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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Silver Lake and Glassell Park schools hold photogenic fundraisers *

Oak Glen School, a Silver Lake nursery school, and Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts, which is planning to move to a new campus in Glassell Park, will be holding fundraisers this weekend.

Families looking for a holiday portrait - or actors needed to update their head shots - can have their photos taken by professional photographers at Los Feliz Charter's 4th Annual Photo Fundraiser on Saturday. The photo sessions cost $75 and will be held at the Glassell Park school site.

On Sunday, Oak Glen School, which is tucked into a residential street in Silver Lake, will hold a Holiday Bazaar featuring baked goods, organic plants, handcrafted gifts and photo sessions. These photos, however, are not shot by professionals. They are black-and-white images taken in a Polaroid Photo Booth for $5. Don't forget to smile while you donate.

Photo by Komehachi888/Flickr

* Correction: A previous version of this post said the Oak Glen photos were free. They are not. Photos are $5.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Silver Lake school rediscovers its long-lost song

The centennial of Silver Lake's Micheltorena Street School came and went in 2005 without much notice. When a belated 100th-anniversary celebration was finally held last June, the event featured the singing of the long-lost school song and the rediscovery of other pieces of school history.

The school opened in December 1905 in a one-room bungalow staffed by one teacher who doubled as the principal, said Micheltorena school supporter Dorit Dowler-Guerrero, who has gone through four boxes of school documents to research Micheltorena's history, In a little more than a decade, more classes had been added and land was being purchased to expand the school. Much of the campus, however, was torn down in the wake of the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, forcing classes to be held in tents for four years. "The Micheltorena moms clubs worked their butts off raising money and trying to get school construction bonds passed," said Dowler-Guerrero.

In a welcome surprise, a former student who apparently attended Micheltorena during the 1930s sent a copy of the four-line, Micheltorena song to the school, Dowler-Guerro said. When it came time to celebrate the school's centennial, Micheltorena music teacher Brian Bockelman wrote a new verse to complement the original song that was sung by the Micheltorena Chorus. It was the highlight of the celebration, according to the Los Feliz Ledger.

Here is song with the original and new versus:

Oh Micheltorena charming is thy name.
How we love to sing it spread abroad its fame.
Linked with California thus thy name appears.
Oh Micheltorena music to our ears."

(New lyrics)

Oh Micheltorena, for one hundred years,
How we love to sing it, sending out the cheers.
We are California, now as before,
Oh Micheltorena, one hundred years more.

Photo from Micheltorena Street School website

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Split decision announced in the Boyle Heights high school construction derby

Last week The Eastsider reported that both LA Unified and charter school operator Green Dot were each claiming they had just opened the first new public high school in Boyle Heights in 80 years. LA Unified did hold a dedication ceremony in September for the Mendez Learning Center about a month before Green Dot staged a ribbon cutting for the Oscar de la Hoya Ánimo Charter High School. However, Green Dot said its school had been operating for five years in a temporary site in downtown Los Angeles.

In response, LA Unified spokesperson Shannon Haber modified the district's claim: "We are then the first new LAUSD high shool in 85 years in Boyle Heights," said Haber, who attended the De La Hoya ribbon cutting last week. "We are really proud of it. Both are just phenomenal schools."

Monday, November 2, 2009

LA Unified to hold ground breaking for new Echo Park school

The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to hold a ground breaking ceremony next Monday for a new Echo Park elementary school after overcoming years of opposition and a lawsuit filed by neighborhood groups and residents.

Many residents had opposed the school -its working name is Central Regional Elementary School No. 14 - located southwest of Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard because it resulted the demolition of more than 50 homes and apartments at a time when enrollment had dropped sharply at nearby schools. After outlasting residents who had filed a lawsuit, the school district then butted heads with Echo Park Councilman Eric Garcetti over the size of the school and other features of the design. Garcetti eventually backed down but it looks like LA Unified won't even operate the campus when it opens. Under a program adopted earlier this year, charter school and other private groups will get a chance to run the new Echo Park school and other campuses being built by the district.

Construction on the new Echo Park school begins as a charter school has leased empty classrooms at nearby Logan Street Elementary School and Belmont High School will add middle school grades to take advantage of unused space.

The Eastsider has contacted the district to find out when the school will be open and if a final name has been selected.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Will the first new high school in Boyle Heights in 80 years please stand up?

Boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya on Thursday helped cut a giant red ribbon at the grand opening of the Oscar de la Hoya Ánimo Charter High School, which officials described as the first public high school to be built in Boyle Heights in 80 years. Wait a minute. In September, Los Angeles Unified held a ribbon cutting ceremony for what it called Boyle Height's first new high school in 80 years: the Mendez Learning Center.

After calling the public relations firm handling the Hoya Charter school grand opening, The Eastsider was referred to a press release that says the school has operated in a temporary facility for five years. However, that temporary facility is an office building in downtown Los Angeles - not Boyle Heights. The Eastsider is now awaiting word from LA Unified to see if they will be happy claiming they build the second newest public high school in Boyle Heights in 80 years.

Top left photo by Curbed LA;Top right photo by The Eastsider

Thursday, October 29, 2009

El Sereno students and residents remember a faithful friend

The building of a parking lot usually is not normally cause for celebration. But the completion of a landscaped lot behind tiny Farmdale Elementary school in El Sereno last year was the result of a lengthy community effort to transform what was often a dusty and sometimes muddy lot into a more useful and attractive piece of property. One of the key players in the transformation of that lot was El Sereno resident Robert F. Saunders. School employees remember Saunders as one of Farmdale's most active volunteers and a constant presence on the Eastern Avenue campus. But, last year, following the completion of the parking lot, Saunders passed away unexpectedly, according to school employees.

Earlier this month, Farmdale staff and students, which include one of Saunders' grandchildren, as well as residents honored his contributions by naming the parking lot in his memory: The Robert F. Saunders Parking Grove. Councilman Jose Huizar, who helped secure funding to build the lot, praised Saunders during the dedication of a plaque mounted on a large stone:


"Mr. Saunders, who passed away in 2008, was absolutely instrumental in working with me to pave over a dirt parking lot shared by families of Farmdale students and children who play sports at the adjacent El Sereno Park ... Robert Saunders is proof that one person really can make a difference and we all owe a debt of gratitude to him for never giving up on a dream. "

Bottom photo from Council District 14

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Schools hold fall fundraisers and open houses this weekend


This weekend will see schools in Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and Highland Park holding special events for the public:

* On Saturday, Los Feliz Charter School for the Arts shows off its new Glassell Park school site (pictured above), which will be transformed into Halloween Town. Visitors can come in costume (best to leave that Playboy Bunny suit at home) to explore the building and take advantage of free arts & crafts, games, petting zoo and live folk music.

* Meanwhile, in Highland Park, Good Shepard Lutheran School will hold a Harvest Festival on Saturday featuring pumpkin painting, bake sale, games, prizes and, of course, a haunted house.

* On Sunday, Renaissance Arts Academy, an Eagle Rock charter school, invites residents to visit the Colorado Boulevard school and meet with the staff during the Second Annual Reception and Awards Ceremony, which this year honors resident Carl Matthes.