Gunn High School

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Henry M. Gunn High School
Gunn High School Apr 2020.jpg
780 Arastradero Road


United States
Coordinates37°23′56″N 122°07′59″W / 37.399°N 122.133°W / 37.399; -122.133Coordinates: 37°23′56″N 122°07′59″W / 37.399°N 122.133°W / 37.399; -122.133
School typePublic, high school
Established1964; 59 years ago (1964)
School districtPalo Alto Unified School District
PrincipalWendy Stratton[1]
Teaching staff103.64 (FTE)[2]
Enrollment1,936 (2020-21)[2]
Student to teacher ratio18.68[2]
AreaNorthern Santa Clara County
Color(s)   Red and Black
Athletics conferenceSanta Clara Valley Athletic League
CIF Central Coast Section
MascotTimmy the Titan
AccreditationWestern Association of Schools and Colleges
NewspaperThe Oracle
YearbookThe Olympian
Feeder schoolsGreene Middle School, JLS Middle School, & Fletcher Middle School

Henry M. Gunn Senior High School is one of two public high schools in Palo Alto, California, the other being Palo Alto High School.[3]

Established in 1964 (59 years ago) (1964), Gunn High School was named after Henry Martin Gunn, who served as the Palo Alto superintendent from 1950 to 1961. In 1964, the Palo Alto Unified School District announced that it would name the district's third high school after him. The Class of 1966 was the first class to graduate from Gunn High School.[4]

1,993 students attended the school in the 2019–2020 school year.[5] In 1992, the school was honored as a California Distinguished School.


Gunn offers 22 Advanced Placement (AP) classes and 8 Honors classes which are included in the weighted Grade Point Average (GPA).[6]

In May 2010, 658 students took 1820 AP tests. 93% scored 3 or higher and 54% scored a grade of 5. Gunn no longer ranks students, but ranking was previously recorded by decile.[6]

Hanna Rosin wrote in a 2015 The Atlantic article that due to the emphasis on academics and competition between students, Gunn became "an extreme distillation of what parents in the meritocratic elite expect from a school." Around that time, families clamored to buy houses in Gunn's attendance boundary so their children could attend the school.[7] According to Rosin, after a spate of suicides of Gunn students in the 2010s, parents began to worry about whether the competitive atmosphere was harming students' mental well-being.[8]


Gunn offers a wide selection of mathematics courses ranging from Algebra to AP Calculus BC. There are often three tracks of each subject offered: one at the college-prep level, another at the Advanced level, and one at the Honors level. Students who have completed the AP Calculus pathway before their senior year also have the opportunity to take Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra as a dual enrollment pathway in partnership with Foothill College. There are also two mathematics electives at Gunn: Applied Math H and AP Statistics, available to juniors and seniors. [9]

The math circle is one of the largest clubs on the Gunn High School campus, and its corresponding math team has participated in many competitions. Each year, the school boasts about 30 American Invitational Mathematics Examination qualifiers. After placing 15th nationally in 4 different tournaments during the 2020-21 school year, the 2021-22 math team has won HMMT November and placed 4th in the Berkeley Math Tournament. [10] [11]


Gunn is a host to Project Lead the Way (PLTW), an organization which promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Courses from this program include Digital Electronics and Introduction to Engineering Design, as well as Principles of Engineering.[12]




  • 1,939 students: 1,006 Male (51.9%), 933 Female (48.1%)
Asian White Hispanic Two or more races African American Filipino Pacific Islander American Indian Unreported
862 733 173 126 25 14 4 2 0
44.5% 37.8% 8.9% 6.5% 1.3% 0.7% 0.2% 0.1% 0%

As of 2015, according to Hanna Rosin, 74% of Gunn's student body has one or more parents with a master's degree or higher, or other graduate-level degree.[8]

Standardized testing

SAT Scores for 2014–2015 [14]
Critical reading average Math average Writing average
Gunn High 642 686 646
District 634 671 634
Statewide 489 500 484
2013 Academic Performance Index
2009 Base API [15] 2013 Growth API [16] Growth in the API from 2009 to 2013
915 917 2

Student groups

Spangenberg Theater
Spangenberg Theater

Gunn offers over 90 student clubs, teams, and organizations which focus on art, community action, activism, culture, environment, politics, music, dance, journalism, and other avocations.[17]


Gunn students stage three major productions every year (Fall, Spring, and the student-directed "One Acts"), along with occasional staged readings.[18] The Spring show alternates each year between a Shakespearean play and a musical.


The music program consists of several music groups including Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Big Band, Jazz Band II, Orchestra, Concert Band, Concert Choir, and Chamber Singers.[19] Gunn also occasionally hosts California Music Educators Association Festivals at its Spangenberg Theater.[20]


The debate team at Gunn High School consists of Policy, Parliamentary, and Public Forums, as well as a speech team.[21][22][23]

For the 2017–2018 school year, the club did exceptionally well at the national and state level, with one team entering Tournament of Champions (TOC) octofinals.[24]

Robotics team

The Gunn Robotics Team (GRT), established in 1997, competes at the FIRST Robotics Competition. It is also the only FIRST Robotics team to have won the national animation award more than once, in 1997, 2006, and 2012. They also won best models worldwide in their 2010 animation.[25]

In 2012, the Robotics Team won the National FRC Championship Excellence in Design Award (3D Animation) sponsored by Autodesk. GRT is the only team that has won a total of three Animation awards in the history of FIRST.[26][27][28]

