Piedmont High School (California)

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Coordinates: 37°49′24.35″N 122°13′58.86″W / 37.8234306°N 122.2330167°W / 37.8234306; -122.2330167

Piedmont High School
800 Magnolia Avenue
Piedmont, California
Type Public secondary
Motto "Achieve the Honorable"
Established 1921
School district Piedmont Unified School District
Principal Brent Daniels
Grades 9-12
Enrollment 750
Campus Suburban with close proximity to urban areas
Color(s) Purple and white
Mascot The Highlanders
Newspaper The Piedmont Highlander
Yearbook Clan-O-Log
Front of Piedmont High School.jpg
View of the front of the school from opposite side of Magnolia Avenue

Piedmont High School is a public high school located in Piedmont, California, United States. Piedmont High School is part of the Piedmont Unified School District.

Piedmont High School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive. Piedmont High School was also a California Distinguished School.[citation needed] Piedmont has a widely known Bird Calling Contest. Football coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries developed the A-11 offense.


Piedmont High School offers ninth through twelfth grade. The school motto is "Achieve the honorable." The school maintains rigorous academic standards, and is well known in the area as an excellent school.Template:Weasle Many families move into Piedmont for the schools once their children reach school-age.[1]

Piedmont's colors are purple and white (representing the Scottish thistle), and its mascot, the Highlander, reflects the school's Scottish heritage.

A bond for the creation of Piedmont High School was passed in 1920, and the school was built in 1921.


Further information: History of Piedmont, California

In September 1922, the Piedmont Unified School District opened the city's first high school. It was funded by a bond passed by voters in 1920.[2][3]

Piedmont High School was the last public school in California to require uniforms, which disappeared in the 1970s.[4]

The social scene was once dominated by social clubs, which resembled college sororities and fraternities, but they have since died out.[5] The school was covered in the New York Times when in the mid-1990s it began breathalyzing all students before dances.[6]


Students congregate on the grass in the quad during brunch, a 15-minute break between first and second blocks.

Piedmont High School has an open campus, and students can leave during brunch, lunch, and unscheduled periods. The campus is between Piedmont Park on the right of the school and Piedmont Middle School and Witter Field on the left.

The center of campus is a grassy area referred to as "the quad." The quad is center of campus, connecting the Allan Harvey Theatre, the library, the cafeteria and student center, and the amphitheatre. Classes are scattered around campus, with the music and science buildings the furthest apart.

The campus was originally built on a portion of Piedmont Park, and dog-walking trails behind the school connect to the park.


The school was built in 1921 in a neoclassical design, part of the same plan that built the Piedmont city's Exedra. Since its design by architect W.H. Weeks,[2] the school has undergone several reconstructions, for reasons such as expansion, earthquake retrofitting, and combatting dry rot.

The school exhibits various styles of architecture, with remains of the original neoclassical design in the library and the distinct "back-to-nature" look in the breezeway and theater.

In 1974, the school was declared unsafe, under state earthquake laws. It was demolished, and three new classroom buildings and a gymnasium were built. The original library, quad, and administration buildings were rehabilitated.[7]

Reconstruction in the 1970s reflected the "back-to-nature" look popular at the time, using wood instead of shingles. The school's "breezeway," an open, wide corridor running between the school's main buildings, exemplifies this.

The last construction was an expansion of the gymnasium, during the 2003-2004 school year, to include an entrance room that also displays trophies. The school has undergone further construction in accord with Measure E, which issued $56 million in bonds to the reconstruction of school facilities to meet earthquake safety guidelines.[8]


Statistics is one of the elective math classes offered.
The amphitheatre is used for outside performances, such as those during lunch. The mural, painted by past AP Art students, was vandalized in 2005 and had to be repainted by the AP Art students of that year.

Piedmont High School is an academically strong school, scoring a 10 out of 10 for test scores at the website GreatSchools.net. In 2008, it was ranked in the top 100 schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[9] The school newspaper reported that the average of GPA of 2006's graduating class was 3.47.[10]


Advanced Placement[edit]

As of 2009-2010, the school offers the following AP courses.[11]

In addition, honors courses in physics, chemistry, and statistics are offered.[11]

Creative and performing arts[edit]

Art classes come in various fields: music (a cappella, band, orchestra, AP Music), visual art (2-D art, ceramics, 2-D AP, 3-D AP), and drama (Acting I through IV).


Other electives offered include Clan-O-Log (yearbook) and the Piedmont Highlander (link: http://tphnews.com/)(school newspaper), law and society, public speaking, multiple computer classes and creative writing.

