Whitney High School (Cerritos, California)

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Gretchen Whitney High School
16800 Shoemaker Avenue
Cerritos, California 90703
United States
Coordinates 33°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
Type Public Secondary
Established 1976
Principal John Briquelet
Grades 7–12
Enrollment 1,019 (2014-15)[1]
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Black, white, and gold    
Athletics conference Academy League
Mascot Wildcat
Rival Oxford Academy
Yearbook Kaleidoscope

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 2016, Whitney High School is ranked 1st in the state of California, and rank 19th 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 with Macs, and a theater.[3]


Whitney's curriculum includes 12 Advanced Placement courses and 35 Honors courses. However, students who attend Whitney High School are automatically, placed in honors, so there are total 35 courses and just a couple other basic math 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 didn't have any school athletics at all, and they gradually added small sports teams in later years. For at least the first 10 years, basketball, not football, was the biggest sport on campus, and it was played at a neighboring stadium because WHS didn't have a stadium of its own.


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.[24]

In 2009, the school ceased publishing Aspects, the student newspaper.

"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[25] 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.[26]


  1. ^ "Whitney (Gretchen) High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved October 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Best High Schools". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  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 2007-06-26. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1990 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved 2007-06-26. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1992 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved 2007-06-26. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Distinguished Middle and High Schools: 1996 Award Winners". California Department of Education. Retrieved 2007-06-26. [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. 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. Retrieved 2007-06-26. 
  16. ^ https://finance.yahoo.com/college-education/article/106441/America%27s-Best-High-Schools-2009
  17. ^ "Best High Schools: Gretchen Whitney High (Top 100, #12)". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  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 2010-01-03. 
  20. ^ "Best High Schools". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  21. ^ https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/rankings
  22. ^ "America's Top Schools 2014". Newsweek. Retrieved 2014-09-11. 
  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. ^ http://my.hsj.org/Schools/Newspaper/tabid/100/newspaperid/4252/view/frontpage/Default.aspx
  25. ^ Dirda, Michael (September 7, 2003). "School of Dreams: Making the Grade at a Top American High School". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 14, 2006. 
  26. ^ http://www.whitneyhs.org/profiles.jsp

External links[edit]