Sep 09 2010

At Montclair Prep: Michael was an insatiably curious, charming prankster then too.

Category: Family,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 5:21 pm


I’ve written before about Michael attending California Preparatory School for a little while, where he was voted “Most Creative, Shyest, and Best-Dressed“, which is probably no surprise to any of his fan-mily. But before that, in 9th and 10th grade, Michael attended Montclair College Prep.  We’ve since heard how Michael was always insatiably curious, an amazing student of anything he was interested in (which was everything), a prankster, and oh-so charming in addition to the previous adjectives used to describe him. Those traits were certainly present during his days at Montclair Prep as well. Here’s the story:


He was a super kid

Michael Jackson during his highschool days at Montclair Prep School in Van Nuys, California. |  In Photos: (Left- source: Christie's Auction) Michael and his classmates (right- source: Seth Poppel Year Book Library) Michael's Year Book Photo

Michael Jackson during his highschool days at Montclair Prep School in Van Nuys, California. | In Photos: (Left- source: Christie's Auction) Michael and his classmates (right- source: Seth Poppel Year Book Library) Michael's Year Book Photo

Sun Media’s Parent goes back to Michael Jackson’s school

VAN NUYS, CALIFORNIA — A gated private school hidden far from the view of the paparazzi. It was here, on the campus of the Montclair College Preparatory School, that Michael Jackson had a fleeting glimpse of the life of a normal teenager.

Montclair Prep, as it is known, is nestled in the San Fernando Valley in the middle of nowhere. From the outside, the school could be mistaken for a bunker. Visitors have to speak through an intercom before being let in. Once inside, it’s like being transported into an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

Founded in 1953, the school has 400 students and has welcomed many children of the rich and famous. Cher fooled around with Sonny in the schoolyard here. Frank Sinatra Jr., Aaron Spelling’s kids and those of Berry Gordy, the father of the Motown label, all went to Montclair. Sylvester Stallone’s son (with his ever-present bodyguards) and Nicole Richie are all recent alumni.

However, their most famous student remains Michael Jackson. He came to the school when he was 14 and stayed two years (9th and 10th grade). His parents wanted him to have some semblance of a normal life. Tuition cost $5,000 back then and will set you back $16,000 today.

Jackson was already a star then, but he didn’t let it show.

He was a super kid,” said the school’s principal, Mark Simpson. “He was always making jokes; he wanted to be like everyone else. He seemed happy back then. As soon as he left the school walls he went back to being the superstar.

The young Jackson was a very good student, very curious and popular with the girls. He would even treat the school to some dance moves now and then.

Michael wore a uniform like all the students, but we gave him a bit of freedom. He could have long hair,” Simpson said.

Montclair College

Michael Jackson attended Montclair College Preperatory School for Grades 9 and 10. (Marie-Joelle Parent/Sun Media)

The singer was constantly surrounded by his bodyguards, except while he was in class. “Every morning he was dropped off an hour before the start of classes by a chauffeur,” Simpson said while looking through the 1973 yearbook. “He would go and see his friend Jon Blosdale, who would finish his homework at the last minute in his car. Sometimes he had to chase Michael away because he would push all the buttons and ask too many questions.

The yearbook shows a smiling Jackson with his famous afro mingling with the other students. A far different person than the one he would eventually become. So what happened?

I think in all his life Michael never had a childhood. It looks like he tried to recreate a childhood for himself,” Simpson said.

He would be picked up every day after dinner to go rehearse with the Jackson 5.

His father Joe Jackson was very strict — he didn’t give him any leeway,” Simpson noted. “One day, Michael got in trouble, not a big thing, but Joe Jackson came to the office furious and started yelling at him. You could see that Michael was very intimidated by his father. My uncle (who was the principal then) had to intervene to calm things down.

But Jackson was very close to his mother Katherine. “He idolized her. She was the saint.”


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{ Thank to my friend Dana again for finding this wonderful story! -Seven }

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12 Responses to “At Montclair Prep: Michael was an insatiably curious, charming prankster then too.”

  1. Seven says:


    Sina is referring to the Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner St. Elementary, not Montclair Prep.