Foreign language[edit]

Spanish, French and Mandarin are the only three foreign language courses that are offered, and American Sign Language is offered over the summer. In 2007-2008 an AP Mandarin course was added. Prior to the 2007-2008 school year, Mandarin classes ranged from Mandarin I to Mandarin V (honors). The Mandarin program was added in 1995-1996, when it replaced German.[12]

Recent changes[edit]


An AP European History course was added, while the junior-level course Honors Chemistry was opened to qualifying sophomores.


The current Mandarin V (honors) was replaced by AP Mandarin.[12]

The science curriculum changed from the system of "Integrated Science" to specific subjects, such as biology. In the old system, student took Integrated Science I as freshmen, Integrated Science II as sophomores, and either chemistry or honors chemistry as juniors. The new system allows incoming freshmen to choose between physical science (for "most students") and biology (for "students showing mastery of PMS science").[13] The options are shown in detail below:[13]

Grade For most students For students demonstrating strong interest in science For students showing mastery of middle school science
9th physical science physical science biology
10th biology biology, and
chemistry or honors chemistry
honors chemistry
11th chemistry or honors chemistry, and
optional second science elective
honors chemistry up to two science electives (optional)
12th up to two science electives (optional) up to two science electives (optional) up to two science electives (optional)

ROP-funded journalism, sports medicine, and biotechnology were added.[13] Also, math progression was clearly defined as follows

Grade For students less adept in mathematics For students proficient in mathematics For students advanced in mathematics
9th Algebra I Geometry Algebra II
10th Geometry Algebra II Math Analysis
11th Algebra II Math Analysis AP Calculus AB
12th Math Analysis AP Calculus AB AP Calculus BC

Graduation requirements[edit]

Four years of English are required to graduate, as well as two years of math (although most students choose to do four), and completion of two years of Laboratory Science (again, most students choose to do more). In addition, all students must take one year of an art class, one year of foreign language, one semester of any computer class, and one semester of social psychology (required sophomore year). Freshmen are required to take physical education unless they are nationally ranked in a sport. Sophomore and junior year, only one semester each year is required, which can be replaced by one season of a school sport (V or JV). The minimum graduation requirements are as follows:

  • 4 years of English (AP English is offered as an alternative to 12th grade English)
  • 2 years of mathematics (4 recommended)
  • 2 years of laboratory science (most students take biology, chemistry, and physics)
  • 3 years of social studies (Modern World History in 10th grade, U.S. History (or AP US History) in 11th, and a semester each of civics and economics in 12th grade)
  • 1 year of a foreign language (Spanish, French, or Mandarin)
  • 1 year of performing or visual arts
  • 1 semester of any computer class (Computer Skills, Web Design, Computer Programming I-II, AP Computer Science)
  • 1 semester of social psychology (10th grade)
  • 2 years of physical education (1 year in 9th grade, and a semester 10th and 11th unless playing a JV or varsity sport)

Honors society[edit]

The school decided to form its own honors society following the 2005-2006 school year. The new group, the Piedmont Honors Society, has a GPA cut-off of 3.60. In addition, there is a community service requirement of 15 pre-approved hours for sophomores, 25 for juniors, and 35 for seniors. The class of 2007 is the last class to maintain eligibility and membership with CSF.

School publications[edit]

The school newspaper is the Piedmont Highlander and the yearbook is the Clan-O-Log. Both have existed since the early decades of Piedmont High history, and participants of each publication are involved by taking the offered course. In 2006, the Highlander placed sixth in the National Scholastic Press Association's Best of Show contest.[14] In 2007, the library's Teen Advisory Board revived publication of the literary magazine The Highland Piper, which had last been published in the 1970s. Publication has since been discontinued.[15]


A high number of students continue their education at highly selective California universities, such as the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and UCLA, as well as selective schools around the nation, such as Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Northwestern University, Amherst College, and Columbia University. Of the 230-person class of 2007, Berkeley was the most popular college, with 21 students attending. It was followed by UC Santa Cruz in second place with 19 students, and a tie between UC Davis and UCLA for third, each with 15 students. Thirty-eight percent of students attend a UC school. The school newspaper reported that overall 98 percent of students planned to attend a specific college or university within the next two years, accounting for those accepted to a school but deferring for a year.[16] In 2008, University of Oregon was the most popular college, with 23 students attending. In 2010, UC Berkeley was the most popular college, with 13 students attending.


