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LAUSD Breaks Ground on Esteban E. Torres High School

For Immediate Release								
	June 6, 2007
Contacts: Samantha Koos (213) 241-4871					
          Patrick Salazar, East LA Classic Theatre: 
	    (626) 993-7154               

Theatre Program will Relieve Garfield High School

Los Angeles - Los Angeles Board of Education Members David Tokofsky and 
Mónica García,  Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) 
Superintendent David L. Brewer III and other elected officials joined 
Congressman Esteban E. Torres, Coordinator of RFK-12 Community Task 
Force, former Western Director of United Auto Workers Union Paul 
Schrade and East LA Classic Theatre Founder and Executive Artistic 
Director Tony Plana for a groundbreaking celebration commencing 
construction of Esteban E. Torres High School. 

"This is one of the most innovative building ideas involving three 
locations that a school district has ever done," said Board Member 
Tokofsky. "It is an honor to name the school after our Congressman 
Esteban Torres whose life, deeds and representation of East Los Angeles 
have been an inspiration to those who followed him into public life."  

The new high school campus will provide critical relief to Garfield 
High School, the subject of recent news coverage of a fire that 
destroyed its emblematic auditorium. The school is one of three high 
schools planned or underway in the East Los Angeles area. Once 
completed, the campus will represent the first high school delivered to 
the community in more than 85 years. 

"We need schools to invite stakeholder participation in our students' 
education," said Superintendent Brewer. "Esteban E. Torres High School 
has that key support, in this case through East LA Classic Theatre, 
guaranteed before the school even opens its doors and it is a 
partnership which will only draw continued support from the larger 

What is now Hammel Elementary School will be reconfigured into Esteban 
E. Torres High School, highlighting the District's commitment to best 
utilizing its existing assets in meeting the needs of its growing 
communities.  Hammel Elementary will be replaced with the construction 
of Central Region Elementary School #19 and Early Education Center, a 
1,275 seat, 51-classroom school to be completed by 2010.  Current 
students at Hammel Elementary will be able to remain in their old 
facility until the new elementary school is ready, since the elementary 
school building occupies what will be the playfields for the high 

"Today we break ground on a project that represents a tremendous step 
forward for the students and families of the Eastside," said Board 
Member García. "Esteban E. Torres High School will provide the 
environment our students need to be college prepared and career ready, 
along with a performing arts program that speaks to the soul of the 

Esteban E. Torres High School will consist of five small learning 
communities that will house classrooms, science labs and academy 
administration.  School facilities shared by the small learning 
communities will include performing arts classrooms, a library, multi-
purpose room, two gymnasiums, food service and lunch shelter, central 
administration, playfields, and underground parking.

"I'm both humbled and honored by the community leaders in concert with 
the school board in providing this honor to me and my family," said 
Congressman Esteban E. Torres. "It is an indication that hard work and 
community commitment can prevail in the end." 

A joint-use agreement between the District and East Los Angeles Classic 
Theater will allow students to benefit from an educational theatre 
program, and the construction of an outdoor amphitheatre will promote 
enjoyment of the arts for the entire community. East L.A. Classic 
Theatre, founded by actor Tony Plana in 1995, is dedicated to the 
development and professional delivery of educational outreach programs 
and classic theatrical productions that authentically reflect the 
diversity of American society. The program develops literacy skills in 
English learners and cultivates minority readers, writers and audiences 
through exposure to classic plays and literature. 

 "This was an ideal partnership to bring the arts and greater learning 
opportunities to the community," said Plana.  "East LA Classic as the 
name implies is part of this community and committed to community and 
human development of East Los Angeles."

In November 2006, the Board of Education approved the naming of what 
was formerly known as East Los Angeles Area High School #2 to Esteban 
E. Torres High School, after the retired eight term congressman and 
long-time community hero. Throughout the course of his 50+ years of 
political career, Congressman Torres has fought for the representation 
of workers' rights and community activism.  He is among union activists 
who co-founded The East Los Angeles Community Union (TELACU) in 1968. A 
graduate of Garfield High School, Congressman Torres continues to be an 
active voice in the community today. 

"This project exemplifies several goals of the District's construction 
program: to create schools that are built with community use in mind 
and that best utilize our existing properties in meeting the needs of 
our students and the community," said Chief Facilities Executive Guy 
Mehula. "I look forward to cutting the ribbon on this long-needed 

The Esteban E. Torres High School project is part of the LAUSD's $19.3 
billion school construction program to build 145 schools by 2012. The 
program is designed to provide a neighborhood school on a traditional 
calendar for every student, eliminate involuntary bussing and create 
small learning communities in secondary schools. To date, LAUSD has 
completed 65 new schools and 51 additions, returning 136 schools to a 
180-day, full year calendar and providing more than 68,000 new 
classroom seats for students throughout the District.

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