|Lowell High School|
Seal of Lowell High School
1101 Eucalyptus Drive
("Let there be knowledge")
|Founded||1856 (as Union Grammar School)|
|School board||San Francisco Board of Education|
|School district||San Francisco Unified School District|
|Principal||Andrew W. Ishibashi|
|Assistant principal||Holly Giles|
|Assistant principal||Orlando Beltran|
|Assistant principal||Dacotah Swett|
|Number of students||2,685 (2015-2016)|
|School color(s)||Cardinal |
|Song||The Lowell Hymn|
|Accreditation||Western Association of Schools and Colleges|
|Academic Performance Index average||948|
|Yearbook||The Red and White|
|Honor society||Shield & Scroll Honor and Service Society|
Lowell High School is a selective co-educational, public magnet school in San Francisco, California with approximately 2,600 students. The school opened in 1856 as the Union Grammar School and attained its current name in 1896. Lowell moved to its current location in the Merced Manor neighborhood in 1962. It is the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi.
Admission is contingent on submission of an application and based primarily on evaluation of test scores and prior academic record. Lowell High School has been named a California Distinguished School seven times and a National Blue Ribbon School four times.
Lowell High School began in 1856 as the Union Grammar School. In 1894, the school was renamed to honor the distinguished poet James Russell Lowell, chiefly by Pelham W. Ames, a member of the school board and ardent admirer of James Russell Lowell. The school relocated in January 1913 to an entire block on Hayes Street between Ashbury and Masonic. Lowell remained there for 50 years and established its position as the city's college preparatory high school. In 1952, the school sought a new location near Lake Merced and moved there (its present address) in 1962.
In 1983, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) attempted to ensure racial desegregation at Lowell and other schools by implementing a race-based admissions policy as a result of San Francisco NAACP v. San Francisco Unified School District and the 1983 Consent Decree settlement.
Because of the Consent Decree, SFUSD strived to create a more equal distribution of race at Lowell, which was predominantly Chinese American, particularly trying to introduce more African American and Hispanic students into the school's population. As a result of this policy, effective in 1985, Chinese-American freshman applicants needed to score 62 out of a possible total of 69 eligibility points, whereas Caucasian and other East Asian candidates needed only 58 points.
In 1994, a group of Chinese-American community activists organized a lawsuit to challenge the 1983 Consent Decree race-based admissions policies used by SFUSD for its public schools. The lawsuit was led by Lowell alum, Lee Cheng.
In 1999, both parties agreed to a settlement which modified the 1983 Consent Decree to create a new "diversity index" system which substituted race as a factor for admissions with a variety of factors such as socioeconomic background, mother's educational level, academic achievement, language spoken at home, and English Learner Status.
Critics of the diversity index created by Ho v. San Francisco Unified School District point out that many schools, including Lowell, have become even less racially diverse since it was enacted.
On November 15, 2005, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California denied a request to extend the Consent Decree, which was set to expire on December 31, 2005 after it had been extended once before to December 31, 2002. The ruling claimed "since the settlement of the Ho litigation [resulting in the institution of the "diversity index"], the consent decree has proven to be ineffective, if not counterproductive, in achieving diversity in San Francisco public schools" by making schools more racially segregated.
The expiration of the Consent Decree means that SFUSD's admissions policies, including the "diversity index" and the special admissions policies granted to Lowell, and many of its "Dream School" initiatives are no longer codified and mandated by the Consent Decree. As a result, these policies may be challenged at the community and local levels as well instead of just at the judicial level by filing a lawsuit.
Lowell is located north of Lake Merced, south of San Francisco's Parkside District. The school spans several blocks between Sylvan Dr. in the west and 25th Ave. in the east, and Eucalyptus Drive in the north to Winston Drive and Lake Merced Blvd. in the south. The school is accessible via the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni) K, M, 57, 18, 23, 28, 28R, and 29 lines. The campus is located next to Lakeshore Elementary School, a public school, and St. Stephen School, a private K-8 school.
The campus itself consists of a main three-story academic building with two extensions, a two-story science building finished on September 21, 2003, a world-language building, a two-story visual and performing arts building with the 1,500-seat Carol Channing auditorium, a library, extensive arts and science laboratories, six computer labs, a foreign language lab, an indoor gymnasium, a dance studio, a weight room, an American football field, a soccer/multipurpose field and baseball batting cage, ten tennis courts, eight basketball courts, four volleyball courts, and a 1/4 mile (400 m) all-weather running track.
