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Harvard-Westlake School

Harvard-Westlake School

Harvard-Westlake School is an independent, co-educational university preparatory day school consisting of two campuses located in Los Angeles, California, with approximately 1,600 students enrolled in grades seven through 12. Its two predecessor organizations began as for-profit schools before turning non-profit, and eventually merging. It is not affiliated with Harvard University despite being named after it.

The school has two campuses, the middle school campus in Holmby Hills and the high school, or what Harvard-Westlake refers to as their Upper School, in Studio City.[4] It is a member of the G20 Schools group.[5]

Harvard-Westlake School
MottoPossunt Quia Posse Videntur(They can because they think they can)
EstablishedHarvard School for Boys: 1900Westlake School for Girls: 1904Fully Merged asHarvard-Westlake: 1991
PresidentRichard B. Commons
Associate Head of SchoolElizabeth Resnick
Teaching staff212.0 (FTE) (2015-16)[1]
Enrollment1,598 (2015-16)[1]
Student to teacher ratio7.5∶1 (2015-16)[1]
Color(s)Red Black White
AthleticsCalifornia Interscholastic FederationSouthern Section[2]
AccreditationWASC,NAIS, CAIS
2013 SAT average688 verbal/critical reading703 math707 writing[3]
NewspaperThe Chronicle [68]
YearbookVox Populi
Middle School
Campus size12 acres (4.9 ha)
The former Administration Building, Middle School (demolished summer 2008)
Upper School
Campus size22 acres (8.9 ha)
Ted Slavin Field, Upper School


Harvard School for Boys

The Harvard School for Boys was established in 1900 by Grenville C. Emery as a military academy, on the site of a barley field located at the corner of Western Avenue and Sixteenth Street (now Venice Boulevard) in Los Angeles, California.[6][7] Emery was originally from Boston, and around 1900 he wrote to Harvard University to ask permission to use the Harvard name for his new secondary school, and received permission from the university's then-President, Charles W. Eliot.[8][7] In 1911, it secured endorsement from the Episcopal Church, becoming a non-profit organization. In 1937, the school moved to its present-day campus at the former Hollywood Country Club on Coldwater Canyon in Studio City after receiving a $25,000 ($436,000 in current dollar terms) loan from aviation pioneer Donald Douglas.[7][7] In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Harvard School gradually discontinued both boarding and its standing as a military academy, while expanding its enrollment, courses, classes, teachers, and curriculum.[9]

Westlake School for Girls

The Westlake School for Girls was established in 1904 by Jessica Smith Vance and Frederica de Laguna in what is now downtown Los Angeles, California, as an exclusively female institution offering both elementary and secondary education. It was so-named because it was near Westlake Park, now known as MacArthur Park.[7] At the time, the school was a for-profit alternative to the already-established Marlborough School, which had been established as a non-profit before the turn of the century.

It moved to its present-day campus located on North Faring Road in Holmby Hills, California, in 1927.[7] The school was purchased by Sydney Temple, whose daughter, Helen Temple Dickinson, was headmistress until 1966, when Westlake became a non-profit institution. The Temple family owned the school until 1977, with Dickinson serving in an ex officio capacity. In 1968 Westlake became exclusively a secondary school.[9]


As both schools continued to grow in size towards the late 1980s, and as gender exclusivity became less of a factor both in the schools' reputations and desirability, the trustees of both Harvard and Westlake effectuated a merger in 1989.

The two institutions had long been de facto sister schools, and interacted socially. Complete integration and coeducation began in 1991.[9]

Cheating scandal

In 2008, six sophomores were expelled and more than a dozen other students faced suspensions as a result of a cheating scandal.[10][11]


Saint Saviour's Chapel

Saint Saviour's Chapel

Currently, the school is split between the two campuses, with grades 7–9, the Middle School, located at the former Westlake campus in Holmby Hills and grades 10–12, the Upper School, located at the former Harvard campus in Studio City.[12]

The Middle School completed a four-year modernization in September 2008, replacing the original administration building,[13] the library, and the instrumental music building.

The campus now features a new library, two levels of classrooms in the Academic Center, the new Seaver Science Center, a turf field, a new administration office, a putting green, a long jump pit, and a large parking lot.

Another significant addition of the project was the Bing Performing Arts Center which features a two-level, 800-seat theater, a suite of practice rooms, a few large classrooms for band, orchestra, and choir classes, a black box theater, a dance studio, and a room with atomic pianos for composing electronic music.

Remnants of the former Middle School campus include the Marshall Center, which houses a gymnasium, weight room, and wrestling room, a 25-yard (23 m) swimming pool and diving boards, an outdoor basketball court, and a tennis court.

