About

History

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  • 1970-73

Paul Cummins becomes headmaster at the elementary school St. Augustine-by-the-Sea in Santa Monica. Along with Assistant Headmaster Rhoda Makoff, he dramatically transforms its philosophy to create a balanced, child-centered school with an integrated curriculum featuring the arts, social-emotional learning and community engagement alongside traditional academics. 

In response to parents who wanted their children to continue experiencing this unique educational approach beyond elementary school, Paul, Rhoda and school board members work to establish a secondary school. Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences opens in 1971, with Rhoda as its first director. It is housed in three rooms of a Baptist church on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica, serving 32 seventh and eighth graders. Paul serves as Crossroads’ educational consultant and stays on as head of St. Augustine.

Crossroads becomes a pioneer in education by making community service a graduation requirement; allocating money for financial aid; and sustaining a diverse student body. In need of more space, Crossroads moves to 1714 21st St., which remains a part of the current 21st Street Campus today.
 

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  • 1974-77

Rhoda steps down as Crossroads’ director to return to her career as a researcher and biochemist. Paul assumes the position of Crossroads headmaster while remaining head of St. Augustine. There are now 156 students enrolled in grades 7-12, including the first graduating class of 19 students. Highlights include the launch of the chamber music program and the qualification of athletic teams for CIF competition.

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  • 1978-81

The School develops a music major program that later evolves into the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI), enabling students to benefit from Crossroads’ college preparatory program while also pursuing their passion for classical music. The School continues growing to serve 300 students, spreading into more buildings on 21st Street and adding a 200-seat theater on campus. Crossroads also creates a Visual Arts major, begins offering Greek and Latin courses and develops a Great Books seminar.

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  • 1982-83

In 1982, Crossroads merges with St. Augustine to become a K-12 school serving 179 students in grades K-6 and 550 students in grades 7-12. The School hires a director of what is now called Environmental and Outdoor Education. Crossroads makes Latin mandatory for Middle School students and adds courses in Classics and communications.

Crossroads also establishes the hallmark Mysteries program, which is now known as Life Skills. The School is named by the U.S. Department of Education as one of 60 exemplary private secondary schools in the country. Crossroads develops the Crossroads Community Foundation to promote institutional service and help the School find ways to support and give back to the greater Los Angeles community.

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  • 1984-92

The varsity boys basketball team wins its first state championship in 1987, before the School has its own gym. With a strong emphasis on building community, the School launches Cabaret, a beloved fundraiser for financial aid at Crossroads featuring an original musical written by, starring and performed for members of the Crossroads community. The annual welcome-back-to-school Alley Party is also established. The Boxenbaum Arts Education Centre opens with art studios, dance studios, the Sam Francis Gallery, a screening room and soundproofed practice rooms.

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  • 1993-95

Assistant Headmaster Roger Weaver takes over as headmaster as Paul Cummins becomes president of the Crossroads Community Foundation to advance Crossroads’ commitment to community outreach. Its first initiative is to provide quality arts education in underserved public schools through the program P.S. Arts, which eventually becomes its own nonprofit organization.

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  • 1996-99

The Paul F. Cummins Library opens, featuring a math/science institute; a special collection focusing on children and youth issues; a documentary film room; and a space for the Zipper Archives, which have since been relocated. The Elementary School moves to its current Norton Campus site, 1715 Olympic Blvd., which also houses a K-12 sports center with an athletics field, gym and pool; sixth grade becomes a part of the Middle School. The Elementary School develops a groundbreaking “Different Kinds of Families” program to teach students about LGBTQ, mixed-race, single-parent, adoptive, divorced and guardian families.

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  • 2000-09

Crossroads announces its plans to stop offering Advanced Placement courses, opting to develop its own college-level classes known now as Crossroads Advanced Studies courses. The School’s institutional community service program, now known as the Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation, launches P.S. Science to provide hands-on science education at Title I elementary schools; like P.S. Arts, it eventually branches off as its own nonprofit. Assistant Headmaster Bob Riddle becomes head of school in 2009.

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  • 2010-PRESENT

In 2011, the School meets its long-term goal of a student body with 40% racial and ethnic diversity; today, that figure is 47%. In 2015, Crossroads opens the $20-million Science Education & Research Facility, which earns LEED Gold certification for its sustainability features. The School serves close to 1,200 students in grades K-12.

The Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute opens in 2018 to develop a comprehensive K-12 social justice curriculum and strengthen Crossroads’ commitment to the greater community through a variety of outreach and engagement efforts.

In 2019, Crossroads launches a 15-point strategic plan, which includes plans for new performing arts facilities.