Lowell is one of two public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District (the other being School of the Arts) that is permitted to admit only students who meet special admission requirements. The Lowell admission process is competitive and based on a combination of standardized test scores, GPA, a writing sample, and extracurricular activities. Run by SFUSD, Lowell is open to all San Francisco residents and charges no tuition.
Lowell High School historically has test scores ranking among the Top 10 Public Schools in California, including Gretchen Whitney High School and Oxford Academy. Additionally, Lowell has been named a California Distinguished School seven times and a National Blue Ribbon School four times. Lowell was named a California Distinguished School in 1986, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2001, 2009, and 2015 (as a California Gold Ribbon School), as well as a National Blue Ribbon School in 1982, 1994, 2001, and 2012. Lowell is currently ranked 54th by U.S. News & World Report in its "Best High Schools in America" for 2019, making it the 2nd highest ranking school in California with over 2,000 students. Lowell was also ranked 49th by Newsweek America's Best High Schools 2012 list and 66th by Newsweek 2013 list.
The school's modular scheduling system and self-scheduling "arena" program allow students freedom in course choice, unlike the rest of the high schools in the SFUSD. Students also have the opportunity to choose from a large number of Advanced Placement courses. Lowell has a graduation rate of nearly 100%, and it is the largest feeder school to the University of California system, particularly to the Berkeley and Davis campuses.
Lowell uses a class scheduling system historically popular in most high schools and colleges, an "arena" in which students are given a time slot and directed to a website to choose their classes allowing students a degree of programming freedom almost unheard of in other high schools today.
While scheduling classes for the 2006 spring semester, one of the students who had volunteered to assist the running of arena was caught abusing the scheduling system to use early scheduling privileges, granted to volunteers by the administration, to let friends schedule before others.
This abuse proved to be a catalyst for anti-arena faculty in the school. Five of six department chairs and dozens of teachers at Lowell filed a union grievance demanding an end to class imbalances. Citing these imbalances, they called to eliminate arena scheduling and to replace it with computerized scheduling used in all other SFUSD schools. Critics characterized arena scheduling as an antiquated and inefficient system, one which promotes inequities and abuses, and creates weeks of unnecessary work for teachers and counselors (the system tends to produce "incomplete" schedules which must be dealt with after the scheduling period).
Proponents of arena argued that the system distinguishes Lowell and gives students additional responsibility and flexibility with shaping their high school careers. Doing so, students can prepare for a similar selecting of courses in college. Students would be able to choose teachers whom they found to be compatible with their learning style. The rotating priority system of picking teachers and times would assure the fairest results for the greatest number of people.
After a student forum, committee meetings, several student petitions, and final deliberation by then-principal Paul Cheng and the administration, it was decided that arena would remain in place, with modifications to address concerns about inequities and class imbalance, including the abolishment of early scheduling for Shield and Scroll and "mini arena," which allowed people with incomplete schedules another chance to complete them by opening up all the classes again with a few slots.
Under pressure from faculty and students, in 2013 the Lowell administration decided on an "online arena"--very different from the previous arena. In 2012, the Lowell administration began preliminary testing by requiring students to submit their proposed classes for the next school year through an online form, designed and maintained by a few students from the computer programming classes. The preliminary trials were a success as students were able to submit their schedules into a database by means of a computerized system, saving the faculty from having to input the information themselves. This new arena no longer required students to miss an entire day of district-funded schooling.
2015-2016 2,685 students: 1,107 Male (41.2%), 1,578 Female (58.8%)
|Asian||White||Hispanic||Filipino||Two or More Races||African American||Pacific Islander||American Indian||Not Reported|
|SAT Scores for 2014-2015|
|Critical Reading Average||Math Average||Writing Average|
|Latino||White||African-American||Chinese||Japanese||Korean||American Indian||Filipino||Other Non-White||Declined to State|
The Cardinals are one of the most active student bodies in San Francisco, with over 84 academic organizations, teams and student interest clubs.
Lowell also has academic teams that are exempt from volunteer hours in exchange for not being publicized as well as the clubs.
The Mock Trial team is very accomplished, representing San Francisco County at the State Competitions in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2012, 2014, and 2016. In 2007, 2012, and 2014 they finished in the top ten at State Finals, In 2014, the Lowell High School Mock Trial team placed 6th at the Empire Mock Trial San Francisco International Competition and in both 2015 and 2017 won 1st place beating out 21 teams from across the world.
