Palisades Charter High School

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Not to be confused with Palisade High School.
Palisades Charter High School
Palisades Charter High School
Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California
United States
Type Public
Established 1961[1]
Principal Dr. Pam Magee
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,903 students[2]
Color(s) Royal blue, Columbia blue, and White[3]
Mascot Dolphins

Palisades Charter High School (usually abbreviated as "Pali High,"or "Pali," uncommonly as "PCHS" / "PHS" ) is a secondary school in Los Angeles, California, United States. The public high school serves the neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades, Palisades Highlands, Kenter Canyon, and portions of Brentwood (including Brentwood Circle). Residents in Topanga, an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County, may attend Palisades or Taft High School.[4][5]

The school serves grades 9 through 12. Formerly directly administered by the Los Angeles Unified School District school, with the land still owned by the district, the school is now an independent charter school, no longer administered by LAUSD. Its current enrollment numbers 2,903 students, and many of them endure long bus rides to attend one of the most highly ranked public high schools in the Los Angeles area. In 2005, Palisades was recognized as a California Distinguished School. In 2015, Palisades was named one of America's Best High Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.[6]

The school is located at 15777 Bowdoin Street, Pacific Palisades, California, 90272.

Paul Revere Charter Middle School feeds into Palisades.


The school was founded in 1961.[1] It was built for $6,000,000. The founding principal was Herbert L. Aigner (died in 2000).[7] The Class of 2012 was the 50th graduating class.

Prior to the founding, the property was called All Hallows Farm and for many years was owned by the Conway family: Hollywood film director Jack Conway; his wife, actress Virginia Conway — daughter of silent screen star Francis X. Bushman — and their two sons, one of whom, Pat Conway became an actor as well. This property was subsequently rented to actress Debbie Reynolds and her husband, singer Eddie Fisher. It was then taken, some years later, by the State by eminent domain to build the high school.

Several members of the class of 1965 were profiled in a Time magazine article, which led to a best-selling 1976 book by class members David Wallechinsky and Michael Medved, What Really Happened to the Class of '65?.[8] The book featured interviews with several members of the class, whose experiences were recounted both individually and in groupings around shared themes such as the Vietnam War and the draft, drug experimentation, and sex. Various teachers from the school also were interviewed, among them English teachers Miss Jean O'Brien, history teacher Mr. Johnson, and Mrs. Rose "Mama G" Gilbert, who retired during 2012-2013 after 63 years of teaching.[9] At age 94, Mrs. Gilbert was the oldest active teacher in the LAUSD.[10][11] The success of the book later inspired a short-lived television dramatic anthology series of the same title, which ran from December 1977 to July 1978 on NBC.[12] The character of Maz Kanata was based on her.[13]

In 1989 20/20 aired an episode about the students of Palisades High School. Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Palisades High School is characterized here as both an institution of high academic performance and high drug and alcohol use. What "20/20" doesn't ask tonight is how both are possible at the same school."[14]

Circa 1992 there were so few students that LAUSD was considering closing the school. Pali High parents, principal Merle Price, and Pali High staff decided to advocate for making the school into a charter school.[15] In 1993 the school, along with three feeder elementary schools, received approval from the Los Angeles Board of Education to become a charter school. This was the first time a group of schools in California became charter schools.[16] The school asked students to abide by a behavior code and instituted new academic programs. By 1998 student enrollment recovered: it had 200 students previously attending private schools.[15]

This school was the focus of a false email chain letter started around 2002. The message falsely claimed that a satiric message to parents about student truancies and homework problems was actually on the school's answering machine. The message was originally written in response to parent outrage that students who skipped class more than ten days per 90-schoolday semester (not counting legitimate absences, like sickness) could receive a failing grade in that class. This was reported on several web sites, including,[17] Snopes,[18] and[19]

Disregarding a majority vote of the parents and students, which came down 1740–1010 against, the board of directors voted in 2006 to change the starting date of school for the 2007–2008 school year, which upset the student body, many of whom took action by skipping class in protest. After much disagreement among the principal, the Board, teachers, parents, and students, the school finally announced on Tuesday, May 8, that the calendar change would not be enacted, mostly due to ongoing contract discussions with United Teachers Los Angeles which reminded administrators of a clause which prevented schedule changes without teacher approval.


The campus is bounded by Temescal Canyon Road to the east, Sunset Boulevard to the north, El Medio Street to the west, and Temescal Academy (formerly known as first Temescal Canyon Continuation School and later Temescal High School) to the south.[20] It is bisected by Bowdoin Street, which runs between the school's football field and the academic center of the school. Located only a mile from Will Rogers State Beach, the football stadium is called "Stadium by the Sea."[21]

Many movies have been filmed at Palisades. One of the first major motion pictures to be shot at Pali High was Carrie. Directors George Lucas and Brian De Palma held a joint audition for Carrie and Lucas's Star Wars (1977) on the Palisades campus. Other movies filmed on site include Popular (1999), Crazy/Beautiful (2001), The Glass House (2001), Old School (2003), Freaky Friday (2003), Havoc (2005), and Project X (2012). The TV series Modern Family (2013) and Teen Wolf (2011) were also filmed at the school.

Pali High was also used for the Sweet Valley High book, Party Weekend.

As of 2010, approximately 43% of the student body, 1,180 out of 2,742 students, were bused to Palisades Charter High School from more than 100 Los Angeles zip codes.[22] In 1994, approximately 70% of the student body, 1,176 out of 1,680 students, were bused from South-Central and East Los Angeles.[23]


White Latino Asian African American Pacific Islander American Indian Two or More Races
51% 24% 9% 15% 1% 1% 1%

According to US News and World Report, 49% of Palisades Charter's student body is "of color," with 32% of the student body coming from an economically disadvantaged household, determined by student eligibility for California's Reduced-price meal program. [24]


As of 1998 most of its classes are university preparatory in nature, and it hosts a mathematics, science, and technology magnet program. The school also has humanities and marine biology courses.[15]

The school includes a New Media Academy that was, as of 1998, one of three in LAUSD. Pali High uses its charter school status to increase the visibility of this program. By that year Dreamworks had financed it with $100,000 ($145181.71 according to inflation). The location fees generated by Aaron Spelling's use of the school for Malibu Shores were used to, by 1998, install a new computer lab.[15]

As of 2002 Palisades High School offers a surfing class that can be taken for physical education credit. It was established around 1998 by Ray Millette, a marine biology teacher and surfer.[25]

Notable alumni[edit]

Pali is the alma mater of many notable individuals, including:

Sending schools[edit]

As some LAUSD zoned high schools do not have enough space to educate all residents in their attendance boundaries, some schools send excess students to Palisades.[5]

They were, as of spring 2007:


  1. ^ a b "LAUSD School Profile Page". Retrieved January 21, 2007. 
  2. ^ "School Profile". Retrieved April 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ "School Description". Campus. Retrieved July 8, 2006. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Max Taves, "Enrollment Demands May Force a Lottery at PaliHi." Palisadian-Post. February 14, 2007. Retrieved on October 22, 2011.
  6. ^ "Results + Recognition - Palisades Charter High School". Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  7. ^ "Herbert Aigner; Palisades High Founding Principal" (Obituary). Los Angeles Times/ January 25, 2000. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  8. ^ Tevi Troy. "Right Read: Michael Medved engages and explains," National Review, February 9, 2005.
  9. ^ "Sassy 94-Year-Old Teacher Is Finally Calling It Quits". Huffington Post. March 1, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Millionaire Teacher Won't Quit at 88!"
  11. ^ Martha Groves and Louis Sahagun, "Rose Gilbert dies at 95; revered Palisades High English teacher", Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2013.
  12. ^ Michael Peck. "Televisionary" (Q&A column), June 28, 2005.
  13. ^ Frances Sharpe. "'Star Wars' Character Based on Late Pali High English Teacher, Abrams Tells Palisadian-Post". Palisadian Post. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "TV REVIEW : '20/20' Takes a Look at Palisades High School." Los Angeles Times. April 21, 1989. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c d Hardy, Terry. "Top of the Class" (education section). Los Angeles Magazine. Emmis Communications, October 1998. Vol. 43, No. 10. ISSN 1522-9149. Start: p. 52. CITED: p. 66.
  16. ^ Chavez, Stephanie. "Palisades Schools Get OK for Charter Status : Reform: Program at four campuses is an attempt to raise student achievement standards. It will be watched as a model of how school clusters work." Los Angeles Times. June 29, 1993. Retrieved on March 29, 2014.
  17. ^ "Insulting voice mail at Pacific Palisades High School in California-Fiction!". Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  18. ^ snopes (7 June 2015). "Pacific Palisades High School Answering Machine Message". snopes. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  19. ^ "Palisades High School's Answering Machine". Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  20. ^ Danielle Gillespie, Palisadian-Post. "Temescal Academy Is Under Way". Retrieved April 22, 2010. (subscription required (help)). 
  21. ^ "Records Set at YMCA Track Meet". Palisadian-Post. June 17, 2004. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ Chastang, Carol; Seo, Diane (June 19, 1994). "WESTSIDE COVER STORY : Driven to Learn : Minority Students Endure Long Days to Be Bused to Westside Schools, but Sometimes They Get Blamed for Campus Problems". Los Angeles Times. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ Weiss, Kenneth R. (January 19, 2002). "A Class That Trades Gym Shorts for Wetsuits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  26. ^ a b [3] (Page 2), Los Angeles Times, retrieved April 16, 2009
  27. ^ "Scott Alexander". Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2009. 
  28. ^ retrieved April 18, 2009
  29. ^ 1979 Palisades High School Yearbook
  30. ^ Thomas, Bob (April 17, 1964). "Rusty Hamer Is Worried About Obscurity at 17". Reading Eagle. Reading, Pennsylvania. p. 13. Retrieved August 9, 2015. 
  31. ^ Christopher Shea (2009-09-28). "Michael Sandel Wants to Talk to You About Justice". Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  32. ^ retrieved April 16, 2009 Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ retrieved November 04, 2014
  34. ^ Martha Groves (2013-01-29). "Pacific Palisades newspaper junkie buys his own paper". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2016-01-29. 
  35. ^ Odd Future's Sud tha Kyd talks music identity and the Internet. p. 1.

Additional references[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°02′52″N 118°31′51″W / 34.047720°N 118.530918°W / 34.047720; -118.530918