Brea Olinda High School

Brea Olinda High School

refimprove=June 2008

Infobox School
name = Brea Olinda High School
established = 1927
type = Public 4-year
district = Brea Olinda Unified School District
principal = Jerry Halpin
viceprincipal = Dana Lynch, Bob Parish, Pam Valenti
faculty = 163
enrollment = 2,053
athletics =
conference = Century League
colors = Gold and Green color box|#FFB300color box|#006633
mascot = Wildcat
streetaddress= 789 Wildcat Way
zipcode= 92821
country = USA
coordinates =
website = [ Brea Olinda High School]

Brea Olinda High School is a 9th–12th grade public high school located in Brea, California. Established in 1927, the school was originally located across the street from the Brea Mall in what has become the Brea Marketplace. In 1989, the school moved to its current location on the north end of Brea. The school has a current enrollment of approximately 2,100 students. The school is part of the Brea Olinda Unified School District.

Eight honors courses and fifteen Advanced Placement courses (AP English Literature, English Language, French, Spanish, European History, American History, Government, Economics, Statistics, Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Environmental Science are offered. Many students take an optional seventh period for electives like ROP photography and police science, drawing, ceramics, woodshop, drama, instrumental music and choir. In fall of 2005, the school launched the Global IT Academy, an accelerated program in emerging technologies enhanced through global partnerships in education and business.


The history of BOHS precedes the school's opening at its current site in 1989.

North Orange County was home to secondary students as early as the late 1800s, but their only choice for 9-12 schooling was south at Fullerton High. In 1898 and 1903, residents oil town of Olinda and the oil camps that would become Brea respectively, created their own K-8 school districts, but it still took more than two decades before a high school came to town. Meanwhile, Brea and Olinda students kept heading south to Fullerton, first traveling in horse-drawn wagons, and later riding the trolley line's red cars.

Changes at the Fullerton High in the 1920s, including cutbacks in such locally popular courses as oil production and horticulture, were unpopular and Brea's civic leaders, reevaluated their town's growing student population and take steps to create a new north county high school district. Early efforts to unite Brea with La Habra and Olinda to create a high school failed. La Habra soon was dropped from the plan, and Olinda lodged protests as well, but the topic was settled at the ballot box in March, 1925, when the Brea-Olinda Union High School District was formed.

Barley and Brick

Ninety Brea and Olinda freshmen and sophomores soon began attending the new district's first secondary classes, held that fall on the campus of Brea Grammar School (now Brea Junior High) under the direction of principal I.W. Barnett. Backed by business leaders, bonds of $320,000 were approved for construction of a new high school, but controversy raged over where it should be built. Olindans solidly backed a rural site deemed too far out of town by most Breans, but Olinda's vote carried the day. By 1926, Brea-Olinda Union High began construction in a barley field on the east side of the city.

Architectural plans including an ornate portico and columns framing the school's impressive entryway were adopted with a single change---the elimination of twin towers planned to crown the main building. Construction began immediately on the campus, and included a two-story building with offices, an auditorium, a cafeteria and classrooms, as well as a separate manual arts building and a gymnasium. Built with bricks made of local Brea clay, the 23 acre campus was completed within a year, and opened to students on September 14, 1927.

Pride of the Wildcats

Early campus curricular offerings included today's standard subjects, plus heavy doses of manual training for boys, and domestic arts and sciences for girls. Part of the Brea Grammar School building where the first local high school classes were held soon was moved to the new school and renamed the 'Practice House.' This cottage near the edge of campus was the only known full-scale, self-contained home economics lab in Orange County. In its first full year of operation, Brea-Olinda Union High adopted a mascot, the Wildcat, published a small yearbook, the Gusher, gained a Principal, Carl Harvey, and found its first football success with coach Steward 'Shorty' Smith. In June, the new school had its first graduating class of 21 students, the "Class of 1928."

Hard Times hit Home

The Great Depression left few marks on Brea, but the after effect of a 1933 natural disaster changed the face of its schools. Although the district's buildings suffered little apparent damage in the Long Beach Earthquake, they all soon were targeted for massive redesign as legislators drafted the Field Act, calling for stringent new rules on academic structures.

The beauty of the high school paid a high price for such safety, as its ornate facade was removed and its stately columns carted away. More serious and costly repairs were required inside, as steel beams were inserted in walls and ceilings were stabilized. Dedicated just six years earlier, Brea-Olinda Union High required repairs that equaled almost its entire construction cost. During 20 noisy months of renovation, students studied outside in four huge tents on the school's east lawn.

In the early years of the high school, there were exciting events: in the early 1930s the 100-member combined grammar/high school marching band donned white slacks and shirts, sombreros and gold sashes and set off to play at Los Angeles' nearly new Coliseum. In 1939, student Bill Griffith raced away with top honors at Southern California's soap box derby.