Gunn High School football field
Gunn High School football field and track

Mental health

Gunn High School received national attention in 2009 after four of its students committed suicide over a span of seven months, mainly by walking in front of trains at a nearby crossing.[29][30] Over the period of 2006–2016, the school's suicide rate was four to five times higher than the national average.[31] In 2017, a senior student committed suicide.[32]

In the past decade, attempts have been made to try to improve the emotional health of students attending the school.[33][8] Titan 101, a program for incoming freshmen aimed at easing the transition into high school, was introduced in 2011. In 2015, the Youth Empowerment Seminar (YES!) program was introduced, aimed at reducing student stress through meditation and controlled breathing techniques.[34] In 2017, Social Emotional Learning and Functionality (SELF) was introduced as a replacement for Titan 101. The four-year program is mandatory for the Class of 2021 and later, but there are opt-in sessions for all classes.[35] Students also have access to the school's wellness center, a mental health resource and support center open to students at all hours of the school day. The wellness center works with the Counseling Department to provide therapy to students in one-on-one and group counseling settings, as well as making referrals to off-campus health resources.[36][better source needed]

Notable alumni


  1. ^ Kadvany, Elena. "New principals announced for Gunn and Palo Alto high schools". Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Henry M. Gunn High". National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 23, 2022.
  3. ^ "Henry M. Gunn High School". Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  4. ^ "2007 School Profile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2008. Retrieved March 22, 2008.
  5. ^ "School Profile 2019-2020" (PDF). Henry M. Gunn High School. Retrieved February 28, 2020.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b "Gunn High School School Profile". Archived from the original on October 27, 2012.
  7. ^ Rosin, Hanna (December 2015). "The Silicon Valley Suicides". The Atlantic. Retrieved August 31, 2018. But in the e-mails traded among parents in the weeks after Cameron’s death, the obvious worry surfaced about whether all this emphasis on excellence imposed a cost on the kids[...]
  8. ^ a b c Hanna Rosin (November 16, 2015). "The Suicide Clusters at Palo Alto High Schools - The Atlantic". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  9. ^ /archive/0/2021/ "Math Path Pathways". Gunn High School. February 20, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2021. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  10. ^ "HMMT November 2021 Results". HMMT. November 13, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  11. ^ "BMT 2021 Results". BMT. November 21, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.
  12. ^ "". Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
  13. ^ "Enrollment by Ethnicity for 2015–16: Henry M. Gunn High School". California Department of Education. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  14. ^ "SAT Report - 2014-15 District Level Scores". California Department of Education. Retrieved September 26, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "2009 Base API School Report – Henry M. Gunn High". California Department of Education Assessment, Accountability and Awards Division. Archived from the original on January 8, 2016. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
  16. ^ "2013 Growth API School Report – Henry M. Gunn High". California Department of Education Analysis, Measurement, & Accountability Reporting Division.
  17. ^ "CLUBS - Gunn High School Student Activities". Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Program". Gunn Theatre. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  19. ^ "". Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  20. ^ "Superintendent's Board Update - April 19, 2019". Palo Alto Unified School District. April 19, 2019. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "Public Forum". GUNN SPEECH & DEBATE. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  22. ^ "Policy". GUNN SPEECH & DEBATE. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  23. ^ "Speech". GUNN SPEECH & DEBATE. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  24. ^ Epstein, Eric (March 6, 2018). "Debate team dominates regional, league tournaments". The Oracle. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  25. ^ "Gunn Robotics Team – Awards". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  26. ^ "Awards – GRT". Archived from the original on January 26, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  27. ^ "NASA Previews Robotics Engineers of the Future" (Press release). NASA Ames Research Center. March 10, 2006. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  28. ^ Malone, Michael S. (March 25, 2002). "The Fix-It Kids Take Over". Forbes Magazine. Inc. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
  29. ^ Samuels, Diana; Fernandez, Lisa (October 21, 2009). "Gunn community reeling after fourth apparent teen suicide in six months". The Mercury News. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  30. ^ Netter, Sarah. "Teen Train Suicide Cluster Shakes Affluent California Town". ABC News. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  31. ^ Lynch, Grace Hwang. "The CDC is investigating a cluster of teen suicides in Palo Alto". The World. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  32. ^ Kadvany, Elena. "Gunn High student dies by suicide". Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  33. ^ "After five suicides, Palo Alto high school students change culture through peer support « Culture & Features « Peninsula Press ARCHIVE (2010 – Sept. 2014)". January 4, 2011. Archived from the original on October 10, 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2016.
  34. ^ Aspegren, Elinor. "YES! program will implement mental health education". The Oracle. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  35. ^ Satpathy, Sakshi (February 2, 2018). "New SELF program at Gunn builds student connection and support". Palo Alto Pulse. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  36. ^ "About - Gunn High School". Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  37. ^ Kenrick, Chris. "Former student, now pop star in Japan, recounts story". Palo Alto Online. Retrieved September 14, 2020.
  38. ^ Nguyen, Madison; Yang, Joshua (October 4, 2019). "Alumna releases memoir after sexual assault case". The Oracle. Gunn High School. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  39. ^ Kadvany, Elena (September 4, 2019). "Anonymous no longer, Emily Doe reclaims identity in new memoir about Brock Turner sexual assault and its aftermath". Palo Alto Weekly. Retrieved February 27, 2021.

External links