Acalanes High School

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Acalanes High School
1200 Pleasant Hill Road
Lafayette, CA 94549

Type Public
Established 1940
School district Acalanes Union High School District
Principal Allison Silvestri
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 1,320 (2013-14)
Color(s)          Royal Blue and White
Athletics conference California Interscholastic Federation, North Coast Section; Diablo Foothill Athletic League
Mascot Dons

Acalanes High School is a public secondary school located in Lafayette, California in the San Francisco Bay Area, within Contra Costa County. Acalanes High School was the first of what are now four high schools established in the Acalanes Union High School District. It was built in 1940 on what was then a tomato field. The school was built using Federal government funds with labor provided by the Works Project Administration, the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency introduced by the Roosevelt administration. Lafayette businessman M.H. Stanley suggested the name "Acalanes", the name of the Mexican grant from which all land title within the City of Lafayette derives. Rancho Acalanes itself seems to have been named by its Hispanic settlers after the local Native American Bay Miwok tribe called Saclan, referred to by Spanish missionaries as Saclanes. The first graduating class of 1941 selected the school colors of blue and white. For the school sports mascot, they chose the Don (a Spanish honorary title).


Acalanes offers a diverse course selection and a number of AP and Honors courses. Among the electives offered are sports medicine, digital design, automechanics, graphic arts, video production, journalism, drama, photography, Mandarin (Chinese), Spanish, French, chorus, band (4 groups), and orchestra.

Acalanes academic clubs regularly participate in Bay Area quiz bowl tournaments, including BAAL (Bay Area Academic League). Acalanes also offers Model UN and Academic Decathlon as extracurricular activities. The Acalanes Academic Decathlon team recently won (first place) in the Contra Costa regional meet in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. They took first place in Division III at the 2009 California state competition.

Acalanes established the premier scientific school in the Lamorinda community in 2008, winning the regional competition of the National Science Bowl at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[citation needed] Acalanes finished second in the same competition in 2009.[citation needed] However, Acalanes has consistently lagged behind local High Schools Campolindo and Miramonte in more comprehensive rankings based on AP Scores and overall academic quality. For 2013, Campolindo High School was ranked 131st in the U.S.[1] Miramonte was ranked 173rd,[2] while Acalanes was ranked 275th.[3]

Acalanes students Blake Marggraff and Matthew Feddersen won the top award (the $75,000 Gordon E. Moore award) at Intel's 2011 International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) for their project, a potential new low-cost cancer treatment using tin particles. Marggraff and Feddersen were members of the class of 2011.[4][5]


Extracurricular activities[edit]

The award-winning school paper, Blueprint, runs 8 issues each year, publishing approximately every three weeks. Blueprint recently won the American Scholastic Press Association's (ASPA) "Most Outstanding High School Newspaper for 2009" for a student body population of 1001-1700.[6]

The yearbook is the AKLAN. The leadership class runs a student body website,, and issues a monthly communications video with skits announcing upcoming events. On November 13, 2006, a special video was shown as a kick-off to Acalanes diversity week, and featured a short film, Silhouettes, directed by an Acalanes student. Also screened was the documentary, Invisible Children. Popular events during the school year include games, rallies, and weekly activities sponsored by the leadership class. The drama department puts on two plays each year, along with a yearly musical, a collaboration between the chorus and band departments. There are various chorus and band concerts throughout the year.


Students are issued half-height lockers.[citation needed] The school's library is open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM daily, with the exception of an 8:35 AM opening on Wednesdays. The campus includes a track, several fields(an astro-turf field, a grass field, and a baseball field), a pool, tennis courts, two gyms, weight room, two quads, and a state-of-the-art performing arts center. Measure E bonds passed in 2008 provided for the complete renovation of the aquatic facilities, which was completed in the summer of 2011.

Media coverage[edit]

  • Acalanes was in the news in 2006 because of the incarceration of Scott Dyleski, the teenager convicted in the murder of Pamela Vitale.
  • In 1998, 'N Sync performed for the students of Acalanes.
  • The school made national headlines in 1994 when it proposed a ban on the Rush Limbaugh Club after an invitation to its namesake to speak on campus. The board of trustees later voted to allow the club.[7]
  • In 1982, the Dead Kennedys performed for the students of Acalanes.

Notable alumni[edit]


  • In the early 1970s the high school had its own TV Show called "Acalanes Review". It aired on Channel 6 Moraga, California.
  • On November 15, 1982 the Acalanes Radio Club launched a student run radio station called KCEQ. They broadcast on 100.5 FM over-the-air and 101.7 FM on cable. The station lasted until the end of the 1993-1994 school year.


  1. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News. 
  2. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News. 
  3. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News. 
  4. ^ "Press Release". Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Intel Corporation. 
  5. ^ Khan, Amina (14 May 2011). "Reward Do Come from Their Scientific Methods". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "American Scholastic Press Association". 
  7. ^ "ACROSS THE USA: NEWS FROM EVERY STATE." USA Today [McLean, Virginia] 10 Nov. 1993, Final Edition ed., NEWS sec. USA Today. Web. 13 June 2010. <>.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°54′17″N 122°05′54″W / 37.90481°N 122.09842°W / 37.90481; -122.09842