The War and More

As many other schools did during the war, campus clubs planted victory gardens, supervised salvage drives, organized community-soldier dances and maintained the city's service flag, which hung in the school's main hallway and marked the names of those serving their country. Students and staff members alike sold war bonds and stamps in spirited drives highlighted by contests, rallies and assemblies featuring military personnel.

The Forties and Fifties

Changes in leadership, curriculum and the campus marked the post-war years. Principal Carl Harvey, whose 18-year career stretched back almost to the school's beginning, left in 1946 and was succeeded by Frank O. Hopkins. Brea-Olinda in 1947 became one of the first two high schools in California to implement both driver education and driver training, newly mandated for all 16-year-olds seeking a license.

The small school farm that grew first to 30, then to 43, and finally to 65 acres. The second expansion came as the result of a controversial decision when Brea (elementary) School District bought a citrus grove just east of the high school for a proposed, but never built, elementary school. Purchased for $20,000, this land later earned Brea schools a sizable profit when it was sold in the early 1980s at a price tag of $2.5 million.

The decade that thrived on quiet ended instead with excitement, when, in 1959, the school opened a new stadium, pool and boys' gym.

Celebration, Unification, and Support

Victor Hassing signed on as the school's new principal in 1961. Wildcat football dominated its league in the early years of the 60's, racking up three more CIF A-division championships between 1961 and 1963.

A county-wide educational reform movement in the mid-1960s promoted the unification of small school districts, and the three then operating within Brea's borders (Brea Olinda Union High School, Brea elementary and Olinda elementary) united to form the Brea-Olinda Unified School District. The City of Brea celebrated its 50th birthday the following year, building a massive stage on the BOHS football field to present the Brea Story, a five-night, 90-minute extravaganza of local history dramatized by a cast of more than 400.

Gary Goff became principal in 1966, and planning for major campus improvements soon followed. By 1969, the Main, Fine Arts and Industrial Arts buildings were refurbished, and a second story of classrooms was added above the auditorium.

Across the world, the Vietnam War escalated, and Brea students reached out to serve those in need. Focusing on prisoners of war or those declared missing in action, students engaged in letter-writing efforts and a fund-raising swim meet, and 450 took part in a walkathon to Knott's Berry Farm. A national POW/MIA remembrance-bracelet campaign kicked off at BOHS, with the chairman of the National League of Families (Carol Hanson, wife of Brea Marine pilot/POW Captain Stephen Hanson) and actor Patrick Wayne appearing at the opening ceremonies. Captain Hanson later was declared killed in action, and a continuing BOHS scholarship was established in his name.

A New Beginning

BOHS signed on its first female principal, Sue Rainey, in 1980. Its second, Jeanne Sullivan, assumed leadership in 1986.

By the mid-1980s, the BOHS campus was filled to overflowing with 1,400 students and 19 portable buildings. Seeking solutions, the district invited developers to submit proposals for either improving this crowded campus or building an entirely new school.

The 50 acre new high-school site, long part of Union Oil’s lucrative Stearns Lease, was selected over 12 other properties for value and location. On Nov. 1, 1986, a parade of yellow buses pulled up a steep slope to a small plot of level land, where groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new Brea Olinda High School. More than convert|250000|cuyd|m3 of dirt had to be moved before construction could begin. Superintendent of Schools Edgar Z. Seal spearheaded the school-building effort, former principal Gary Goff served as project manager, and Goff and Jeanne Sullivan teamed as co-principals in 1989 as construction ended and the new campus opened.

Hilltop High

Seven years from the start of planning and three years after ground was broken, Brea Olinda’s state-of-the-art, $35-million campus opened in September 1989 as the first public high school in California built without state aid and at no cost to local taxpayers. Featuring a stadium, swimming pool, all-weather track, multiple gyms, a 350-seat performing arts center and classroom space for 2,000, it lost a planned ornamental tower due to budget cuts (just as the first BOHS had) yet still took design honors from the American Institute of Architects.

To symbolically connect BOHS’s first and second sites, the Birch Street school’s cornerstone was removed and split, and the surface created this way was polished and engraved as the new school’s cornerstone. Both blocks today are located in the new school’s inner quad. Standing guard at its entry is an updated bronze mascot, the Wildcat, carved in an outdoor studio on campus by the City of Brea’s 1991 Artist in Residence, Carlos Terres.

With the new campus built, the old high school hosted an alumni “Last Hurrah,” and demolition crews moved in on its 63-year-old campus. A poster was commissioned to commemorate it, its bricks were salvaged and sold as souvenirs, and its former site was marked in the Marketplace by the BOHS Walk of Fame.

Decades of Success

The new campus celebrated by hosting the Harlem Globetrotters at a benefit game in the gym, and inaugurating its Performing Arts Center with a performance by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. In 1994, BOHS became the first high school in California to be connected to internet (through the Gopher), and the campus and its cutting-edge PacBell Knowledge Network were spotlighted in a commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl.

