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Los Angeles Unified Celebrates Customized Ribbon-Cutting at Amphitheater Shade Structure, and 11th Anniversary of Esteban E. Torres Pilot Schools (10-11-21)


News Release

For Immediate Release                                             Date: October 11, 2021                                               Contact: Jennifer Valdivia.                                                (213) 414-4812,                                   


Los Angeles Unified Celebrates Customized Ribbon-Cutting at Amphitheater Shade Structure, and 11th Anniversary of Esteban E. Torres Pilot Schools


LOS ANGELES (Oct. 11, 2021) – Today, Board Member Mónica García and Los Angeles Unified celebrated the completion of the amphitheater shade structure at Esteban E. Torres Pilot Schools and the school’s 11th anniversary. Construction for the four customized shade structures and upgrades to the amphitheater facilities began in April of 2020, and is a $955,000 investment for the Eastside, and the five pilot schools that make up the campus: Torres East LA Performing Arts Magnet, Social Justice Leadership Academy Magnet, East LA Renaissance Academy, Humanitas Academy of Art & Technology and Torres STEM Academy.

Named after Congressman Esteban E. Torres, who served as member of the United States House of Representatives from 1984-1998 and built to relieve overcrowding at James A. Garfield Senior High School, this campus is a beacon of talent and success for students in the community. With over 1,800 students enrolled at Esteban E. Torres Pilot Schools, this infrastructural investment has yielded positive outcomes, including a 95% graduation rate across all schools. Today’s student performances were the first to have a live audience in 18 months.

“The Esteban E. Torres High School students, staff, families and community will certainly benefit from this new shade structure that makes this beautiful amphitheater even more inviting,” Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly said. “As we celebrate this amazing campus improvement, we also recognize that this is the eleventh anniversary for such an incredible oasis of learning and opportunity in East Los Angeles.”

“Today is a special celebration of the innovation and investment of five pilot schools that brought change and teacher-led-academies to the Eastside,” Board Member Mónica García said. “We honor those students who walked out of schools demanding more in 1968, we honor the pioneer students and staff that founded this great campus 11 years ago and we affirm the movement toward 100% graduation. Adelante East LA & Go Toros!”

Congressman Esteban E. Torres sent his congratulations. “I am unable to be with you today due to other long-standing commitments, but I want to take this moment to acknowledge Principal Carolyn McKnight, LAUSD Board Member García, and LAUSD Facilities Executive Hovatter, and thank them for their commitment to the amphitheater project that culminates today in this wonderful celebration. As the namesake of the Esteban E. Torres High School, I am grateful for their leadership and unwavering support for this project. I recently learned of the programmatic efforts that were made to equip the amphitheater with a shade structure – an important structural element that will allow for many more student programs, performances, and other community wide events. I want to acknowledge Principal Cynthia McKnight for being so instrumental in this effort. Thank you, Principal McKnight. I also want to acknowledge the Academy principals, teachers, staff, and the students and their families for their ongoing support. To the students of Esteban E. Torres High School, I am proud to learn of the strength and courage you have shown in these difficult times. I am also pleased to hear of the progress you have made as you return to campus and to your school activities. Continue to believe in yourselves, your dreams, and in your futures. In the 1940s when I was a high school student at Garfield High School, my nickname was ‘Toro,’ just like your Torres mascot. So, on this special day for you and for all of us, I send you my good wishes and my congratulations.”

“Today was a beautiful and deserving celebration for the Esteban E. Torres High School and East Los Angeles communities,” Local District East Superintendent Jose Huerta said. “Thank you to all involved for the facilities upgrades done to the Esteban E. Torres High School, and congratulations to all five schools located at the campus: Torres East Los Angeles Performing Arts Magnet, East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy, Torres STEM Academy, Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology, and Social Justice Leadership Academy on your 11th Anniversary, academic achievement, and for all the great work to keep our students engaged and inspired.”

“We are so happy that we are able to make this addition to the amphitheater to make it something that is truly useful. The students deserve it,” Los Angeles Unified Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter said.

“Having shade in the amphitheatre makes it safe and useable for everyone, especially for the Eastside Arts Festival, when kids from the whole neighborhood will use this stage,” Torres East LA Performing Arts Magnet Principal Carolyn McKnight said.

“In 2010, a Renaissance came to East Los Angeles in the form of the Torres Campus, and for that I am eternally grateful,” East L.A. Renaissance Academy Principal Martin Buchman said.

“Thanks to the advocacy work done by many of the people sitting here today, the Torres campus is a stunning example of what teacher-driven leadership can achieve. Pilot schools enable the professionals who are most knowledgeable about our students and communities and most skilled at identifying and addressing their needs – our classroom teachers—to design and lead this crucial work,”  Humanitas Academy of Art and Technology Principal Deborah Lowe said.

“A few years ago, I received an anonymous note from a student. It read: ‘Thank you for creating a school like this. We needed it. Thank you for making us feel like a family.’ I still have that note and it is a constant reminder to me about what kind of school we are and what we will continue to be for future students,” Social Justice Leadership Academy Magnet Principal Roseann Cazares, said.

“I am honored to join the Torres HS family and take up the mission of ensuring that every student learns, grows, graduates and is ready for college and career upon graduation. The anniversary celebration provides a perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on the gains we have made and to acknowledge the hard work of those who started this work. It also provides an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to relentlessly pursuing better outcomes for our students and their families,” Engineering and Technology Academy Principal Ruben Aburto said.

“Congratulations to the Esteban E. Torres High School campus community on reaching the 11th year milestone! Since opening in 2010, the campus has provided the Eastside of Los Angeles with greater opportunity for accessing a college preparatory education. We are grateful to the leadership of the principals and educators and stand ready to support your continued success. Today, we also honor the legacy of Congressman Torres and his life-long commitment to justice for our Eastside community” Maria Brenes, Executive Director for InnerCity Struggle said.

Students and teachers shared their excitement in a few words.

“I play in the jazz band and we can’t wait to have our first concert in the amphitheatre,” Manny Estrada, Class of 2022 and Student Body President, said.

“We have waited a long time to have special places like the Torres Amphitheatre to perform in, have community events, let the kids put on Rock Band Club Show,” Paul Perez, music teacher and life-long resident of the neighborhood, said.

“Social Justice Leadership Academy Magnet (SJLAM) has made it possible for students like me who are part of the Hispanic community, to be a part of something important. Our students, including myself, are grateful to be a part of a school like SJLAM that has had such a wide impact on who I am and who I will become in the future,” Olivia Hernandez, SJLAM Student Body Vice-President, said.