This Magnet began in 1982 as a result of a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for curriculum development. A group of community activists, concerned parents, physicians and administrators from Charles R. Drew University and King/Drew Medical Center spearheaded the concept of King/Drew Magnet High School. Their goal was to address the under-representation of people of color, i.e. African American, Asian, Latino and others in the health care professions. Charles R. Drew University, King/Drew Medical Center (also affiliated with UCLA) and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Office of Integration collaborated to develop a plan to build a school that would provide students of the Watts community with hands-on experience in careers in the health care professions. The late Los Angeles Supervisor, Kenneth Hahn, set aside a 3.8-acre property located across the street from the Augustus Hawkins Mental Health Facility of the King/Drew Medical Center and adjacent to Charles R. Drew University of Medicine for the express purpose of building the school envisioned by the Watts community.
King/Drew Magnet High School began as a medical magnet high school to meet the needs of the under-represented young people with an interest in medicine and science. The hospital program was the focus of the magnet program. Students were encouraged through exposure to the numerous clinical units and research labs at Charles Drew University and the King/Drew Medical Center to pursue a career in medicine or science and then return to serve their communities. With a population of 220 students in grades 10-12, King/Drew students were assigned to a clinical/research site four hours a day, one day a week. The program thrived and additional sites were established at CSU, Los Angeles, CSU, Dominguez Hills and UCLA, as well as Watts Healthcare Foundation, a community out-patient clinic. As the school grew academically, adding honors and AP classes, so did its reputation for achievement in scientific research. In 1988 NASA accepted the research project of one of our students; King/Drew’s reputation soared to a new level. The hard work of the staff and mentors paid off. The school gained a reputation as an excellent high school with high academic standards. King/Drew was achieving the goals set by the founding members from the community.
Our current Magnet Program features a college preparatory schedule for all students, fulfilling the A-G University of California requirements, as well as extracurricular opportunities including: clubs, special events, connections to state and national organizations and community outreach and service. The Careers Program is designed to give students the opportunity to work in medical, social service, educational, and science research environments in order to encourage the pursuit of a career in these fields following high school. Only eleventh grade students are considered for admittance into the program. This year, 260 juniors are taught, supervised, and supported by the Magnet Coordinator and two Careers instructors.
Shared student learning opportunities provided through the Magnet Office allow for discussion across grade levels and courses; all these programs and opportunities emphasize that – whether in the Careers Program or not – King/Drew is focused on its medical and science designation.
Ambassadors are seniors who have successfully completed the Medicine and Science Careers Program and who have a sincere interest in promoting our magnet theme of medicine and science, assist with informing and recruiting middle school students and their families, give campus and community tours as well as share their personal experiences about the opportunities and programs available to them and their impact.