Gunn High School

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Henry M. Gunn High School
Gunn High School May 2011.jpg
Henry M. Gunn High School is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Henry M. Gunn High School
Henry M. Gunn High School
Henry M. Gunn High School is located in California
Henry M. Gunn High School
Henry M. Gunn High School
Henry M. Gunn High School is located in the United States
Henry M. Gunn High School
Henry M. Gunn High School
780 Arastradero Road


United States
Coordinates37°23′56″N 122°07′59″W / 37.399°N 122.133°W / 37.399; -122.133Coordinates: 37°23′56″N 122°07′59″W / 37.399°N 122.133°W / 37.399; -122.133
School districtPalo Alto Unified School District
PrincipalKathie Laurence
Staff131 (2011–2012)
Enrollment1,919 (2016–17)[1]
AreaNorthern Santa Clara County
Color(s)         Red and Black
Athletics conferenceSanta Clara Valley Athletic League
CIF Central Coast Section
MascotTimmy the Titan
AccreditationWestern Association of Schools and Colleges
NewspaperThe Oracle
YearbookThe Olympian
Feeder schoolsGreene Middle School
JLS Middle School
Fletcher Middle School

Henry M. Gunn High School is one of two public high schools in Palo Alto, California.


Established in 1964, Gunn High School was named after Henry Martin Gunn, who served as the Palo Alto superintendent from 1950 to 1961. In 1964, the Palo Alto Unified School District announced it would name the district's third high school after him. The Class of 1966 was the first class to graduate from Gunn High School.[4]

Gunn High School received national attention in 2009 after five of its students committed suicide over a span of nine months, mainly by walking in front of trains at a nearby crossing. Attempts have since been made to try to improve the emotional health of students attending the school.[5][6]


Gunn offers 22 Advanced Placement (AP) classes and 8 Honors classes that count for the weighted Grade Point Average (GPA).[7] In May 2010, 657 students took 1820 AP tests. 93% scored 3 or higher and 54% scored a grade of 5. Gunn no longer ranks students, but ranking was previously recorded by decile.[7]

Hanna Rosin wrote in a 2015 The Atlantic article that due to the emphasis on academics and competition between students, Gunn became "an extreme distillation of what parents in the meritocratic elite expect from a school."[8] Around that period families clamored to buy houses in Gunn's attendance boundary so their children could attend the school.[8] According to Rosin, after a spate of suicides of Gunn students in the 2010s, parents began to worry about whether the competitive atmosphere was harming students' mental well-being.[6]


Gunn is also host to Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an organization that promotes science, technology, engineering, and math. Courses from this program include Digital Electronics and Introduction to Engineering Design, as well as Principles of Engineering.[9] However, in the 2012–2013 school year, only Introduction to Engineering Design will be offered. Digital Electronics was cancelled due to low enrollment and Principles of Engineering was cancelled due to funding issues.




  • 1,939 students: 1,006 Male (51.9%), 933 Female (48.1%)
Asian White Hispanic Two or More Races African American Filipino Pacific Islander American Indian Not Reported
862 733 173 126 25 14 4 2 0
44.5% 37.8% 8.9% 6.5% 1.3% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1% 0%

As of 2015, according to Hanna Rosin, 74% of Gunn's student body has one or more parents with a master's degree, or higher, or other graduate-level degree.[6]

Standardized testing[edit]

SAT Scores for 2014–2015 [10]
Critical Reading Average Math Average Writing Average
Gunn High 642 686 646
District 634 671 634
Statewide 489 500 484
2013 Academic Performance Index
2009 Base API [11] 2013 Growth API [12] Growth in the API from 2009 to 2013
915 917 2

Student groups[edit]

Gunn offers over 90 student clubs, teams, and organizations that focus on art, community action, culture, environment, politics, music, dance, journalism, and more.


Gunn students stage three major productions every year (Fall, Spring and One Acts) and occasional staged readings.[13]


The music program consists of several music groups including a Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Orchestra, Concert Band, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers.


The debate team at Gunn High School consists of Policy, Parliamentary and, Public Forum. They also have a speech team. Under the current leadership, the club has done exceptionally well at the national and state level; with one team entering Tournament of Champions (TOC) octofinals. The policy team has also done well, sending a team to Nationals, which is in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and sending two teams to States this year (2017-2018).


The Gunn Cheer Team consists of a Varsity, Junior Varsity, and Competition team.[14]

Robotics team[edit]

The Gunn Robotics Team (GRT), established in 1997, competes at the FIRST Robotics Competition. It is also the only FIRST Robotics team to have won the national animation award more than once, winning in 1997, 2006, and 2012. They also won best models worldwide in their 2010 animation.[15] In 2012 The Robotics Team won the National FRC Championship Excellence in Design Award (3D Animation) sponsored by Autodesk. GRT is the only team that has won a total of three Animation awards in the history of FIRST.[16][17][18]

Gunn High School football field
Gunn High School football field

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Henry M. Gunn High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Enrollment by Ethnicity for 2015–16: Henry M. Gunn High School". California Department of Education. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  3. ^ "School Profile 2011–12: Henry M. Gunn High School". California Department of Education.
  4. ^ "2007 School Profile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2008. Retrieved March 22, 2008.
  5. ^ "After five suicides, Palo Alto high school students change culture through peer support « Culture & Features « Peninsula Press ARCHIVE (2010 – Sept. 2014)". Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Hanna Rosin (November 16, 2015). "The Suicide Clusters at Palo Alto High Schools - The Atlantic". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Gunn High School School Profile". Archived from the original on October 27, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Rosin, Hanna (December 2015). "The Silicon Valley Suicides". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 31, 2018. But in the e-mails traded among parents in the weeks after Cameron’s death, the obvious worry surfaced about whether all this emphasis on excellence imposed a cost on the kids[...]
  9. ^ "". Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  10. ^ "SAT Report - 2014-15 District Level Scores". California Department of Education. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  11. ^ "2009 Base API School Report – Henry M. Gunn High". California Department of Education Assessment, Accountability and Awards Division.
  12. ^ "2013 Growth API School Report – Henry M. Gunn High". California Department of Education Analysis, Measurement, & Accountability Reporting Division.
  13. ^ "Program Overview". Gunn Theatre. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Gunn Robotics Team – Awards". Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  16. ^ "Awards – GRT". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  17. ^ "NASA Previews Robotics Engineers of the Future" (Press release). NASA Ames Research Center. March 10, 2006. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  18. ^ Malone, Michael S. (March 25, 2002). "The Fix-It Kids Take Over". Forbes Magazine. Inc. Retrieved May 22, 2008.

External links[edit]