Panorama High School is located in Panorama City in the eastern part of the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. Panorama City was the first planned community in the San Fernando Valley developed by steel magnate Henry J. Kaiser and land developer Fritz B. Burns after World War II to provide homes for returning GIs. They bought the Panorama Ranch dairy farm in order to build 3,000 single-family dwellings and low-rise apartment buildings. Residents found jobs at the former General Motors Plant, Schlitz Brewery (now Anheuser Busch), the Carnation Product Testing Plant and Kaiser Hospital. With the closing of the General Motors and Carnation Plants, along with major Department stores there was an influx of smaller businesses and high density apartment buildings which created change in the area. From the original plan for a population of 30,000 residents, the area has grown to a population of more than 81,000 with an ethnic breakdown that is largely minority: 69% Hispanic; 12.3% Asian (half being Filipino); 11.7% White; 5.3% African American; .8% American Indian and Alaska Native; and .9% other ethnicities. The socio-economic structure of the area also changed from mostly middle class to lower middle class with the median family income being about $32,000 a year.
Panorama High School is situated in an area that includes several gangs. Two of them, Blythe Street and Langdon Street, have been so violent and troublesome to the community that a court-ordered city gang injunction was necessary. In addition, the following crimes are above the City average in Panorama City when compared to the National average: murder, robbery, assault, property, and auto theft. The crimes below the average in Panorama City are: rape, burglary, and larceny. Panorama City had the highest crime rate in Los Angeles when the school opened. The injunction has helped to lower the crime rate.
Panorama High School is a newly constructed school, which opened its doors to students on October 3, 2006. The school construction began in 2003 as part of Los Unified School District’s new school construction project. The school is built on the former site of the Carnation Product Testing Plant. Panorama’s campus spans 18.22 acres. There are 89 classrooms in three four-story classroom buildings and the athletic complex. Among the classrooms are specialty rooms which include a dance studio, drama room, band room, culinary arts, computer labs and a Library. In addition there is an Auditorium which seats 1,300, an athletic complex consisting of two gymnasiums, a fitness room, weight room, wrestling room, two classrooms, offices, lockers rooms, swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, handball courts, baseball, softball fields, and a stadium that is used by football and soccer teams. The student and faculty dining rooms and the Parent Center are located on the first floor of the athletic complex.
While under construction the school was known as East Valley Area New High School #3. The officially naming of the school occurred according to District policy and before the school opened. The sole Assistant Principal at the time took a written vote from each high school student scheduled to attend the new school, as well as each middle school student who would eventually matriculate there. The 10 most voted upon names were submitted to a Selection Committee representing the Panorama City Neighborhood Council (PCNC), the local business community, the Administrative teams and Student Bodies of the feeder middle schools and sending high schools. The committee decided on the name ―Panorama High School, as opposed to ―Panorama City High School,‖ instilling pride in the neighborhood without implying a limitation to who could attend the school. The name was then submitted to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education for approval, which occurred immediately upon its official proposal.
Panorama is unique in that it is the first and only comprehensive public high school in Panorama City. In the past, students in what is now the Panorama High School attended high schools outside of their immediate neighborhood with many students riding school buses or using public transportation. With the opening of Panorama High School, most of the students are able to walk to school or take public transportation. Panorama High School provides new opportunities for Small Learning Communities and modernized facilities for every student.
The site offers public use of several of its facilities, which can be accessed after hours through a separate entrance. Los Angeles Valley College offers evening classes to students and the community. Youth Services offers the use of two gymnasiums during the evening and on weekends. The Olympic-size swimming pool has been used in the summer as a community swimming pool for adolescents. The Parent Center offers classes to parents Monday through Friday and on some evenings.