10 – National Lampoon’s Class Reunion Location: Washington Middle School (1923–Present)

A supplemental episode on the shooting location for National Lampoon’s Class Reunion.

Class Reunion was set almost entirely at Elizabeth Borden High School, a fictional school shot in the halls of The Pasadena College of Chiropractic, which is also Washington Middle School. The school has an interesting history all it’s own…


  • February 21, 1924—Washington Middle School opens with five hundred students and twenty-five faculty members. The school was designed by the architectural firm of Allison & Allison
  • 1926—Jack Parsons and Ed Foreman, founding members of the JPL attend the school.
  • 1931—Jackie Robinson attends the school. In 1931 he played left field for the school’s 1931 Pasadena City Intermediate Championship team.
  • March 10, 1933—a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit Los Angeles. Washington Middle School is closed until repairs were completed in October 1935. Classes were held in tents on the school’s physical education grounds.
  • June 27, 1963—Jay R. Jackson, Jr. v. Pasadena City School District. decision found Washington Junior High to be a “racially segregated school” and ordered the school board to take corrective steps.
  • August 28, 1968—Spangler v. Pasadena City Board of Education case is filed alleging that unconstitutional segregation exists in Pasadena schools.
  • January 20 1970—Federal District Court Judge Manuel Real ordered the Pasadena City School District to redraw school districts and implement mandatory busing.
  • September 1975—Washington Center for Alternative Studies is housed at Washington Middle School.
  • June 28, 1976—United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturns Spangler v. Pasadena City Board of Education.
  • 1979—Washington Middle School closes.
  • 1981–1989—The Pasadena College of Chiropractic operates in the Washington Middle School building. National Lampoon’s Class Reunion is filmed on location February to April 1982.
  • September 1989—Washington Middle School reopens
  • August 14, 2013—The school reopens as Washington STEAM Magnet Academy

Films and Television series shot at the school

  • The Violation of Sarah McDavid (1981)
  • National Lampoon’s Class Reunion (1982)
  • Twilight Zone: The Series “Teacher’s Aide” (1985)
  • Wildcats (1986) Unconfirmed. Possibly used for re-shoots.
  • Dangerous Minds (1995)
  • American Dreams series (2002)


Original drawings for Washington Middle School by Allison & Allison Architects, 1923. Scheme “B” was the version built.


Original drawings for Washington Middle School by Allison & Allison Architects, 1923. Scheme “B” was the version built. (Click to enlarge.)


The construction of the landscaping of Washington Middle School, circa 1923. (Pasadena Public Library.)


Jackie Robinson and the 1931 Washington Junior High Pasadena City Intermediate Champions.


Jackie Robinson (far right) at Washington Middle School, February 1935. Terry Cannon/Pasadena Public Library. (Click to enlarge.)


Mrs. Pruitt’s Grade 3 class. Washington Middle School. February, 1963. From Can We All Get Along, Arroyo Secco Films. Note the racial disparity.


August 11, 1969. Pasadena Star-News


The Facade of Benjamin Harrison High School (Washington Middle School) in The Violation of Sarah McDavid (1981)


Eric Stoltz and Ally Sheedy in The Violation of Sarah McDavid (1981)


Twilight Zone: The Series “Teacher’s Aide,” showing the school’s octagonal tower. The demonic gargoyle was added by the art department.

