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Students, Community Triumph as LAUSD Cuts the Ribbon on Edward R. Roybal Learning Center

For Immediate Release
Contact:                                                                      
                      October 18, 2008
Shannon Haber (213) 241-4575        # 08/09-110
            
STUDENTS, COMMUNITY TRIUMPH AS LAUSD CUTS THE RIBBON ON EDWARD R. ROYBAL 
LEARNING CENTER

(Los Angeles, CA)-U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, daughter of legendary 
community champion and late Congressman Edward R. Roybal, joined Los Angeles 
Unified School District (LAUSD) school and elected officials, students, 
parents and community members today to cut the ribbon on the Edward R. Roybal 
Learning Center. 

"My father believed that education was the single greatest gift we could pass 
on to our children, because an education, as he would say, 'can never be taken 
away from you,'" Roybal-Allard said.  "That is why he fought throughout his 
career to provide our community with quality educational opportunities like 
the Roybal Learning Center will offer."

The opening of the 2,808-seat Roybal Learning Center is a significant 
milestone for the downtown educational community, allowing Belmont High School 
to return to a traditional, two-semester calendar for the first time in 26 
years.  

"Today we celebrate the legacy of our great civil rights leader Edward R. 
Roybal," LAUSD Board President Mónica Garcᆳía said.  "We also honor the 
strength and courage of the hundreds of parents and students from the Pico-
Union community who fought to bring this world-class school to their 
neighborhood. I am proud to be their partner as we strive to achieve one 
hundred percent graduation for the students of LAUSD!" 

"Edward R. Roybal Learning Center is the kind of school facility all of our 
students deserve," LAUSD Superintendent David L. Brewer III said.  "We are 
here celebrating today because people inside the District and out had the 
vision and tenacity to push forward in challenging times.  That same vision 
and tenacity remains at work to bring continued progress for our students."

"It is a fitting tribute to Ed Roybal, a man who has shown us what it means to 
be an elected official," California State Senator Gil Cedillo said.  "He was a 
true public servant who made it a priority to serve his community."

"The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center is a gift to our students from our 
community and symbolizes the great hope we have for their future," California 
State Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero said.  "The Center stands as a 
tribute to the great man for whom it is named.  May all students who pass 
through this learning center build on the great legacy of leadership he 
bestowed to our nation."

The LAUSD Board of Education was supported by numerous community organizations 
and elected officials in naming the school in honor of the late Congressman 
Roybal (1916-2005), who is recognized as one of the most prominent Latino 
civil rights leaders of the 20th Century.  Roybal graduated from Roosevelt 
High School and went on to become a devoted public servant and community 
leader who dedicated his life to helping others.  Roybal served on the Los 
Angeles City Council from 1949 to 1962 and served in the U.S. House of 
Representatives from 1963 to 1993.  Key among his many achievements is his 
work on behalf of young people, including the creation of educational 
programs, expansion of college funding and development of employment 
initiatives.  He was also a founding member of the Congressional Hispanic 
Caucus Institute in 1976. 

"The opening of the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center has been greatly 
anticipated by the community," California State Assembly Speaker Emeritus 
Fabian Nuñez said.  "This state of the art facility will certainly provide a 
world class education to well deserving students in the City of Los Angeles. 
 I am honored to join in the celebration of this tremendous accomplishment and 
I applaud the efforts by many who made this day a reality."

In addition to a portrait of Roybal which hangs in the school's main office, a 
bust of the congressman by sculptor Pedro Martinez unveiled at the ribbon-
cutting ceremony will be housed in the school's library. 

"By creating small schools and a safe campus for students, the new Roybal 
Learning Center carries on the legacy of a great pioneer dedicated to 
reforming education in Los Angeles," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa 
said. 

