Acalanes High School

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Acalanes High School
1200 Pleasant Hill Road


Coordinates37°54′17″N 122°05′54″W / 37.90481°N 122.09842°W / 37.90481; -122.09842Coordinates: 37°54′17″N 122°05′54″W / 37.90481°N 122.09842°W / 37.90481; -122.09842
School districtAcalanes Union High School District
PrincipalTravis Bell
Teaching staff69.20 (FTE)
Enrollment1,360[1] (2016-17)
Student to teacher ratio20.56
Color(s)         Royal blue and white
Athletics conferenceCalifornia Interscholastic Federation, North Coast Section; Diablo Foothill Athletic League

Acalanes High School is a public secondary school located in Lafayette, California, United States, in the San Francisco Bay Area, within Contra Costa County. Acalanes was the first of 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 Saklan (Saclan), referred to by Spanish missionaries as Saclanes. [4][5]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 (four 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 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 High demonstrated its scientific excellence in 2008, winning the regional competition of the National Science Bowl at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[6] Acalanes finished second in the same competition in 2009.[citation needed] However, the school 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 nation by U.S. News and World Report,[7] Miramonte was ranked 173rd,[8] while Acalanes was ranked 275th.[9]


The front quad

Extracurricular activities[edit]

The award-winning school paper, Blueprint, runs eight 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.[10]

The yearbook is the AKLAN. The leadership class 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.


In 1939 Acalanes was the first school designed by Ernest Kump and became the prototype for what came to be called the "California School", consisting of a complex of rectangular single-story modern buildings in parallel rows separated by gardens, with no hallways. Its openness to the outdoors and ease of expansion were revolutionary at the time, and the format was widely copied.[11]

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.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Acalanes High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  2. ^ Blueprint
  3. ^ "Search for Public Schools - School Detail for Acalanes High". Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  4. ^ Beeler, Madison S. 1955. Saclan. International Journal of American Linguistics 21:201-209.
  5. ^ Beeler, Madison S. 1959. Saclan Once More. International Journal of American Linguistics 25:67-68.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News.
  8. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News.
  9. ^ "National High School Rankings". U.S. News. U.S. News.
  10. ^ "American Scholastic Press Association". Archived from the original on 2010-10-28.
  11. ^ Bernard, Lance V. (2007). Architecture and Regional Identity in the San Francisco Bay Area: 1870–1970. Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen. pp. 116–18. ISBN 9780773453401.

External links[edit]