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Palisades Charter High School

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Public, Charter

Dr. Pamela Magee


+1 310-230-6623




2,966 students

Number of students

Palisades Charter High School

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, 15777 Bowdoin St, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, USA

Paul Revere Charter M, Venice Adult School, Santa Monica High Sch, Hamilton High School, University High School


Palisades Charter High School (usually colloquially known as "Pali High,"or "Pali," abbreviated as "PCHS") is a secondary school in Los Angeles, California, United States. The public high school serves the neighborhoods of Pacific Palisades, Palisades Highlands, Kenter Canyon, and portions of Brentwood (including Brentwood Circle). Residents in Topanga, an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County, may attend Palisades or Taft High School.


The school serves grades 9 through 12. Formerly directly administered by the Los Angeles Unified School District school, the school is now an independent charter school. Its current enrollment numbers 2,903 students. Many students travel long distances to attend Palisades Charter High which is one of the most highly ranked public high schools in the Los Angeles area.

In 2005, Palisades was recognized as a California Distinguished School. In 2015, Palisades was named one of America's Best High Schools by Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.

The school is located at 15777 Bowdoin Street, Pacific Palisades, California, 90272.

Paul Revere Charter Middle School students are allowed to attend as a feeder school to Pali High.

Freshmen on varsity palisades charter high school


The school was founded in 1961. It was built for $6,000,000. The founding principal was Herbert L. Aigner (died in 2000). The Class of 2012 was the 50th graduating class.

Prior to the founding, the property was called All Hallows Farm and for many years was owned by the Conway family: Hollywood film director Jack Conway; his wife, actress Virginia Conway — daughter of silent screen star Francis X. Bushman — and their two sons, one of whom, Pat Conway became an actor as well. This property was subsequently rented to actress Debbie Reynolds and her husband, singer Eddie Fisher. It was then taken, some years later, by the State by eminent domain to build the high school.

Several members of the class of 1965 were profiled in a Time magazine article, which led to a best-selling 1976 book by class members David Wallechinsky and Michael Medved, What Really Happened to the Class of '65?. The book featured interviews with several members of the class, whose experiences were recounted both individually and in groupings around shared themes such as the Vietnam War and the draft, drug experimentation, and sex. Various teachers from the school also were interviewed, among them English teachers Miss Jean O'Brien, history teacher Mr. Johnson, and Mrs. Rose "Mama G" Gilbert, who retired during 2012-2013 after 63 years of teaching. At age 94, Mrs. Gilbert was the oldest active teacher in the LAUSD. The success of the book later inspired a short-lived television dramatic anthology series of the same title, which ran from December 1977 to July 1978 on NBC. The character of Maz Kanata was based on her.

In 1989 20/20 aired an episode about the students of Palisades High School. Howard Rosenberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Palisades High School is characterized here as both an institution of high academic performance and high drug and alcohol use. What "20/20" doesn't ask tonight is how both are possible at the same school."

Circa 1992 there were so few students that LAUSD was considering closing the school. Pali High parents, principal Merle Price, and Pali High staff decided to advocate for making the school into a charter school. In 1993 the school, along with three feeder elementary schools, received approval from the Los Angeles Board of Education to become a charter school. This was the first time a group of schools in California became charter schools. The school asked students to abide by a behavior code and instituted new academic programs. By 1998 student enrollment recovered: it had 200 students previously attending private schools.

This school was the focus of a false email chain letter started around 2002. The message falsely claimed that a satiric message to parents about student truancies and homework problems was actually on the school's answering machine. The message was originally written in response to parent outrage that students who skipped class more than ten days per 90-schoolday semester (not counting legitimate absences, like sickness) could receive a failing grade in that class. This was reported on several web sites, including, Snopes, and


The campus is bounded by Temescal Canyon Road to the east, Sunset Boulevard to the north, El Medio Street to the west, and Temescal Academy (formerly known as first Temescal Canyon Continuation School and later Temescal High School) to the south. It is bisected by Bowdoin Street, which runs between the school's football field and the academic center of the school. Located only a mile from Will Rogers State Beach, the football stadium is called "Stadium by the Sea."

Many movies have been filmed at Palisades. One of the first major motion pictures to be shot at Pali High was Carrie. Directors George Lucas and Brian De Palma held a joint audition for Carrie and Lucas's Star Wars (1977) on the Palisades campus. Other movies filmed on site include Popular (1999), Crazy/Beautiful (2001), The Glass House (2001), Old School (2003), Freaky Friday (2003), Havoc (2005), and Project X (2012). The TV series Modern Family (2013) and Teen Wolf (2011) were also filmed at the school.

Pali High was also used for the Sweet Valley High book, Party Weekend.

As of 2010, approximately 43% of the student body, 1,180 out of 2,742 students, were bused to Palisades Charter High School from more than 100 Los Angeles zip codes. In 1994, approximately 70% of the student body, 1,176 out of 1,680 students, were bused from South-Central and East Los Angeles.


According to US News and World Report, 49% of Palisades Charter's student body is "of color," with 32% of the student body coming from an economically disadvantaged household, determined by student eligibility for California's Reduced-price meal program.


