Whitney High School (Cerritos, California)

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Gretchen Whitney High School
Whitney High School Seal
16800 Shoemaker Avenue


United States
Coordinates33°52′41″N 118°03′15″W / 33.8781°N 118.0543°W / 33.8781; -118.0543Coordinates: 33°52′41″N 118°03′15″W / 33.8781°N 118.0543°W / 33.8781; -118.0543
TypePublic Secondary
PrincipalJohn Briquelet
Enrollment1,011 (2016-17)[1]
Color(s)Black, white, and gold    
Athletics conferenceAcademy League, CIF
RivalOxford Academy

Gretchen A. Whitney High School, called Whitney High School or WHS, is a public school in Cerritos, California serving grades 7–12. It is in the ABC Unified School District. According to US News Report 2018, Whitney High School is ranked 1st in the state of California, and ranked 14th nationally.[2]


Whitney High School was founded on September 25, 1976 (under the name Gretchen A. Whitney Learning Center) as a community academic learning center. It was created by ABC superintendent Charles Hutchison, who envisioned Whitney to be a vocational school. The school refocused[when?] as an academic prep school.[citation needed] As a tribute to Hutchison, the current cafeteria is named the Hutch.

In 1997, half of Whitney’s parking lot was purchased by a housing contractor to build a gated community adjacent to Whitney. In exchange, Whitney received funds to construct the long-awaited gymnasium. In 2012, Whitney built a multi-media arts center featuring computer labs, and a theater.[3]

In 2018, Measure BB was passed. The school plans to use their allocated funds to construct a new science building.


Entrance into Whitney is determined through mandatory placement testing. Students leaving elementary school are automatically tested, while students already in middle school or high school will be required to take an additional writing test.


Whitney's curriculum includes 12 Advanced Placement courses and 35 Honors courses, though students who attend Whitney High School are automatically placed in honors courses, except for math and physical education courses.


In 1991, Whitney was recognized with the Department of Education's National Recognition Award as a Blue Ribbon School. Senator John F. Seymour spoke on the US Senate floor to recognize the school.[4] Whitney is one of the three Blue Ribbon Lighthouse Schools Charter Members.[5] The school was again honored as a Blue Ribbon school in 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2014. Whitney became the first school to receive 5 Blue Ribbon Awards.[citation needed] President George W. Bush's brother Neil, co-founder of an educational software company, has visited the campus several times, as he put it, "because of the respect the staff has for students. I’ve never seen anything like it. Every school should be this way."[6]

Whitney has been honored with the California Distinguished School title six times: 1986,[7] 1990,[8] 1992,[9] 1996,[10] 2003,[11] and 2007.[12]

In 2005, the Associated Press rated Whitney High the best high school in California,[13] based on its Academic Performance Index (API) score.

Whitney High has been featured in a special report done by Fox News in 2005. The report on mentoring featured Whitney's "Big Buddy/Little Buddy" system.[citation needed] Furthermore, CBS News's "Weekend Journal" also reported on Whitney, focusing on the public high school's academic achievements.[citation needed]

In 2006, the school was on Newsweek’s "America’s Best High School" list. Whitney was not included in the top 100 high schools because "so many of [Whitney's] students score well above average on the SAT and ACT". However, Newsweek did include Whitney in "The Public Elites" section, and labeled Whitney as "a comprehensive school for high performers".[14] Newsweek again recognized Whitney in the May 23, 2007 "America’s Best High School" edition. Similar to the 2006 edition, Whitney was included as 1 of the 19 "The Public Elite" high schools and was labeled as an "award-winning school with special emphasis on college admissions".

The passing rate for the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) for Whitney students is 100%.[citation needed] Whitney received a six-year accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in 2004.[15]

Business Week declared Whitney as having the "Best Overall Academic Performance" in 2009 for California.[16]

U.S. News & World Report ranked Whitney High School as the No. 12 high school in the nation in the November 30, 2007 edition.[17] Whitney was ranked No. 10 in the December 15, 2008 edition.[18] Whitney was ranked the 3rd best high school in America for 2010 in the December 10, 2009 edition.[19] Whitney was 1st in the state of California for 2016, and rank 19th nationally.[20] Whitney was 1st in the state of California for 2018. [21]

Newsweek ranked Whitney High School as the No. 4 high school in the nation in September 2014.[22]


Whitney is a school with students from predominantly Asian heritage. In the 2013-2014 academic school year, the majority demographic group, as reported by the State of California, was Asian with 71.5% of enrollment. Filipinos made up 10.9% of enrollment, Hispanics of any race were 8.6%, whites (not Hispanic) 4.7%, African Americans 2.4%, Pacific Islanders 0.5%, Native American or Alaska Native (not Hispanic) 0.2%, and two or more races (not Hispanic) 1.1%.[23]


Whitney High is part of the CIF Division IV, and the mascot is the Wildcat. In its earliest years WHS did not have any school athletics at all, and they gradually added small sports teams in later years.