Additional Reading & Watching


  • Butler, Anica. “Pasadena Adopts Controversial Plan to Reduce School Busing.” Los Angeles Times. February 28, 2002.
  • Clayton, Stephanie. “A Brief History of Efforts To Desegregate the Los Angeles Unified School District.“ Claremont Graduate University. 2008
  • Dammett, Blackie. Lords of the Sunset Strip. The Spencer Company. 2013.
  • Daniels, Mark. “No Such Thing as California Architecture.” Architect and Engineer. October 1940.
  • Donovan, John J. “A Glimpse Into the Future.” The Building Review, Vol. XXIII No. 2. San Francisco, February 1923.
  • Drinkwater, Terry. CBS Evening News Report. Sept 14, 1970. via YouTube.
  • Furman, Andrew. My Los Angeles in Black and (almost) White. Syracuse University Press, 2010.
  • Gaines-Carter, Patrice and Jay Matthews. “Black People Find Pasadena to Be an Island of Opportunity.” The Washington Post. Feb 2, 1986.
  • Greene, Charles. drawings for “Shelter for View Lovers.” Pasadena, California, 1907.
  • Hale, Jon N. “The African American Roots of Betsy DeVos’s Education Platform.” The Atlantic. January 18, 2017.
  • Horman, Matt. “When South Pasadena was for Whites Only.” Hometown Pasadena. Sept 15, 2014.
  • Hughes, John. National Lampoon’s Class Reunion. Directed by Michael Miller. ABC Motion Pictures. October 29, 1982.
  • Jackson v. Pasadena City School Dist., 59 Cal.2d 876 (last visited Saturday February 11, 2017).
  • Martin, Kenneth. PCOC’s Alumni Website. www.pasadenaalumni.org
  • Masters, Nathan. “Before the Palm, the Pepper Was Southern California’s Most Iconic Tree.” Gizmodo. May 29, 2014 (not really relevant, but interesting…)
  • Morrow, Irving F. “The Work of Allison & Allison.” The Building Review, Vol. XXIII No. 2. San Francisco, February 1923.
  • Moxey, John Llewellyn (dir.). The Violation of Sarah McDavid. May 19, 1981.
  • Norton, BWL. “Teacher’s Aide.” Twilight Zone: The Series. November 8, 1985.
  • Oppenheimer, Daniel and Jason Sokol. When Jackie Robinson Went House Hunting: A Story of Race, Politics and Real Estate in the Northeast. 2014. via YouTube.
  • Parker, Franklin. Roots of the New Right: School Critic Max Rafferty (1917-82). EDRS. 1985.
  • Pasadena City Bd. of Educ. v. Spangler. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved February 10, 2017, from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1975/75-164
  • Reid, Hiram Alvin. History of Pasadena: Comprising an Account of the Native Indian, the Early Spanish, the Mexican, the American, the Colony, and the Incorporated City, Occupancies of the Rancho San Pasqual, and Its Adjacent Mountains, Canyons, Waterfalls and Other Objects of … Interest: Being a Complete and Comprehensive Histo-cyclopedia of All Matters Pertaining to this Region. Pasadena History Company. 1895.
  • Rampersand, Arnold. Jackie Robinson: A Biography. Random House Publishing Group, 2011.
  • Reagan, Ronald. Ronald Reagan For President. 1976. via YouTube.
  • Rebok, Horace. M. “Educational Value of School Architecture.” The Building Review, Vol. XXIII No. 2. San Francisco, February 1923.
  • Salley Gray, Julie. “To Fight the Good Fight”: The Battle Over Control of the Pasadena City Schools, 1969-1979.” Essays in History. Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia. 2012.
  • Schnapper, Amy. Location Shooting makes Economic Sense. Los Angeles Times. March 28th, 1982.
  • Solon, Olivia. “Occultist father of rocketry ‘written out’ of Nasa’s history.” Wired.co.uk. April 23, 2014.
  • Spangler, v. Pasadena City Bd. of Education. United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. September 20, 1979.
  • United States Commission on Civil Rights. Five Communities: Their Search for Equal Education. Clearing House Publication 37. December 1972.
  • Valentine, Maggie. “Monk Hill Walking Tour” Treasures On Your Block brochure. City of Pasadena. 1986.
  • Walker, Roland A. 81 Years of Public Education in Pasadena. June 1955.
  • Weller, K. Democracy and Schooling in California: The Legacy of Helen Heffernan and Corinne Seeds. Springer, Dec 22, 2011
  • Wells, Amy. Both Sides Now: The Story of School Desegregation’s Graduates. University of California Press, Jan 20, 2009
  • Wollenberg, Charles. All Deliberate Speed: Segregation and Exclusion in California Schools, 1855-1975. University of California Press, 1978


Theme music by Bradley Davis (Fresh Snow) with some incidental music by Chris Storrow.

With sound effects by Audible-edge, Luiiiiiiii, Timbre, Suonho, Uagadugu, and X-25 from freesound.org.

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