118/Oil%20Well%20Litigation%20Pr%20Release%20FINAL.pdf
  29. http://www.cjac.org/publications/news/detail.cfm?HeadlineID=1090
  30. 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."
  31. 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."
  32. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=SJ&s_site=mercurynews&p_multi=SJ&p_theme=realcities&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=0EB71B43E6A978CE&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM "REAL '90210' SCHOOL PLANS ALUMNI REUNION"
  33. 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."
  34. http://www.wchstv.com/abc/genhosp/steveburton.shtml Steve Burton: Jason Quartermaine on General Hospital
  35. 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."
  36. 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."
  37. 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."
  38. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drunken_Tiger#Tiger_JK
  39. 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."
  40. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0607359/
  41. 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."
  42. Wilson, Kathryn."So, Did You Hear The One About The Iranian Deadhead In Hollywood?", MTV.com, 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."
  43. 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."
  44. 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
  45. 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."
  46. 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."