The student-run business, Grounds Up Coffee, is a subsidiary of Lowell High School's Grounds Up Entrepreneurship Club, an organization that works to improve business fluency amongst high school students. The distinguished club remains California's only high school business. It has won several awards, most notably the Jacques Lambo Award, a student nominated prize for outstanding work in high school clubs. Grounds Up Coffee is an integral part of Lowell High School, where it has delivered coffee to hundreds of students.
The Lowell Forensic Society, founded in 1892, is one of the oldest high school speech and debate teams in the nation and the largest student organization on campus, with over 200 members. The team travels regularly to prestigious national invitationals, including Harvard, UC Berkeley, Stanford, CSU Long Beach, and the Tournament of Champions in Kentucky. Lowell Forensics has also competed in the National Speech and Debate Tournament under the National Forensic League for 40 years, making it one of the longest running national championship teams in the nation. Forensics alumni include Yale University President Richard Levin, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, California Governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, actress Carol Channing, actor Benjamin Bratt, writer Naomi Wolf, actor Bill Bixby, PG&E CEO Frederick Mielke, author Daniel Handler of Series of Unfortunate Events fame and numerous academics, writers, and judges.
The student-run publication, The Lowell, has won numerous national-level awards, including the CSPA Gold and Silver Crown awards, the NSPA Pacemaker (1993, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2012) and the Northern California Society for Professional Journalists' James Madison Award, in recognition of their 2006-2007 school year battle to protect free speech. The Lowell received the All-American ranking, with five marks of distinction, from the NSPA, the highest award.
Lowell has a Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps battalion consisting of nine special competition units: Drum Corps, Exhibition Drill Teams (boys and girls), Color Guard, Drill Platoon, Brigade Best Squad, Lowell Raider Challenge Team, Academic Bowl, and the Lowell Leadership Symposium Team.
Lowell Battalion has been a role model for many Army JROTC battalions around the San Francisco Bay Area. A photo of the Lowell Battalion's former rifle range, now converted into a classroom and indoor drill facility, was featured in the Army JROTC Cadet Reference Second Edition
The Lowell Battalion has been an honor unit with distinction for the past 15 years and has won many San Francisco Brigade awards in their seasonal competitions. Every fall, the Lowell Drill Platoon, Color Guard, Best Guidon Bearer, and Brigade Best Squad compete in the Annual Fall Liberty Bell Competition. In addition, every spring, Lowell's Exhibition Drill Teams and Drum Corps participate in the Spring 91st Infantry Memorial Drill Competition. The Lowell Raider Challenge Team also competes in the San Francisco JROTC Brigade Raider Challenge, which consists of a physical fitness test, first aid obstacle course, land navigation, and a three kilometer run.
Lowell's athletic teams claim more city championships than any other public high school in San Francisco. Many students participate in a variety of athletic leagues and competitions. Lowell has competitive football, cross-country, soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, badminton, dragonboat, gymnastics, softball, swimming, track and field, fencing, flag football, golf, cheerleading, and baseball teams.
Lowell's Boys Varsity Basketball has recently been very successful. In 2004, the team won its first AAA Championship since 1952. Following a runner-up finish in 2005, the 2006 squad went undefeated in league play and finished with a 30-3 record and a city championship. The 2007 squad also won the championships, while the 2008 squad finished high in the playoffs. The 2009 team once again won the 2009 AAA championships over Lincoln. The basketball team engages in an annual rivalry with Washington High School in a game commonly known to those in the city as the "Battle of the Birds" game. This is based on the fact that Lowell's mascot is the cardinal and Washington High School's mascot is the eagle.
Lowell's Varsity Baseball team, led by coach John Donohue, won eight of ten championships from 1994 to 2004 while posting a regular season record of 185 wins and only 11 losses during that span. Coach Donohue won his 300th AAA league game on March 7, 2003 and tallied his 450th win overall just two weeks later on March 21, 2003.
Lowell's track and field and cross-country teams have also fared well in the past. Led by Andy Leong, the track and cross country teams recently won the city championship in all four divisions for the seventh year in a row. The cross country team recently swept all three divisions at the city finals in Golden Gate Park, marking Lowell's 26th overall championship win in a row. In recent years, the track and field team has attracted about 150 athletes each season, and the cross country Team has attracted nearly 100 runners each season.
Lowell's Girls' Varsity Volleyball team has dominated the sport since its creation with the most city championships amongst other San Francisco public schools, and from November 1996 to November 2008, went on a record streak of 13 consecutive volleyball city championships. The girls' junior varsity volleyball team also owns 15 of the 18 city titles (as of November 2010).