  2. MCPAlum says:

    One last thing…NO ONE wore uniforms at MCP in 1973. Michael as well as two other brothers (Marlon and Randy I believe) were given some latitude on the length of their hair (the Prep still had haircut standards then)but Michael dressed like every other boy on campus…Collared shirt…NO blue jeans…no jerseys, etc. But that stuff about being “excused” from wearing a uniform is bogus. Mark Simpson, who presiding over the closing of this magnificent 56 year old INSTITUTION on July 15th (a black day for those of us who loved the place), is full of it. Michael and his family wouldn’t know Mark if they tripped over him. There are wonderful MJ stories at the Prep that are REAL (the music teacher who thought he was such a “talented singer” and had no idea he was the most famous teenager on the planet)…don’t buy into the made up, self-promoting nonsense.

  3. MCPAlum says:

    And to “Sina”…I don’t know what school auditorium you are referring to, but it surely is NOT located at Montclair Prep. Our gymnasium (the only “auditorium” on campus) was donated to the Prep by the family of the late Leslie Green; an MCP student from Michigan (he was a boarding student at the school) who was killed in an auto accident about 1968-9. That is why it’s called the Leslie Green Gymnasium. If Michael Jackson donated any money towards it, it would have been after its construction (which began in 1972) was pretty much funded. Again, nice story but you might want to check with people who were actually there before putting forth supposed “authoritative” statements. And for what it’s worth, I known several of Michael’s immediate family members professionally.

  4. MCPAlum says:

    It’s a lovely story and for the most part pretty accurate. But the man quoted, Mark Simpson was never the “principal” of Montclair Prep. He is the nephew of this once great school’s founder, Dr. Vernon E. Simpson, who passed away in 2008. “Doc” as he was known, was very close with Michael and the Jackson Family. Mark Simpson wasn’t at the Prep in 1973. He was himself a high school age teenager at the time attending some school…somewhere…but NOT MCP. He didn’t hang around Michael. He wasn’t his classmate or his friend and wasn’t old enough to have possibly been on staff at the school…That dubious affiliation occurred more than 20 years later. Doc died and Mark utterly without qualification (without evening a college degree…let alone a PhD like his uncle) took over as “executive director” of the school, firing Doc’s hand-chosen successor Dr. Mike McDonnell and by 2012, the 56-year-old “Prep”…once one of LA’s top prep schools, closed its doors…broke. I am sure that Dr. Simpson and Michael Jackson (RIP both) would equally as sad and angry as many of us. Another of life’s tragedies. We never seem to run out of them.

  5. David says:

    @ Lisa D.

    Just out of curiosity, are you Lisa D. Campbell, author of “The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour”? If you are, I just want to say how much I enjoyed reading your book, and your comments in the “E! True Hollywood Story” earlier this year. Would you be willing to do an interview about your book? I know a journalist named Deborah Kunesh who runs an MJ website, and she has interviewed other MJ supporters such as Aphrodite Jones, Geraldine Hughes, Tom Mesereau, & Larry Nimmer, and I told her she should try to interview you. If you’re interested, please let me and Seven know and we can put you in contact with the journalist!

    If you’re not the author of that book, then you can disregard that offer. I’ve been trying to find some contact info on that author, and when I saw your name I thought that perhaps you may be her. Thanks!

  6. Dana Dima says:

    Seven, beautiful post! “He was a super kid”! 🙂

  7. Sina says:

    Seven, thanks so much for Michaels schooldays story.
    Especially now his children are going on this adventure themselves.
    I wish them a very happy time at their daddys school, and many true friends.
    Isnt it the same school where Danny Bonaduci got all the Jackson siblings over him when he called Michael out after Michael had said something about him on soultrain. Funny story.

    Seems like evrything that would make Michael the man he later became was already there , even his fashion style. Thats why i dont think the schooltime Michael was a far different person from the adult Michael, except that he had to grow up too soon for his age.

    I love this story about Michaels youth because of my holiday experience that I like to share with you .
    I just got back home from a trip to the US, dedicated to Michael. Didnt make it to Gary, but i got to visit some places in NY and LA that were significant in Michaels early and later years.
    I went to the Apollo, the Madison SG (later that evening taken over by Justin Bieber concert) went to see Michael inspired exhibitions, partied at Spike Lee s Brooklyn MJ Bday party and other celebrations.
    In LA I went to his homes in Encino where I left a message for his mom at the gate and to Michaels last home in Holmby Hills.
    Saw and loved his funky western inspired clothes exposition at the Autry Museum . Especially loved the boots.

