This school year Ms. Powers, Mr. Pasqueira, and I collaborated to write a City of Los Angeles Beautification Grant which we were awarded in the amount of $10,000. Above you can see the students' mosaic projects and below yopu can read the introduction to the grant proposal.
City of Los Angeles, Board of Public Works, Office of Community Beautification Project Proposal: The Gathering Square: Forging the Connection between City Streets and Higher Education.
When I asked Juan why he was stuck in detention everyday he replied that he preferred the packed indoor space to our school’s roof deck where the students spend their nutrition and lunch breaks and where we host parent and community events. Unfortunately, he is not alone. Our students complain that the space is unbearably hot, barren, and confining. Aside from remedying the immediate concern that detention is of little consequence when students do not have a place they would prefer to go in order to get a much needed break from their academic classes, socialize with friends, and relax, our proposed beautification project will provide the crucial link between the community, our school, and the California State University Los Angeles campus. The proposed mural, mosaic, and garden project will bring together young people, parents, artists, community members, teachers, administrators and faculty and staff from Cal State LA in order to give students a greater sense of ownership over their school and mediate the often alienating feeling that institutions do not represent them or their culture.
The Marc and Eva Stern Math and Science school is a pioneering charter located on the campus of Cal State LA. Demographically, our student population is 98% Latino and 89% of our students qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. The vast majority of students will be the first in their families to attend college. Although we are fortunate to have a new site, there is a glaring lack of student, parent, and community engagement with and attachment to the physical space. If we are to accomplish our mission of helping all graduate prepared to succeed in a four-year college, it is imperative that they are able to envision a place for themselves and their families in institutional settings such as high school and university campuses. The mural, mosaic, and roof-garden project will bring various stake-holders from the community together in forging such a tangible manifestation of their place on the Cal State LA campus, and symbolically of their place in institutions of higher learning more generally. By actively constructing the murals and mosaics, students, their families, and other community members will be engaged in an act of collective empowerment, demonstrating what they can do to make their space beautiful, safe, and uplifting. Not only will it work directly against experiences of marginalization it will be an historic gift from our four pioneering classes to all of the students to follow them.