Belmont High School (Los Angeles)

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Belmont Senior High School
Belmont HS B.jpg
1575 West Second Street
Los Angeles, California 90026
Coordinates34°3′42″N 118°15′45″W / 34.06167°N 118.26250°W / 34.06167; -118.26250Coordinates: 34°3′42″N 118°15′45″W / 34.06167°N 118.26250°W / 34.06167; -118.26250
EstablishedSeptember 11, 1923
School districtLos Angeles Unified School District
PrincipalElsa Mendoza
Teaching staff43.00 (FTE)[1]
Number of students973 (2017-18)[1]
Student to teacher ratio22.63[1]
Athletics conferenceCentral League
CIF Los Angeles City Section
RivalsJohn Marshall High School[2]

Belmont Senior High School is a public high school located at 1575 West 2nd Street in the Westlake community of Los Angeles, California.[3] The school, which serves grades 9 through 12, is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.


Belmont High School athletic field showing City Hall at the lower left corner

Belmont High School opened in 1923.[4]

The Hotel Belmont was the first noteworthy building to stand atop Crown Hill, the present site of Belmont High School. Eventually, the hotel was abandoned, and later it was transformed into the private Belmont School for Girls. After the school was destroyed by fire, the grounds were left vacant, except for five oil wells and a pumping plant for the Los Angeles City Oil Field. On February 28, 1921, the Los Angeles Board of Education purchased the site for $100,000, for the purpose of constructing Belmont High School.

Belmont opened its doors on September 11, 1923, to about 500 students, all sophomores, and 28 faculty members. Most of the school's traditions were created by those pioneer students during the first months of the school's existence. The school newspaper conducted an election to select its name, with "Sentinel" easily winning over "Progress." To this day, Belmont's students are known as Sentinels. Those first students favored “Sentinels" because they were able to oversee the entire city from their "lookout" on Crown Hill. In another election, the school's colors, green and black, were selected over brown and white. A mosaic mural by Joseph Young is located on the wall of the main building.

Belmont High School was once the largest school in California, due to the density of the Westlake district, which it served. It was also considered the largest school in the United States, with 6,342 students. What was formerly the attendance area for Belmont High School has now become the Belmont Zone of Choice, where students have the option of attending one of nineteen small learning communities or pilot schools located on four different campuses within the zone: Belmont High School, Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, Edward Roybal Learning Center, and Ramon C. Cortinez School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Of these, the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex was opened in 2006, sharing Belmont's attendance zone,[5] after LAUSD had begun as early as 2000 to devise plans to relieve Belmont of many of its students.[6] The West Adams Preparatory High School opened in 2007, further relieving Belmont; a section of the Manual Arts High School attendance zone was transferred to Belmont.[7] The High School for the Visual and Performing Arts (formerly known as Central Los Angeles Area High School 9)[8][9] opened in 2008. Central Los Angeles High School 11 (Edward R. Roybal (formerly Belmont) Learning Center),[10] Central Los Angeles High School 12,[11] and the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Centers all opened in 2009.[12]

Belmont underwent a major modernization beginning around 2005. The school was renovated, and new paint, bathrooms, doors, walls, and ceiling tiles were added. Facilities were also updated throughout the school campus to accommodate those with special needs (for example, the addition of wheelchair ramps). From the 2010 school year, it became a 6th through 12th grade school, with Sal Castro Middle School being located on the campus. The Belmont football stadium was named for Dentler Erdmann, its long-time faculty member.

In 2011 the school was restructured, with most teachers having to reapply for their jobs. The new academic program involves learning English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.[13]

Belmont High School Small Learning Communities[edit]

Belmont High School hosts three Small Learning Communities (SLC's; also called academies) which specialize in a career pathway:

  • LAAMPS (Los Angeles Academy of Medical and Public Service), with courses in first responders and medical terminology
  • SAGE (Science, Art and Green Engineering), with courses in automotive technology, drafting, and computer assisted design
  • Belmont Multimedia Academy, with courses in filmmaking, cartooning & animation, digital photography, digital imaging, and web page design


As of 2016 the school had about 1,000 students, 25% of whom were of Central American origin. Some of those students immigrated without their parents.[14]

As of December 2013 the school had fewer than 1,000 students.[15]

The school was built for a capacity of 2,500 students, and when it opened in 1923 it had about 500 students. Due to an enrollment decline in the 1950s the Los Angeles City High School District considered closing Belmont. By the 1990s the school had its peak enrollment, 5,500 students, making it California's largest high school and one of the largest in the United States. During that period many students were reassigned to and sent on buses to schools in the San Fernando Valley because there were too many students in Belmont.[15] In the 1997-1998 school year the school had 5,160 students. At the time, the school's dropout rate was 65% and in terms of its four-year graduation rate it ranked lower than 96% of Los Angeles County high schools. 72% of the enrolled students took free lunches.[16]

