From Ridgemont to Sunnydale: The Best and Worst Schools in Pop Culture

Still waiting for that letter from Hogwarts...

Photo: Everett/Courtesy Paramount

Put the flip-flops away and start packing up the bookbag; it’s back to school season.

After Labor Day, the annual begrudging march of the students begins. While it’s hard to say so long to that easy, breezy feeling of summertime, school isn’t all bad.

To help kids ease back into the world of lockers and lunch boxes, we rounded up some of the most memorable schools from pop culture. But not every one of these educational institutions gets straight As; check out a mix of the best – and worst – fictional schools from film and TV.


Rydell High, Grease

Most high schools throw a small party for its graduating seniors. Rydell High gave their graduates flying cars, a massive fair and choreographed dance numbers. Simply put, it’s electrifying!

Welton Academy, Dead Poets Society

“O Captain! My Captain!” The gorgeous Welton campus is the ideal place to get an amusing education – as long as you have the unorthodox but passionate Mr. Keating as your teacher.

Ridgemont High, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Two words: Jeff Spicoli. This is the man who went on to save Brooke Shields from drowning and spend the reward money on hiring Van Halen to play his birthday party. Sean Penn’s famous slacker gives Ridgemont the necessary “cool” factor.

Hogwarts, Harry Potter

Hogwarts has the unfair advantage over other fictional schools by literally being magical. Plus, your school lunches will never compare to the bounty of exhilarating treats Hogwarts rolls out for the holidays.

The Harbor School, The O.C.

Seconds from the surf, the sprawling Harbor School is full of beach babes and bros. Thanks to the school’s half dozen themed dances, fellow students have plenty of time to mingle with Marissa, Summer, Seth and Ryan.

Degrassi, Degrassi

Drake’s alma mater has plenty of real high school drama. Luckily, there are also plenty of friendly Canadian teens (who are actually played by teenagers) to help you through.

New York High School of Performing Arts, Fame

Based on the real New York City school, this high-stepping place of entertainment education is the closest you can get to going to school in order to become a celebrity.

Sky High, Sky High

It’s like Hogwarts for superheroes, or Fame for people who can fly. Either way, Sky High is the only place where math class is replaced with lessons on laser vision.

Horace Green, School of Rock

No need to wash your hair or put on a good attitude to attend this academy of awesomeness; just bring open ears and your favorite Rush album.


Crunchem Hall, Matilda

Only the sadistic tricks and punishments of Miss Trunchbull can turn having your cake and eating it too into a bad thing. Now, off to the chokey!

Sunnydale High School, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

As if high school isn’t hard enough, Sunnydale sits on the mouth to Hell, which means students are fighting puberty and demons at the same time.

Constance Billard School, Gossip Girl

Going back to Constance Billard School is similar to preparing for war. You better be stocked up on burns, dirty secrets and blackmail money before entering – or suffer the wrath of Blair Waldorf.

Westerburg High School, Heathers

Dear Diary, If you don’t want your teen angst to gain a body count, stay far away from Westerburg and its resident mean girls.

Thomas Ewen Consolidated High School, Carrie

Prom is guaranteed to be the most memorable night of your life at Thomas Ewen Consolidated, but for all the wrong reasons.

Unnamed School, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

While Ferris’s school seems basic enough, it’s Mr. Rooney’s stalker-esque dedication to tracking down tardies – hello, breaking and entering! – that has us concerned.

George Washington Carver High School, Election

The tables have turned! Now Matthew Broderick is the one terrorizing students. Election proves that it’s not always students vs. teachers; sometimes both sides suck.

Shermer High School, The Breakfast Club

Only the oppressive power of a horrible high school could bring a brain, a princess, an athlete, a criminal and a basket case together to emotionally terrorize each other during Saturday detention.

Middlesex High School, Donnie Darko

WARNING: Video Contains Language
From cult leader assemblies to dudes in creepy bunny suits, Middlesex is not a safe place to be, especially if your name is Cherita Chen.

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