Reynolds Hall, an academic building which is home to history, foreign language, and visual arts classes, began a modernization effort in June 2014 to be completed by September 2015.

The building was named Wang Hall in honor of two parents who donated approximately $5,000,000 to fund the project.[14][15]

The Upper School features the Munger Science Center and computer lab; the Rugby building which houses the English department, 300-seat theater, costume shop, and drama lab; the Seaver building, home to the foreign language and history departments as well as administrative offices and the visitor lobby; Chalmers, which houses the performing arts and math departments, book store, cafeteria, sandwich window, and student lounge; Kutler, which houses the Brendan Kutler Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and Independent Research[16][17] and the Feldman-Horn visual arts studios, dark room, video labs, and gallery.[18]

The athletic facilities include Taper Gymnasium, used for volleyball and basketball as well as final exams; Hamilton Gymnasium, the older gymnasium still used for team practices and final exams; Copses Family Pool, a 50-meter Olympic size facility with a team room and stadium for viewing events for the aquatics program; and Ted Slavin Field, which features an artificial FieldTurf surface and a synthetic track and is used for football, soccer, track & field, lacrosse, and field hockey.[19] In 2007, lights were added to Ted Slavin Field.[20] The school also maintains an off-campus baseball facility, the O'Malley Family Field, in Encino, California.[21]

The Upper School campus also features the three-story Seeley G. Mudd Library and Saint Saviour's Chapel, a vestige from Harvard School for Boys' Episcopal days.[22]


For the 2018-19 academic year, the annual tuition was $38,400, the new student fee was $2,000, optional bus service was $2,450-2,550, and other costs such as books, meals, and activities were estimated to be $2,500-3,500.[23]

Harvard-Westlake provided $11 million in financial aid in 2018.[24] That year, approximately 20% of the student body received financial aid, which averaged $27,000.[25]

Academic achievement

For the HW Class of 2019, average SAT's were 716 (verbal) and 745 (math).

Among the 292 seniors, there were 27 National Merit Semifinalists.

Out of the approximately 1400 graduates between 2014 and 2018, twenty or more matriculated at the following universities: Barnard (20), Brown (33), Colgate 20, Columbia (37), Cornell (36), Duke (20), Emory (24), Georgetown (21), Harvard (45), Johns Hopkins (23), Kenyon (22), New York University (83), Northwestern (31), Stanford (38), Tulane (25), U. Cal Berkeley (42), U. of Chicago (43), U. of Michigan (70), U. of Pennsylvania (42), U. of Southern Cal (92), Wash U. St. Louis (50), Yale (22).


For the 2019-2020 school year, Niche ranked Harvard-Westlake the best private high school in Los Angeles, the 2nd best private high school in California, and the 6th best private school in the United States. [27]


Harvard-Westlake fields 22 varsity teams in the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, as well as teams on the junior varsity, club, and junior high levels. 60% of HW students participate in interscholastic sports.

Notable alumni

  • Jonathan Ahdout, actor

  • Elisa Albert, author

  • Dorothy Arzner, film director[28]

  • Jillian Banks, musician

  • Candice Bergen, actress[29]

  • Peter Bergman, actor

  • Steve Bing, film producer, philanthropist[30]

  • Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, London[31]

  • Brennan Boesch, MLB player [32]

  • Autumn Burke, California State Assemblymember

  • Jessica Capshaw, actress[33]

  • Mindy Cohn, actress[34]

  • Jarron Collins, NBA player[35]

  • Jason Collins, NBA player[36]

  • Lily Collins, actress, model, host[37]

  • Jamie Lee Curtis, actress[38]

  • Gray Davis, Governor of California[29]

  • Emily Deschanel, actress and model

  • Dominique Dunne, actress[39]

  • Breck Eisner, tv and film director

  • Douglas Fairbanks Jr., actor[29]

  • Beanie Feldstein, actress

  • Ayda Field, actress[40]

  • Jack Flaherty, MLB player for the St. Louis Cardinals

  • Bridget Fonda, actress[41]

  • Max Fried, MLB baseball player for the Atlanta Braves[42]

  • Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Mayor

  • Scott Garson, basketball coach, College of Idaho

  • Jean Paul Getty, Businessman

  • Lucas Giolito, MLB player for the Chicago White Sox

  • Russell Goldsmith, attorney, Chairman and CEO of the City National Bank

  • Jake Gyllenhaal, actor[29]

  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, actress[29]

  • Julia Hahn, Breitbart News reporter, special assistant to President Trump[43]

  • H. R. Haldeman, White House Chief of Staff (1969-73)

