History of Pasadena High School

  • 1874 - 1899
    On September 19, 1874, the first school board was elected and a week later the school was in progress with 16 students.  The school was held in the home of William T. Clapp, on South Orange Grove Avenue, near California Street.

    In 1878, four years after the formation of the first school district, subjects resembling current high school studies were introduced by the first teachers of Pasadena High School, Mr. Newell Mathews and Miss I. Convence Royce.  Mr. Mathews received the magnificent sum of $80 a month on condition that he pay $50 towards building the school house.

    The high school moved in 1887 from the original building to the southeast corner of Marengo and Walnut.  Wilson High School was named for Mr. Benjamin “Don Benito” Wilson who donated the five acres of land for the school building.  In 1891 the people of Pasadena passed the High School Provision Bill.  This was the beginning of the real Pasadena High School, since it had been only a district school previously. Mr. Will S. Monroe was the superintendent, and he also taught the science classes.  There were seven other teachers.  There were 12 graduates that first year, including Annie L. Brush, Carleton E. Durrell, William H. Linny, LeRoy D. Ely, Alva D. McCoy, Leonora Schopbach and Carl C. Thomas.

    By 1893 there were 123 students with a graduating class of 16.  In addition, about this time the first school paper published in Pasadena made its appearance.  It was called the “Bee” and was written entirely by hand.  The class of 1899, the first to complete the new four-year course numbered 33.  It was a matter of pride to those first Pasadena High School graduates that Pasadena stood fourth on the State University list among 91 similar schools in the state and was accredited in every class it offered.

    School life differed widely in comparison with today.  The daily life was similar to that of a grammar school.  There were two daily recesses and a lunch period, with students marching in and out in two separate lines, one for boys and one for girls.

    1900 - 1911
    A great many protests came at the time the Wilson building was built because people thought it would be years before a building of its size would be necessary.  These doubters were soon proved wrong as the school grew very rapidly and was soon crowded. In succeeding years many “firsts” were established.  The firs school annual, called the “Item Annual”, was printed in 1899.  The President of the United States, Mr. Theodore Roosevelt, established another first when he spoke to the students in 1903.  For this occasion, the high school was decorated more lavishly than any buildings had been previous to this day.  Extending for 300 feet, rose petals, several inches in depth, made up the carpet upon which the President walked.

    In 1903 the first debating club was organized.  Also in 1903, the Trustees began looking for a new site for the high school.  Land on Walnut between Euclid and Los Robles was bought.  A building was erected which would be ample “for years to come”.  The building contained about thirty rooms and was ready for the opening of school in the fall of 1904. In 1905 the first athletic association was organized and three years later the first orchestra.  The Pasadena High School football team scored a first by beating USC by a score of 17 – 0.  During the same year the first girls’ tennis team was established.

    1911 - 1915
    The 1911 football team was a team of stars with such men as ‘Tiny” Jones, Herman Siefert, “Chuck” Biedebach, “Bill” Tavenor, “Hod” Chambers and “Puss” McDowell.  Members of the Debating Club gave Los Angeles High School a close race for the debating championship, losing by only one-third of a point. A change in location came in 1912 when a new campus was built at Hill and Colorado.  Pasadena residents complained about the new facilities because they were too far out in the country, but the students soon settled down in their new rural environment.  The student body created a constitution, student body commissioner, and an associated student body.  Even the band had a new look – red and white uniforms. The baseball team, after tying with Glendale, finally won the championship. The track team won the County Meet.  In addition, the tennis and debating teams had successful seasons.   By 1914, the school population reached 1529 students.

    1915 - 1927
    The first weekly paper published at Pasadena High School was printed on February 4, 1915.  Although there were initial financial problems, the paper
    approval by the student body and became a permanent publication.  In the field of sports, Pasadena High School was outstanding.  Between 1916 and 1918, Pasadena High School held four state championships.  Our football team was the state champion in 1916 with the opposing teams scoring only three points against them.  In 1917 – 1918, the swimming team was the state champion.  In 1918 the track team won the state championship.

    By 1919, the enrollment had risen to 2000 students with 80 faculty members and 350 graduates.  From October 1919 through February 1920 there was no school held due to a severe influenza epidemic. Because Pasadena is not an industrial city, its high school students very generally prepare for college. Definite provisions were in place for those students who wished to devote their time to agricultural, mechanical or commercial courses.  The departments increased from one in 1886 to the current eleven departments – Agriculture, Commercial, English, History, Household and Fine Arts, Classical Languages, Modern Languages, Manual Arts, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education and Science.

    In 1922 the Pasadena Honor Society was given the state chapter number one of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF).  In 1923, the first Rose Bowl Commencement was held and continued for many years.  After holding the Commencement Ceremonies at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for many years, Pasadena High School resumed holding Commencement ceremonies in the Rose Bowl in 2005. 

    1928 - 1960
    In 1928, Pasadena High School merged with Pasadena Junior College; later the name was changed to Pasadena City College.  In 1946, the enrollment had increased to the point that there was a need for a second junior college.  The army returned PJC West Campus to the Pasadena City School System.  The name was then changed from West Campus to John Muir Junior College.

    The two junior colleges existed until 1953 when the Pasadena 6-4-4 plan was abandoned and was replaced by the 6-3-3-2 system,
     and Pasadena High School was re-established. The school was located on the City College campus from September 1954 to June 1960. Groundbreaking

    1960 - 1965
    Pasadena High School located on its new campus at 2925 E. Sierra Madre Blvd, in June1960.  Completion of the campus came in 1962 with the dedication of the new auditorium. The 1962 – 1963 school year was a year of honors for Pasadena High School.  The Victory Bell returned home after eight years, following the defeat of John Muir at the Annual Turkey Tussle Homecoming football game. In January 1963, Pasadena High School was honored by a visit from the Honorable Tazio Hasgawa, mayor of Pasadena’s sister city in Mishima, Japan.

    On February 4, 1965, the Chronicle celebrated its Golden Anniversary and received an all-American honor rating from the National Scholastic Press Association.

    Mrs. Gladdiss Edwards served as principal from the time Pasadena High School was re-established in 1954 until 1965.  She led the school through two accreditations, one in 1959 and the second in 1965.  In June 1965, the Board of Education named the auditorium in her honor.

    Pasadena High School Fight Song

     PHS – fight on down the field.
    PHS – we will never yield,
    Bulldogs, kick up your heels,
    Drive on and chase them off the field.
    Go, fight, win- for the red and white,
    Bulldogs, we’re true to you.
    We’re gonna build our fame,
    We’re gonna win the game,
    So fight on, Bulldogs, Fight!!!


     Alma Mater

     Sturdy as the mountains,
    Lovely as the dawn,
    Hail Pasadena,
    Fearless and strong.
    On every field of glory, triumph,
    Alma Mater, Dear,
    Hail Pasadena,
    All Hail, All Hail, All Hail!