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.

Harvard-Westlake School
Harvard-Westlake School Logo.svg
United States
TypeIndependent college-preparatory high school
MottoPossunt Quia Posse Videntur
(They can because they think they can)
EstablishedHarvard School for Boys: 1900; 120 years ago (1900)
Westlake School for Girls: 1904; 116 years ago (1904)
Fully Merged as Harvard-Westlake: 1991; 29 years ago (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
AthleticsCalifornia Interscholastic Federation Southern Section[2]
AccreditationWASC, NAIS, CAIS
2013 SAT average688 verbal/critical reading
703 math
707 writing[3]
NewspaperThe Chronicle
YearbookVox Populi
Middle School
700 North Faring Road

Los Angeles

United States
Enrollment727 (2015–16)[1]
Campus size12 acres (49,000 m2)
The former Administration Building, Middle School (demolished summer 2008)
Upper School
3700 Coldwater Canyon Avenue


United States
Enrollment871 (2015–16)[1]
Campus size22 acres (89,000 m2)
Ted Slavin Field.jpg
Ted Slavin Field, Upper School

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 G30 Schools group.[5]


Harvard School for BoysEdit

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 ($445,000 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 GirlsEdit

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 scandalEdit

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


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.[citation needed]

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 million 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]

Saint Saviour's Chapel

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] In the 2019–20 academic year, tuition for the 7th grade class was increased to $39,700 but in return, more financial aid given to students, this was made to combat inequality between students, an issue discussed in the previous school year.

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 achievementEdit

For the HW Class of 2019, average SATs 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). [26]

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 alumniEdit

Notable facultyEdit

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit