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Bright Star and Bethany CDC Partner to Open New Charter School
By Cora Jackson-Fossett, Staff Writer
Published March 5, 2020

Participants at the dedication of Stella Middle Charter School were, from left, Rod Miles, Rosalyn Adams, Supv. Mark Ridley-Thomas, Jane Han, T’kya Sampson, Jadah Mendoza and Hrag Hamalian. (Ian Foxx Photo)

With educational excellence being the driving force, a dream of a facility became a reality for Bright Star Schools, Bethany Baptist Church and the Baldwin Bethany Community Development Corporation.

The partnership between the organizations led to the dedication of the permanent home of the Stella Middle Charter Academy, which is located on the campus of Bethany Baptist.  Community members, church leaders, school officials and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas celebrated the academy’s opening during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 22.

“Today’s celebration represents a remarkable collaboration among various parties, including the partnership between Baldwin Bethany Community Development Corporation (BBCDC), Bright Star Schools and the County of Los Angeles,” said Ridley-Thomas. “It is partnerships such as this that produce transformational results and continue the work to develop today’s youth for tomorrow’s future.”

From left are Rod Miles, Rosalyn Adams, Supv. Mark Ridley-Thomas and Pastor L.A. Kessee stand in front of the plaque honoring the Rev. Dr. Rocellia Johnson, founder of Bethany and visionary of the new school. (Ian Foxx Photo)

The road to securing a permanent home for the academy took many years, said Hrag Hamalian, executive director of Bright Star Schools. “The school is 17-years old, but we were not able to get a permanent home for it,” he said.  “Thanks to the partnership with Bethany Baptist Church, we were able to construct it. We are very thankful to them and really glad to be in this community.”

Uniting with Bright Star to build Stella Middle Charter Academy also fulfilled the vision of the late Rev. Dr. Rocellia Johnson, the founder of Bethany Baptist.  According to Pastor L.A. Kessee and BBCDC Executive Director Rod Miles, Johnson revealed his idea of a school in 1986 to provide activities for youth focused on leadership skills, academic excellence and increasing their future potential.

“He foresaw that we would build an educational building and we acquired the property 10 years later. Now, we are a partner with Bright Star and today, we see that Pastor Johnson’s dream has come to pass,” noted Kessee.

“This was a long time coming, but we have a great partner in Bright Star,” said Miles. “God has blessed us tremendously.”  Miles also shared a congratulatory message from Dr. Michael T. Brown, provost and executive vice president of the University of California.

Supv. Ridley-Thomas greets the parents of three Bright Star students. (Ian Foxx Photo)

Citing the success of UC’s past partnerships with BBCDC, Brown wrote, “May Bethany and Bright Star continue to cultivate their shared community for many years to come! The University of California is proud to support this endeavor and will do its part to educate, guide and nurture the students who come to us from your programs and schools.”

The program also included remarks by Jane Han, principal of Stella Middle Charter Academy; Albert Lord, deputy to L.A. Council President Emeritus Herb Wesson; and Rosalyn Adams, daughter of Johnson.  In addition, Adams received a dedication plaque in honor of her father.

After the program concluded, community leaders and families toured the school as well as enjoyed games, refreshments and vendor booths.

To learn more, visit brightstarschools.org.

Categories: Crenshaw & Around | Education | News
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