The 1980’s and 90’s were strong years for Brea athletics; virtually every team won annual Orange League Championships. CIF Southern Section Championships followed in boys’ soccer, swimming and gymnastics, and girls’ swimming and basketball. Brea’s girls’ basketball took its first run to the top in 1989, winning the California State Championship. Seven repeat Ladycat State Championships followed, from 1991-94 and 1998-2000. In 1994, the Ladycats went on to win the National Championship. The Ladycats claimed fourteen CIF championships (1986, 1989-1999, 2001, 2004). In 2004-2005, the Ladycats were Century League Champions - with an impressive 181 consecutive league wins since 1984. From 1980 to 2001, the Ladycats claimed 594 wins and only 68 losses.

A series of principals steered the school through this era, starting with John Johnson (1991-94), and followed by Kathy Beard (1994-99), Doug Kimberly (1999-2003), and Jerry Halpin, hired in 2003.

BOHS earned California Distinguished School honors in 1991. In 1993, it was named a National Blue Ribbon School, one of only 18 middle and high schools in California and 260 schools nationwide earning the prestigious award that year. Honors continued as history teacher/coach Jeff Sink was selected as an Orange County Teacher of the Year (1998), BOHS was again named a California Distinguished School (1999), math teacher Scott Malloy was named Orange County and California Teacher of the Year (2000), and Wildcat Football took the Southern Section championship for the first time in 38 years (2001). The Brea Yearbook, the Gusher was awarded the Gold Crown in 1996, an award for Theme and Cover, Cover Design, End Sheets, and Organization Spread in 1997, Feature Photo and Index in 1998 from Columbia Scholastic Press Association.

With growth in the community once again causing a strain on facilities, the Board of Education once again has begun studying plans for expansion. A rendering of a new classroom wing was presented to the board by LPA Architects on Oct. 10, 2005, and groundbreaking for this project is expected in mid-2006.


Several scandals occurred in the 1990s, including grade changing and plagiarism by valedictorians, student council members, and administration.cite news | url= | date=1998-08-23 | last=Dillow | first=Gordon | accessdate= | title=From D.C. to O.C., truth is running short
work=The Orange County Register

In 1994, an audit found that 287 student had had their transcripts altered. Grades that initially had been Ds or above had their grades changed to pass when they repeated the class allowing students to graduate without completing required courses. [Bates, Betsy. Orange County Register. "Brea Olinda grade changes are a tangled web", October 11, 1994.]

In 1998, juniors stole and passed around a copy of an honors physics test. The student council president was one of several students implicated and received a failing grade in physics. [*Gittelsohn, John. Orange County Register. "Student leaders caught cheating at Brea-Olinda", August 15, 1998.] Also in 1998, a valedictorian was stripped of his title and barred from graduation proceedings after changing his grade and those of several friends in AP English to an A and lowering the grade of the future valedictorian while working as a teachers aide. The teacher only discovered the grade changes after noticing that the future valedictorian's record showed her receiving B on a test, leading her to investigate her other students' grades. [Gittelsohn, John. Orange County Register. "Cheating is on the rise in many school districts around the county", August 18, 1998.]

Additionally, members of the Brea Olinda Staff have come under fire due to scandals involving student-teacher relationships, and the distribution of drugs from athletic coaches to minors.Fact|date=June 2008

Pictures of the Campus

Awards and achievements

=National Blue Ribbon School=


California Distinguished School


Orange County Teachers of the Year

*Jeff Sink (1998)
*Scott Malloy (2000)

California Teacher of the Year

*Scott Malloy, Brea Olinda High School (2000)

Achievements of the Arts

*SCSBOA Marching Band Championships Qualifier (2005, 2006)
*Unanimous Superior ratings at SCSBOA Concert Festival, Band and Orchestra (2006)

Athletic Achievements

National Championships

*Girls Basketball (1994)

California State Championships

*Girls Basketball (1989, 1991-1994, 1998-2000)

=CIF Championships=

*Football (1961-1963, (A-Division))
*Girls Basketball (1986, 1989-1999, 2001, 2004, 2006)
*Boys Soccer (1986, 2001)
*Girls Basketball (1989)
*Cross Country (2006)
*Girls Swimming (2001-2002)

=CIF Southern Championships=

*Football (2001)

Notable alumni

*James Hetfield, 1981: Lead Singer of Metallica
*Randy Jones, 1969: Major League Baseball Player, 1976 Cy Young Award WinnerFact|date=June 2008


External links

* [ Brea Olinda High School]
* [ Brea Olinda Unified School District]
* [ Wildcat Entertainment Corps]
* [ State and National Champion Ladycat Basketball Team]
* [ BOHS Band Boosters]

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