New Elementary School Celebrates Opening in South LA


Listen to the audio story from Annenberg Radio News:

The skies were overcast, but the mood was sunny. After two years of planning and construction, the Dr. Lawrence H. Moore Math/Science/Technology Academy opened in August.

The clean-lined modernist buildings at 61st and Hooper serve 754 students, ages six-eleven. The new school helps keep classroom sizes down across the neighborhood, a fact not lost on student body president Freddy Herrera: “It is awesome that we have a new school in our area, because at the other elementary schools, it was overcrowded. Here, we don’t have that problem.”

The new academy focuses on what are known as STEM skills—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. California Congresswoman Louise Roybal-Allard, said these skills are more critical than ever before, because “it is important to the future success of our country and our competitiveness in the world marketplace.”

A June study by Change the Equation, an organization which works to promote STEM education, said there are two jobs open for every one worker employed in science- and technology-related jobs. And those jobs are often well-compensated. Stem workers with only bachelors’ degrees often make as much as workers in other fields with advanced degrees.

A group of sixth-graders were on hand to help with the ceremonies. They were pretty happy about their new school. Jasmine Perez, 11, said it was a friendlier school than the one she’d been at before.

“In my other school, it doesn’t compare to this at all. There’s, like, many, many kids who are mean and disrespectful, and when I first came to this school, I thought, ‘I will have a happy year here.”

Sergio Castro was very clear about the pluses of the Moore Academy, saying, ”It’s easier to learn stuff here, because in the old school, I was always struggling. But here it’s way easier, you know? ‘Cause it’s quiet, and the teachers—they focus, like, they focus on the lessons a lot. In the other school, it was kind of the same, but they seem more professional [here] than the others, you know?”

And, as Jasmine pointed out, that means the kids get more attention from their teachers.

“I like this school because I have a great teacher. She’s a really rare teacher to me, because I don’t usually have a teacher who supports me and, like, pushes me, and tells me, ‘You can do this, come on! Shout-out to Ms. Grande!”

And when the kids are willing to say they actually like their school, that’s a big shout-out to the school, too.

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