Nathaniel A. Narbonne High School came into existence in 1925 in Lomita, when it was moved from its previous site at Lomita School near 247th Street and Narbonne Avenue.
The school was named for Nathaniel Andrew Narbonne, a sheep rancher who owned most of the land in the area.
This was the first public school in central Lomita, founded in 1909 by Miss June Coombs of San Pedro with 11 students.
In 1916, the original school building became the auditorium for a new brick school that was built on the site.
The four-year Lomita High School was established there in 1921, and high-school age Lomita students no longer had to attend Gardena High as they had done before then.
In the fall of 1925, the new Narbonne High campus opened, but not where you might think. It had been built south of 254th Street, between Walnut Street and Narbonne avenues, on the present-day site of Alexander Fleming Middle School at 25425 Walnut.
Narbonne Junior and Senior High School officially opened in September 1925, with Principal Clementina de Forest Griffin and 29 teachers in charge of 401 students. It would remain there for 31 years.
In 1933, the Long Beach earthquake damaged the original Lomita High School brick building and it was torn down, and replaced by new buildings erected for the Lomita Elementary School. Lomita Elementary remains on the site today, renamed as the Lomita Math/Science Magnet School, a name adopted in 1978 to reflect changes in its curriculum.
Back over on Walnut Street, things were getting pretty crowded at the high school by the early 1950s, and the Los Angeles City High School District began planning to build a new campus for Narbonne. (On July 1, 1961 the Los Angeles City School District and the Los Angeles City High School District merged, to form the present-day Los Angeles Unified School District.)
As of September 1952, plans were under way for the new Narbonne High School campus to be built starting in 1953 and to open for classes in 1955 after an initial bond issue paying for the school passed earlier that year.
After a few delays and setbacks, more concrete plans were laid down in 1954. The school would be built at 24300 S. Western in Harbor City, a few blocks north of Lomita Boulevard.
The architectural firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnston & Mendenhall came up with a unique spiral design for the school buildings, fanning them out from a central hub like spokes on a wheel. The estimated cost for the project at that point was $3.8 million.
The 1955 opening date had to be pushed back, as ground wasn’t broken for the new facility until March 7, 1955. A bond financing the completion of the project, whose cost had risen to $4.5 million, passed on April 5, 1955. (Final cost for the school was estimated at $5 million.)
Construction was on track to complete the new high school in time for classes in Fall 1957. As the school came closer to becoming reality, a debate broke out over its name.
Harbor City residents quite naturally felt that the new school should be called “Harbor City High School,” but their appeal to the school board on this point was denied. Lomitans won the day, and the school retained the Narbonne High name.
As for the old Narbonne site on Walnut Street, the plan all along had been to convert it to a junior high school that would open simultaneously with the new high school.
Both Narbonne High School and Alexander Fleming Junior High School opened to students for the first time on Sept. 16, 1957. (Fleming later changed its name to Alexander Fleming Middle School).
Initially, Narbonne drew some of its more than 2,000 students from areas in the process of building their own public high schools, such as the Palos Verdes Peninsula, in addition to accommodating students from Lomita and Harbor City. (Lomita students attend Narbonne because the small city doesn’t have its own school district.)
The school continued to grow when those students transferred back to the new Palos Verdes and Peninsula high schools in the early 1960s.
Narbonne High was named a California Distinguished School in 1988, and has won praise for its Math/Science Center magnet school program.
Narbonne High School, the “Home of the Gauchos,” currently has over 2000 students enrolled, and still has its unusual spiral layout.
In addition to many pro athletes, its past graduates include WAR vocalist B.B. Dickerson, KABC news anchor Marc Brown and current “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams.
Notables who attended Narbonne but did not graduate include Pixies lead singer Frank Black, actress and model Bo Derek, renowned illustrator and artist Rick Griffin and film director Quentin Tarantino.
Narbonne High School is very proud of academic standing and credits its success to its conscientious students, faculty, and staff. The campus is home to over 2,000 ethnically, culturally, and socio-economically diverse students. The campus has six small learning communities and is home to Narbonne High School Math/Science Magnet and the Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology (BETA) Magnet . Narbonne High School is located on a 37.5-acre campus in Harbor City and is located in Education Service Center-South.
Narbonne High School is the Home of the Gauchos.