THE STORY OF THE BIRTH of New Community Jewish High School is not unlike the founding of other Jewish institutions. It began as a dream in the mid-late 1990’s; a vision of people committed to Jewish education as well as a simple study of the demographics of Jewish Los Angeles. By 2000, two groups of community leaders joined forces to create one community high school in the West San Fernando Valley. The ground-swell quickly grew as the community backed the idea. A core group was formed to lead the movement. A name was chosen, the mission created and the first Head of School, Dr. Bruce Powell, was hired. Founding board members and donors set the school’s foundation. A five-year business plan was developed. A scholarship fund was created by dedicated board members and other donors. Let no qualified student be turned away for lack of funds! Word spread rapidly. The San Fernando Valley would soon have its own Jewish community high school!
Under the leadership of Dr. Powell, the doors of the new school opened on September 3, 2002 in rented space at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills. Forty ninth-grade students from Jewish day schools, public schools, home schools, private schools and schools in other countries applied and were accepted to the pioneering class–the largest first class of any Jewish community high school in the history of the United States. Within weeks, the school that promotes a culture of kindness became known as “New Jew,” a term affectionately coined by pioneering students.
NCJHS began its rapid growth from the day its doors first opened. After two years at the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus, also the home of the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation, NCJHS moved to its current campus on the grounds of Shomrei Torah Synagogue. Two modular buildings were installed and fully equipped with science labs, computer lab, art room, music room, library, classrooms, faculty and administrative offices. In 2006, NCJHS was accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) for six years, and the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater L.A.
NCJHS quickly became the third largest Jewish community high school in the nation, expanding its range of academic, extracurricular, and co-curricular offerings. In 2006, the 47 students in the pioneering class of 2006 graduated; followed by 58 in 2007, 88 in 2008, 96 in 2009, 94 in 2010, 107 in 2011, and 109 in 2012. NCJHS alumni from the Classes of 2006, 2007, and 2008 who are now college graduates are working in a variety of professional positions at prestigious companies across the country and/or pursuing advanced degrees in medicine, film, law, international relations, graphic design, dentistry, psychology, business, education, special education, Jewish communal work, entertainment, makeup artistry, sociology, and fundraising. Younger alumni are attending colleges and universities in America and Israel, serving in the US and Israeli militaries, and participating in post-high school programs in Israel.
In early 2010, NCJHS received provisional membership in the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS). In the fall of 2010, NCJHS embarked on a thrilling Journey to acquire a permanent site. In a historic move, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles agreed to sell the Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus in West Hills to NCJHS. In June 2012, NCJHS became accredited by CAIS, and re-accredited by WASC and BJE. In July 2012, NCJHS closed escrow on its new home complete with auditorium, pool, and gymnasium. Renovations are being completed in phases with a planned opening in Fall 2013.
Today, NCJHS’s college preparatory program for students in grades 9-12 features 123 academic courses including 49 electives, 4 world languages, 14 Advanced Placement courses, a summer session, 26 competitive athletic teams, performing arts, Science Academy, a comprehensive college guidance program, 3 Israel exchange programs, an annual all-school Shabbaton, Jewish life programming, social action and interest clubs, leadership opportunities, and grade level retreats and trip. Serving our students are over 106 full and part-time faculty, staff, coaches, and support personnel who comprise our school community.