Woodrow Wilson High School (Los Angeles)

Woodrow Wilson High School is a Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) high school in the Eastside region of Los Angeles, California, United States.[2][3] It is located in the community of El Sereno, atop the Ascot Hills at 4500 Multnomah Street.[4]

Woodrow Wilson High School
4500 Multnomah Street
El Sereno, Los Angeles
California 90032
United States
Motto"Once a Mule, Always a Mule"
Established1937 (first campus),
1970 (second campus)
School districtLos Angeles Unified School District
PrincipalGilberto Martinez
Staff73.51 (FTE)[1]
Number of students1,488 (2017-18)[1]
Student to teacher ratio20.24[1]
Color(s)    Navy blue, Vegas gold and white
AthleticsBaseball, football, boys' and girls' soccer, softball, track & field, cross country, boys' and girls' basketball, cheer, drill team, boys' and girls' tennis, boys' and girls' volleyball
Athletics conferenceNorthern League
CIF Los Angeles City Section
MascotMighty Mule (Seymour)
RivalsAbraham Lincoln High School, Benjamin Franklin High School
InformationArchitect: Paul Williams
WebsiteOfficial website

The school serves the El Sereno and University Hills communities, and areas of City Terrace and Ramona Gardens. Wilson High, with an enrollment of approximately 1,500 students, is under the direct supervision of LAUSD Local District East, Board District 2.[5]

The school colors are navy blue, Vegas gold and white. The school's mascot is the "Mighty Mule", a mule also nicknamed "Seymour".


The original Wilson High School campus opened in 1937 on Eastern Avenue, in what is now the El Sereno Middle School campus.[6] Classes were separated into winter and summer classes and took place in tents and old bungalows. The first gym was begun just before World War II and was completed in 1942. The first class to graduate was in the winter of 1940 with a class of 40 students.

The original site at one time had been a mule farm, which is one reason a mule was chosen as the school mascot.[6][7] Other reasons cited were to honor the important pre-mechanization role 200,000+ mules played during World War I when Woodrow Wilson was president, and to acknowledge Woodrow Wilson's association with the Democratic Party whose symbol is the mule or donkey.

Mules mascot in the 1960-70s era (left) and the 1990s-present era (right)

It was in the Los Angeles City High School District until 1961, when it merged into LAUSD.[8]

In 1970, Woodrow Wilson Senior High School moved to its current location on Multnomah Street. The new 37-acre campus and buildings were constructed between 1968-1969 and designed by the renowned African American architect Paul Revere Williams. It was an engineering challenge to excavate over one million cubic yards of earth to re-grade the hilltop and to use 3,500 tons of structural steel for the main buildings. The new Wilson High was the first LAUSD school to implement multi-floored buildings equipped with elevators and escalators to accommodate students with disabilities.[9]

In 2012 Woodrow Wilson High School celebrated its 75th anniversary.[2]

Chicano Movement on campusEdit

In late 1967 East Los Angeles had a school system entrenched in racial disparities. It led to the local beginning of the Chicano Movement. The Mexican American community had the highest high school dropout rate and lowest college attendance among any ethnic group. Poor facilities and constant underestimation of student capabilities by teachers created an atmosphere that impeded learning for some students. Feelings of oppressive conditions coupled with the inability to make changes compelled students, activists, and teachers to meet and discuss the situation. They decided that making their plight public was the best way to pressure the school board for education reform.

Lincoln High School teacher Sal Castro, along with student leaders from the five public schools in East Los Angeles (Roosevelt, Wilson, Lincoln, Garfield, and Belmont High Schools), including Wilson student Paula Crisostomo; college students including Moctesuma Esparza; and groups including the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and the Brown Berets developed 36 demands to bring to the Los Angeles Board of Education. These goals included bilingual education and bicultural education, Latino teachers and administrators, smaller class sizes, better facilities, and the revision of textbooks to include Mexican American history.

Walkouts: "Blowouts"Edit

After none of the 36 goals and demands were met, students threatened walkouts, which they called "Blowouts." [10][11] Funds for Los Angeles public schools were allocated based on the number of students in class each day. By walking out of homeroom before attendance was taken, the students could target the schools financially.[10]

An ad hoc committee, UMAS, and college students established Blowout Committees at other schools such as Theodore Roosevelt High School, Lincoln High School, and Garfield High School, plus a central coordinating committee.[10] These committee meetings were known to be infiltrated by plainclothes policemen.[11]

The incident which prematurely triggered the blowouts was when Wilson High principal Donald Skinner canceled a student production of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, citing it as too risqué for a Mexican American audience. Although Wilson was not one of the original three schools intending to walk out, 300 students did so on March 1, 1968. The administration had senior students blockade the main exit, but the students found alternatives, pushing the school entry gates back and forth as other students inside demonstrated by throwing fruit, books and other items over the gate. Police and photographers showed up on the scene, and the students were told to return to class. Some refused, forming sit-ins and rallies. As a symbol of the walkouts, students wore the image of a foot on their clothes.[11]

