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A beacon of learning and community nestled in the heart of historic South Los Angeles. With a legacy spanning generations, we pride ourselves on providing a nurturing environment where students thrive academically, socially, and personally.

Rich Heritage, Enduring Our Legacy

Historic Jefferson

Founded in 1916, Thomas Jefferson High School has been a pillar in our community for over 100 years. It is the fourth oldest high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  We are often referred to as "Jeff" and are proudly known as the Demos, short for our school mascot, the Democrat. For just over a century, Jefferson High School has been an asset to our community by educating, transforming, and fostering talent of many notable individuals in music, sports, television and politics.  Our goals are to inspire greatness in our students and motivate change in the community by empowering them to follow in the footsteps of our prestigious alumni. Over the years, our alumni have proven that hard work and dedication will set you on a path for greatness as a Nobel Prize winner, Olympic Gold Medalist, Grammy winner, Oscar nominee, or a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Fostering Community, Building Connections

Raising Bonds

In 1915, the citizen of Los Angeles voted to sell bonds to raise $4,600,000 to build schools in the Los Angeles area. Approximately $500,000 was appropriated to build Jefferson High School[2] on the "Stadium East Grounds" (The Old Coliseum)[a] which held approximately 25,000 people in a circled amphitheater configuration. The "Stadium" as it was known was the site for hosting and entertaining travelers on the way to both the San Diego and San Francisco world expos in 1915. Numerous rodeos and bicycle races were held at the location.

Building Dreams From Day One

Designing Jefferson

Architect Norman F. Marsh was hired to design the new Jefferson High School complex, the property front 1235 feet on Hooper Avenue, 1149 feet on Compton Avenue, and 952 feet on 34th Street and 392 feet on 38th street. The buildings of the group would be of brick and concrete construction, being faced with rug tapestry brick and trimmed with artificial stone. All corridors and stairways would be made absolutely fireproof. The classical style would be followed, each of the main structures having a dignified entrance portico with stone pediment and columns. Jefferson opened its doors on September 11, 1916, with 24 faculty members and two buildings completed. Theodore Fulton was installed as the school's first principal.

Fortifying Resilience Together

The Earthquake

On March 10, 1933, a Magnitude 6.4 an earthquake in the city of Long Beach completely destroyed the infrastructure of the six buildings which composed the Jefferson High School Campus. The campus was closed from March 10 until April 6 while the school board assessed the situation. On April 6, tent bungalows provided by the school board were erected on the football fields. Classes were shortened to half day sessions in order to serve the entire student population.

Renewing Hope for Tomorrow


In 1933, Architect Stiles O. Clements was hired to build a 45-unit campus with a budget of $353,000.[6] The "Streamline Modern" building structures were completed in 1935. Ross Dickinson was selected and funded by Federal Art Project to paint four 11 feet by 5.5 foot murals with the theme "The History of Recorded Word". The murals were completed in 1937.

Inspiring Generations Beyond

Notable Alumni

As of 1936, several notable alumni such as Ralph BuncheWoody Strode and Samuel R. Browne had graduated from Jefferson High School. All three men were African American, the first of many Jefferson alumni to break racial barriers in the politics of diplomacy, the art of dance, the art of music and the interpretation of sports. Jefferson produced more jazz musicians and composers than any other high school west of the Mississippi. Many of the musicians were nurtured under the guidance of Samuel R. Browne.

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