    I paid my respect at his resting place on september 3rd.
    Went again and one time I was blessed to be the only one there for a while before other visitors came. The sun was still soft, it was peaceful and very, very quiet. There was only the wind whistling through the trees.
    For a moment I got what Michael called a natural high and forgot evrything around me. Like time stood still. Strange enough in that moment i felt no sadness at all.
    It was a surreal and spiritual experience that Im very grateful for.
    I needed to pay this tribute to Michael. Also to get rid of the anger, frustration, sadnes and regret that kept hold of me since Michael passed.
    I took my son whith me on the trip who was very nice company. He also loves Michael since he was little and I wanted to empower and inspire him to use his many talents more than he does now.
    We had a very good time together, talked about Michael a lot, listened to his music, little tv, no computer, just us and Michael.

    Unfortunately I got angry in LA again when i saw the school auditorium that Michael paid for and how they shamelesly hid his name. Like he was non-existent.
    Felt to me like Michael himself was nailed to a pillory for evrybody to mock.
    For a split second I had very negative thoughts of what should happen to the building.
    But I try not to let negative feelings take over , so now I’m writing a letter to their board to express my feelings and thoughts.
    Maybe they will give it a thought.

    Now I’m back home. Its cold and wet and summer seems over.
    The world is in turmoil, hate all around. I love NY but I would not like to be there right now because the atmosphere is very ugly.

    I’m making up my mind what to do actually for Michaels legacy.
    Because more than ever I am inspired to do what I can to help give Michael his deserved place in history.
    I’m very happy I made this trip to Michaels places and I intend to do this every so many years.
    I also met some sweet MJ sisters who I will keep contact with.

    Seven thanks so much for your site, thanks for YOU.
    Makes me feel Michael is still near and that he is safe.

  8. alicia says:

    That wonderful beautiful smile will go on forever.I miss you Michael and i know you are up there smiling down on us.
    Thank you Seven,always.

  9. Jeanne says:

    I dont know where I read this but it stuck with me like glue that , we all have angels around us and that we call those angels to us with “Light” ( light being happiness and laughter and joy ) and the more light we shine the more angels we have . I imagine this is why Michael was and is to us like “Gods Glow” . When he was allowed to just be “Michael” he promoted laughter and joy . He called in the light .

  10. maria odette says:

    once again,l Thank you Seven for all the lovely stories about our sweet angel, Michael who will live forever in my heart..

  11. Lisa D. says:

    Michael was a very sensitive..since day one. I am glad at least he got a second of a childhood. I am sure he wished he had more time to be a child. Michael could have been anything he wanted to be. It seems everything happens for a reason. I think Michael was suppose to be the superstar Michael Jackson, so he can full fill his purpose of being God’s messenger of LOVE and COMPASSION…IF it wasn’t for the fact he was a creative genius who become a superstar who become a modern day prophet..WE would have missed out on his giving, his glory, his love..And from everything I have witnessed, read (which I researched over and over again), and from those who knew him best..Michael took his responsibilities very seriously..with all his heart..although at times it was tortured by lies, parasites, and greedy cooperation heads…I LOVE Michael with ALL my Heart and Soul..I feel his spirit every minute of each day..and I will do what it takes to keep his flame of love and giving alive..for the rest of my life..on this earth..RIP–My King of Hearts, King of Compassion, King of Music..King of My HEART..I will see you again in paradise..

  12. David says:

    I’m glad that this article pointed out that not only did MJ have bodyguards with him at the school, but Sylvester Stallone’s kid as well. The reason I say this is because, as you know, Paris and Prince have enrolled in school, and the media made a big stink about the fact that their bodyguards walked to to class and observed them during lunch from a distance, as if this was some type of special privilege for them. There are LOTS of high profile kids who get this type of treatment! It just depends on fame and popularity of the parents of that particular student.

    I’m sure that Michael Jordan’s kids also had bodyguards when they were in school, as well as many other Top Tier athletes and entertainers! But, as usual, when it comes to MJ and his family, the media has to sensationalize the story!