The walkouts or blowouts, which began with the 1 March 1968 walkout at Wilson, are credited as seminal events of the Chicano Movement:[10][11]

"The blowouts resulted in the gradual beginning of various reforms, including bilingual education, Chicano studies, more emphasis on academic subjects, more encouragement of Mexican American students going to college, and more Mexican- American teachers and administrators... Many problems continued – and still do – but what had changed was the consciousness of Chicanos both among students and in the community concerning the need to fight for educational justice. There is no question about the significance of the blowouts in the history of the Chicano movement and in Chicano history."

— Garcia, Mario T. "Blowout: Sal Castro and the Chicano Struggle for Educational Justice.[10]

National Trust for Historical PreservationEdit

The National Trust for Historic Preservation publishes an annual list spotlighting important examples of the United States' architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. In 2018, five Walkout Schools were recognized as "tangible representations of the power of student activism [which] are now threatened, as some of the buildings face calls for demolition by the school district."[12] The Wilson High School blowouts occurred in the old campus, which is now El Sereno Middle School, and it is the original campus that was recognized.[13]

1970s Championship Football TeamsEdit

Wilson HS 1977 Champions. Left to right: Ron Cuccia, Coach Vic Cuccia, Steve Martinez, Eddie Martinez.

During the 1970s, Wilson's football coach was the legendary Vic Cuccia. He led the Mighty Mules to a 39-game winning streak, taking the team to win the City's Section 3-A championship in 1975, 1976, and 1977, and 1978. His teams were notable for an unconventional offense, heavily dependent on passing with four receivers and one running back which was difficult for traditional defenses to stop.[14]

Cuccia's own son, Ron Cuccia, was the team's quarterback from 1975–77, during which time he set city and state records for passing, accounted for 145 touchdowns, and set a national record for total offense with 11,451 yards. That included 8,804 yards and 91 touchdowns for passing alone.[14] All star receiver Eddie Martinez graduated in 1978, played Division I football in college. Martinez later returned to Wilson as a teacher, coaching the Mules from 1993-2017 and compiling a record of 176-149-0.[15]

Coach Vic Cuccia, during his 22 years as the football coach (1956-1977), compiled a 151-42-6 record. He was also a teacher, serving all his 44 teaching years at Wilson High School. Cuccia grew up in El Sereno and was an alumnus of Wilson, graduating in 1945. Wilson High School's football stadium was renamed in his honor in September 1999—the football field had already been dedicated in honor of Paul Barthel, a former Wilson teacher. Cuccia died on January, 2008, at the age of 80.[16]


National attention was drawn to a September, 1977 game between Wilson and its rival Lincoln High School. The Wilson Mules gained a 63-0 lead by half time and in response the Lincoln team got on its bus and went home, forfeiting the game instead of taking the field for the second half.[17][18][19][20] This triggered national debate over unsportsmanlike behavior on both sides. Criticism was leveled at Lincoln for quitting while Wilson was criticized for unnecessarily running up the score and taking advantage of an undermatched team. At the time, the Los Angeles City Interscholatic Athletic Committee investigated the matter and called both coaches to testify.[19] The controversy was even noted in Coach Vic Cuccia's obituary over 30 years later.[16]

The New York Times reported at the time that the Lincoln Tigers had won only 1 one game in the previous 4 years while the Wilson Mules were on a multi-year 33 game winning streak.[19] Lincoln began the season with 33 players, but 1 was shot to death, 8 left the school due to racial tension, 4 were age ineligible, and at game time 2 others were injured.[17] Depending on the account, Lincoln coach Dave Loera started the game with 13-16 healthy players, but with the injuries during the game only 9 available players remained. Thus, he consulted with the Lincoln principal who was also in attendance and together they told the officials that as a matter of health and safety they needed to stop. Coach Cuccia disputed that saying Loera (who was a Wilson alumnus and former assistant coach to Cuccia) actually had 24-26 players, depending on the account. He characterized the walkout as disgraceful, stating, "It takes only 11 to play. I had promised my first string that they would play the whole first half because they deserved it. I don't like the idea of quitting. You don't teach kids that. Quitting isn't part of this country's philosophy... In football or in life, its something you just don't do".[19] In an interview a year later, Cuccia commented that he was trying to give his players a chance to set records so colleges would notice them.[20]

In that half-game the Mules scored 9 touchdowns; 49 points in the 1st quarter and 42 points in the 2nd quarter. In addition, Cal-Hi Sports, which keeps records of secondary school sports, stated that Wilson attempted 7 onside kicks and recovered 5, a record that will never be broken.[21] In gridiron football, after a team scores it normally turns the ball over to the opponent in a following play as a kickoff; but an onside kick is a deliberately short kickoff intended to keep possession of the ball instead.

