Polytechnic School

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Polytechnic School
Polytechnic Pasadena.jpg
1030 E. California Blvd, Pasadena, California
Coordinates Coordinates: 34°08′01″N 118°07′43″W / 34.1337°N 118.1286°W / 34.1337; -118.1286
School type Private
Founded 1907
Head of school John Bracker
Faculty 198
Grades K-12
Gender Coed
Enrollment 861
Average class size 17
Student to teacher ratio 9:1
Campus size 15 acres
Color(s) Orange & White         
Athletics 25 Varsity Sports
Athletics conference Prep League; CIF Southern Section
Mascot Panther
Accreditation WASC/CAIS/NAIS
Average SAT scores 1410
Average ACT scores 33
Publication OakTree Times
Newspaper The Paw Print

Polytechnic School, often referred to simply as Poly, is a college preparatory private day school located in Pasadena, California with approximately 850 students enrolled in grades Kindergarten through 12.

The school is a former member of the G20 Schools group.


The school was founded in 1907 as the first non-profit, independent school in Southern California. It descends from the Throop Polytechnic Institute founded by Amos G. Throop, the same institution that grew into the present California Institute of Technology.

In the spring of 1907, the Institute decided to focus on the college level and closed the grammar school. Citrus tycoon and noted eugenicist Ezra S. Gosney donated $12,500, a sum matched by twelve other donors. This money allowed them to purchase the property at the present site, originally an orange grove. The school opened in October 1907 with 106 students. At the time, the school was named Polytechnic Elementary School. The school added a ninth grade in 1918 and expanded to high school in 1959. Polytechnic ended its pre-kindergarten program in 2005.


Poly is recognized for its rigorous academic curriculum, which includes Advanced Placement and Honors classes as well as arts and athletic programs. The school has received numerous accolades for the academic accomplishments of its students. In 2006, Poly was named a world leader in student participation and performance on Advanced Placement exams by the College Board. The school frequently had the highest percentage of its students receive a 3 or above on the AP Calculus AB examination when compared to all other small schools administering the test across the globe, according to the College Board.[1]

In recent years, the most popular college destination for Poly students was the University of Southern California.[2] The Wall Street Journal ranked Poly 4th in the world as a feeder school for "elite colleges," including Harvard University, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams College, Pomona College, Swarthmore College, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University.[3] In the 2016-17 class, 35% of the class were National Merit Semi-Finalists & Commended students and 80% of students were accepted to 'highly-selective' top tier universities (institutions with an admit rate of 30% or lower).

Los Angeles Magazine has also consistently recognized Poly as one of the best high schools in Los Angeles. The September 2008 issue praised Poly for its "national reputation for producing scholars, artists and athletes." Using test score data, the September 2014 issue of Los Angeles Magazine ranked Poly 2nd of 75 Los Angeles high schools. With an average score of 2150, Poly students had the highest average SAT score of any school included in the rankings.[4] The Washington Post ranked Poly the 4th and 7th most challenging high school in the United States in 2013 and 2014, respectively.[5] In 2018, Niche ranked Poly as the 2nd best private K-12 school in California,[6] the 4th best private high school in California,[7] and the 16th best private high school nationally.[8]


Polytechnic School covers 15 acres and is divided by Cornell Road into two campuses, north (Lower and Middle School) and south (Upper School), and is adjacent to the Caltech campus. Most of the North Campus buildings were designed by Myron Hunt, who also designed the Rose Bowl and The Huntington, and Elmer Gray, who designed the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Pasadena Playhouse. Some of the classrooms on the lower campus were also done by Gordon Kaufmann, and Roland Coate. The Cornett Mansion (now called the Haaga House) in the south campus was designed in 1907 and serves as the administration building and houses several classrooms for the Upper School. Facilities include a Lower and Middle School Library, Upper School Library, Pool, Boys and Girls Gyms, Athletic field, Performing Arts Center, and historic as well as new classrooms.


