Point Fermin Elementary Celebrates 100 Years

Point Femin Marine Science Magnet Elementary School, the smallest public elementary school in San Pedro, recently celebrated its 100th birthday. With just over 300 students, this small school has been providing education to generations of families in the community. Many of the current students have parents and grandparents who attended the school.

“It is great to see my daughter Trinity having the same wonderful experiences that I treasured when I was there,” says Rosa Juarez, a Point Fermin Elementary Alumni and current volunteer at the school.

The marine science studies focus is a natural fit for the school, with the ocean and the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium located within walking distance. A partnership between the school and the aquarium gives the students the opportunity to learn hands-on in the aquarium lab, at the tide pools and on the beach. Students walk from the school to the ocean and aquarium as a classroom on a regular basis. Keeping with the marine science focus, the fourth grade students spend an afternoon sailing on a tall ship and the fifth grade students participate in an overnight education experience on Catalina Island.

The school garden is a labor of love for teachers, students and parents. Students plant tomatoes, lettuce, onions, carrots and other vegetables and cultivate them for eating. The garden is a resource for nutritional education and an area for classes to read together under the shade of a large tree. Students sell seeds as a school fundraiser and use the funds raised for equipment for the garden.

Architects Sumner P. Hunt and Silas Burns designed the Spanish colonial-styled administrative building at the school. Hunt and Burns also designed the Automobile Club of Southern California on Figueroa Street at Adams Boulevard, the Ebell Club and Theater on Wilshire Boulevard and the Southwest Museum in Highland Park.

This close-knit school is serious about studying, which is evident by its increasing test scores. On any given day, you will find parent volunteers assisting with art activities, helping in the classroom, working in the garden and raising funds for all the extra educational experiences offered by the school. Thanks to grants, the students have been able to attend field trips at the Aquarium of the Pacific, California Science Center and the Cerritos Theater for the Performing Arts. Students have also benefited from programs such as the Columbia Writing Program and Accelerated Reader. The Natural History Museum, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, and Story Pirates (an interactive writing program) have been visitors to the Point Fermin campus bringing their interactive programs directly to the students.

“It is a momentous occasion as we celebrate 100 years of excellence in education at our school. I have always referred to Pt. Fermin as ‘the little lighthouse on the hill.’ We have stood as a shining light of hope, resource, and academic distinction that has endured for 100 years. Yes, we have a very proud history, but we also have a bright and promising future,” says Bonnie Taft, principal of Point Fermin Elementary.

“I know that as we begin the next hundred years, we will continue to be a brilliant beacon of light. A beaming light that brightly shines in our community, and offers continued merit, significance, and worth, in educating our wonderful students to be outstanding citizens of the 21st century. Students that not only excel in education, but students who will become our future leaders, innovators, and champions of the best in the human spirit that will touch every corner of the world,” concludes Taft. spt

For more information about Point Fermin Elementary, visit www.pointfermin-lausd-ca.schoolloop.com.

The Need to Modernize San Pedro High School

The educational facilities we provide our students have come a long way since I graduated from San Pedro High School in 1992.

After a group of community members recognized the need for a new local high school to educate underserved students in small, innovative learning environments, the Port of Los Angeles High School was opened in 2005. Today, POLAHS is an independent, college preparatory charter high school, home to 950 students.

In 2007, both Mary Star of the Sea High School and Rolling Hills Prep opened new campuses in San Pedro. Mary Star’s new campus on Taper Ave. opened to 500 students a year after being named one of the top 50 Catholic High Schools in America and Rolling Hills Prep off Palos Verdes Drive North opened to 250 students.

Last month, the opening of San Pedro High School’s John M. and Muriel Olguin Campus ushered in a new era for our students. It is the most modern and most green campus in the district and will be capable of generating 80% of its own power. It is the new home to 500 students who are enrolled in Marine Science, Mathematics Magnet or Police Academy Magnet courses.

While the addition of four new, modern campuses in less than ten years is an amazing feat, we have more work to do. We must ensure that the students attending the original San Pedro High School get their fair share of modern education technology and make sure there is not an inequity developing between the old and the new campuses.

Modernizing the original San Pedro High School campus needs to be our next step and we know how to do it. In 2009, voters approved Measure Q, a $7 billion bond that will pay for modernization of existing campuses. Measure Q is meant to resolve the inequity between the 125 new schools the LAUSD has recently built and the older 700 campuses, including SPHS, which need attention.

I agree with, and support, School Board member Dr. Richard Vladovic’s vision for San Pedro High School. This vision includes modernizing every building with a new look, implementing the latest technology, including wireless Internet and plans to replace books with tablet devices allowing the students access to much more than just the written word. His plans also call for the removal of the temporary bungalows, returning open space back to the students and returning onsite parking back to the teachers.

Some other features being considered include creating a physical connection between Dana Middle School and San Pedro High School by constructing a new 9th grade academy between the two campuses.

The building of the new schools has allowed the LAUSD to move off of the year-round multi-track system that many agree was flawed. Today, LAUSD scores are on the rise, especially in San Pedro. Almost every elementary school is close to or above an 800 API.

Education is important to my family and me. My wife and both my sisters are teachers in the LAUSD, so I am very well aware of the challenges they and their students face on a daily basis.

When I attended San Pedro High School, I constantly heard, “You are the next generation, you are our future.” Now that I have experienced what that really means, I will do whatever it takes to ensure our students have the best learning environments that we can afford to give them.

I wish all the students at POLA, RHP, SPHS, the Olguin Campus and Mary Star High School all the best. You are our future. spt