 "After the vote was taken by the board back in 2003 to approve my plan to 
move forward with this school, I recalled thinking that hope had won over 
fear," Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar said. The former school board 
president came up with an alternative plan for the site, which included the 
adjacent Vista Hermosa Park.  "That was a very proud moment for me, knowing 
that this community and these children were finally going to get the state-of-
the-art campus they so richly deserved.  And seeing it up and running today 
reminds me that we did the right thing to create this learning and community 
oasis." 

The campus facilities are comprised of small learning communities, each 
including general studies, science, and specialized classrooms, as well as 
local administration.  A separate building on the campus accommodates a 
library, cafeteria, auditorium and a parent/student center.  The campus also 
features a large gymnasium with locker rooms, as well as outdoor athletic 
facilities. 

"The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center provides relief to some pockets of the 
Temple-Beaudry community that reach 50,000 people per square mile," Los 
Angeles City Councilman Ed P. Reyes said, whose district includes the new 
school. "Before the opening of the new school, students were on a multi-track 
calendar and packed in overcrowded classrooms.  Now, students can enjoy a 
traditional two-semester calendar and a more personalized learning experience 
at a school that is like a mini college campus.  The Roybal Center features 
small learning communities with lots of open windows, and stretches of green 
space for students to walk through on their way to class." 

Thanks to the generosity of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation 
and Parks, the Amateur Athletic Foundation, the Weingart Foundation and L.A. 
84, the 9.7-acre park at Vista Hermosa features an athletic-turf soccer field 
available to the public and school sponsored programs.

Roybal Learning Center, home of the Titans, serves students in ninth through 
12th grades and is home to four small learning communities (SLCs) and two 
independent pilot schools.  The SLCs were established at Belmont High School 
and have moved their complete programs over to Roybal Learning Center.  The 
SLCs are: the International School of Languages, the Activists for Educational 
Empowerment, the Business and Finance Academy and the Computer Science 
Academy.  

The two independent pilot schools are Civitas School of Leadership and the 
School for Visual Arts and Humanities (SVAH).  Civitas School of Leadership 
opened with students in the ninth and 10th grade, and will add 11th and 12th 
grades in the next two years.  The School for Visual Arts and Humanities 
begins with students ninth through 12th grades. These schools are part of the 
Belmont Zone of Choice Initiative.  First established in 2007, the Belmont 
Zone of Choice is a network of 500-student, autonomous college preparatory 
schools that downtown-area families can select based on students' interest. 

"Had we abandoned our vision and listened to the naysayers, Belmont High 
School would still be operating on a year-round calendar," LAUSD Chief 
Facilities Executive Guy Mehula said.  "Today is a crowning day for LAUSD's 
building program, and most importantly for the students and community our new 
school construction program serves."

"When the construction of this school was halted the community was outraged.  
Parents, students and community leaders rallied at the steps of the school 
board for years because we knew the school could be built safely, and the 
District needed to be held accountable for doing so," Alliance for a Better 
Community Executive Director Veronica Melvin said.   

"Investing in the education of the children in our community will surely forge 
a future for prosperity," parent activist and community member Francisco 
Torrero said. 

La Plaza de Artes y Culturas and Alliance for a Better Community developed 
www.royballearningcenter.org
as a gift to the school, which includes further information about the life of 
Edward R. Roybal and the school community can be found. 

"The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center is not only a beautiful multi-colored 
structure, but it's also a well thought out learning environment, that 
personalizes the education experiences for it's 9-12 grade students through a 
combination of small theme based learning communities and autonomous pilot 
schools," Local District Superintendent 4 Richard Alonzo said.  "Our goal is 
to improve graduation rates and educate students to be college prepared and 
career ready."

The Edward R. Roybal Learning Center is one of 74 new schools completed as 
part of LAUSD's $12.6 billion new school construction program to end 
involuntary busing and year round calendars, and to provide every student a 
seat in a neighborhood school.  To date, LAUSD has completed 74 new schools 
and 59 additions, providing more than 77,000 new classroom seats for students 
throughout the District.  The program is on track to deliver a total of 132 
new schools by 2012.  For more information, please visit www.laschools.org.

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