In April 2007, Lowell's varsity swim team won their 11th consecutive AAA Championship title, with an undefeated season and an undefeated girls' title, ever since girls have been admitted on the team. The close rivalry between the Cardinals' and the Washington Eagles ended with Lowell coming out on top of all the other SFUSD high schools participating, which included Balboa High, Lincoln High, and Wallenberg High School. In April 2008, Lowell's varsity swim team won their 12th consecutive AAA Championship title, with an undefeated season yet again. The rivalry between the Cardinals' and the Washington Eagles ended with Lowell coming on top with the varsity boys scoring 170-49 and the girls 122-62. The JV girls also were able to defeat Washington with a score of 104-67. However, the JV boys lost to their counterpart from Lincoln 93-69.
In April 2007, Lowell's dragonboat team competed in the California Dragonboat Association Youth Race at Lake Merced in San Francisco, California. They brought home three golds and two silvers. The Lowellitas, the girls' team, won their seventh consecutive gold medal. In the spring of 2010 the Lowell Dragonboat team won gold medals in the top division, breaking a five-year drought of golds for Lowell in the top division traced back to 2005.
Lowell's Varsity Girls' Soccer has won the AAA Championship title for the past 21 years in a row. In 2012, they ended their season without being scored on in league games, a record of 101-0. Their most recent defeat was two seasons ago, a forfeit to Balboa on April 6, 2010. Aside from forfeits, the girls have remained undefeated for the past 10 years in league play. There is no JV team.
Lowell's JV Girls' Gymnastics team placed first in the NCVAL JV Gymnastics Finals from 2007 to 2010. At the CCS Varsity Finals, Lowell's Varsity Girls' Gymnastics team placed third in 2009 and second in 2010. Lowell does not have a boys' gymnastics team.
The Lowell Varsity Cheer Squad placed 1st in stunts and received a runner up medal in dance in the 2009 AAA competition. They also went to USA Nationals (2010) and placed in the top half of their division (4 points away from 1st place). In 2015 Lowell Cheer attended USA Nationals and won 4th place in the Super Novice Show Cheer Division. Lowell Cheer also performs at school rallies and pumps up the crowd at most, if not all, boys' football and basketball games.
Notable alumni of Lowell High School have been cataloged by the Lowell Alumni Association. Alumni include:
|Albert Abraham Michelson||1868||Nobel Prize in Physics in 1907. First American Nobel laureate in a scientific field.|||
|Charles Lee Tilden||1874||Attorney & businessman, namesake of Tilden Regional Park in the East Bay.|||
|Joseph Erlanger||1892||Physician; Professor, Washington University in St. Louis. Nobel Prize in Medicine, 1945.|||
|G. Albert Lansburgh||1894||Notable architect of Broadway and Los Angeles theatres and cinemas.|||
|Rube Goldberg||1900||Pulitzer Prize winner, creator of "Rube Goldberg" machines.|||
|Walter A. Haas||1905||Board Chairman, Levi Strauss & Co.|||
|Alexander Calder||1915||Renowned artist and inventor of the mobile.|||
|Cyril Magnin||1918||Former Chief Executive of the Joseph Magnin Co..|||
|Edmund G. "Pat" Brown Sr.||1923||District Attorney of San Francisco; State Attorney General; Governor of California, 1959-1967.|||
|Robert Lees||1929||Television and screenwriter.|||
|William Hewlett||1930||Inventor, businessman, philanthropist. Co-founder, Hewlett-Packard Company; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.|||
|Charles Ginsburg||1936||Developed first commercially viable Video Tape Recorder at Ampex.|||
|Carol Channing||1938||Tony Award-winning singer, actress and comedian.|||
|Richard Diebenkorn||1939||20th century painter.|||
|William G. Joslyn||1940||Marine Corps Major general, also drafted by Washington Redskins in 1944.|||
|Pierre Salinger||1941||Press secretary to US President John F. Kennedy; later, United States Senator from California.|||
|Art Hoppe||1942||Popular columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle for more than 40 years.|||
|Jerry Coleman||1942||Decorated Marine aviator, New York Yankee, Hall of Fame announcer|||
|Kenneth McLennan||1943||Marine Corps four-star general, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.|||
|Harry Likas||1943||NCAA Men's Tennis Championship in Singles in 1948 (as a member of the University of San Francisco Dons); Collegiate Tennis Hall of Famer.|||
