Port of Los Angeles
High School

  • Address

    250 W. 5th St., San Pedro

  • Phone


  • Website | Social


  • Photographed by

    Fabien & Laura Castro

  • Special Section

    All About Kids

Port of Los Angeles High School (POLAHS) is a tuition-free, independent charter high school in San Pedro with 950 students in grades 9–12. POLAHS is open to all residents of California and offers small class sizes and personalized support with a 15:1 faculty-to-student ratio. As a college and career preparatory school, POLAHS offers more than 25 Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses, free AP exams, college counseling support and enrichment summer school programs. The school’s AP exam pass rate averages 75%, and students may also enroll in dual enrollment college-level courses on campus.  

The 20+ clubs and student organizations at POLAHS include Debate, Key Club, Drama, Science Olympiad and National Honor Society. The career preparatory component of POLAHS’ mission includes a Career Technical Education elective program featuring two-year pathways that prepare students for industry certifications, college and the workforce. Pathways include digital photography, graphic design, video production, welding, construction and marine transportation. Through the program, students participate in pre-apprenticeships, internships and journeyman-level credential classes, and a Career Success Academy for job skills training.

Tell us a little more about your school.

POLAHS was founded in 2005 by San Pedro community leader Camilla Townsend, who dreamed of opening a high-performing school that would prepare students for college and careers. This fall, POLAHS will celebrate its 20th anniversary! Our mission is to inspire and educate all students by offering a rigorous, college-preparatory curriculum and pathways in Career Technical Education.

What are the admission criteria for prospective students?

Our open house for prospective students is held in October. Students must submit an enrollment application by the January deadline to be eligible for the upcoming school year. A lottery may be conducted if the number of applications received exceeds the number of openings available. We welcome prospective students to join us for a tour by calling the front desk at 310-832-9201.

Highlight some of your notable achievements.

POLAHS was named a 2024 California Distinguished School, marking the second time the school has received the recognition! Our school is accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and our graduation rates average 99%. POLAHS was voted the South Bay’s Best Charter School by Daily Breeze for the past three years. Alumni have received full-tuition scholarships to attend colleges such as the University of Notre Dame, Dartmouth College, Yale University and Columbia University, among others. We further support our students by raising scholarship funds for each graduating class, thanks to community donors and business partners who donate more than $75,000 each year. 

POLAHS offers an international study abroad scholarship program, funded by a private donor. Students are eligible to apply for full-tuition scholarships to Japan, France, Africa, Thailand, Scotland, Iceland and other countries. For example, students participate in the WWII Normandy Academy program, visiting the battlefields of Normandy in France. Through National Geographic, students learn from professional photographers while shooting in Namibia and Tanzania. In Italy, students work with professional chefs to learn farm-to-table sustainable agriculture. At the University of Oxford in England, students work alongside university professors to experience pre-medicine. These experiential learning scholarships lead to life-changing growth, leadership skills and increased confidence for our students.

Tell us about your athletics program.

We offer a CIF athletic program with teams including volleyball, softball, baseball, cheer, cross country, basketball and soccer. Our school also participates in Students Run LA, preparing students annually for the LA Marathon. 

Describe the unique characteristics of your community.

POLAHS is a tight-knit community with a comprehensive support staff including four academic counselors, a social-emotional counselor and a career advisor. We also employ a full-time school psychologist. Our administrative structure includes lead teachers across departments, featuring veteran, exemplary teachers who support teachers and student outcomes.

Has your campus had any recent expansions?

In 2021 we opened an off-site photography gallery and workshop called Pixels, located in downtown San Pedro. Students utilize the space to participate in workshops with industry partners such as Nikon USA. POLAHS was the first public high school in the country invited into the Nikon Ambassador Program. Pixels is open to the public every first Thursday of the month from 5 to 9 p.m., as part of San Pedro’s monthly First Thursday Art Walk. Community members are invited to purchase student photography, listen to live music, and receive free portraits and prints taken by students. We’d love to see you there!