February 22nd, 2012
08:14 AM ET

I am America: Hollywood High now a diverse high school

By Chuck Conder, CNN

Los Angeles, California (CNN) –For the better part of a century, Hollywood High School has been known as the high school of the stars: Judy Garland, Carol Burnett, Sarah Jessica Parker and James Garner are among the famous alumni.

But Judy Garland might not recognize her old alma mater today.

When she attended Hollywood High in the 1930’s the student body was almost all white.

Today, it is predominantly Latino, and made up of teens whose families came to America from every corner of the world.

“Hollywood has always struck me as a place where it doesn’t matter where you are from,” said Principal Jaime Morales, who immigrated from Nicaragua. “You are welcome here.”

School valedictorian Karla Samayoa’s parents fled political turmoil in El Salvador. Though she was born in America, she still feels a strong connection to her Salvadoran roots.

“Immigrants bring new blood, fresh ideas. They prevent America from becoming stagnant,” she said.

School officials say the surrounding neighborhood has been gradually transformed by waves of immigration over the last 30 years.

Filipino and Korean-Americans neighbor new arrivals from Thailand. To the west, immigrants from Russia, and Armenia have settled next to new residents from Central America and Mexico.

For a 17-year-old that we will call “Maria”, the future is far from certain. Her family brought her to the United States when she was six months old.

For her, school is an island of safety, “I feel I can be myself, without being judged.”

While her grades are good, college may be out of reach since she is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.

“I’m just like any other teenager trying to succeed in life,” she says. But her undocumented status is a challenge many of her classmates do not face: she fears the possibility of deportation.

Alexander Moshensky’s parents came from Ukraine. He sees the diversity as a benefit.

“I’ve learned to speak with different people,” he said. “Maybe that will …help me get a job.”

And in the end that may be most important lesson at Hollywood High.

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Filed under: Education • History • Latino in America • Where we live • Who we are
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Jennifer

    I go to this school, I'm a Senior at Hollywood High School and by far, am glad I am part of this awesome school.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sadsack

    I for one do not have a problem with people wanting to live in the US. It's a compliment that although we have problems here, it still a better place to live than other countries. I do believe that folks should follow the rules and be a legal resident. I believe that a child that was brought ot sent to this country when they were small and have been raised in this country has knowledge and understanding of this country, therefore should be legalized due to "time served" as a resident of this country. Have absolutely no simpathy for those that caused problems in there country and come here to "get away" from those problems just to keep living the same way they supposedly wanted to get away from. It really is like Rodney King said: Can't we all just get along!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  3. todd in iowa

    this school is part of why california is broke. and going bankrupt.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  4. todd in iowa

    i think that school should be in mexico.

    March 5, 2012 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Name*Job

    No you forget we had blacks Indians etc but the racial hatred of them sadly was handed down. God bless those who hate!

    March 4, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jorge

    I'll bet all the WASP Abercrombie and Fitch preppies are cowering in a corner, staring at everybody over their shoulder with slack-jawed, open mouthed scowls, clucking away...NAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!

    March 2, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. Ct

    The 1930s?! Perhaps you forget the demographics of the nation in the early years. We are on pace to have a White minority by 2030....

    February 24, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |


    February 24, 2012 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |

    LEGALIZE THE DRUGS AND LET THE MEXICANS PICK ALL THE MELONS. this should take care of the problem that us americans are just as responsible for. Doctors in Mexico make less than minimum wage here. The funny thing...the richest man in the world is a MEXICAN! This person named carlos slim does nothing for his people and he gets richer and richer. Talk about the 99%...HA

    February 24, 2012 at 3:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew

    so telling that any article on CNN that mentions latinos brings 75% comments saying illegal aliens should be deported. the article has nothing to do with illegal aliens.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge

      I see a spike in the national I.Q. bell curve with an arrow pointing to it that says-ANDREW.

