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LAUSD Cuts the Ribbon at Central LA Learning Center #1 K-5

Contact:                                                                                                        October 10, 2009
Shannon Haber 213.703.6958                                                     

(Los Angeles, CA) - At the former site of the Ambassador Hotel, where presidential candidate 
and Senator (D-NY) Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, Los Angeles Unified School 
District (LAUSD) Board President Mónica García joined members of the Kennedy family as well 
as parents, students, community members and elected officials to cut the ribbon today at Central 
Los Angeles Learning Center #1 K-5 (CLALC#1 K-5).  CLALC#1 K-5 opened to more than 800 
students on September 9, 2009.  

"My father was a champion of those who suffered disadvantages in America. He was actively 
engaged in helping people help themselves through community action," said Maxwell Kennedy, 
son of Robert and Ethel Kennedy.  "This new K-12 learning center will educate and empower our 
young people and their parents to fight for economic and social justice.  I know of no better way 
to advance the living legacy of Robert Kennedy."

"The messages Robert F. Kennedy worked to deliver to us decades ago - that we can all be part 
of a change for a better world, a greater world - are alive with us as we celebrate the opening of 
not one, but two exciting new pilot schools here at Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1 K-5," 
Board President García said.  "Years of commitment and struggle led by parents and the 
community come to fruition today as we mark profound change for students that now have two 
unique small schools dedicated to incorporating new and innovative methods of teaching." 

The new elementary school site features two pilot schools (schools within the LAUSD given 
charter-like autonomy over curriculum): University California Los Angeles (UCLA) Community 
School (UCS) and New Open World (NOW) Academy.  Both schools provide students with an 
opportunity to continue their education on the same school site once the middle and high school 
portions of the larger campus are completed.  This will help assure a connection with students' 
families and to support students in reaching their goals. 

Every student at UCS will be taught to read and write in English and Spanish, as well as have the 
opportunity to participate in projects and research with UCLA students and faculty.  Led by the 
UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS), which specializes in 
educational equity and preparing teachers for urban schools, UCLA experts helped to develop 
UCS's instructional programs and train teachers.  The school is governed by a board that 
includes representatives from UCLA, LAUSD Local District 4, community groups, the United 
Teachers Los Angeles union, parents and other stakeholders.  The instructional program draws 
on extensive research by UCLA and other scholars about how students learn best - when they 
feel part of a supportive, family-like group.  Students are grouped into three multi-grade "dens," 
each overseen by a lead teacher responsible for learning activities in his or her den. 

"UCLA Community School is one of many examples of the University's commitment to serve 
greater Los Angeles through partnerships that harness our scholarship and engage the 
community," UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.  "We're well-positioned to help ensure a high-
quality education for students in this neighborhood and prepare them for college.  We are 
pleased to be working closely with LAUSD and community groups on this critical endeavor, and 
our partnership is serving as a model for other universities and school districts." 

"We believe strongly that it indeed takes a community to educate a child, and the UCLA 
Community School is an innovative response to that maxim," UCS Principal Georgia Lazo said.  
"UCLA Community School is paving new paths for genuine collaboration and co-construction of 
curriculum and professional development.  We are committed to graduating students who have a 
high degree of academic achievement, take pride in their home cultures and languages and 
develop as engaged citizens."

NOW is focused on the development of the whole child, aiming to equip every pupil with the 
essential skills for lifelong learning.  The main goal of NOW is to develop globally-minded, 
technologically-proficient students who achieve academic excellence, recognize their common 
humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, and are lifelong learners.  A key component of 
this vision is to ensure that students move beyond an understanding of social justice and equality 
to a point of empowerment, where they become active participants in changing the world.  To 
promote global citizenship, each student will have an increased knowledge of the Korean and 
Spanish language and culture. 

