We Are L.A. Unified

Dr. Pamela R. Maddox, assistant principal of 32nd Street USC Performing Arts Magnet, where cardinal and gold buttons and caps proudly adorn offices and classrooms, acknowledged:

“A lot of our kids go to UCLA,” she said.

Despite the school’s Trojan affiliation, the news comes as little surprise given the focus on preparing students for college. Pamela and the principal Ezequiel Gonzalez have emphasized that academics do not end with the awarding of a high school diploma. Some 85 percent of the school’s graduates progress to post-secondary education.

“Our expectation is that they will go to college,” said Pamela, whether in Westwood or elsewhere.

To enforce that goal, it helps that the magnet, which has an enrollment of 1,044 students from first grade through high school, is located at the northern end of the USC campus.

“Every day, our students watch USC students go from dorm to class,” said Pamela. Many fraternities and sororities provide volunteers. “From kindergarten through high school, our kids are interacting with college students,” noted Ezequiel.

The school not only draws kids from the surrounding neighborhood, but from far reaches of the city as well. For instance, one group of students arrives from the San Fernando Valley by bus; another group travels the same way from Gardena.

Two years ago, the magnet added a rigorous arts education component to its traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curriculum. The effect on students and the school has been profound.

“When you merge STEM and the arts, you’re developing more of a well-rounded student,” noted Ezequiel.

Pamela said that in this system students can take film production, filmmaking, and cartoon animation. “It’s allowed us to offer new and innovative courses.”

According to Ezequiel, about half of the student population remains at the school from first grade through the end of high school. Most of the reduction occurs between eighth and ninth 

“Some students want a more comprehensive high school experience,” said Ezequiel. “Friday night football games and so on.”

By contrast, 32nd Street has no baseball or football teams, and the basketball squad practices on a blacktop playground, shooting at baskets with wooden backboards. Still, there are clear benefits to staying 12 years at the school.

“They’ve been here so long, we get to know them and their families,” said Ezequiel.

--Thomas Waldman

To nominate a teacher, student, employee or volunteer, send an email to Thomas.Waldman@lausd.net, or call 213-241-6766. To see more profiles on the Distirct's website, go to http://bit.ly/1Fp25bG