Polytechnic School

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Polytechnic School
1030 E. California Blvd, Pasadena, California
Coordinates Coordinates: 34°08′01″N 118°07′43″W / 34.1337°N 118.1286°W / 34.1337; -118.1286
School type Private
Religious affiliation(s) None
Founded 1907
Grades Kindergarten through 12
Gender coed
Color(s) Orange & White
Mascot Panther
Accreditation WASC/CAIS
Newspaper The Paw Print

Polytechnic School, often referred to as simply Poly, is a college preparatory private school in Pasadena, California.


The school was founded in 1907 as the first private non-sectarian, non-profit elementary school in California. It descends from the Throop Polytechnic Institute founded by Amos G. Throop, the same institution that grew into the present California Institute of Technology.

In the spring of 1907, the Institute decided to focus on the college level and closed the grammar school. Citrus tycoon and powerful eugenicist Ezra S. Gosney donated $12,500, a sum matched by twelve other donors. This money allowed them to purchase the property at the present site, originally an orange grove. The school opened in October 1907 with 106 students. At the time, the school was named Polytechnic Elementary School. The school added a ninth grade in 1918 and expanded to high school in 1959. After instituting a ninth grade, the name changed to Polytechnic Elementary and Junior High School. Polytechnic ended its pre-Kindergarten program in 2005.


Poly offers Advanced Placement and honors classes as well as arts and athletic programs. According to a College Board report, Polytechnic School was named a world leader in student participation and performance on Advanced Placement exams. Furthermore, the report also named Polytechnic as the top small school in the world for having the largest part of its students achieve a 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB examination in both 2004 and 2005.[1] In 2007, Polytechnic School was ranked 4th in the world by The Wall Street Journal in success rate in sending students to Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams College, Pomona College, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University, higher than many older, better known east coast prep schools such as Exeter and Andover.[2] In the 2011-12 class, 47% of class were National Merit Finalists & Commended students and 92% of students were accepted to 'highly-selective' top tier universities (institutions with an admit rate of 30% or lower). In the September 2008 issue, Los Angeles Magazine listed Pasadena Poly among the best high schools in Los Angeles. Poly was praised for its “national reputation for producing scholars, artists and athletes.”

Campus information and the capital campaign[edit]

The school is divided by Cornell Road into two campuses, north (lower and middle school) and south (upper school), and is adjacent to the Caltech campus. Most of the north campus buildings were designed by Myron Hunt, who also designed the Rose Bowl and The Huntington, and Elmer Gray, who designed the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Pasadena Playhouse. The Cornett Mansion, designed in 1907, in the south campus serves as the administration building and houses several classrooms for the upper school.

In April 2005, the city of Pasadena approved Polytechnic's Master Development Plan, which over the following ten years will permit the construction of an aquatics facility (opened in May 2006), an underground parking structure, and other facilities and new structures. Currently, a capital campaign is in the works to renovate and replace some of the school's older and outdated buildings. Changes include the modernization of Myron Hunt's historical buildings, the addition of a new library and administration-classroom building on the north campus and a new math and science building and the renovation of the administration building on the south campus.

Currently, the aquatics facility and the renovated "Haaga House" (the Upper School's administrative building) have been completed, along with the underground parking structure and renovations of some of Hunt's structures. Renovations to the Garland arts facility and auditorium and the surrounding science building were completed and opened to the school in the autumn of 2012.


Poly's playing field is named "Babcock Field," named after former Head of School Mike Babcock. The school's mascot is a panther. One of Poly's athletic rivals is Flintridge Preparatory School,[citation needed] casually referred to as "Prep," in La Cañada Flintridge, California. This rivalry is over fifty years old, and as such certain traditions have stemmed from it. For example, the golf teams at both schools compete for the "mystic niblick" every spring, a trophy given to the team with the lowest overall scores over their two matches against one another. This tradition has its origins in the 1980s.

Poly competes in virtually every CIF sport except wrestling and added a co-ed, competitive fencing team in 2008. In the 2009-2010 school year, it fielded a total of 38 different teams. Poly's athletic successes include over 150 Prep League Championships, 46 CIF Championships, and 74 CIF Academic Championships.[3]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Advanced Placement: Report to the Nation" (PDF). The College Board. 2006-02-22. p. 20. Retrieved 2008-09-18. "Exemplary AP Calculus AB Programs These schools lead the world in helping the widest segment of their total school population achieve an exam grade of 3 or higher in AP Calculus AB:Small-size school (<300 students in grades 10–12): Polytechnic School (Pasadena, CA) ... Teacher of Foundation Course: Laurianne Williams" 
  2. ^ Gamerman, Ellen; Juliet Chung, SungHa Park and Candace Jackson (2007-11-30). "How the Schools Stack Up (revised 12-28)". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-01-16. "Weekend Journal looked at the freshman classes at eight top colleges -- Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins -- and compiled a list of the students' high-school alma maters. The survey ranked the high schools based on the number of students sent to those eight colleges, divided by the high school's number of graduates in 2007, limiting the scope to schools that had senior classes of at least 50..." 
  3. ^ "Polytechnic School Athletic Philosophy". Polytechnic School. Retrieved 2010-07-13. 
  4. ^ Pasadena Star News, 10-24-2013 Retrieved 25 October 2013
  5. ^ "Sunday Morning - John Battelle's Searchblog". 11 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Bates, Colleen Dunn; Jill Alison Ganon, Sandy Gillis (2006). Hometown Pasadena: The Insider's Guide (1st ed ed.). Pasadena, California: Prospect Park Books. p. 93. ISBN 9780975393918. OCLC 76881557. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  7. ^ "Polytechnic Elementary School Catalogue, 1907-1908." Available in Polytechnic School Archives.
  8. ^ UCLA Bruins Athletic Site

External links[edit]