"The NOW Academy is a grassroots organization of experienced elementary, middle and high 
school teachers who wanted to make a difference in the education of students using the 
autonomies of pilot schools to enhance learning through state-of-the-art project based 
curriculum," NOW Principal Annette Kessler said.  "Their extensive teaching experience and 
leadership skills, along with partnerships from Pepperdine and Antioch Universities, provide the 
foundation for meeting our goals." 

CLALC#1 K-5 also features two pieces of public art addressing the social and political history.  
The first is a 3-D mural photo collage by artist Gale McCall with images of the hotel.  The second 
is a "Labyrinth" by artist Lynn Goodpasture where a student can sit on one side and draw for 
another student opposite; symbolizing the experience of prominent pioneering African-American 
architect Paul Williams who learned to draw sketches upside down so white clients would not be 
uncomfortable sitting next to him.  

"We are blessed to continue to have the development of new Learning Centers in our 
community," California State Assembly Member Mike Davis (D-48) said.  "Each building 
presents an opportunity for hope for our future leadership."

Both schools provide overcrowding relief to schools in one of the most densely populated areas 
of Los Angeles: Cahuenga, Del Olmo, Hobart, Hoover and Kim elementary schools, as well as 
Mariposa-Nabi Primary Center.

"Because of overcrowding, children from this neighborhood were on year-round calendars and 
bused to other communities, both severe detriments to a quality education," said Councilmember 
José Huizar, former president of the LAUSD Board of Education.  "It was in fact a matter of 
social justice, something Robert Kennedy would have appreciated.  Today we honor his memory 
and legacy by saying these students will now have the opportunity to pursue the kind of 
education they deserve and in doing so, will live the American Dream that Mr. Kennedy 
envisioned for all young people."

"Robert Kennedy told us what makes life worthwhile is the health of our children and the quality 
of their education,'" said Paul Schrade, former senior aide to Robert F. Kennedy.  "Our new K 
thru 5 schools are a great joy but the crisis of underfunding of quality education becomes the 
new struggle for parents and our RFK-12 Community Task Force."

"The school is a living legacy of the life of Robert F. Kennedy," said Dolores Huerta, Co-founder 
of the United Farm Workers Union.  "He was a man of courage, compassion, and extraordinary 
leadership who championed the cause of peace and gave a voice to all who suffered institutional 
discrimination.  He lifted the cause of the farmworkers to the national conscience and was a 
dear friend of Cesar E. Chavez."

"New Open World Academy and UCLA Community School are providing enriched educational 
opportunities to neighborhood students," Local District 4 Interim Superintendent Byron J. Maltez 
said.  "With the middle school and high school portions of the campus opening next year, we are 
offering these neighborhood students the chance to attend school on the same campus through 
the twelfth grade, encouraging the consistent involvement of school administration as well as 
parents and community in student development."

When the middle school and high school buildings are completed in 2010, the campus will be one 
of the LAUSD's one of the few new comprehensive K-12 campus.  It will serve 4,400 students 
living in the surrounding nine-block radius, many of whom are currently bused to distant, 
overcrowded schools.

"We hope that this project will serve as an inspiration not only to the students and teachers that 
work and learn here, but also as model of what is possible in terms of creating a community-
serving institution that will enrich the entire neighborhood," said Armando L. Gonzalez, FAIA, 
principal of Gonzalez Goodale Architects, the firm that designed the school.

"From the history and culture evoked in the artwork that will be present throughout the site to the 
joint use features which will allow the community to access key portions of the campus after 
hours, the K-5 is a preview of what is an artfully constructed landmark K-12 project in the heart 
of Los Angeles," LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Guy Mehula said.  "This is a state-of-the-art 
neighborhood school designed and built to meet the needs of the surrounding community today 
and for years to come."

The CLALC #1 K-5 is one of 80 new schools completed as part of LAUSD's $20.1 Billion New 
School Construction and Modernization Program to provide every student with a classroom seat 
in a safe and healthy neighborhood school operating on a traditional, two-semester calendar.  For 
more information, please visit www.laschools.org. 
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