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Monday, September 28, 2009

The cultural heart of Garfield High remains burned out

It's been about 2-1/2 years since a fire destroyed Garfield High School's historic auditorium, an East Los Angeles landmark that had been the site of countless school and community events since 1925. Rebuilding efforts are stuck in a feud between Los Angeles Unified and its insurance companies, reports the Los Angeles Times. It's not clear when the dispute will be resolved and a new auditorium will reopen. As a result, many school events once held in the auditorium are now being staged in some unexpected places, the Times reports:

"Performing arts teacher Carolyn McKnight holds her West African dance class in an auto shop with a hydraulic lift embedded in its concrete floor. The concrete is not good for her knees or those of the students, she said. A theater production of "Tom Sawyer" by the Geffen Playhouse in January may have to be held in the gym. An auditorium is the cultural heart of a school, and it drives a stake through the school culture if you don't have that kind of gathering place for shared experiences," McKnight said."

The lengthy delay to rebuild the auditorium is one of many challenges facing Garfield. Last week, the school district said it would allow outside groups the opportunity to takeover the East Los Angeles school in order to boost its poor academic performance.

Photo of damaged auditorium shortly after the fire./Garfield High photo gallery

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