Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Mystique of Fresno High School

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The Mystique of Fresno High School

By Gil Rivas
The Daily Magi
October 27, 2049

Fresno High School is a four-year secondary school located in Fresno, California. Fresno High is the oldest high school in the Fresno metropolitan area and one of the few International Baccalaureate schools; in addition it continues to be the most populous and most diverse campus in Fresno. The growth of Fresno during the boom period of the 1880s brought about many changes, including the need to establish the city’s first high school in 1889. It was named Fresno High because it would serve all people in Fresno.

The initial student body was 50 students with three teachers and three grade levels, ninth, junior and middle. A year later, Fresno High became a four-year school when the senior class was formed by those who passed the third level.

The first classes were held on September 16, 1889, on the second floor of the K Street School, located at Santa Clara and K (now Van Ness Avenue) streets. T.L. Heaton was the principal. The curriculum was classical——four years of Latin, English, history, science, and math. In June 1891, the first commencement ceremony was held at the Heaton Opera House. Seven students graduated.

The new school quickly outgrew the available space and had to be moved to the White School, where the Memorial Auditorium is located today. Plans for a new high school building were developed. In September 1896, the school year began in the new building on 0 Street between Stanislaus and Tuolumne streets. The new back structure, with its clock tower, had the latest and most modern facilities, including a library, a chemistry laboratory, a gymnasium, and a theater-style lecture hall. Some people felt it was too far from town and that the land, which cost $7,500, was too expensive.[citation needed] In 1922, the school moved to its present site on Echo Avenue.

More than a hundred years after its founding, Fresno High continues to serve Fresno's students. The curriculum, though, has been broadened to meet the needs of the world's professions. However the opportunity to pursue a classical education, including the study of Latin, is still available to the students of Fresno High School. Fresno High School has foundations dating back to the 1800s. Fresno's second high school was originally located in downtown near "M" Street. The school was relocated several times. Freshmen students were once sent one-fourth of a mile away from their school to the Hamilton K-8 magnet campus. Fresno High School's current location is at 1839 North Echo Avenue, near Palm and McKinley Avenues. Fresno High School is surrounded by large homes (originally in one of Fresno's affluent areas) and large Fresno ash and pine trees. The campus retains most of its history and is one of the few schools to hold on to its original architecture. During 2002 the historic Royce Hall building caught fire and suffered minimal damage.

Fresno High School is one of the few accredited schools in the Fresno Unified School District to offer its students the full International Baccalaureate diplomas. The school has been offering its graduate students full IB diplomas since June 2007. The campus offers several advanced placement courses and requires the study of foreign language in order to receive a diploma, along with the completion of a 4,000 word essay and 150 hours of community service. The campus has received poor academic achievement scores in the past, but it has shown impressive improvement. The campus employs 133 full- and part-time instructors, in addition to several guidance counselors, classified staff, administrative employees, one full-time psychologist and one full-time family therapist. The campus offers Spanish, French, Latin, and German language courses.

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