John Muir High School

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John Muir High School
JMHS mustang.png
1905 Lincoln Avenue


United States
Coordinates34°10′43″N 118°09′36″W / 34.178513°N 118.159871°W / 34.178513; -118.159871Coordinates: 34°10′43″N 118°09′36″W / 34.178513°N 118.159871°W / 34.178513; -118.159871
Motto"The Home of the Mighty Mustangs"
PrincipalLawton Gray [1]
Enrollment897 (2016-17)[2]
Color(s)Blue and Gold         
Athletics conferenceCIF Southern Section Pacific League
MascotThe Mustang
RivalPasadena High School[3]

John Muir High School is a four-year comprehensive secondary school in Pasadena, California, United States and is a part of the Pasadena Unified School District. The school is named after preservationist John Muir.


The school's buildings were originally a part of John Muir Junior College (not to be confused with John Muir College in San Diego, California).[5] The junior college merged with Pasadena City College, and converted to a two-year high school in the Fall semester of 1954. (The senior students of the first graduating high-school class in 1955 were freshmen of the previous two-year junior college in the prior year.) It later become a full four-year high school, located on Lincoln Avenue in northwest Pasadena.

Prior to 1964, many white students from the community of La Canada Flintridge, California joined those from the black neighborhood of northwest Pasadena and the racially mixed community of Altadena, and enrollment was nearly 3,000 students. In 1963, La Cañada Flintridge, California built its own high school and removed its students, except for those who would graduate in 1964. Shortly after that, the Pasadena City School District created Blair High School, siphoning off another large portion of the school's population.

Student profile[edit]

Approximately 1100 students attended John Muir High School during the 2012-2013 school year. The student body is 65% Hispanic, 30% Black/non-Hispanic, 2% White, 1% Asian/Pacific-Islander and 1% two or more races.[6]

Recent awards to students and staff[edit]

In 2014, Muir Engineering Academy senior Brenden Dickerson was named an Edison Scholar. Brenden is one of 30 high school seniors from across Southern California Edison's (SCE) service territory who have been named 2014 Edison Scholars, each winning a $40,000 scholarship offered by Edison International, parent company of SCE.[7]

In 2014 and 2011, John Muir High School's Solar Cup team won 1st place in the 200 m sprint competition– beating the rest of the schools from the Foothill Division including Arcadia, Duarte, and La Cañada.[8][9] Solar Cup is a competition in which high school teams totaling about 800 students build and race solar-powered boats at Lake Skinner, in Temecula Valley.[10]

In 2014, Lydia Jimenez won the 2014 Association of California School Administrators Oratory Contest for Pasadena Unified School District.[11]

Several John Muir High School students have won the Gates Millennium Scholarship for outstanding minority high school students: Carmen Marand (2005), Jessica Murillo (2007), Claudia Lima-Rocha and Breana Powell (2009); Valeria Sosa (2011); Kimberly Mejia (2015). The net financial value of the scholarship is approximately $250,000 and covers all tuition, meals, dorms, registration, technology fees, and other expenses for students' Bachelor's, Master's, and the first two years of Doctorate degrees. The scholarship is awarded to 1,000 students nationwide. In 2014, Abigail Jacob was named Gates Millennium Scholarship finalist.[12][13]

in 2014, Yasmine Rodriguez took 2nd place in the Teen Prose category at LitFest Pasadena for her short story entitled, "Light."[14]

In 2012, Manuel Rustin, a social studies teacher, was awarded with the Milken Educator Award, which includes a $25,000 award for top educators in the U.S.[15][16]

College and Career Pathways (Linked Learning)[edit]

Muir students participate in one of three "College and Career Pathways": Arts, Entertainment and Media; Engineering and Environmental Science; Business and Entrepreneurship.[17] All three of these pathways have the distinction of being recognized as Linked Learning certified by ConnectEd. So far, only 37 schools and pathways in California have been recognized as Linked Learning certified.[18]

In the Arts, Entertainment and Media Pathway, students are trained from 9th to 12th grade in music, drama, film and video production, graphic design, photography, painting, sculpting, and other fine arts. During their high school career, students fine-tune their creative energy, master self-expression and hone their critical thinking and problem-solving in classes like graphic design, animation, and film/video production. They also have the opportunity to turn their natural gifts and artistic passions into real-world skills through career insight opportunities at local art centers and design firms that provide valuable behind-the-scenes job shadowing and hands-on training and internships.[19]

In the Engineering and Environmental Science Pathway students learn to use the power of science and mathematics to improve the quality of life on earth. This 9th through 12th grade Pathway is affiliated with the National Academy Foundation's Academy of Engineering[20] that features the Project Lead the Way pre-engineering curriculum.[19]

In the Business and Entrepreneurship program, this well-rounded curriculum includes business management, finance, accounting, marketing and entrepreneurship courses designed to strengthen leadership, problem-solving, organizational and management skills. Each course of study provides an in-depth analysis of business, financial and corporate trends and strategies in the marketplace. On campus clubs, student activities and group projects provide extensive, hands-on training in the business and financial system that governs our society.[19][21]

Reinvention effort[edit]

