Flanked by community members, students and politicians, local Board of Education member Bennett Kayser and former State Assembly, School Board and City Council Member Jackie Goldberg officially dedicated the recently opened Sonia Sotomayor Learning Academy in Cypress Park on Friday afternoon by cutting a big red ribbon.
Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony was an affair worthy of the long battle fought by community members and politicians to build the state of the art campus on the former Taylor Yard grounds, complete with performances by the school's performance band and orchestra and the reading of a personal letter from the school's namesake to its students.
Parent Georgina Clink read the letter from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, which urged students to make the most of the opportunities available to them at the new campus.
"My accomplishments are a direct product of the extraordinary education I received," read the letter from the Bronx,NY, native, born to the Puerto Rican immigrants. "Reading opens the universe to you and learning expands your horizons beyond your imagination. For these reasons, having your campus named after me is deeply touching and moving."
State Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) told the students it was a great opportunity to go to a school named after the justice.
"You shouldn't take that lightly," he said. "This is a great facility, unlike any I've ever attended. But that's not what matters. What matters is what you can make happen in the classroom with the help of your extraordinary teachers."
Los Angeles City Council Member Ed Reyes also urged the students to thrive. He told the students that though they had the fortune to attend a brand new, state of the art high school, they would also face challenges.
"Teachers are not being paid what they deserve, schools' budgets are being cut back, all that's left is you--your heart, your soul and your commitment to what's right," Reyes told the students.
Many of the speakers on Friday told the students that the community effort it took to build the school should serve as a model of dedication to students.
"This area was a brownfield, and the community had few places to go to build new schools," Reyes said. "The state wanted to make this area into a Caltrans facility, but the community stood up and said 'no.'"
Reyes also called for a round of applause for Goldberg, who in her various elected roles urged the city to listen to the community's calls for a new school on the property.
Sotomayor---will draw students from , Eagle Rock High School and John Marshall High School, helping to alleviate overcrowding at all three schools.
Among the students to speak on Friday was junior Kimberly Campos, who transferred to Sotomayor from John Marshall.
A former captain of the Marshall swim team, Campos said making the switch to Sotomayor was difficult, at first. She feared she would miss her friends and the confidence she received from competing in athletics. However, when an opportunity to transfer back to Marshall arose, she declined.
"I wanted to stay and be among the students who would set standard at Sotomayor," she said.