  • Mark Harmon, actor, NCIS

  • Evan Harris, British Member of Parliament

  • Alex Israel, multimedia artist, writer, and eyewear designer

  • Jon Jaques, professional basketball player, assistant basketball coach (Cornell University)[44]

  • Chad Kanoff, NFL player

  • Juliette Kayyem, author, TV analyst

  • Fran Kranz, actor

  • David Ladd, producer and actor

  • Phil LaMarr, actor, voice actor, stand up comedian

  • June Lockhart, actress[45]

  • Billie Lourd, actress and daughter of Carrie Fisher[46]

  • Jon Lovitz, actor[47]

  • Myrna Loy, actress[48]

  • Danica McKellar, actress, author[49]

  • Alex Marlow, Breitbart News editor-in-chief[50]

  • Jonathan Martin, retired NFL player

  • Elizabeth Montgomery, actress[51]

  • Tracy Nelson, actress[52]

  • Masi Oka, actor

  • Ethan Peck, actor, grandson of actor Gregory Peck[53]

  • Elvis Perkins, singer, son of actor Anthony Perkins

  • Ben Platt, Broadway and film actor

  • Jason Reitman, Golden Globe-winning screenwriter, director[54]

  • Sally Ride, astronaut[29]

  • Josh Satin, retired major league baseball player

  • Andrea Savage, actress

  • Jason Segel, actor, screenwriter[55]

  • Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News[56]

  • Jacob Soboroff journalist and correspondent, NBC News and MSNBC

  • Tori Spelling, actress[57]

  • Alex Stepheson, professional basketball player

  • Erik Swoope, NFL player

  • David Talbot, journalist, author, media entrepreneur[58]

  • Stephen Talbot, child actor; documentary filmmaker, PBS Frontline [59]

  • Shirley Temple, actress, diplomat[60]

  • Dara Torres, swimmer and Olympic medalist[61]

  • Nik Turley, baseball player[62]

  • Dorothy Wang, socialite; actress, Rich Kids of Beverly Hills

  • Matthew Weiner, writer, creator of Mad Men[63]

  • Douglas Wick, movie producer[64]

  • Austin Wilson, baseball player[65]

  • Jessica Yellin, journalist[66]

  • Dean Zanuck, motion picture executive and producer

Notable faculty

  • Amy Alcott (born 1956) – Hall of Fame professional golfer

  • Caitlin Flanagan (born 1961) – American writer and social critic

See also


Citation Linknces.ed.gov"Search for Private Schools – School Detail for HARVARD-WESTLAKE SCHOOL". National Center for Education Statistics. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved January 28, 2019.
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Citation Linkcifss.org"Homepage". CIF.
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Citation Linkstudents.hw.com"School Profile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 11, 2014. Retrieved January 11, 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
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Citation Linkwww.hw.com"Our Campuses". Retrieved May 5, 2018.
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Citation Linkstudents.hw.com"Move over G8—this is G20 > Harvard Westlake Chronicle". Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved May 19, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comCooper, Suzanne Tarbell; Lynch, Don; Kurtz, John G. (August 19, 2018). "West Adams". Arcadia Publishing – via Google Books.
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Citation Linkwww.dailynews.com"Harvard Westlake creates employee friendly environment". April 29, 2013.
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comLowe, Janet (October 30, 2000). "Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger". John Wiley & Sons – via Google Books.
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Citation Linkarticles.latimes.comRivera, Carla (February 27, 2008). "Scandal rocks private school". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 29, 2017.
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Citation Linklaist.comWilliam-Ross, Linsday (February 27, 2008). "Harvard-Westlake Students Expelled for Cheating". LAist. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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Citation Linkwww.hw.com"Harvard-Westlake School". Retrieved May 19, 2007.
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Citation Linkwww.hw.com"Harvard-Westlake School Middle School Modernization Project > MSMP Home". Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
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Citation Linkhwchronicle.com"School holds Wang Hall reception - The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle". hwchronicle.com.
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Citation Linkhwchronicle.com"Administration, trustees rename Reynolds Hall - The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle". hwchronicle.com.
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Citation Linkwww.hw.com"The Impact of Giving". Hw.com. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
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Citation Linkarticles.latimes.comPool, Bob (September 23, 2012). "Harvard-Westlake building reflects standout student's interests". Los Angeles Times.
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Citation Linkwww.mmaltzan.com"Harvard Westlake - Michael Maltzan Architecture". www.mmaltzan.com.
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Citation Linkwww.latimes.comBranson-Potts, Hailey (November 4, 2014) "Harvard-Westlake School's plan for parking structure upsets neighbors" Los Angeles Times
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Citation Linkstudents.hw.comSokoloff, Zach (May 30, 2007). "New field lights to aid athletics". Harvard-Westlake Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved April 9, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
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