People's GardenEdit

In 2011, a plot at an informal back entrance to the campus was converted to a community garden, the People's Garden at Woodrow Wilson High School.[22] Unlike school gardens whose purpose is largely an outgrowth of regular school work and an effort engage children in the outdoors, the People's Garden was created as a community-building enterprise. It was organized and is maintained by a collective of students, teachers and community members. The focus is on growing plants that reflect the communities of El Sereno such as corns, beans and squash of Mesoamerical and medicinal plants from China. Since 2013, a Facebook page has been active in promoting the People's Garden activities.

Popular cultureEdit

In 2015, Woodrow Wilson High School served as a television series filming location with both exterior and interior shots used in the production of Fear the Walking Dead.[23] The AMC series pilot and early episodes of Fear the Walking Dead involved characters that worked and attended the fictional "Paul R. Williams High School." As noted above, that is the name of the actual architect who designed the real campus and buildings.

Performance and demographics statisticsEdit

Demographics of student body
Ethnic Breakdown 2020[24] 2019
Native Americans 0.4% 0.3%
Hispanic and Latino American 92% 93%
African American 2% 2%
Asian American 3% 3%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.1%
White 2% 1%
Multiracial Americans 0.4% 0.4%
Female 48% 48%
Male 52% 52%

In 2019 Wilson serves around 1,517 students in grades nine through twelve, with a student-teacher ratio of 20:1. Full-time teachers 75.

The school's graduation rate in 2005 was 61.7%.[25] The school's California API (Academic Performance Index) score was 562 for 2006, and of its student population, 77% were in a Free/Reduced Lunch Program and 30% were designated as English Learners. 8% of the students participated in a GATE program. The student body was 93% Hispanic, 4.8% Asian, 1.5% black, 0.5% white and 0.2% Native American. The API score for 2010 was 615, and it jumped up to 637 the following year.[26]

After Wilson became a magnet school and part of the International Baccalaureate program (see below), more recent data from 2015[27] show improvements. At the time of that study the demographics were essentially the same as before in ethnic breakdown, but down to 15% in English Learners and up to 88% in Free/Reduced Lunch Program. Academic measures showed increases in an API score of 653 and a graduation rate of 85% for that year.

For context, an API score of 615 in the year of 2010 placed Wilson in the 31st percentile of all high schools in the entire state of California and the 35th percentile of Los Angeles County high schools.[28] (The API score was abolished in March 2017 and replaced with the California School Dashboard, thus more recent comparisons of this type are no longer possible.)

US News 2020 RankingsEdit

US News 2019 RankingsEdit

Academic Performance IndexEdit

A comparison of the former Academic Performance Index (API) for high schools in the LAUSD District 5 and local small public charter high schools in the East Los Angeles region up until 2012 is as follows:

School 2007[31] 2008[32] 2009[33] 2010[34] 2011[35] 2012[36]
Francisco Bravo Medical Magnet High School 807 818 815 820 832 842
Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science School 718 792 788 788 809 785
Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School 662 726 709 710 744 744
James A. Garfield High School 553 597 593 632 705 706
Abraham Lincoln High School 594 609 588 616 643 684
Woodrow Wilson High School 582 585 600 615 636 648
Theodore Roosevelt High School 557 551 576 608
Thomas Jefferson High School 457 516 514 546 546 589
Santee Education Complex 502 521 552 565 612

International Baccalaureate programsEdit

Woodrow Wilson High School is an International Baccalaureate school, with magnet school programs.[37]

The programs include:

  • Environmental Science Academy program[38]
  • Academy of Fine Arts program[39]
  • Law Magnet program[40]
  • Mule Business Academy program[41]
  • Police Academy program[42]
  • Transportation Careers Academy program[43]

Advanced Placement programEdit

Students are accepted into the Advanced Placement Program and individual advanced placement classes based on faculty and counselor recommendations. A student may be admitted into an AP class by request or if the AP instructor has approved the request. These are the current courses offered by Wilson:[citation needed]

  • AP Biology
  • AP Calculus AB
  • AP Calculus BC
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP English Language
  • AP English Literature
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP French
  • AP Government
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP Physics (no longer offered)
  • AP Psychology
  • AP Spanish Language
  • AP Spanish Literature
  • AP Statistics
  • AP U.S. History

The Hitching PostEdit

The Hitching Post is a bi-monthly publication by Wilson's Journalism class.[44] It originated as the school's newspaper, which began around 1941. However, there is some confusion about the number of volumes printed so far because the newspaper changed names several times.


Notable alumni include:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Woodrow Wilson Senior High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b IBWilsonmules.com: International Baccalaureate Woodrow Wilson High School website
  3. ^ Landsberg, Mitchell. "County gives Los Angeles International Charter High School a second chance." Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2010. Retrieved on September 8, 2011.
  4. ^ "Students Get History Lesson in Mural Project" Valencia, Monica." [1]." Los Angeles Times. January 15, 2007. Retrieved on August 28, 2012.
  5. ^ "School Page, Woodrow Wilson Senior High". schooldirectory.lausd.net. Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  6. ^ a b About Us
  7. ^ "History of El Sereno". El Sereno Historical Society. 1970's: El Sereno Historical Society. Archived from the original on 12 November 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017.CS1 maint: location (link)
  8. ^ "Los Angeles City School District". Los Angeles Unified School District. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  9. ^ "Gallery - Woodrow Wilson High School, Los Angeles". www.paulrwilliamsproject.org. The PRW Project. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e Estrada, Andrea (7 February 2008). "UCSB Conference Commemorates 40th Anniversary of Chicano Student Walkouts". The UCSB Current. Regents of the University of California. Archived from the original on 23 August 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d "East Los Angeles students walkout for educational reform (East L.A. Blowouts), 1968". Global Nonviolent Action Database. Swarthmore College. Archived from the original on 15 March 2019.
  12. ^ "National Trust for Historic Preservation Unveils 31st Annual List of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places". savingplaces.org. National Trust for Historic Preservation. 26 June 2018. Archived from the original on 11 July 2018.
  13. ^ "El Sereno Middle School". www.laconservancy.org. Los Angeles Conservancy. Archived from the original on 4 August 2019.
  14. ^ a b Sondheimer, Eric (20 September 2015). "Wilson High steps back in time to honor legendary 1975 football team". latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 16 February 2016.
  15. ^ "Coach History - Wilson Mules Football (Los Angeles, CA)". www.maxpreps.com. CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 18 December 2018.
  16. ^ a b Sondheimer, Eric (12 January 2008). "Innovative football coach made Wilson High School a powerhouse". latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 26 February 2016.
  17. ^ a b Howard-Cooper, Scott (22 November 1985). "Repaying an Old Debt in Full : Lincoln High Finally Blotted Out Memories of That Black Day in 1977 When Wilson Ran Up a Score and Railsplitters Ran Out". latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  18. ^ Sondheimer, Eric (20 October 2018). "Wilson and Lincoln engage in wildest scoring game in City Section football history". latimes.com. The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d Durso, Joseph (15 November 1977). "School of Very Hard Knocks". nytimes.com. Archived from the original on 13 December 2018.
  20. ^ a b Wilson, David (29 September 1978). "Ron Cuccia | L.A. Prep Record-Breaker Comes to Harvard". thecrimson.com. The Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015.
  21. ^ Tennis, Mark (19 August 2013). "Unbreakable Top 5 Football Records". calhisports.com. Cal-Hi Sports. Archived from the original on 14 December 2018.
  22. ^ "People's Garden at Woodrow Wilson High School: Sowing seeds in a food desert". LA Times Blogs - L.A. at Home. The Los Angeles Times. 15 June 2011. Archived from the original on 15 May 2016.
  23. ^ Eric Sondheimer (24 August 2015). "Football: Wilson High is used for TV series, 'Fear the Walking Dead'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  24. ^ "usnews". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ [3][4]
  27. ^ Joffe, Marc; Ring, Ed (June 2015). "Los Angeles Public Schools vs Charter Schools: A cost per-pupil and educational achievement comparison" (PDF). California Policy Center. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  28. ^ "California School Ranking Woodrow Wilson Senior High". PSK12.com. 2010. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  29. ^ "usnews". Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  30. ^ "usnews". Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  31. ^ 2006-07 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 25, 2009
  32. ^ 2007-08 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 25, 2009
  33. ^ 2008-09 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  34. ^ 2009-10 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  35. ^ 2010-11 Accountability Progress Reporting (APR) Retrieved on September 8, 2012
  36. ^ (APR) Retrieved on April 13, 2013
  37. ^ IB Wilson High School: International Baccalaureate Magnet / SLC programs
  38. ^ IB Wilson High School | Environmental Science Academy
  39. ^ IB Wilson High School | Academy of Fine Arts
  40. ^ IB Wilson High School | Law Magnet Program
  41. ^ IB Wilson High School | Mule Business Academy
  42. ^ IB Wilson High School | Police Academy
  43. ^ IB Wilson High School | Transportation Careers Academy Program
  44. ^ IB Wilson High School | The Hitching Post
  45. ^ Sentinel, Iliana Limón | Orlando. "WR Anthony Denham picks Utah over UCF". OrlandoSentinel.com. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  46. ^ "Biography: VEGA, Armando". usghof.org. U.S. Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 24 June 2018.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 34°04′11″N 118°11′11″W / 34.069835°N 118.186298°W / 34.069835; -118.186298