Patrick Henry High School (California)

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Coordinates: 32°47′52.80″N 117°03′05.00″W / 32.7980000°N 117.0513889°W / 32.7980000; -117.0513889

Patrick Henry High School
6702 Wandermere Drive
San Diego
, California 92120
United States
Established 1968
Principal Elizabeth Gillingham [1]
Faculty 300
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 2,437 (2014-15)[2]
Mascot Patriot
Newspaper The Patriot Press
Yearbook The Encounter

Patrick Henry High School is a public high school in San Diego, California. It is part of the San Diego Unified School District. It is attended by students in grades 9-12 residing in Del Cerro, San Carlos, Allied Gardens, Mission Valley and the College Area.

It is a four-year high school accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The 57-acre (230,000 m2) campus includes a counseling center, child development center, computer and science labs, a cafetorium, library and a performing arts theater. Patrick Henry is a member school of the National Association of College Admissions Counselors and complies with the NACAC statement of principles of good conduct.[citation needed]

The school participates in the Voluntary Ethnic Enrollment Program (VEEP) whereby approximately 600 students travel daily from a minority community and are regularly enrolled, full-time students. In 2009, the ethnic composition of the school represented more than 20 ethnic groups, PHHS is composed of approximately 64.8% White, 29.4% Hispanic, 2.4% African-American and 3.4% other ethnicities.


Patrick Henry High School opened in 1968, and had a grant from the Danforth Foundation as an "experimental" public school. Principal Donald W. Giddings had his pick of any teacher in the San Diego Public School system for his start up campus. The student body in 1968 consisted of juniors and sophomores only, and it became a 3 year high school the following year. Classes were scheduled around a twenty-minute modular system with some "classes" consisting of two "mods" and others were three "mods". In the beginning, most classes were "independent study", and the campus was open, so that students could make use of any community resources to enhance learning. But, most students were in summer school those first 2 years, having spent a lot of independent study time talking to friends in the "quad". The school modified the program, offering learning objectives, learning packs, and the ability to complete coursework at one's own pace (with teachers always available). Independent study was still available, but the motivated student needed to petition the independent study "teacher" who then worked with students on curriculum and community resource development. Over time, Patrick Henry became a more and more traditional school. Nonetheless, the early experiment was successful in bringing unusual (for the time) courses and great flexibility in learning. In 1972, a peer counseling class was instituted. Students accelerated their studies in languages, literature, the sciences, and other areas. Some graduated early as a result, while others chose to become even better prepared for college. By 1973, Patrick Henry had numerous advanced placement classes, including English and Art History, the latter being rather rare at that time.

In the late 1970s Patrick Henry was the first of only a few high schools in the San Diego area to have a smoking section, which was eventually removed some years later.

Patrick Henry High School attendance area

On January 5, 1984, the San Diego Police Department executed one of the largest and most controversial narcotics raids in the department's history- arresting 63 Patrick Henry High students, who had allegedly sold drugs to an undercover officer posing as a student.[3]

On January 3, 2007 the San Diego Police department again executed a narcotics raid resulting in the arrest of 15 students from Patrick Henry and University High Schools. The students were taken into custody and booked on suspicion of narcotics offenses, including possession for sale. Undercover SDPD officers posed as students and bought narcotics, including marijuana, Ecstasy, psychedelic mushrooms and prescription medications.[4]

In the school year of 2011 to 2012, Patrick Henry received local, national, and international media attention for four different occurrences. In October 2011, Patrick Henry elected the nation's first lesbian couple as homecoming king and queen. The story was covered internationally and led to both support and opposition.[5][6][7] In late February 2012, a teacher allegedly told a female student who asked to go to the bathroom that she would have to urinate in a bucket in a back room, and the student obliged; the teacher was consequently fired. [8] On March 17, Saint Patrick's Day of 2012, a campus cop who worked at Patrick Henry was arrested on charges of auto theft and driving under the influence, after taking the wheel of a shuttle-bus while intoxicated. [9] On March 22, 2012, three Patrick Henry students organized a protest to defend their teachers who had recently been issued pink slips by the San Diego Unified School District. Students signed a petition during lunch, wrote letters to the Superintendent of the district and other members of the school board. Additionally, over 200 students participated in a walk-out for an hour to show their support for their teachers. [10]

College admissions[edit]

The school was designated a California Distinguished School in 1999.[citation needed] In 2000 and again in 2003, Newsweek Magazine listed Patrick Henry as being among the top one percent of high schools in the nation.[citation needed] The 2005 Academic Performance Index (API) has continued to rise and was 748 in 2009 (an API of 800 is the target).[citation needed]


The San Diego Community College, Navajo campus, is co-located on the school site, adjacent to the main building.


The mascot of Patrick Henry High School is the Patriot.

In 2017 the school's robotics club, the Patribots, won the FIRST San Diego Regional and competed at the international championships in Houston. [11]

Notable alumni[edit]


External links[edit]