Woodrow Wilson High School (Los Angeles)

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Woodrow Wilson High School
4500 Multnomah Street
El Sereno, Los Angeles
California 90032
United States
Type Public
Motto "Once a Mule, Always a Mule"
Established 1937 (first campus),
1970 (second campus)
School district Los Angeles Unified School District
Principal Luis Lopez
Staff 45
Faculty 135
Grades 9-12
Number of students 1,624 (2014-15)[1]
Color(s)              Navy blue, Vegas gold and white
Athletics Baseball, football, boys' and girls' soccer, softball, track & field, cross country, boys' and girls' basketball, cheer, drill team, boys' and girls' tennis, boys' and girls' volleyball
Athletics conference Northern League
CIF Los Angeles City Section
Mascot Mighty Mule (Seymour)
Rivals Abraham Lincoln High School, Benjamin Franklin High School
Information Architect: Paul Williams

Woodrow Wilson High School is a Los Angeles Unified School District high school in the Eastside region of Los Angeles, California, United States.[2][3] It is located in the community of El Sereno, atop the Ascot Hills at 4500 Multnomah Street.[4]

The school serves the El Sereno and University Hills communities, and areas of City Terrace and Ramona Gardens.[citation needed]

Wilson High, with an enrollment of approximately 1,200 students, is one of six high schools under the direct supervision of LAUSD Local District 5. The school colors are navy blue, Vegas gold and white. The school's mascot is the "Mighty Mule", a mule also nicknamed "Seymour".


The original Wilson High School campus opened in 1937 on Eastern Avenue, in what is now the El Sereno Middle School campus.[5] Classes were separated into winter and summer classes and took place in tents and old bungalows. The first gym was begun just before World War II and was completed in 1942. The first class to graduate was in the winter of 1940 with a class of 40 students.

The original site at one time had been a mule farm, which is one reason a mule was chosen as the school mascot.[5][6] Other reasons cited were to honor the important pre-mechanization role 200,000+ mules played during World War I when Woodrow Wilson was president, and to acknowledge Woodrow Wilson's association with the Democratic Party whose symbol is the mule or donkey.

Mules mascot in the 1960-70s era (left) and the 1990s-present era (right)

In 1970, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School moved to its current location on Multnomah Avenue. The new 37-acre campus and buildings were constructed between 1968-1969 and designed by the renowned African American architect Paul Revere Williams. It was an engineering challenge to excavate over one million cubic yards of earth to re-grade the hilltop and to use 3,500 tons of structural steel for the main buildings. The new Wilson High was the first LAUSD school to implement multi-floored buildings equipped with elevators and escalators to accommodate students with disabilities.[7]

In 2012 Woodrow Wilson High School celebrated its 75th anniversary.[2]

Chicano Movement on campus[edit]

In late 1967 East Los Angeles had a school system entrenched in racial disparities. It led to the local beginning of the Chicano Movement. The Mexican American community had the highest high school dropout rate and lowest college attendance among any ethnic group. Poor facilities and constant underestimation of student capabilities by teachers created an atmosphere that impeded learning for some students. Feelings of oppressive conditions coupled with the inability to make changes compelled students, activists, and teachers to meet and discuss the situation. They decided that making their plight public was the best way to pressure the school board for education reform.

Lincoln High School teacher Sal Castro, along with student leaders from the five public schools in East Los Angeles (Roosevelt, Wilson, Lincoln, Garfield, and Belmont High Schools), including Wilson student Paula Crisostomo; college students including Moctesuma Esparza; and groups including the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and the Brown Berets developed 36 demands to bring to the Los Angeles Board of Education. These goals included bilingual education and bicultural education, Latino teachers and administrators, smaller class sizes, better facilities, and the revision of textbooks to include Mexican American history.