As of 1998 most of its classes are university preparatory in nature, and it hosts a mathematics, science, and technology magnet program. The school also has humanities and marine biology courses.

The school includes a New Media Academy that was, as of 1998, one of three in LAUSD. Pali High uses its charter school status to increase the visibility of this program. By that year Dreamworks had financed it with $100,000 ($146937.53 according to inflation). The location fees generated by Aaron Spelling's use of the school for Malibu Shores were used to, by 1998, install a new computer lab.

As of 2002 Palisades High School offers a surfing class that can be taken for physical education credit. It was established around 1998 by Ray Millette, a marine biology teacher and surfer.

Palisades Charter High School known for having a great music program, its marching band has medaled 3 years in a row in 2013 getting silver, 2014 winning the scsboa 3a championships and in 2015 getting bronze. The school also has a winter Drumline that competes in both scpa and WGI and is also the 2016 scpa "A class" silver medalist.

Notable alumni

Pali is the alma mater of many notable individuals, including:

  • J.J. Abrams '84 – screenwriter and television show creator
  • Alex Alben '76 – author, columnist, Internet executive
  • Scott Alexander – screenwriter
  • David Baerwald '78 – composer, songwriter, musician, producer
  • A. Scott Berg '67 – Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer
  • Jeff Bridges – actor
  • Jeanie Buss '79 – president and co-owner of Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association; also serves on NBA's board of governors
  • Brian Dailey '69 – artist and international security
  • Peter DeLuise – actor
  • Chip Engelland - '79 - Duke University basketball player, NBA coach
  • Roy Fegan '79 – actor, Hollywood Shuffle and The Five Heartbeats
  • Chris Ferguson – poker player
  • Alex Greenwald – actor and musician
  • Rusty Hamer '64 - actor
  • Susanna Hoffs '76 – member of The Bangles
  • Willa Holland – actress
  • Raffi Hovannisian, '77 – first Foreign Minister of the independent Republic of Armenia
  • Elizabeth Keifer '79 – actress
  • Steve Kerr – 5-time NBA champion, coach of Golden State Warriors
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – actress and director
  • Ahmad Ali Lewis – hip-hop artist, member of 4th Avenue Jones
  • Daniel S. Loeb – hedge fund manager
  • Lauren London- actress
  • Ricci Luyties- former professional indoor volleyball and beach volleyball player, current head coach of UC San Diego Tritons women's volleyball team.
  • Jeff Madsen – poker player, former youngest winner of a World Series of Poker bracelet
  • Ron Mael and Russell Mael – musicians (the band Sparks)
  • Michael Medved '65 – film critic, radio host, commentator
  • Penelope Ann Miller – actress
  • Jon Moscot – major league baseball pitcher (Cincinnati Reds)
  • Deroy Murdock '82 – Syndicated columnist, political commentator
  • Matthew Nelson and Gunnar Nelson – musicians, formerly of chart-topping early '90s band Nelson
  • David Newman – film score composer '71
  • Michael Newman – former lifeguard and firefighter, Baywatch actor
  • Thomas Newman '73 – film score composer
  • Eddy Oh - musician, member of JJCC
  • Philip Price (musician) '78 – musician, lead singer of the band Winterpills
  • Redfoo (Stefan Kendal Gordy) - musician, member of LMFAO
  • David Roback – musician, Rain Parade, Opal, Mazzy Star.
  • Stephen Rosenbaum '83 – two-time Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor
  • Jean Sagal and Liz Sagal – former Doublemint Twins and sisters of Katey Sagal
  • Katey SagalMarried with Children and Sons of Anarchy actress
  • Michael Sandel '71 – professor at Harvard
  • Jay Schroeder – football, Los Angeles Raiders
  • Geoff Schwartz – football, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Mitchell Schwartz – football, Cleveland Browns
  • Adam Shankman '82 – director and choreographer
  • Stephen Silberkraus – Nevada State Assemblyman District 29
  • Amy Smart – actress
  • Alan Smolinisky – entrepreneur, real estate investor, owner of Palisadian-Post newspaper
  • Arnie Spanier – sports talk radio host
  • Kent Steffes – Olympic gold medalist, beach volleyball (1996), professional beach volleyball player
  • Ted Stryker '89 – KROQ-FM DJ
  • Syd tha Kyd – DJ producer and singer
  • Hallie Todd '79 – actress (maiden name: Hallie Eckstein)
  • Michael Trope '69 – trial lawyer, co-founder of Trope and Decarolis in Los Angeles; previous sports "super" agent; as a lawyer won the largest settlement of back child support in U. S. history in 2010 against Las Vegas magnate Kirk Kerkorian
  • Kiki Vandeweghe – 1976, NBA forward and then general manager Denver Nuggets
  • David Wallechinsky '65 – author and essayist
  • Craig Warner '82 – playwright and screenwriter
  • Chris Watts '82 – visual effects supervisor
  • Forest Whitaker – actor
  • (William James Adams Jr.) – musician, member of The Black Eyed Peas
  • Sending schools

    As some LAUSD zoned high schools do not have enough space to educate all residents in their attendance boundaries, some schools send excess students to Palisades.

    They were, as of spring 2007:


    Palisades Charter High School Wikipedia