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LAUSD Celebrates New School Year, New Schools & Innovative Programs
25 More Schools Off Year Round Calendar
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board President Monica Garcia, Board Members, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, Chief Facilities Executive Guy Mehula and other special guests toured schools today to welcome students, parents, teachers and school personnel to the first day of instruction for schools on a traditional calendar. The day included visits to some of LAUSD's new school campuses including: Central Los Angeles Area High School No. 9 (CLAHS #9); the two pilot schools at the old Ambassador Hotel site; and the Young Oak Kim Academy (YOKA).
Garcia and Cortines began the morning at CLAHS #9, where 1,260 students began their first day. CLAHS #9 is a state-of-the-art campus equipped to provide students a cutting-edge arts education. The vision for the new high school is to create a highly specialized and intensified training for students interested in careers in music, visual arts, drama and dance. It will also provide a quality high school education utilizing the foundation standards in math, science, language arts and history by focusing on differentiated instruction, assessment and interdisciplinary approaches. Additionally, the school's vision seeks to create career pathway preparation in accessing the rich cultural vibrancy of the area via partnerships with Grand Avenue Partners at the LA Opera, LA Philharmonic, Center Theatre Group, the Music Center, REDCAT Theatre and the Colburn School.
"With these new schools, we are doing things differently at LAUSD," Garcia said. "From the state-of-the-art Visual and Performing Arts School (CLAHS #9) that will provide opportunities long denied talented students who live near downtown Los Angeles and aspire to become actors, musicians and artists, to the UCLA Community School, where students will have the opportunity to participate in projects and research with faculty and students from UCLA, to Young Oak Kim Academy, where we are training the next generation of mathematicians, scientists and engineers - you will see this is a new era for the new LAUSD."
"We embark on another school year committed to improving the achievement of all students," Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said. "Our California Standards Test scores continue to rise and a higher percentage of students are passing the California High School Exit Exam on the first try. Today, with more students attending school on a traditional academic calendar and new schools and new approaches to quality education, I am confident that the 2009-10 school year will be a successful one for LAUSD."
Garcia later joined students, parents and community to kick-off the school year at Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1/Elementary School, the former site of the Ambassador Hotel, in the Mid-Wilshire District. The new elementary school site features two pilot schools (schools within the LAUSD given charter-like autonomy over curriculum): UCLA Community School (UCS) and New Open World (NOW) Academy. UCLA and LAUSD have formed a new urban education partnership with UCS that will bring the University's world-class resources to one of Los Angeles' most underserved neighborhoods. Every student will be taught to read and write in English and Spanish, as well as have the opportunity to participate in projects and research with UCLA students and faculty. The mission of NOW Academy is to prepare students for the future through a rigorous and challenging curriculum focused on social justice and global awareness. Both schools provide students with an opportunity to attend the same school site once the middle and high school portions of the larger campus are completed to assure a connection with students' families and to support students in reaching their goals.
In East Los Angeles, Board Vice-President Yolie Flores Aguilar welcomed students at William R. Anton Elementary School and Early Education Center. The new school is a replacement facility for the 92 year old Hammel Elementary School. Hammel Elementary School is making way for Esteban E. Torres High School, opening next school year, which will provide critically needed overcrowding relief to Garfield High School. While the Early Education Center portion of the campus opened September 1, the elementary school opened for the first time today. The school is named for William R. Anton, former LAUSD Superintendent, who passed away just weeks before the school opening.
"It's such a joy to see students bring life to this new campus," Flores Aguilar said. "LAUSD's new schools represent a renewed commitment to all of its students, to make sure they are reading proficiently, gaining critical thinking skills and putting them on the path to success."
In Sun Valley, Board Member Nury Martinez welcomed students, teachers and staff at Sun Valley High School, a campus recently reconfigured from a middle school to a high school. The reconfigured campus provides 1,620 seats and consists of three Small Learning Communities (SLCs). Each of Sun Valley High School's SLCs provides a specific career focus: Water and Energy Technology; Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation; and Arts, Media and Entertainment. The campus provides overcrowding relief to nearby Francis Polytechnic High School.
"I am really looking forward to my first start of the school year as board member and to kick off the year visiting students at Sun Valley High School," Board Member Nury Martinez said. "The first day of school is full of promise and expectation for our students and I look forward to working on their behalf."
After helping AT&T's volunteer network, AT&T Pioneers, give away 300 backpacks at Ann Elementary School, Garcâ€™a ended the school day at the Young Oak Kim Academy (YOKA), a new 810-seat middle school serving the communities of Pico Union and Koreatown. YOKA is LAUSD's first school organized around single gender SLCs and it is committed to delivering an excellent education to boys and girls in single gender core classes. Both of the school's SLCs will focus on science, technology, math and engineering skills through interdisciplinary learning projects. The school is named for the first Asian American colonel to command a regular U.S. combat battalion in war and features a garden donated by the Los Angeles Korean Consulate.
"I am pleased that our building program is doing more than just delivering new schools, it is supporting academic reform by facilitating small learning communities and pilot schools," LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Guy Mehula said. "This year alone, we have enabled 25 schools to come off a year round calendar and it is our goal that, by 2012, all students will be attending safe and healthy schools in their neighborhood on a traditional 180-day academic calendar."
In all, six new schools opened their doors to students today: CLAHS #9, Central Los Angeles Learning Center Elementary School (housing UCLA Community School and NOW Academy), Felicitas & Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center in Boyle Heights, YOKA, Sun Valley High School and William R. Anton Elementary School. These new schools are part of LAUSD's $20.1 billion New School Construction and Modernization Program to provide a safe and healthy neighborhood school on a single track, traditional calendar for every student. LAUSD's building program has made significant gains against campus overcrowding, with the return of nearly 140 schools to a traditional academic calendar, the elimination of involuntary busing for elementary school students, and a more than 80 percent reduction in involuntary busing of secondary students. For more information on these or other new school or modernization projects District-wide, please visit www.laschools.org