Walkouts: "Blowouts"[edit]

After none of the 36 goals and demands were met, students threatened walkouts, which they called "Blowouts."[8][9] Funds for Los Angeles public schools were allocated based on the number of students in class each day. By walking out of homeroom before attendance was taken, the students could target the schools financially.[8]

An ad hoc committee, UMAS, and college students established Blowout Committees at other schools such as Theodore Roosevelt High School, Lincoln High School, and Garfield High School, plus a central coordinating committee.[8] These committee meetings were known to be infiltrated by plainclothes policemen.[9]

The incident which prematurely triggered the blowouts was when Wilson High principal Donald Skinner canceled a student production of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, citing it as too risqué for a Mexican American audience. Although Wilson was not one of the original three schools intending to walk out, 300 students did so on March 1, 1968. The administration had senior students blockade the main exit, but the students found alternatives, pushing the school entry gates back and forth as other students inside demonstrated by throwing fruit, books and other items over the gate. Police and photographers showed up on the scene, and the students were told to return to class. Some refused, forming sit-ins and rallies. As a symbol of the walkouts, students wore the image of a foot on their clothes.[9]

The walkouts or blowouts, which began with the 1 March 1968 walkout at Wilson, are credited as seminal events of the Chicano Movement:[8][9]

"The blowouts resulted in the gradual beginning of various reforms, including bilingual education, Chicano studies, more emphasis on academic subjects, more encouragement of Mexican American students going to college, and more Mexican- American teachers and administrators," said García. "Many problems continued – and still do – but what had changed was the consciousness of Chicanos both among students and in the community concerning the need to fight for educational justice. There is no question about the significance of the blowouts in the history of the Chicano movement and in Chicano history." (Garcia, Mario T. "Blowout: Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice."[8]

1970s football City Championships[edit]

During the 1970s, Wilson's football coach was the legendary Vic Cuccia. He led the Mighty Mules to a 39-game winning streak, taking the team to win the City’s Section 3-A championship in 1975, 1976, and 1977.

Cuccia's own son, Ron Cuccia, was the team's quarterback for those three years, during which time he set a city and state record for passing, accounted for 145 touchdowns, and set a national record for total offense with 11,451 yards. The Mighty Mules went on to win the City championship title in 1978.

During his 22 years as the football coach (1956-1977), Cuccia compiled a 151-42-6 record. He was also a teacher, serving all his 44 teaching years at Wilson High School. Coach Vic Cuccia, who grew up in El Sereno, was honored for his dedication and work on September 1999. Wilson High School's football stadium was renamed in his honor (the football field had already been dedicated in honor of Paul Barthel, a former Wilson teacher). Cuccia died on January, 2008, at the age of 80.[10]

Popular culture[edit]

In 2015 Woodrow Wilson High School served as a television series filming location with both exterior and interior shots used in the production.[11] The AMC series pilot and early episodes of Fear the Walking Dead involved characters that worked and attended the fictional "Paul R. Williams High School." As noted above, that is the name of the actual architect who designed the real campus and buildings.

Performance and demographics statistics[edit]

The school's graduation rate in 2005 was 61.7%.[12] The school's California API (Academic Performance Index) score was 562 for 2006, and of its student population, 77% were in a Free/Reduced Lunch Program and 30% were designated as English Learners. 8% of the students participated in a GATE program. The student body was 93% Hispanic, 4.8% Asian, 1.5% black, 0.5% white and 0.2% Native American. The API score for 2010 was 615, and it jumped up to 637 the following year.[13]

After Wilson became a magnet school and part of the International Baccalaureate program (see below), more recent data from 2015[14] show improvements. At the time of that study the demographics were essentially the same as before in ethnic breakdown, but down to 15% in English Learners and up to 88% in Free/Reduced Lunch Program. Academic measures showed increases in an API score of 653 and a graduation rate of 85% for that year.

For context, an API score of 615 in the year of 2010 placed Wilson in the 31st percentile of all high schools in the entire state of California and the 35th percentile of Los Angeles County high schools.[15] (The API score was abolished in March 2017 and replaced with the California School Dashboard, thus more recent comparisons of this type are no longer possible.)

Academic Performance Index[edit]

A comparison of the former Academic Performance Index (API) for high schools in the LAUSD District 5 and local small public charter high schools in the East Los Angeles region up until 2012 is as follows:

School 2007[16] 2008[17] 2009[18] 2010[19] 2011[20] 2012[21]
Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School 807 818 815 820 832 842
Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School 718 792 788 788 809 785
Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School 662 726 709 710 744 744
James A. Garfield High School 553 597 593 632 705 706
Abraham Lincoln High School 594 609 588 616 643 684
Woodrow Wilson High School 582 585 600 615 636 648
Theodore Roosevelt High School 557 551 576 608
Thomas Jefferson High School 457 516 514 546 546 589
Santee Education Complex 502 521 552 565 612

International Baccalaureate programs[edit]