      March 2, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. john


    February 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    They should sign up all these into the Film Actors Guild – F. A. G. s

    February 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Guest

    To be fair,I think every school in the 1930s was all white.

    February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Taylor

    @carpday – well spoken. Couldn't have said it better myself. Thx!

    February 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. justin

    TheNewLeft-well put.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  16. justin

    I am sick and tired of illegals say they only take the jobs americans think they are too good for. It took me 2 years to find a job. I search for every type of job, and about 75% of them were taken by Illegals! But the Illegals are not to take the full blame, it is also those Greedy business owners to be held accountable too.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  17. TheNewLeft

    Its not the peoples responses to this article political,it is CNN writing this arrival that sounds like they are supporting and sympathizing with illegal aliens that is making this political. In America breaking the law should be viewed as such and illegal aliens need to be arrested and deported.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  18. surfsouthbay

    Hollywood is a complete cesspool

    February 23, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Grandpa RD

    Wow! I am HHS class of '72, and I believe EVERYONE posting here should remember and LIVE BY the school motto...

    Achieve the HONORABLE.

    February 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Concerned with discrimination

    I am still very proud to be an American in spite of the racial tensions. I am still very proud to be an American in spite of reading how Americans are viewed as selfish, rude and unsympathetic when spoken of by other nations. I AM STILL PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN! NO one is forcing anyone to stay. Either be part of the solution or move along so someone else can get the job done. OH, and remember those are kids at Hollywood High. They deserve your respect not disdain. Turning these remarks into a racially motivated soapbox on immigration is an insult to the teens at that school! Even if there are problems, they are still people. Have some compassion for the students that may read this too!

    February 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Concerned with discrimination

    @carpday You attack so easily. Maybe your own self evaluation might show you completely over muddle this picture of diversity. This isn't rocket science and you assume my view is simplistic in nature. I don't wish to be the one to open your eyes. Those heavy lids need to do their own work.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  22. tammyheral@hotmail.com

    get real the immigrant just want a better life like everyone else. they get the jobs that most americans think their too good for. face it we are ALL immigrants.

    February 23, 2012 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  23. Speak the Truth

    yes i agree about the use of illegals by large companies. The simple fact that our Leaders no longer care about defending our borders for political expediency is one reason our Nation is going down. the new Motto is "Greed is good".

    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  24. Concerned with discrimination

    If you want to learn diversity, speak to your children about their life at school. Listen to them, you may have forgotten how awesome you felt as a kid learning about other cultures. When did you lose that curiosity? Was it when you had access to the internet? Did you start reading the news? Too many real life uncomfortable situations? What helped you lose your desire to just play with any kid on the playground? Was it your own parent's influence?

    February 23, 2012 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • carpday

      When did you develop such an exaggerated sense of your own moral superiority? When did you begin to infantilize those adults around who don't agree with your reductionist nonsense? When did you lose sight of the difference between childhood schoolyard experiences and an adult's understanding of the cultural, political and economic impact of immigration policy decisions?

      February 23, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
      • Cacique


        February 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jorge

        Actually, carpayday, it's YOU who shows an infantile overreaction to a simple example which refers only to human sociability, by going a long stretch and inferring that it's an immigration policy issue. Immigration policy has always existed in the U.S. and is not the problem, it's ILLEGAL immigration. There are a lot of us who are legal immigrants, the children of legal immigrants and transplanted residents of U.S. territories who are no concern of yours, but to which white folks here have objected, sometimes violently, since Ellis island. Everybody who doesn't live under a rock knows this, so don't pretend to be righteously indignant, it's not news that arose with the Mexican wave.

