Schools Named For Presidents

Abraham Lincoln (left) was the 16th President of the United States. John F. Kennedy was the 35th. Both were assassinated while in office. Photos: Wikipedia.com & onthisday.com.


As one school district in San Francisco foolishly decides whether to even have high schools named for George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, it’s nonetheless been many years since a California high school has been named for a former U.S. President. For Presidents Day 2021, here’s a look at schools in the state with those names. Even if Lincoln was eventually changed in S.F., the 16th president along with John F. Kennedy (the 35th president) would still have the most high schools in California with the presidential seal of approval.

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(Each U.S. President listed according to years in office)

1. George Washington (1789-1797)
There are still four high schools in the state currently with the Washington name in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Easton (near Fresno) and Fremont. We like the Washington Generals the best for a nickname, but Washington of S.F. is the alma-mater of a cousin, plus associate editor Harold Abend and longtime photography contributor Willie Eashman. Harold was as disgusted as any of the former Eagles’ alums about changing the name of the school and says the fight over that is far from over.

2. John Adams (1797-1801)
There are no regular comprehensive public high schools in the state named for Adams, but there is a small private school in Roseville, John Adams Academy, that has sports teams.

San Diego Madison head coach Rick Jackson raises a CIF state title trophy for the second time in his career in 2016 as his two sons stand nearby. Photo: Mark Tennis.


3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
Everybody in Daly City and everyone in L.A. just call it Jeff for short. Those would be where the two high schools in California named for the author of the Declaration of Independence are both located.

4. James Madison (1809-1817)
The Madison Warhawks of the CIF San Diego Section is the only one named for the fourth president. Warhawks is an appropriate nickname as well.

5. James Monroe (1817-1825)
The L.A. Unified School District (and CIF L.A. City Section) has quite a few high schools named for ex-presidents. Monroe of Sepulveda is the one named for James Monroe.

6. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
There are no high schools in the state named for John Quincy, the son of the second president. There’s a very small room at a church in Quincy, Mass., where one can see the crypts for John Quincy, John Adams and Martha Adams. The founding fathers were mostly quite modest in their places of burial.

7. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
No high schools named for him. The city of Jackson in Amador County also was not named for the former president.

8. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
No high schools named for him.

9. William Harrison (1841-1841)
Died in office. No high schools named for him.

10. John Tyler (1841-1845)
No high schools named for him.

11. James Polk (1845-1849)
No high schools named for him

12. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
Died in office. No high schools.

13. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
No high schools named for him.

President Grant also was a Civil War general. Photo: Wikipedia.com.


14. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
We actually don’t know if Pierce High in Arbuckle (CIF Northern Section) is named for the 1850s president, but don’t think that’s the case.

15. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
The school in Clovis is named for Dr. Floyd Buchanan, not the president. Floyd was the longtime superintendent of Clovis Unified.

16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
Died in office. There are currently five high schools in California named for Lincoln. They are in Stockton, San Jose, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. The school in the town of Lincoln (Placer County) is named for the town and not technically the president, but count that one for him as well if you wish.

17. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
No high schools named for him.

18. Ulysses Grant (1869-1877)
We don’t believe that Grant of Sacramento and Grant of Van Nuys have ever played each other in football, but those two would have a lot in common.

19. Rutherford Hayes (1877-1881)
No high schools named for him.

20. James Garfield (1881-1881)
Died in office two months after shot by assassin. The school in Los Angeles made famous by the 1988 movie “Stand and Deliver” is named for him.

21. Chester Arthur (1881-1885)
No high schools named for him.

22. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)
The high school in Reseda is named for this president. Nickname: Cavaliers.

23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
No high schools named for him.

24. Grover Cleveland (1893-1897)
When someone is elected for a second time, they count separately for each term. If Donald Trump were to run again in 2024, for example, and win, he’d therefore be No. 45 and No. 47.

Some of the players from Roosevelt of Eastvale are shown pointing at the scoreboard after they defeated Logan of Union City in the CIF Division I state final in 2017. That school, however, is not named for a former U.S. President but a wife of one. Photo: Mark Tennis.

25. William McKinley (1897-1901)
Died in office. No high schools.

26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Is every high school with Theodore Roosevelt’s name in front called the Rough Riders? Not for the nation, but the two in California in Fresno and Los Angeles both go by that nickname.

27. William Taft (1909-1913)
Taft of Woodland Hills is named for him. The Taft High in the CIF Central Section is the name of the town.

28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Wilson High of Long Beach is named for him. Wilson High of Hacienda Heights is named for Glen A. Wilson, a former superintendent in La Puente. Wilson of San Francisco has been closed for many years.

29. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Died in office. That happened when he was on a trip and he was at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. A lot of schools in his native Ohio are named for him.

30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
No high schools named for him.

31. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
He’s not regarded as a great president, but schools being opened in the early part of the 20th century were named often for former presidents. Two examples in California would be Hoover of Fresno, Hoover of Glendale and Hoover of San Diego.

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Died in office and the only president to serve more than two terms. None of the Roosevelt Highs in California are named for him (two for Teddy, one for Eleanor). Given FDR’s historical status, and with three high schools in the state named for Hoover, that’s surprising that he has none.

33. Harry Truman (1945-1953)
No high schools named for him.

34. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Popular leader of the 1950s and World War II general, known as Ike, will be forever remembered in California sports for the accomplishments of Eisenhower High in Rialto.

35. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Died in office. Since there were a lot of schools around the nation built and opened in the early 1960s with all of the baby boomers growing up and because of the tragic loss of Kennedy in 1963, there are a lot of schools named for him everywhere. For California high schools, this includes Kennedy of Sacramento, Kennedy of Granada Hills, Kennedy of Richmond, Kennedy of La Palma and Kennedy of Fremont. Kennedy of Barstow (now closed) was another one. Newer school Kennedy of Delano is named for President Kennedy’s brother, Robert Kennedy.

This is the sign outside of the high school in Sacramento. Photo: scusd.edu.

36. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)
He might have the most high schools named for him in his native Texas, but there are none in California. Johnson of Sacramento is named for former California governor Hiram Johnson.

37. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Resigned from office. Only President who went to a California school (Whittier). No high schools.

38. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
We’re now getting to the point in which new schools opening tended to not be named for former presidents any longer.

39. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
No high schools in California named for him.

40. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
There are a lot of schools around the nation named for President Reagan, but none in California even though he was Governor of the state and is buried at the presidential library in Simi Valley.

41. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)
No high schools. He and wife stayed in the same hotel in Anaheim when he was president where we once had an office. It was fascinating to see Secret Service operations up close.

42. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
No high schools. Only other president besides older Bush that we’ve ever seen in person (campaigning for wife in 2016).

43. George W. Bush (2001-2009)
No high schools in state, but he once visited Stockton’s George W. Bush Elementary School.

44. Barack Obama (2009-2017)
Too early for any high schools in state. Best places to see one in the future probably would be in Hawaii or Illinois.

45. Donald Trump (2017-2021)
Given the support he still has in pockets of many states, a new high school opening in someplace like northwest Georgia or in Texas being named for him wouldn’t be a shock.

46. Joseph Biden (2021-current)
Born in Pennsylvania, but more a son of Delaware. Schools one day named for him likely to be there compared to anywhere else.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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