Belmont Senior High School is a public high school located at 1575 West 2nd Street in the Westlake community of Los Angeles, California. The school, which serves grades 9 through 12, is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.


Belmont High School opened in 1923.

The Hotel Belmont was the first noteworthy building to stand atop Crown Hill, the present site of Belmont High School. Eventually, the hotel was abandoned, and later it was transformed into the private Belmont School for Girls. After the school was destroyed by fire, the grounds were left vacant, except for five oil wells and a pumping plant for the Los Angeles City Oil Field. On February 28, 1921, the Los Angeles Board of Education purchased the site for $100,000, for the purpose of constructing Belmont High School.

Belmont opened its doors on September 11, 1923, to about 500 students, all sophomores, and 28 faculty members. Most of the school's traditions were created by those pioneer students during the first months of the school's existence. The school newspaper conducted an election to select its name, with "Sentinel" easily winning over "Progress." To this day, Belmont's students are known as Sentinels. Those first students favored “Sentinels" because they were able to oversee the entire city from their "lookout" on Crown Hill. In another election, the school's colors, green and black, were selected over brown and white. A Joseph Young-created mosaics mural is located on the main building wall.

Belmont High School was once the largest school in California, due to the density of the Westlake district, which it served. It was also considered the largest school in the United States, with 6,342 students. What was formally the attendance area for Belmont High School has now become the Belmont Zone of Choice, where students living in this area have the option of attending one of nineteen small learning communities or pilot schools located on four different campuses within the zone: Belmont High School, Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, Edward Roybal Learning Center, and Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts.

By 2000, LAUSD devised plans to relieve Belmont of many of its students, and in 2006, the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex, which began sharing its attendance zone with Belmont, opened and relieved Belmont.

Beginning around 2005, Belmont began a major modernization. The school was renovated, and new paint, bathrooms, doors, walls, and ceiling tiles were added. Facilities were also updated throughout the school campus to accommodate those with special needs (e.g. wheelchair ramps).

In 2006, Miguel Contreras Learning Complex opened its doors and relieved Belmont High School of overcrowding.

In 2007, the West Adams Preparatory High School opened and relieved Belmont; a section of the Manual Arts High School attendance zone was transferred to Belmont.

Furthermore, High School for the Visual and Performing Arts (formerly known as Central Los Angeles Area High School 9) opened in 2008 to relieve Belmont. Central Los Angeles High School 11 (Edward R. Roybal (formerly Belmont) Learning Center) and Central Los Angeles High School 12 opened in fall 2009.

In 2009, the opening of the Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Centers relieved Belmont.

Beginning with the 2010 school year, it will serve students from 6th grade to 12th grade, with the middle school named Sal Castro Middle School on the campus. The Belmont football stadium was named for Dentler Erdmann, its long-time faculty member.

In 2011 the school was restructured, with most teachers having to reapply for their jobs. The new academic program involves learning English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese.

Belmont High School Small Learning Communities

Belmont High School hosts three Small Learning Communities (SLC's; also called academies) which specialize in a career pathway:

  • LAAMPS (Los Angeles Academy of Medical and Public Service), with courses in first responders and medical terminology
  • SAGE (Science, Art and Green Engineering), with courses in automotive technology, drafting, and computer assisted design
  • Belmont Multimedia Academy, with courses in filmmaking, cartooning & animation, digital photography, digital imaging, and web page design


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As of December 2013 the school had fewer than 1,000 students.

The school was built for a capacity of 2,500 students, and when it opened in 1923 it had about 500 students. Due to an enrollment decline in the 1950s the Los Angeles City High School District considered closing Belmont. By the 1990s the school had its peak enrollment, 5,500 students, making it California's largest high school and one of the largest in the United States. During that period many students were reassigned to and sent on buses to schools in the San Fernando Valley because there were too many students in Belmont. In the 1997-1998 school year the school had 5,160 students. At the time, the school's dropout rate was 65% and in terms of its four-year graduation rate it ranked lower than 96% of Los Angeles County high schools. 72% of the enrolled students took free lunches.

The enrollment declined in the 2000s due to the opening of charter schools and LAUSD opening schools to relieve capacity. In 2001 the LAUSD began a building campaign to relieve the capacity of the school.

Due to overcrowding, Belmont had a year-round schedule for 26 years, until the 2008 opening of the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center. After the opening Belmont resumed having a traditional two year school schedule.

Academic performance

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In 2011 the school had an Academic Performance Index (API) of 639, an improvement of almost 100 points in a two year period. Jason Song of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the score was "still poor". In 2013 its API was 668, an increase of over 175 points from the 2002 figure. The State of California API goal is 800.

Notable faculty

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  • Sal Castro (1933-2013), activist (faculty)
  • Dentler Erdmann, educator (faculty), California Teacher of the Year 1975

Notable alumni

  • Veronica Porsche Ali, actress, model
  • Patrick Arguello (1943â€"1970), US-Nicaraguan national killed in the attempted hijack of an El Al flight, as carried out by the PFLP.
  • John Beradino (1917â€"1996), (born Giovanni Berardino), actor, major league baseball player
  • Ron Botchan, NFL official
  • James C. Corman (1920â€"2000), Congressman, Los Angeles City Councilman
  • Richard Crenna (1926â€"2003), actor
  • Craig Ellwood (1922â€"1992), architect
  • Mike Frankovich (1909â€"1992), film producer
  • Murray Fromson, CBS News correspondent and USC professor
  • Luis (Lou) Gomez, MLB player
  • Odetta Holmes (1930â€"2008), folk singer, activist
  • Young-Oak Kim (1919â€"2005), highly decorated combat veteran; 1937 graduate
  • Willa Kim (1917- ), 2007 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee, two time Tony and Emmy Award winning costume designer and 1935 graduate of Belmont; the older sister of Young-Oak Kim.
  • Glenard P. Lipscomb (1915â€"1970), Congressman
  • Robert Lyles, NFL player
  • John McCarthy (1927â€"2011), computer technology
  • Loren Miller Jr., Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge
  • Ricardo Montalbán (1920â€"2009), actor
  • Anthony Quinn (1915â€"2001), actor
  • Mort Sahl, humorist
  • William Sidell (1915â€"1994), labor leader
  • Jack Smith (1916â€"1996), columnist, journalist
  • Mike Stoller, songwriter
  • Coy Watson, Jr. (1912â€"2009), child actor, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Watson Family
  • Delmar Watson (1926â€"2008), actor, photo-journalist, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Watson Family
  • Harry R. Watson (1921â€"2001), actor, photo-journalist, Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Watson Family
  • Jack Webb (1920â€"1982), producer, director, actor


External links

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