Piedmont High School runs on a block schedule, with seven periods offered but four blocks a day. The schedule of classes changes every day.

day periods
A 1, 3, 5, 7
B 2, 4, 6, 7
C 1, 3, 5, 6
D 2, 4, 5, 7
E 1, 3, 4, 6
F 2, 3, 5, 7
G 1, 2, 4, 6
Students can buy lunch and snacks at Food Service.

On days A through E, school starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 3:05 p.m. Regular teacher meetings are scheduled for F days, which end at 2:25 p.m., and G days offer a "tutorial" period for students to receive help from their teachers or make up tests; school ends at 2:05 p.m.

There are ten-minute breaks between each block for students to get to their next class. In addition, a 15-minute "brunch" — much like an elementary-school recess — is offered between block I and II, and a 35-minute lunch is offered between blocks III and IV.

During breaks, students can buy snacks and lunch from Food Service, a school-run distributor of food. Food service is located within the Student Center building.

The school has an open campus, and students can leave during lunch with no penalty, as long as they return in time for their next class.


The majority of the student body is white, 68 percent, and Asian, 22 percent.[17] In 2004, the San Francisco Chronicle highlighted the lack of racial and socioeconomic diversity in Piedmont in a Sunday front-page story. Comparing schools in Oakland and Piedmont, the article wrote that "wealth has created separate and unequal schools in [the] Bay Area and elsewhere."[18]

The majority of high school students have lived in Piedmont since elementary school. As in the surrounding cities, only residents of the city can attend school at the district, unless a parent is a district employee.

Public high school enrollment by ethnicity - East Bay.jpg


The high school library serves as a reference source and place to study.

The library is part of the building referred to as "the English building," since the majority of the English classrooms are located there, or "the 30s building," because of the classroom numbers. Teachers and students use the library for its large number of books and computers.

In 2005, Pixar donated new computers, which upgraded the school to the Windows XP operating system. The library has enough computers for the average-sized class to use at once. It is a location where students who have "free periods" (unscheduled period in their schedule) often choose to remain, especially if the free period is in between classes.

At the beginning of the 2006-2007 school year, librarian Susan Stutzman set up the Teen Advisory Board, a group for students to contribute to the library through writing book reviews, recommending purchases, buying books,[19] decorating the library, organizing library events, and publishing a literary magazine. The literary magazine, The Highland Piper, was launched in the spring of 2007 to publish student original writing. It took its name from the school literary magazine published in the 1930s. It was last printed in June 2009, but a new edition is planned for spring 2014.[20][21]

Bird Calling Contest[edit]

Piedmont High is home to the nationally known Leonard J. Waxdeck Bird Calling Contest.[22] Winners of the contest have been featured on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The contest was started in 1963 by biology teacher Leonard J. Waxdeck.[22][23]


View overlooking Witter Field, which is used by the sports teams of Piedmont High School and Piedmont Middle School.

PHS offers a variety of varsity and junior varsity sports. In addition, many Piedmont students participate in the national championship-winning rowing team Oakland Strokes; at least one Piedmont graduate, Scott Gault, has competed in the Olympics and World Rowing Championships.

Piedmont High football ex-coaches Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries created the A-11 offense,[24] a controversial football offense in which any of the 11 players on the field is eligible. The offense relies on confusion, and its unconventional look can wreak havoc on even bigger, stronger and faster teams.

In 1992, Piedmont junior Steve Brown became Piedmont's first ever California State Champion in winning the Division 4 cross country state championship race.

In 2004 and 2005, the nationally ranked women's basketball team won two consecutive division IV state championships. Key players in the two titles were All-Americans Courtney and Ashley Paris.

In 2005, the men's varsity Cross Country team, coached by Chris Thayer and Doyle O'Reagan, became the only men's team to win a state title in the history of the school.

In 2006, the softball team hired Jen Deering as head coach. Deering was a member of the University of California's 2002 national championship team, and she led the Highlanders to the most successful season in their history, with a record of 21-5, before falling to Albany High School in the NCS Championships. Deering was then hired as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator for Boston University. In 2007, veteran East Bay coach Kristen Morley was hired to take over the program. Morley was also a member of Cal's national championship team.

In February 2008, both the women's and the men's varsity soccer teams made it to the NCS 2A final.

In 2008, the Highlander varsity baseball team won their first ever NCS 2A Eastbay title by beating the #1 seed, Northgate 6-5 at the Oakland Coliseum.