The enrollment declined in the 2000s due to the opening of charter schools and LAUSD opening schools to relieve capacity. In 2001 the LAUSD began a building campaign to relieve the capacity of the school.[15]

Due to overcrowding, Belmont had a year-round schedule for 26 years, until the 2008 opening of the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. After the opening Belmont resumed having a traditional two-year school schedule.[17]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2011 the school had an Academic Performance Index (API) of 639, an improvement of almost 100 points in a two-year period. Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the score was "still poor".[13] In 2013 its API was 668, an increase of over 175 points from the 2002 figure. The State of California API goal is 800.[15]

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Belmont Senior High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Mario Villegas, A 'Classic' for many reasons, ESPN Los Angeles, November 4, 2010
  3. ^ Westlake, City of Los Angeles, department of City planning.
  4. ^ Belmont High Alumni
  5. ^ "Central LA Area New HS #10, 55.98039." Los Angeles Unified School District. Accessed October 29, 2008.
  6. ^ "Regular Meeting Order of Business." Los Angeles Unified School District. Tuesday June 27, 2000.
  7. ^ Proposed Changes to West Adams Preparatory High School Area Schools, School Year 2007-2008 Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Facilities and Services division, L.A. Schools.
  8. ^ Central LA Area New HS #9, 55.98037, Facilities and Services division, L.A. Schools.
  9. ^ Central L.A. Area New H.S. #9, Facilities and Services division, L.A. Schools.
  10. ^ Central LA HS #11, 55.98107, Facilities and Services division, L.A. Schools.
  11. ^ [1][full citation needed]
  12. ^ "2. Proposed Changes to Lincoln High School Area Schools, School Year 2009-2010[full citation needed]." Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved on March 17, 2010.(registration required)
  13. ^ a b Song, Jason. "Struggling Belmont High to be restructured." Los Angeles Times. January 27, 2011. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  14. ^ Carcamo, Cindy (2016-07-16). "Nearly 1 in 4 students at this L.A. high school migrated from Central America — many without their parents". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-10-25. - Spanish version: Uno de cuatro estudiantes en esta preparatoria migró de Centroamérica, muchos sin sus padres
  15. ^ a b c d Ceasar, Stephen (2011-12-25). "Lower enrollment at once-crowded Belmont High brings mixed results". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
  16. ^ Chelton, Mary K. (Young Adult Library Services Association). Excellence in Library Services to Young Adults: The Nation's Top Programs. American Library Association, 2000. p. 73. ISBN 0838907865, 9780838907863.
  17. ^ Blume, Howard (2008-08-10). "New name, new life for Belmont school". Los Angeles Times. p. 1.
  18. ^ XISPAS interview with Sal Castro, parts one Archived 2011-07-18 at the Wayback Machine and two Archived 2008-06-02 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ American Experience: Hijacked,, Feb. 24, 2006
  20. ^ a b c d e f Belmont Alumni
  21. ^ Ron Botchan: "I'm Just Coachable", Referee, 2000
  22. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees; Shapiro, T. Rees (2017-02-07). "Irwin Corey, comic who styled himself the World's Foremost Authority, dies at 102". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  23. ^ Kilgannon, Corey (2011-10-11). "A Familiar Figure Begs on the Street, but Not for Himself". City Room Blog. The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  24. ^ a b c Ramos, Lydia. "Melting Pot of Belmont High Brims With Hopes and Plans Series: OUR SCHOOLS: A Closeup View; One of an occasional series." Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1991. Nuestro Tiempo, Metro Desk. Page 4.
  25. ^ California Modern, the Architecture of Craig Ellwood, by Neil Jackson
  26. ^ a b c d e f g The Baseball Cube Belmont alumni Archived 2010-07-27 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Los Angeles Times
  28. ^ IMBd
  29. ^ Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Biographical sketch: (15-Sep-1999)
  31. ^ Los Angeles Times obituaries, January 10, 1996
  32. ^ Andres, Holly J. "Famed news photographer Delmar Watson dies Archived 2012-06-29 at the Wayback Machine." Daily News. October 28, 2008.
  33. ^ Pool, Bob. "Star Shines Brightly for Hollywood's First Family; Movies: The Watson clan of former child actors finally receives recognition for its pioneering contribution to films." The Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1999. Metro Part B Metro Desk Page 1
  34. ^ Campanile 1938, Belmont High School, 1938
  35. ^ Just the Facts, Ma'am; The Authorized Biography of Jack Webb, Creator of Dragnet, Adam-12, and Emergency by Daniel Moyer and Eugene Alvarez

External links[edit]