John F. Kennedy High School (Richmond, California)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John F. Kennedy High School
4300 Cutting Blvd.

TypePublic secondary
School districtWest Contra Costa School District
PrincipalFelicia Phillips
Grades9th - 12th
Enrollment915 (2016-17)[1]

Coordinates: 37°55′29″N 122°19′42″W / 37.92472°N 122.32833°W / 37.92472; -122.32833[2]

John F. Kennedy High School is a secondary school located in Richmond, California, United States, as part of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The school's mascot is the Bald Eagle, the school's athletic teams are known as the "Eagles," and the school colors are red and white. The current principal, as of 2012, is Phillip Johnson. There are approximately 1,047 students attending the school.


Kennedy first opened its doors in September 1967. Built on the site of Granada Junior High, the school adopted the red and white colors and Eagle mascot from Harry Ells High School, which at that time was slated for closure.

Kennedy quickly gained acclaim for its state-of-the-art academic and vocational programs and became the "flagship" of the District, especially renowned for its athletics, forensics team, and diverse student body. Up until the early 1980s, the school's innovative educational approach was based on "computerized modular flexible scheduling," which was similar to the scheduling used in colleges. The staff was trained to create educational programs customized for each student. Classes met in different configurations (small seminars, medium classes, and large lectures) and many were team-taught.

Through the Richmond Voluntary Integration Plan (VIP) some students were bused for free — two yellow busloads a day from the Kensington, El Cerrito, and Richmond hills. Many students even carpooled from Point Richmond. The school became so popular that the district had to impose boundary limits that disallowed the families who lived in Richmond, and within walking distance, to go to JFK.

Eventually the appeal of flexible scheduling waned and it was discontinued after the 1981-1982 school year. A recent response to NCLB and the lack of funding for high school electives has brought a renewed interest of flexible scheduling.

After Proposition 13, the free busing was eliminated and the students from the "Richmond View" stopped attending Kennedy. Many of the faculty chose to go elsewhere due to lack of program funding, and many of the successful programs were eliminated, including Pre-tech, Aerospace, Bio-Medical, and Electronics.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s violence and murders in the city, along with an inconsistent economy, high unemployment, perceived mismanagement of the district's "System for Choice," the bankruptcy of the district, and continual inaccurate publicity regarding a safety survey for Kennedy (SARC report, 1980–1999) all did severe damage to the city's and school's reputations. The Richmond School District attempted to improve its image and changed its name to the West Contra Costa Unified School District.[citation needed]

Many families chose to transfer their students to other districts or schools, and Kennedy continued to shrink, at one time housing less than 800 students. Again there were losses of key programs, such as FEAST and MESA. Private schools and charter schools began opening. In 1997 the first rumors circulated about the closing of Kennedy. Although most of the students received a quality education and most of the faculty were excellent, competent professionals, the school was widely perceived as a dangerous and uninviting dropout factory. Some said that "JFK" stood for "Jail For Kids." (These perceptions survive today although all statistics indicate a reality quite the opposite.) There were many ups and downs throughout the rest of the 90s, but the school hit its nadir around the school year 2000-2001.

By then Kennedy had become a reflection of a new Richmond, still with many systemic problems, but also influenced by an influx of immigrant students who brought to Kennedy a seriousness for education, a desire to succeed, and unprejudiced ideas about the school. With an energetic and dedicated administration and faculty and the implementation of small learning communities and academies, Kennedy started achieving stability and success. Since 2005, there has been very little faculty turnover and the students have shown great progress, as documented by improvements in test scores, attendance, safety, suspension rate, incident reports, requests for transfers, size of senior class, and number attending college. Much of this improvement is credited to Julio Franco, who served longer than any Kennedy principal, from 2001-2008.


The present[edit]



As of 2008, Kennedy has 931 students. An additional 87 students on campus attend the Kappa Continuation School. This is an increase of 100 students from the prior year. While Kennedy is still considered undersubscribed, enrollment is closed and there is a waiting list to get in, but teachers need to be hired in order to serve the students on the waiting list.

Test scores[edit]

California Standard Tests Scores, proficiency rate [1]
English Mathematics Science History/Social
19% 3% 12% 12%

Kennedy's "growth" API score for 2008 was 580 out of 1000 possible points, a 6% gain over the school's 2007 score. This score is slightly below the median score of 586 achieved by similar schools, but far below the overall average score for California high schools.

JFK has consistently met the growth targets for all significant subgroups except "students with disabilities," due to funding of such programs district-wide. African-American students improved by 40 points; Latinos, 35 points; socio-economically disadvantaged, 37 points: English learners, 35 points; and students with disabilities, 13 points. Kennedy has the largest number of special education students in the district (and still growing); JFK test scores continue to climb. Also of note, JFK teachers are the only ones in the district who volunteer an extra period daily and the results of this service show a difference.

Kennedy's African-American students outscored their peers at Richmond High School (Richmond, California) and ECHS in 10 of the 14 comparable CST Tests. Latino students at KHS outscored their peers at RHS and ECHS in 8 out of the 18 comparable CST tests. Socio-economically disadvantaged students at KHS outscored their peers at RHS and ECHS in 10 out of the 16 comparable CST tests.


Recently, WCCUSD completed a paint job to the exterior campus. Also, community members led a successful campaign seeking for the city to support its local schools. The raising of $3million staved off Richmond school consolidation for two years, while more stable funding is developed.

Community support[edit]

In 2007 JFK@40+ was developed; a community group of alumni, parents, former staff, school neighbors, and concerned Richmonders came together to celebrate the school's 40th birthday and to offer support for current students and teachers. The role of JFK@40+ has been important in the recent renaissance of Richmond and John F. Kennedy High School.

In 2008, the Eagle Foundation[7] was created by alumni, parents, former staff, school neighbors, and concerned Richmonders as a nonprofit organization to support the Richmond community by strengthening John F. Kennedy High School. It acquired its 501c3 status from the State of California in December 2008.

Notable alumni[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "John F. Kennedy High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  2. ^ United States Geological Survey (14 January 2000). "GNIS Detail - Kennedy High School". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  3. ^ Peritz, M. (2009). Proposal Creating Scenario 3. Retrieved March 4, 2009, from "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2009-03-03. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Narrative and Oral History analysis provided by Dr. Nicholas Zoffel, San Jose State University, Department of Communication Studies from interviews with inaugural teachers Ms. Dolly Felix, Mr. Michael Peritz, & Community Organizer, Mr. George Harris (Peritz, M., Felix, D., Harris, G., personal communication via. interview, December 29, 2008). Of scholarly note, the interview process follows guidelines for Narrative Analysis compiled in Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  5. ^ Developed from[permanent dead link] report
  6. ^ (Peritz, M., Felix, D., Harris, G., personal communication via. interview, January 17, 2009). Of scholarly note, the interview process follows guidelines for Narrative Analysis compiled in Creswell, J.W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. (Developed from[permanent dead link] report)
  7. ^ McLachlan, R. (2008). "About Us" [the Eagle Foundation]. Retrieved February 19, 2009, from