For several years, Muir High School was under state monitoring. In October 2007, the PUSD Board of education approved the reconstitution of John Muir High School for the 2008-2009 school year. The district worked with parents, staff, local businesses and other community members to develop a reconstitution plan, which later became known as Muir's "reinvention" plan.[22] The reform effort soon received support from ConnectEd, an organization partnering with the Irvine Foundation to implement Linked Learning in districts across California. The focus was a reform plan which included the re-vamping of the academic structure to include College and Career Pathways (Linked Learning), professional development, extensive community support and requiring all teachers and staff to re-apply for their jobs.[23][24]

John Muir High School's implementation of the Linked Learning reform effort was featured in an extensive two-year study by Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE).[25] According to the SCOPE study, "by many accounts, in just 3 years, Muir High School has, in fact, very credibly demonstrated the success of the Linked Learning model. The school has evolved from a traditional, comprehensive high school to a campus with three Linked Learning pathways that offer integrated curriculum, authentic learning experiences, and personalized support for students. Early indications are that Muir, still with more than 90% of its students identifying as either African American or Latino, has made impressive gains during the initial years of implementation of Linked Learning. Among the gains are a dramatic reduction in dropouts over the last two years (from a 34% drop out rate to a 9% dropout rate). In addition, Muir's Academic Performance Index has steadily risen since the 2007-2008 school year for the school as a whole as well as for significant subgroups. This represents the fastest rate of increase of all the high schools in PUSD during that time period." [25] According to the district website, as a result of the reinvention effort, John Muir High School has achieved a 57-point increase on its Academic Performance Index since 2007.[26] In the 2012-2013 school year, the drop out rate decreased again to 7.8%.[27]

Muir Ranch[edit]

In 2011, a team of volunteer teachers and students began converting 1.5 acres of the John Muir High School campus into an urban farm. Muir Ranch grows a variety of flowers, vegetables and fruits. Students can complete community service or internship graduation requirements by enrolling in classes at the Ranch. Muir Ranch also provides paid internships to students, which are funded by private donations, special events, farmer's market sales, and subscriptions to the produce box program (CSA).[28][29]


Filmmaker and Muir Alumnus Pablo Miralles is currently in post-production for a film about John Muir High School called, Can We All Get Along? Stories of Integration from John Muir High School.[30][31] The movie contains the stories of alumni, parents, teachers and administrators from over 80 years at the Northwest school, from its traditionally black - and Japanese, and white - base to a "naturally" integrated time to busing to its current "resegregation" into an almost entirely Latino and black campus.[32] According to Miralles, "I wanted to take a broader look at the history of PUSD, the racial politics that surrounded desegregation, the dismantling of busing and the impact of funding cuts to public schools. I focused on Muir because it has a wonderful and unique history and because, over the decades it has reflected both the successes and the challenges facing Pasadena public schools."[33]


In football, the Mustangs have dominated the Pacific League the past two seasons (2013, 2014), combining to go 14-0 while winning back-to-back league crowns and appearances in the quarter and semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Southeast playoffs.[34]

Muir student, Dejon Williams was named "2014 Offensive Player of the Year" by the Pasadena Star News. Williams was Pacific League MVP.[35] He recently signed with the New Mexico State University Aggies.[34]

Tierra Adams is a top tier thrower in the state of California in the sport of track and field. She is a defending CIF champion in shot put, took 4th in the AAU Junior Olympic Games in North Carolina, 5th indoor state, and 7th in Arcadia Invitational. She recently signed with the Fresno State Bulldogs.[36]

In 2012, Muir football cornerback Kevon Seymour was signed by the University of Southern California. He was ranked as the #15 cornerback in the United States by ESPN.[37]

Turkey Tussle[edit]

The Annual Turkey Tussle Football Game tradition began in 1947 when the game was played between Pasadena Community College and John Muir Junior College. The two schools played until 1953. In 1954 the annual rivalry was played between what is now Pasadena High School and John Muir High School and is normally held at the Rose Bowl Stadium. Muir has won the Turkey Tussle for the past 16 years.[38][39]

Notable alumni[edit]

John Muir Junior College (through the 1953-54 school year)
John Muir High School (1954-55 school year to present)


In 2000 a teacher, Cyrus Javaheri, pleaded guilty to engaging in group sex with minors. The teacher lured two students from the school in addition to another minor through the internet. Furthermore, numerous instances of cyber sex were conducted between the teacher and various minors as young as 12.[51][52]

In 2002, caucasian teacher Scott Phelps was the center of controversy when he asserted that the majority of the students who are failing and disruptive were black.[53][54]

But overwhelmingly, the students whose behavior makes the hallways deafening, who yell out for the teacher and demand immediate attention in class, who cannot seem to stop chatting and are fascinated by each other and relationships but not with academics, in short, whose behavior saps the strength and energy of us that are at the front lines, are African American.[55]

Opinion was divisive with whites and blacks from the community on both sides. While some students and teachers defended that his assertion that the majority of the under performing students were black was accurate, others took offense to it. Subsequently, he was placed on administrative leave but allowed to return to the school a few days later.[53][56] In 2005, Phelps was elected to a four-year term on Pasadena Unified School District Board of Trustees, where he remains as of 2018.[57][58]


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  2. ^ "John Muir High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Mario Villegas , A 'Classic' for many reasons, ESPN Los Angeles, November 4, 2010
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  11. ^ John Muir High School congratulates its senior Lydia Jimenez for winning the 2014 ACSA Oratory Contest for Pasadena Unified School District
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External links[edit]