        March 2, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  25. Speak the Truth

    first off the Dems and the Republicans are not really interested in deporting Illegals. Why? simply because they become future voters. they kowtow to these people to get their votes. Sure every now and then they send some illegals back to show they care about we the legals but it is all a giant charade. as a Husband of a legal third World Country Spouse I speak from experience. When you apply to come to America they have a quota system for each country. If say a certain country is not seen as in favor to what is politically correct Immigration makes it very hard to get admitted even for a visit here.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • carpday

      There is some truth to what you say. Another reason is that large corporate political campaign donors in agribusiness and food processing, like Tyson and Hormel amongst others, have a vested interest in maintaining a cheap and compliant source of labor for their business interests and illegals who will work for low wages in sub-standard working conditions fit the bill rather nicely.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  26. Concerned with discrimination

    Feeling pleasure at the expense of white people in reverse dicriminatory situations is even worse than their perceived oppression. It is not Karma my friend, that is revenge speaking through you. Revenge on people who do not deserve your stereotyping just the same way you do not desrve it. Grow up.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  27. hatred and intolerance are the seeds of war

    Those people posting hate here need to cure yourselves of ignorance and learn the history of Nazi Germany. Be careful what you wish for.

    February 23, 2012 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
    • carpday

      And those who think there is any meaningful parallel between the excesses of the Nazi Party in Germany during Hitler's regime and Americans who believe they have the right to control their own borders need to drop the hyperbolic rhetoric and spend some time reading German and American history because they clearly have little or no comprehension of either.

      February 23, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
      • ama01

        Really? "The Jews are in control of your money." "The Jews are causing this depression." "We need to take back what was rightfully ours and get this country back to the golden days before the Jews rose to power." Swap 'Jews' for "Mexicans" and I think we're right on track. It's a blame game. If you can point the finger at some group and lay all your troubles at their feet, it unites the masses and enables your control of them to further your end game. Why do you think our times of greatest prosperity and solidarity follow war? It's human nature. We live in one of the most amazing countries on Earth, but hate is as old as man. I don't think we're 1937 Germany, but if we forget to believe in ourselves it's a slippery slope.

        February 23, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dilio

      The sad thing is we won't kill 6 million Mexicans:(

      February 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikola

      Late to the party, but here nonetheless.I keep thnkiing about going back for a PhD. I'm 28. I worked for two years before getting my masters, and it's been a little over two years since I got my masters. It's not that I want to teach, or don't, but I don't really think that I'll stay in academia once I get a PhD and that has me wondering if I should go at all

      September 14, 2012 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  28. chris

    Nice spin on white flight. It's called diversity now? Interesting.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
    • surfsouthbay

      America, The Great White Guilt.

      February 23, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  29. RD

    "For a 17-year-old that we will call “Maria”," and whom the rest of us will call an illegal alien...

    February 22, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |


    February 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Name*proud bird

    I went to Hollywood high school for a semester back in 1995 it seemed pretty diverse to me I don't get the point of the article. What do they mean by more diverse is the school largely latino now?

    February 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • M in Oz

      Diverse is more than being a colour, it is also life experience. Bet there are some white kids who were born in other countries in there too. Cultural diversity is more than colour.

      February 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  32. jake

    Who the heck with money in LA sends their kids to Hollywood High? All this means is Hollywood has gone to you know what. Pacific Palisades High isn't diverse. Calabasas High isn't diverse. Friends of mine live in the Hollywood Hills area. Their kids go to Oaks Christian all the way out in Thousand Oaks, CA one of the whitest areas in SoCal because they don't want their kids going to a skummy school like Hollywood High School.

    February 22, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      Did you ever really consider what words like "not like me"and "like me" really mean? Ignorance. Without diversity (each other) we perish and with it we get the chance to fly. The brilliance of humanity comes from the collective and is not limited to single race, people or perspective. There is a lot of hate bundled up in your message. In times like these we can do with a lot less hate and a little more kindness.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • carpday

        Try walking your white skin through Echo Park on a Saturday night if you want to experience the brilliance of humanity first hand. I find comments like yours laughable, flowery sentiments that completely fail to recognize the reality on the ground. I grew up in North Hollywood and have spent most of my life living in the greater Los Angeles area, I am white but I speak passable Spanish and can usually understand most of what is being said around me. I can tell you without equivocation that I experience racism and overt hostility on a daily basis anytime I am in Hispanic neighborhoods. If you think racism is a white problem you are a complete fool. The hostility and hatred that many Hispanics direct towards African Americans and whites is an ever present feature of life in LA. The real truth is that there is no melting pot in the border areas, what you have is ethnic enclaves with overlapping boundaries and virtually endless conflict and tension in those areas where large concentrations of diverse groups interact. "Diversity" as such is a liberal pipe dream that in no way describes what is actually happening in this country.