In 2010, Piedmont lacrosse hired Jerem Stothers as varsity head coach. Stothers was previously the JV head coach since 2004. He played at University of California and was coached by former Duke University All-American coach Joe Proud. In 2010, Piedmont posted a 15-7 record and won a regular season BSAL championship. Robby Inch lead the team with 106 points on his way to being selected as a 2010 All-American. Michael Hernandez was named a 2012 All-American and became the first player in program history to sign a national letter of intent to University of Michigan and play Division I lacrosse. In 2013, Piedmont lacrosse went 18-3 on their way to their third straight NCS final four appearance under coach Stothers.

In 2011, a record 4 school records were broken during the spring Track and Field season (girls 400m, girls triple jump, boys triple jump, and boys pole vault).

In 2011, the boys tennis team finished the season as BSAL League champs, not having lost a league match in 11 straight years. They finished 2nd in the NCS Division I final to Monte Vista High School of San Ramon for the second year in a row. The team went to finish 4th at the CIF NorCal tournament, the school's best finish ever in the sport.

PHS uses the Highlander, an offensive kilt-clad Scotsman caricature playing the bagpipes, as its mascot.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Moving to Piedmont for the schools". Berkeley Parents Network. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  2. ^ a b Piedmont Community Calendar, 1997. Copyright 1996 by the City of Piedmont.
  3. ^ "A Brief History of the City of Piedmont". City of Piedmont. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  4. ^ Szell, Melinda (January 23, 2007). "Decades fly by at Piedmont High". The Piedmont Highlander. pp. 4–5. 
  5. ^ Douglass, Claire (January 23, 2007). "The fall from grace: looking back at social clubs". The Piedmont Highlander. p. 5. 
  6. ^ Golden, Tim (1997-02-10). "Before the Dance, a Sobriety Check". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  7. ^ Lombardi, Gail G (January 31, 2007). "A Pictorial History of Piedmont". Piedmont Post. 
  8. ^ "Measure E: School Seismic Risk Reduction Safety and Access Program Measure Piedmont Unified School District". SmartVoter.org. Retrieved 2007-03-03. 
  9. ^ "Test Score Ratings". GreatSchools.net. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  10. ^ "Snapshots of the Class of 2006". The Piedmont Highlander. June 9, 2006. pp. 6–7. 
  11. ^ a b Student Organizer 2007-2008. Piedmont High School. 2007–2008. p. 15. 
  12. ^ a b "History of the Piedmont Unified School District Mandarin Program". Piedmont Unified School District Mandarin Program. 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  13. ^ a b c Hollis, Toby (January 23, 2007). "New science curriculum announced for next year". The Piedmont Highlander. pp. 1–2. 
  14. ^ "NSPA Best of Show Winners". National Scholastic Press Association. 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-29. 
  15. ^ Cohn, Jacob (February 16, 2007). "'Highland Piper' revived". The Piedmont Highlander. p. 6. 
  16. ^ Szell, Melinda (4 June 2007). "Who's where". Piedmont Highlander. 
  17. ^ "Teachers/Students". GreatSchools.net. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  18. ^ Asimov, Nanette (16 May 2004). "BROWN VS. BOARD OF EDUCATION: 50 years later". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  19. ^ Fried, Molly (February 16, 2007). "Students spend $1500 book-shopping". The Piedmont Highlander. p. 6. 
  20. ^ Florsheim, Maya (January 23, 2007). "The Highland Piper pipes again: Library Teen Advisory Board brings literary magazine back to life". The Piedmont Highlander. p. 3. 
  21. ^ Literary Magazine Board (2009-01-07). "The Highland Piper (official website)". Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  22. ^ a b St. John, Kelly (June 9, 2001). "Piedmont kids aren't too cool to warble: Inhibitions dropped for bird-call contest". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  23. ^ Thiele, Danielle (January 23, 2007). "Centennial Art Look". The Piedmont Highlander. pp. 4–5. 
  24. ^ McCulloch, Will (2008-08-30). "Piedmont coaches pioneer radical new offense". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  25. ^ "AMONETTE, Ruth Leach". Obituary (SFGate). 2004-06-26. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  26. ^ "Player Bio: Vern Corbin". University of California. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  27. ^ Storm, Pamela; Filion, Ron (2006). "Piedmont High School: Class of Fall, 1924". Alameda County Genealogy. Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  28. ^ Rayburn, Kelly (February 25, 2007). "Oakland native takes current fame in stride". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  29. ^ Gilbert, Brad. Maccabi USA. Maccabi USA http://www.maccabiusa.com/brad-gilbert.html. Retrieved 30 July 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ "Robert S. McNamara". UXL Newsmakers. 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  31. ^ "Piedmont Sports Hall of Fame". Class of 2009-2010. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 

External links[edit]