Dorsey students have demonstrated academic and athletic excellence for the past 85 years. (Courtesy photo)

The Dorsey High School Alumni and Friends Organization will host the Dorsey High School 85th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday, October 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Dorsey High School, located at 3537 Farmdale Avenue, in South Los Angeles.  

The theme of the event is “Keeping Memories Alive and Moving Forward With Dorsey Pride.”  According to the organizers, “entertainment, fun and excitement for all” will be featured along with guest speakers, refreshments and memorabilia for purchase.   

In addition, 21 alumni will be inducted into the Dorsey High School Hall of Fame.   

Dorsey boasts an award winning Culinary Arts Program. (Courtesy photo)

Dorsey High School was opened in September of 1937.  During construction, it was called Western District High School and renamed Susan Miller Dorsey High School upon completion.   

The design was created by Henry Gogerty and Raymond Page was the landscape architect.  The school was built in the design of an airport.   

Susan Miller Dorsey was the first female superintendent of the L.A. City High School District.  She served from 1920-1929.  Under her tenure, student enrollment increased from 47,000 to 360,000.  In 1961, the L.A. City High School District was reorganized as the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Awards in sports include 19 City Championships and two state championships in track and field. (Courtesy photo)

Also during her term, Dorsey hired more teachers, increasing their ranks from 750 in 1920 to 9,000 in 1929, as well as supervised a massive building program for the entire school system. Supt. Dorsey worked successfully with teacher committees to revise the curriculum to accommodate the rapid growth in enrollment and the industrial education needs of businesses.   

The superintendent supported teachers in their efforts to obtain higher salaries, sabbatical leaves, and job tenure.  She also advocated for strong vocational courses and special programs for both disabled and gifted students. 

Throughout its 85-year history, Dorsey High School has established a solid reputation for academic and athletic excellence.  Also, the school community has undergone interesting demographic shifts.   

When Dorsey was opened in 1937, the neighborhood and the school was predominately White.  Restrictive Covenants prevented people of color from purchasing property in the Baldwin Hills community.   

Many youth participate in the Firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Magnet Program. (Courtesy photo)

After restrictive covenants were declared unconstitutional and lifted in 1948 by the case of Shelley v. Kramer, which was argued by the prominent local attorney Loren Miller and the legendary Thurgood Marshall before the Supreme Court, Blacks and other people of color began to move into the Baldwin Hills, Windsor Hills, View Park and Leimert Park areas.  This spurred a phenomenon called “White Flight,” where Whites left the central city areas for the suburbs and the San Fernando Valley.   

The opening of schools such as Birmingham (1954), Reseda (1955), Cleveland (1959), Grant (1959), Taft (1960), Palisades (1961), Sylmar (1961), Carson (1963) Chatsworth (1963) Kennedy (1971) all reflect this trend.  And his movement took place not just in Los Angeles, but also in cities all across the country.   

In the 1950s and 1960s, Dorsey High School enjoyed a unique and culturally diverse student population.  In 1965, Dorsey had one of the most ethnically diverse student populations in the entire country with a population of about 1/3 Black, 1/3 Asian, and 1/3 White.  By 1970, the remaining White students had left the area, and since 1970, the school has been predominately African American.   

In 1977, the student enrollment was 2,655 students.  As the Asian population declined throughout the 1970s, the Latino population began to increase.  Throughout the new millenium, enrollment has gradually decreased across LAUSD.    

Today, Dorsey High School has about 750 students – 55% Black and 45% Latino, and boasts a new Magnet Facility, a courtroom, an outstanding Firefighter and Emergency Medical Services Magnet Program, an award winning Culinary Arts Program and a state of the art Sports Medicine Program.   

Dorsey has won five City Championships in football, 19 City Championships and two state championships in track and field, and three City Championships in baseball.  Dorsey students have also won California Academic Decathlon Championships and Mock Trial Championships as well.  Dorsey Alumni are well represented in all professions and areas of human endeavor. 

Speaking about the importance of the 85th Anniversary Celebration, Alumni Association President Andrea Canty Tieuel (class of 1980) said,  “It is important to celebrate our school’s history, and the great academic and athletic excellence that we have enjoyed for the past 85 years.   

“It is important to maintain our school’s culture and sustainability and share our success with our community.  We have a great legacy at Dorsey High School with alumni becoming legislators, politicians, doctors, lawyers, teachers and professional athletes who continue to give back to the school, by making themselves available as a resource for our current students.  

“It is important to bring the Alumni back together as well to renew the Dorsey Spirit and Pride.  We also want to connect our current students to the history of which they are a part, partner with our local organizations and invite new families to participate and learn more about Dorsey with the intent on increasing enrollment and community engagement.” 

 Janet Coleman (class of 1965), the Dorsey Alumni historian and founder of the Dorsey Alumni Association, stated that Dorsey is blessed to be among a limited number of LAUSD high schools that continue to incorporate its Alumni Association in all present day activities of the school.   

“This maintains a regular connection between the past and the present with projections for the future.  Dorsey is proud of its unique and successful interaction that ensures a rich heritage and an exemplary institution,” said Coleman, who is lovingly referred to as, “Ms. Dorsey,” as a result of her many years of dedication to preserving and archiving the history of Dorsey High School.    

Coleman, who taught at Dorsey from 1970 to 1986, reflected that another aspect of Dorsey’s achievement is recognized by the Dorsey Hall of Fame, which was implemented in 1987 with its first installment of inductees.  

In the words of Willard Love, Dorsey class of 1959 and former Dorsey assistant principal from 1979 to 1993, interim principal in 2010, and current school/community liason:  “Our Hall of Fame inductees are proudly displayed on a wall in the B-Building.  Since the HOF was established in 1987 we have inducted future members at each of our five year all-class reunions.  

“We now have 116 of our most esteemed graduates inducted and look forward to continuing to add to this most distinguished list.  This list includes Baseball Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson (S’53), Judge ErnestHiroshige (S’63),Beach Boys Co-Founder Mike Love (W’59), Huntington Park Mayor Karina Macias (05), our very own Alumni President Andrea (Cabiness) Canty-Tieuel (80), and Congresswoman Diane Watson (S’53).   

“We are proud of the fact our inductees truly represent the history of our great school and the uniqueness and diversity of our community, which has always been what makes Dorsey special.” 

For more information about the 85th Anniversary Celebration, email Andrea Canty Tieuel at [email protected]