        February 22, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • ama01

        carpday, you experience sounds terrible. As an L.A. native and a graduate of North Hollywood High, I've got to wonder what you do on a daily basis to cause people to direct "racism and overt hostility" toward you. Growing up I had white friends, black friends, hispanic friends, Filipino friends... you get the picture. And I commuted from the West Valley each day to go to NH, so I understand that there are neighborhoods that are demographically diverse. Yes there are people from each race, ethnic group, and nationality (note please that these are 3 different things) who will judge you on the color of your skin or your background. But what you project of yourself will enflame this. Don't blame L.A. or minority groups for inciting tension. Try blaming those who refuse to incoporate newcomers or others who are not exactly like themselves. You want to know why there is hostility? It's because there are people who feel the need to point out differences with negativity, instead of thinking of them as potential building blocks we each bring to the table.

        February 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake

      I'm the guy with the Asian wife and the Asian American kids. My very diverse family wouldn't send our kids to Hollywood High School if it was the last school on earth.

      What this article leaves out is the gang violence and crime at the new diverse Hollywood High. Diversity is all well and good but in LAUSD schools, diversity is code for inner city school that no one but the poor will send their kids to.

      February 22, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • bro wn

      @cardoay I'm a brown guy who lives in florida. for all your "white pureness" try being brown and living in Florida among racists and rednecks for one day. you wont be served food and treated like a 3rd class citizen. i wont mince words. it gives me IMMENSE pleasure when i hear stories like yours where the current majority face similar treatment from minorities.

      you call it "reverse racism" , I call it Karma.

      February 23, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
      • carpday

        Since you seem to appreciate candor I will respond in kind. Whites know that you hate them, they can see it in your face and that is why people whom you refer to as red necks don't want you around. There is no such thing as reverse racism, there is only blind bigotry practiced by racists such as yourself. So you believe karma is the same as collective guilt well what about your guilt, your Spanish ancestors enslaved and murdered the indigenous peoples of North and South America in vast numbers, should you be held accountable for their actions? Do you have indigenous blood in you, Aztec perhaps, should you be hated and reviled by the descendents of the tribes that the Aztecs oppressed and murdered and used for human sacrifice? If you actually do take pleasure in the pain inflicted on others because you think it somehow justified by suffering that you have experienced I must say I pity you because you are going to have a very hard life filled with anger, hostility and unnecessary pain. Karma is an interesting concept that has nothing to do with collective guilt, it is about taking individual responsibility for what we do to others, you should take the time to study it you might find something that will help you rid yourself of all that hatred you are carrying around.

        February 24, 2012 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
  33. HollywoodGirl

    As a Hollywood High Alummni I can not say many good things about this high school.. I was born and raised in the heart of Hollywood and from what I remember, little by little the area and including the school has taken a down fall! It has improved since I have been there, but I would NEVER allow my child to attend that school.. For the fact knowing how bad the area is. And yes, i would rather put my son in a school where there is mainly whites.. I am Hispanic, but it is sad to say that my people do have a bad rep and it is obvious why!

    February 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Kent in TX

    @Jose, Your Neighbor & Carpday,

    I will NOT exchange insults with anyone & I will NOT yell at someone.

    (Putting a message in all caps is the same as yelling.

    You said that the United States should "secure our borders."

    Talk about "securing our borders" sounds like a wonderful idea, particulary when our politicians say it on TV.