|Allen Newell||1945||Pioneer in artificial intelligence, the psychology of human cognition, and list processing.|||
|Donald Fisher||1946||Founder and Board Chairman of The GAP.|||
|Dian Fossey||1949||Scientist who dedicated her life to protecting the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. Book and film, Gorillas in the Mist based on her life with the great apes.|||
|Ed Mayer||1950||Major League Baseball player for the Chicago Cubs.|||
|Warren Hellman||1951||Private equity investor and co-founder of Hellman & Friedman.|||
|Bill Bixby||1952||Movie and TV actor: The Incredible Hulk, My Favorite Martian, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and film director.|||
|Richard C. Blum||1953||Husband to Dianne Feinstein. Chairman and President of Blum Capital. Regent of the University of California.|||
|Stephen Breyer||1955||Associate Justice in the United States Supreme Court.|||
|William Ware Theiss||1948||Academy Award nominated Costume Designer for movies and TV, including Star Trek.|||
|Tom Meschery||1957||Played in the NBA for the Warriors and SuperSonics, 1961-1971.|||
|Charles R. Breyer||1959||Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.|||
|Susie Tompkins Buell||1960||Entrepreneur and liberal political donor associated with the Democracy Alliance.|||
|Steve Silver||1962||Creator of Beach Blanket Babylon.|||
|Eric Albronda||1963||Founding member of the band Blue Cheer, often considered to be the first heavy metal band|||
|Richard Levin||1964||President of Yale University from 1993 to 2013.|||
|Dennis Marcellino||1965||Former member of Sly & The Family Stone, The Elvin Bishop Group, Rubicon, and The Tokens (The Lion Sleeps Tonight)|||
|Michael Bortin||1966||Member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.|||
|Stephen Suleyman Schwartz||1966||Journalist and author.|||
|Linda Tillery||1966||Singer, percussionist, music arranger, record producer; founder of The Cultural Heritage Choir.|||
|Charles H. Ferguson||1972||Software entrepreneur; Writer; Filmmaker. Film Inside Job won 2011 best documentary Academy Award.|||
|John Roos||1973||Attorney & U.S. Ambassador to Japan.|||
|Larry Baer||1975||President of the San Francisco Giants MLB team.|||
|John D. Trasviña||1976||President of MALDEF, HUD Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.|||
|Gill Byrd||1978||Played in the NFL for the San Diego Chargers, 1983-1992.|||
|Eric Allin Cornell||1980||Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001.|||
|Jennifer Egan||1980||Novelist and short story writer.|||
|Soji Kashiwagi||1980||Playwright, Executive Producer for Grateful Crane Ensemble theatre organization.|||
|Naomi Wolf||1980||Rhodes Scholar, Writer.|||
|Benjamin Bratt||1982||Movie and TV personality who starred in the television series, Law & Order.|||
|Margaret Cho||1986||Comedian, briefly attended Lowell before transferring to Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.|||
|Daniel Handler||1988||Aka Lemony Snicket, bestselling author of a series of children's novels: A Series of Unfortunate Events, and a novel set in a fictional Lowell High School, The Basic Eight.|||
|Alex Tse||1994||Screenwriter of Sucker Free City (2004) and Watchmen (2009).|||
|Graham Betchart||1996||Sports psychology and mental skills coaching for professional athletes.|||
|Jamie Chung||2001||Reality television personality who gained fame on The Real World: San Diego, and later, an actress known for her work in films such as Sorority Row and The Hangover Part II and in TV series such as Once Upon a Time.|||
|Anton Peterlin||2005||Soccer player|||
|Rita Volk||2008||(Born Margarita Volkovinskaya) Model and Actress. Star of Faking It (2014 TV series)|||
|Adrian Lamo||Computer hacker, key figure in WikiLeaks case, and journalist who attended Lowell along with two other high schools.|||
|Frank Kudelka||Former NBA player|||
|John L. Heilbron||Historian of science.|||
|William Coblentz||California power broker, Lawyer, UC Regent|||
|Lisa Bielawa||Composer and vocalist|||
|Katrina Lake||CEO of Stitch Fix.|||
Graduates who became well-known politicians, judges, artists, clothiers, financiers, philanthropists and cultural fixtures were Cyril Magnin, Class of 1918, Edmund (Pat) Brown, '23, William Hewlett, '30, Carol Channing, '38 Richard Diebenkorn, '39, Pierre Salinger, '41, Art Hoppe, '42, Don Fisher, '46, Warren Hellman, '51, Richard Blum, '53, Stephen Breyer, '55, Charles Breyer, '59, Mark Buell and Susie Tompkins, both '60, and Sydney Goldstein, '62.
Tillery's singing career began at Lowell High....'When I graduated in '66' ....