Woodrow Wilson High School is an International Baccalaureate school, with magnet school programs.[22]

The programs include:

  • Environmental Science Academy program[23]
  • Academy of Fine Arts program[24]
  • Law Magnet program[25]
  • Mule Business Academy program[26]
  • Police Academy program[27]
  • Transportation Careers Academy program[28]

Advanced Placement program[edit]

Students are accepted into the Advanced Placement Program and individual advanced placement classes based on faculty and counselor recommendations. A student may be admitted into an AP class by request or if the AP instructor has approved the request. These are the current courses offered by Wilson:[citation needed]

  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP English Language
  • AP English Literature
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP French
  • AP Government
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP Physics (no longer offered)
  • AP Psychology
  • AP Spanish Language
  • AP Spanish Literature
  • AP Statistics
  • AP U.S. History

The Hitching Post[edit]

The Hitching Post is a bi-monthly publication by Wilson's Journalism class.[29] It originated as the school's newspaper, which began around 1941. However, there is some confusion about the number of volumes printed so far because the newspaper changed names several times.



  • Junior varsity girls' tennis
  • Varsity girls' tennis
  • Junior varsity girls' volleyball
  • Varsity girls' volleyball
  • Cross country team
  • Football


  • Junior varsity girls' soccer
  • Varsity girls' soccer
  • Junior varsity boys' soccer
  • Varsity boys' soccer
  • Junior varsity girls' basketball
  • Varsity girls' basketball
  • Junior varsity boys' basketball
  • Varsity boys' basketball


  • Junior varsity softball
  • Varsity softball
  • Junior varsity baseball
  • Varsity baseball
  • Junior varsity boys' tennis
  • Varsity boys' tennis
  • Junior varsity boys' volleyball
  • Varsity boys' volleyball
  • Junior varsity track & field
  • Varsity track & field


Notable alumni include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Woodrow Wilson Senior High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 26, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b IBWilsonmules.com: International Baccalaureate Woodrow Wilson High School website
  3. ^ Landsberg, Mitchell. "County gives Los Angeles International Charter High School a second chance." Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2010. Retrieved on September 8, 2011.
  4. ^ "Students Get History Lesson in Mural Project" Valencia, Monica." [1]." Los Angeles Times. January 15, 2007. Retrieved on August 28, 2012.
  5. ^ a b About Us
  6. ^ "History of El Sereno". El Sereno Historical Society. 1970's: El Sereno Historical Society. Archived from the original on 12 November 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  7. ^ "Gallery - Woodrow Wilson High School, Los Angeles". www.paulrwilliamsproject.org. The PRW Project. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d e UCSB.edu: 'Blowout: The 40th Anniversary Conference on the 1968 East Los Angeles Chicano Student Walkouts'; UCSB Chicano Studies Institute, on 20 February 2008.
  9. ^ a b c d Swarthmore.edu: "1968 East LA blowouts, East Los Angeles students walkout for educational reform."
  10. ^ http://elsereno90032orgblog.blogspot.com/
  11. ^ Eric Sondheimer (24 August 2015). "Football: Wilson High is used for TV series, 'Fear the Walking Dead'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  12. ^ [2]
  13. ^ [3][4]
  14. ^ Joffe, Marc; Ring, Ed (June 2015). "Los Angeles Public Schools vs Charter Schools: A cost per-pupil and educational achievement comparison" (PDF). California Policy Center. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  15. ^ "California School Ranking Woodrow Wilson Senior High". PSK12.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017. 
  16. ^ 2006-07 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 25, 2009
  17. ^ 2007-08 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 25, 2009
  18. ^ 2008-09 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  19. ^ 2009-10 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  20. ^ 2010-11 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  21. ^ (APR) Retrieved on April 13, 2013
  22. ^ IB Wilson High School: International Baccalaureate Magnet / SLC programs
  23. ^ IB Wilson High School | Environmental Science Academy
  24. ^ IB Wilson High School | Academy of Fine Arts
  25. ^ IB Wilson High School | Law Magnet Program
  26. ^ IB Wilson High School | Mule Business Academy
  27. ^ IB Wilson High School | Police Academy
  28. ^ IB Wilson High School | Transportation Careers Academy Program
  29. ^ IB Wilson High School | The Hitching Post

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°04′11″N 118°11′11″W / 34.069835°N 118.186298°W / 34.069835; -118.186298