    However is not going to work! These people can't find work that pays enough money for them to feed their children–or their grandparents, who are too old to do hard physical labor.

    Trying to keep them from coming here makes as much sense as having the police go to the shore when the tide is out & order the tide not to come in.

    The city police, the county deputies, state police & national guard can all stand there yelling with their bullhorns & shooting their guns at the incoming tide.

    It will not work. We all need to grow up & start acting like adults instead of little children.

    If people in Latin America want to come here & to hard physical labor but, we ought to let them as long aren't criminals in their own counties.

    We shouldn't waste out time & money deporting people who haven't commited any felonies here

    February 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • carpday

      I have no intention of yelling at you or trading insults but nonetheless I think you are fundamentally in error. The citizens of the United States do have the right to secure our borders regardless of the desires of those in Latin America who wish to come here and it is feasible to do so if we treat our borders like most countries in the rest of the world and place armed troops on them with orders to stop anyone attempting to cross illegally by whatever means necessary. The simple fact is that illegals do not have the right to come here, they do not have the right to exploit the US educational and medical systems for their own benefit regardless on the impact on American citizens. Immigration can be a benefit but we should be choosing who is allowed to immigrate to our country and those people should be educated and skilled and not present an unwarranted burden on those already here. Immigration should reflect our needs not the desires of foreigners who have nothing to offer us but greater public debt, crime, a failed educational system and deteriorating cities.

      February 22, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • JustMe

        What about AFRICANS or any other people from across the seas. They are immigrants too.

        February 23, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  35. carpday

    Diverse in that it has a wide variety of Hispanic illegals. Yes, things have changed and not for the better. Hollywood High used to be one of the highest academically rated public high schools in the US, not anymore. The neighborhood around that school is gang ridden and very dangerous with exceptionally high rates of violent crime. Why have liberals convinced themselves that no matter how severely deteriorated things become as long as there are fewer whites it is somehow better? Why do so many white people appear to hate their own ethnic and racial heritage? No matter how you break down the numbers children are more likely to be physically safe and receive a better education in predominately white schools and that is true regardless of the race or ethnicity of the child. Hate me all you want but just ask yourself a question, if you had the choice between sending your child to a safe, upscale school in the lilly white suburbs or a dangerous, crime infested inner city school in the nearest barrio which would you choose?

    February 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |


    February 22, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  37. JOSE0311USMC


    February 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • M in Oz

      Like the pilgrims took over America? You sound like you have a mental disorder involving hystrionics (just assuming from your post though...that's what happens with assuming).

      February 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  38. JOSE0311USMC


    February 22, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • ama01

      Why? What's wrong with immigrants from Mexico and South America? Why is it ok for immigrants to come from France, but not Ecuador? Showing a little bigotry here, aren't you?

      February 23, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  39. joe

    How is a school that is 75% Hispanic "very diverse" Oh that's right, the liberal definition for diverse is "less white", and since Hollywood High is only 8% white, I guess that it is very diverse.

    February 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      February 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake

      Diverse is code for non-white. People of all races want their kids to go to a school where they are the dominant race and their culture is the dominant culture. It's only racist when it's white people.

      There are a lot of Latinos who want Spanish to be their kids' dominant language and they want a school where the only English spoken is in the classroom. Even in towns with a small Latino population, often times they all want their kids to go to the "Latino" elementary school Who cares if the test scores are horrible and it's got a 3 of 10 rating. They don't want their kids to go to the white kids' school.

      February 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • M in Oz

      Hispanic is not just one country, language or experience. People really need to be educated in diversity, I'm white and I was born in another country (yet people like you look at me and just see my skin and assume my mind is the same as every other white person).

      February 22, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Just because there are more hispanics doesnt mean that the class is less white. You realize that Hispanics can be of any race..White, Asian, Black, etc. The only difference is that they were born, or have descendants in a Spanish speaking country. There are more than 15 million white hispanics in the United States, just to give a perspective.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |