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New Garfield High auditorium makes its debut

Garfield High, East Los Angeles

The new Jaime Escalante Auditorium | Jesse Saucedo

Photos by Jesse Saucedo

EAST LOS ANGELES — Seven years after Garfield High‘s historic auditorium was destroyed by an arson fire, the school on Saturday held a ribbon-cutting for a new theater  that school officials hope will trigger a revival of arts on the East L.A. campus.

The Jaime Escalante Auditorium and Memorial Plaza looks nothing like its predecessor, a 1925 building  with paneled ceilings, murals and chandeliers. Instead,  the starkly-modern, 1,400-seat auditorium provides the campus a cutting-edge, audio-visual system, broadcast production studio and a facade covered with large, colorful images of performers and Escalante, the acclaimed math teacher who taught at the school and inspired the making of the  film, “Stand And Deliver.” A circular plaza separates the auditorium from a new three-story building that includes classrooms and administrative offices on Sixth Street.

Construction of the new auditorium was delayed by a dispute with the school district’s insurers.  The auditorium and new classrooms and offices had been expected to cost $54 million.

“The Garfield community is ecstatic over the ribbon cutting event of our new auditorium,” Garfield’s Principal Jose Huerta said in a school district statement. ” Our students will finally be able to showcase their talents in music, drama, and video production in a state-of-the art venue. The arts will come alive once again at Garfield Senior High School.”

East Los Angeles, Garfield High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East Los Angeles, Garfield High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East Los Angeles, Garfield High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East LA, Garfied High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East LA, Garfied High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East LA, Garfied High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

East LA, Garfied High

Photo by Jesse Saucedo

10 comments

  1. Who was the architect for the new auditorium building? It’s a striking piece of design. Every architect deserves to be credited for their work.

  2. Great article on the rebuilding of the auditorium at Garfield High School. While I am aware of the great accomplishments of Mr. Escalante, please know that Mr. Harold Mannywether dedicated his life to the students at Garfield HS for more than 30 years in the field of music which ties directly to the auditorium. Maybe it should have been named in honor of both men.

    • Agreed, Tony!

    • I agree, yet we must remember that we do have a gorgeous band room which is named after him. I was a band student when the band room was named in his honor and it was a wonderful moment for all of us. Being part of the band between 1996-2000, it was an honor to have a talented instructor like Mr. Mannywether. No one will ever compare to him.

  3. I’m not a big fan because it doesn’t honor any of the original architecture. Garfield High now will look like so many other LA high schools built during the early part of the last century and since updated, a hodgepodge of different architectural styles that make no sense.

    What a waste of an opportunity.

    • I agree with you. As an alumni, I am saddened by this new look. From the outside it seems like our students are walking into jail. The auditorium has nothing to do with our beautiful theatre auditorium we used to have which was modeled after an actual theatre. The details and design our auditorium had were marvelous. This will never compare or even come close to it. I’m surprised how they did not mention that the inspectors did say that the auditorium walls were ok and that they did not have to come down. It was not destroyed. LAUSD was the one that made the decision to bring down the auditorium and the building when they could’ve combined the original architecture and make it high tech at the same time.

  4. This architect for this project is gkkworks.

  5. I personally am not a fan of Jaime Escalante. I believe he did a lot for Garfield when he first became a teacher. My older siblings had him as a teacher and they say how great he was, but that unfortunately the fame went to his head and he forgot what his initial dream was. It happens.

    I personally stopped admiring him when he came out in the news in favor of California prop 227, which removed Bilingual Education in our schools. I personally do not think that a man who was in favor of something that affected our community should be honored in our High School which is composed of mostly Mexican/Mexican American students. We should honor those who made a difference for us like Sal Castro, David Sanchez, Moctesuma Esparza, Joseph Rodriguez, John Ortiz. People who made a difference by supporting and walking out for our right to equal education in 1968. Ruben Salazar, a Mexican reporter who came here as a little boy and supported the Chicano Movement, killed when he was covering the National Chicano Moratorium March in 1970. These are the people we need to honor in our schools, not someone who left to Sacramento, forgot about our community and still chose to be in favor of a proposition that clearly affected our communities as well as all non native English speakers communities.

    Our students should not be taught to be proud about a man who later turned against our community.

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