Superintendent Michelle King, Board of Education members and other Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials kicked off the new academic year Tuesday, Aug. 15, with visits to select schools, including the district’s first all-boys academy and the final campus to be built in a multibillion-dollar construction program.
The day-long tour started before dawn, and crisscrossed the 710-square-mile district, highlighting schools in each of the seven board districts.
“I can already tell from the energy that this is going to be a great school year,” said King, who is a product of LAUSD. “Our district has made record progress over the last year in preparing students for success, and I am excited about the opportunities to reach even greater heights this year.”
The tour’s first stop was Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, the newly completed state-of-the art campus that relieves crowding at neighboring Bell High School, allowing that campus to return to a traditional calendar for the first time in 36 years.
“This year is going to be transformative,” said Board President Dr. Ref Rodriguez, who represents Maywood and other communities in the south and east regions of the district.
“L.A. Unified is becoming closer and more unified in our shared commitment to cultivate high-quality schools and place kids first in all of the work that we do,” he said. “The opening of Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, the last of the 131 schools promised to the people, highlights the fact that through unity and collaboration, we will build bridges across communities and divides to ensure that every school in Los Angeles is a beacon of opportunity.”
Visitors in Sherman Oaks were treated to a student performance at the Millikan Middle School and Performing Arts Magnet, a school renowned for its music and cinema programs.
“Even though I have been retired for several years, I still experience the excitement and challenge of starting a new school year — welcoming, educating and striving to meet the needs of every child in every Los Angeles neighborhood,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson, a former principal.
“Let’s mark this new beginning with hope and appreciation for our students, their families and the thousands of dedicated members of the L.A. Unified family who will be working tirelessly, every day, to ensure a promising future for our kids.”
Officials also spotlighted the expansion of the District’s dual-language immersion programs during a visit to Mountain View Elementary School, which is entering the second year of an English-Armenian curriculum.
Sixteen new dual-immersion programs are being added this year, along with the launch of a dual-immersion pilot at 10 early education facilities.
“Welcome and welcome back to our students and families!” said Board Member Kelly Gonez, another former teacher who joined the board in July.
“Today, we celebrate the start of the school year and imagine the possibilities for our students this year from preschool to 12th grade. To the faculty and staff, thank you for all you’ve done to prepare so we can start the year strong. To our parents and families, we are thrilled to have you as part of the L.A. Unified family,” she said.
Officials celebrated the expansion of the Griffith STEAM Magnet Middle School from a limited to a school-wide program focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“Let’s breathe in love and exhale fear as we begin another journey to interrupt poverty, increase graduation, eliminate illiteracy and help our children reach their potential in Los Angeles,” said Board Vice President Mónica García.
We believe that every child can read, write, think and believe. We believe that all youth can achieve. We are full of energy and ready for the 2017-2018 academic year,” García said. “I feel the excitement in our schools, the pride in welcoming our seniors from the Class of 2018 and our kindergarteners from the Class of 2030, and the partnership with students, families, staff, educators and community. This year will be better than ever!”
There was a lot of excitement at the Boys Academic Leadership Academy, a STEM-focused, single-gender school that debuted on the campus of Washington Preparatory Senior High School.
“We extend a heartfelt welcome to all of our students, parents, faculty and staff as we begin another year and we reaffirm our commitment to proving a world-class education to every student who enters our school house doors,” said Dr. George J. McKenna III, the board member who represents the campus.
The tour also stopped at the STEM Academy of Hollywood, which is represented by new School Board Member Nick Melvoin.
“I am excited to be here to welcome all our students to a new school year,” said Melvoin, a former L.A. Unified teacher. “I am inspired by the teachers, administrators, and all school employees, who go above and beyond to make the dreams of our kids a reality. There is no more important work and we owe them all our thanks and appreciation.”
The final stop of the day was at the Firefighter Magnet at Banning Senior High School in Wilmington, one of the growing number of career-focused programs being offered to students.
“As we begin the 2017-2018 school year, I look forward to the great new partnerships we have with our local community colleges, which will give our students college-level learning experiences while still in high school, along with a fresh new set of magnet programs across Local District South,” said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic.
“I wish everyone across L.A. Unified a great start to the year, and encourage our parents and students to take full advantage of the programming our great district has to offer,” he said.