Poly’s Athletic Department currently offers 25 Varsity sports in the three seasons of play and is a member of the Prep League. Poly has been competing in the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) since 1962 and has a historical tradition of excellence in its athletic programs enhanced by the combination of outstanding facilities and a dedicated coaching staff. In 2016-17, 82% of the students in the Upper School participated in some type of sport.

The CIF Southern Section has recognized Poly for its commitment to sportsmanship and awarded Poly the CIF Southern Section Jim Staunton Champions of Character Award in 2012. Poly was named the ESPN Rise California/Cal-Hi Sport’s Division 5 School of the Year in 2011.

CIF-SS Team Championships (38)

Football (2) - 1999, 2002

Baseball (2) - 2011, 2018

Boys Basketball (4) - 1978, 1979, 1984, 1995

Girls Basketball (2) - 1992, 2011

Girls Cross Country (2) - 1994, 1997

Boys Soccer (1) - 2000

Girls Soccer (8) - 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2013*

Girls Swimming (2) - 2015, 2016

Boys Tennis (3) - 1989, 1991, 1992

Girls Tennis (5) - 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2014

Girls Track & Field (2) - 1999, 2001

Girls Volleyball (2) - 1997, 1998

Boys Water Polo (1) - 2012

Girls Water Polo (2) - 2015, 2017

*CIF-State Southern California Regional Championship

CIF-SS Individual Championships (69)

Boys Cross Country (2*)

Girls Cross Country (1)

Boys Swimming & Diving (23**)

Girls Swimming & Diving (27**)

Boys Track & Field (1)

Girls Track & Field (15)

*CIF-SS & CIF-State Championships
**CIF-SS & CIF-Masters Championships

The "Mystic Niblick"

The "Mystic Niblick" is a trophy awarded every spring to the Varsity boys golf team with the lowest overall scores between Poly and Flintridge Prep. Poly currently holds the award.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Advanced Placement: Report to the Nation" (PDF). The College Board. 2006-02-22. p. 20. Retrieved 2008-09-18. Exemplary AP Calculus AB Programs These schools lead the world in helping the widest segment of their total school population achieve an exam grade of 3 or higher in AP Calculus AB:Small-size school (<300 students in grades 10–12): Polytechnic School (Pasadena, CA) ... Teacher of Foundation Course: Laurianne Williams 
  2. ^ "2012‐2016 MATRICULATIONS" (PDF). Polytechnic School. 
  3. ^ Gamerman, Ellen; Juliet Chung; SungHa Park; Candace Jackson (2007-11-30). "How the Schools Stack Up (revised 12-28)". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2008-01-16. Weekend Journal looked at the freshman classes at eight top colleges -- Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Williams, Pomona, Swarthmore, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins -- and compiled a list of the students' high-school alma maters. The survey ranked the high schools based on the number of students sent to those eight colleges, divided by the high school's number of graduates in 2007, limiting the scope to schools that had senior classes of at least 50... 
  4. ^ http://www.lamag.com/best-high-schools/75-los-angeles-county-high-schools-public-private-bring-best-students/
  5. ^ https://apps.washingtonpost.com/local/highschoolchallenge/schools/2013/list/private/pasadena-polytechnic-p-pasadena-ca/
  6. ^ Niche Rankings
  7. ^ Niche California Rankings
  8. ^ Niche National Rankings
  9. ^ "Sunday Morning - John Battelle's Searchblog". 11 May 2008. Retrieved 30 May 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Polytechnic School Alumnus Check-In
  11. ^ a b Bates, Colleen Dunn; Jill Alison Ganon; Sandy Gillis (2006). Hometown Pasadena: The Insider's Guide (1st ed.). Pasadena, California: Prospect Park Books. p. 93. ISBN 9780975393918. OCLC 76881557. Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  12. ^ "Polytechnic Elementary School Catalogue, 1907-1908." Available in Polytechnic School Archives.
  13. ^ Excerpt of Independent Star-News
  14. ^ UCLA Bruins Athletic Site

External links

  • Polytechnic School

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