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Clark Magnet High School from “Our House”

Jul 13th, 2012 | By | Category: TV Locations

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Back in March, a fellow stalker named Bill contacted me to ask for some help in tracking down the high school that Kris Witherspoon (my girl Shannen Doherty) attended in the 1986 television series Our House.  In his email, Bill included the links to several episodes of the series on YouTube (because it is maddeningly not yet available on DVD!), but the large brick structure did not look at all familiar to me.  So I called up Mike, from MovieShotsLA, and asked if he happened to know of any large brick schools in the L.A.-area off the top of his head.  He, of course, did and mentioned three of them that he thought I should check out – Grant High School in Van Nuys, Taft High School in Woodland Hills and Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta.  As luck would have it, Clark Magnet was the right one!  That right there is why I love Mike – I can give him the vaguest of descriptions and, right off the bat, he knows the exact place I am talking about!  So I dragged the Grim Cheaper right on out there a few days later.

Sadly though, Clark Magnet High School – like most schools in L.A. – is gated and, aside from the front entrance, not very accessible to the public.  So I called on Mike – who is now a location manager – once again, and suggested that he scout Clark the next time he was in need of a high school location – and that he should also bring me along.  Which he did just a few weeks later. Yay!

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Clark Magnet High School, which was named in honor of humanitarian Anderson W. Clark, was originally founded in 1961 as a middle school, serving kids in the 7th through 9th grades.  In 1983, suffering from low enrollment, the property’s doors were forced to close.  Thankfully though, the structure was not torn down, but instead became a community center, a teacher resource and training station and an office for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  And it was also used for filming.  Due to the fact that Clark was no longer a functioning school and therefore easy to film at, and had a desirable All-American look, the place became an obvious choice for location scouts.  But more on that later.  In 1996, a task force decided to re-open Clark, this time as a high school, to alleviate nearby overcrowding and the property subsequently underwent a 13-month, $15 million renovation and modernization project.  The site was re-founded in the fall of 1998 as a magnet school with focuses on science and technology and is currently the most technologically advanced school in the entire Glendale Unified School District.  In a very odd side-note – Clark has a “twin” – a virtually identical carbon copy – named Rosemont Middle School that is located about ten blocks east.  Both properties were built at the same time and, in order to be cost efficient, were designed in the exact same image.  So incredibly weird!

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In Our House, Clark Magnet High School stood in for James Polk High School, which Kris attended and where her mother, Jessica ‘Jessie’ Witherspoon (Deidre Hall), taught for a time.  The school can best be seen in the Season 1 episode titled “First Impressions”.  As you will notice below, during the renovation, Clark’s windows were, unfortunately, changed and no longer look as they did in the series.  Blah!

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In the “First Impressions” episode, Kris and her friend are shown walking through Clark’s humongous interior quad and then sitting on a set of cement bleachers.  It was those bleachers that I most wanted to see while we were there.  And thankfully, unlike the windows, they still look pretty much exactly the same as they did onscreen.

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And I, of course, just had to sit in the area where Shannen was sitting in the episode.

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Clark Magnet High School was also the school attended by despondent teenager Lane Meyer (John Cusack) in the 1985 flick Better Off Dead.  (My second photograph below does not exactly match the posted screen shot, but it is of the general area.  I am going to re-stalk the school soon so that I can get an exact pic.)

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In 2003’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Clark Magnet was the school attended by Sam Finney (Scott Terra) and Sally Finney (Jenna Boyd).

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The school’s gym, which we did not get to see, appeared in the movie’s pep squad tryout scene.  You can see a real life photograph of the Clark gym here.

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And thanks to this 1987 Los Angeles Times article, I learned that the movie Return to Horror High was also filmed at Clark.

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Randomly enough, a very young George Clooney had a starring role in Return to Horror High.

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As did Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady.

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According to IMDB, the 1986 flick Dangerously Close was also filmed at Clark Magnet High School, but I could not find a copy of the movie with which to verify that.

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Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for finding this location and taking me to stalk it!  Smile

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: Clark Magnet High School from Our House is located at 4747 New York Avenue in La Crescenta.  You can visit the school’s official website here.  Clark’s twin, Rosemont Middle School, is located at 4725 Rosemont Avenue in La Crescenta.  You can visit that school’s official website here.

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10 comments

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  1. Kate says:

    Oh wow! I was just watching the “Fast Times” tv show on YouTube and I would swear it was Rosemont — I went there for one year. Googling led me to your site (which it often does) and looking through the photos it is definitely eerie that these schools are so identical. Rosemont students are Spartans, however. What a trip! Thanks for all the info on your site! :)

  2. RW says:

    Actually the first iteration of Anderson W. Clark Jr HS was built in 1932 as a 10 room school named La Crescenta Junior High School.
    It was named Anderson W. Clark in 1938
    Part of this structure is still in use today.
    It was expanded in 1955 and I attended it later in ’58 -’59 just as the “new Clark” was being built up on New York Ave.
    At the time of construction there were actually three schools operating on the same campus facilities which was rather hectic.
    Clark students, those who lived mostly on the west end of the valley, went to school from 8-12 am while the new Rosemont students, those who lived mostly on the east side, went from 12:30 – 4:30 and the newly formed Crescenta Valley High School students went to school from 8-3 as a normal school would.
    Upon our return from Christmas break we moved into the “new Clark” in January 1960.
    After it closed in ’82 it had numerous uses from film locations to offices for JPL. The grounds were maintained by the city since the city used the recreational grounds. The school district also used it as storage when the new district warehouse was being built.
    The reopening followed a major renovation with earthquake updates as well as all major utilities were modernized to state of the art technologies with grants from Cisco, Novell, Apple and Microsoft Corp.
    When it opened as a magnet high school kids were picked by lottery to attend.
    The old campus became Crescenta Valley High School and has seen several more expansions over the years.
    Go Falcons!

  3. Jill says:

    Very cool!! Enjoyed reading all of that… thanks!

  4. Dave says:

    They also filmed the short lived TV show version of Fast Times at Ridgemont High there. In one scene Mr. Hand’s giving Spicoli a driving test and they’re driving south on New York Ave. and you can see my parents’ house in the background right before they go below a bridge of the 210 Freeway.

    • Lindsay says:

      Thanks so much for this info! That clears a lot up as some people often say that the movie version of Fast Times was shot at the school which I was fairly certain wasn’t true.

  5. Sage McConnell says:

    Thanks so much! I went to this middle school and graduated from the ninth grade there in 1982. Brought back so many great memories!

  6. Russ says:

    Clark was my Junior High School from 1975-1978. Unbelievable how much change took place over the years!

  7. Lavonna says:

    Fun post! I’d love to be a location manager… how much fun would that be!

  8. jenny says:

    Graet Post!!!! Glad you found so much infor. for this post. Our house should be a show put on DVD . It was a great family show.


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