Whitney High is now part of the newly formed 605 league, Division 3, CIF Southern Section. [24]


The WHS Yearbook won First Place and Outstanding Theme at the 2013 American Scholastic Press Association Yearbook Competition.

WHS sponsors interscholastic sports and co-curricular activities including student government, service organizations, broadcast journalism, yearbook, marching band, drill team, pep squad. The school recently received funds to build a media center.

WHS's award-winning robotics team participates in FIRST: For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, an organization founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen and Woodie Flowers to motivate young people in their schools and communities to reach an appreciation of science and technology. Currently the team competes in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), FIRST LEGO League (FLL), VEX Robotics Competition (VRC),and VEX IQ(a version of VRC for 7th-8th graders attending Whitney High School. Students also participate in outreach programs in robotics with local elementary schools, community groups, and summer RoboCamps.

Whitney High School's award-winning Spaceset, short for International Space Settlement Design Competition, works with teams from around the world to create a proposal for a future city in space.

In addition, students in the Model United Nations program have won several awards for their performances at conferences such as the West Coast Invitational,[when?][citation needed] Mission Viejo,[when?][citation needed] and UCLA MUN.[when?][citation needed] The school hosts a MUN conference every May.[citation needed]

Students have the opportunity to discuss and debate the most pressing national issues in the Junior Statesmen of America (JSA) program with other students from southern California.

"It's Finally Friday" (a.k.a. "IFF") is a televised show broadcast over the school's television network every Friday, from September 2003 and until June 2005, and brought back from 2006–2008.

The Whitney Independent News Network was founded during the 2009 – 2010 school year by teacher Eric Gutierrez.[25]

In 2009, the school ceased publishing Aspects, the student newspaper. In 2018, the school newspaper was brought back by the Newspaper Club and is called The Wildcat's Tale.

"Whitney High School Live" is Whitney's news program that airs everyday during homeroom. It began in the 2014-2015 school year and still runs to this day. It was founded and made possible by teacher Rod Ziolkowski.

School of Dreams[edit]

Whitney High is the subject of School of Dreams, a book written by the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Edward Humes[26] and published in September 2003. Humes spent the 2001–2002 school year at Whitney teaching a writing workshop, and used his case study of Whitney High to bring national attention to the pressures endured by the students of America's magnet schools.

College Admissions[edit]

Of the 165 students in the class of 2011, 46 percent went to the University of California, 1 percent went to military academies, 30 percent went to private or out-of-state colleges, 16 percent went to California State Universities, and 7 percent went to community colleges.[27]


  1. ^ "Whitney (Gretchen) High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "Best High Schools". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  3. ^ http://www.ci.cerritos.ca.us/cityserv/recreation/whitney_gym.html
  4. ^ "IN RECOGNITION OF WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL". The Library of Congress. September 18, 1991. Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  5. ^ "Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School Award Winners". Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  6. ^ "Lighthouse School Profile: Gretchen Whitney High School". Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence, Inc. Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved March 5, 2007.
  7. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1986 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved June 26, 2007.[dead link]
  8. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1990 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved June 26, 2007.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1992 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved June 26, 2007.[dead link]
  10. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1996 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved June 26, 2007.[dead link]
  11. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 2003 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Archived from the original on June 7, 2004. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  12. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 2007 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
  13. ^ "Academic Performance Index, California High Schools". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 16, 2006. Retrieved October 14, 2006.
  14. ^ "Best High Schools: The Public Elites". MSNBC, Newsweek. May 8, 2006. Archived from the original on May 19, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  15. ^ "Student & Community Profile". Whitney High School. Archived from the original on July 17, 2007. Retrieved June 26, 2007.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 19, 2009. Retrieved January 17, 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Best High Schools: Gretchen Whitney High (Top 100, #12)". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on May 8, 2009. Retrieved December 14, 2007.
  18. ^ "Best High Schools: Gold Medal List". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  19. ^ "Best High Schools: Gold Medal List". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
  20. ^ "Best High Schools". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  21. ^ https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/rankings
  22. ^ "America's Top Schools 2014". Newsweek. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  23. ^ http://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/Enrollment/EthnicEnr.aspx?cType=ALL&cGender=B&cYear=2011-12&Level=School&cSelect=GRETCHEN+WHITNEY+HIGH+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++%2D%2DABC+UNIFIED++++%2D%2D1964212%2D1931880&cChoice=SchEnrEth
  24. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2017/03/25/roundup-new-605-league-will-include-artesia-cerritos-glenn/
  25. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved January 22, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  26. ^ Dirda, Michael (September 7, 2003). "School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2006.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 8, 2012. Retrieved May 27, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]