Good afternoon – This is day we thought would never come — look at us here, look at me. I’m smiling so hard it hurts!
THREE YEARS AGO almost to the day we stood in a tent – I called it magic that day - on this spot and broke ground for this project; that was a joyous and bittersweet day. We had just lost Denny Smith …who had wanted so much to be with us. We missed Denny that day as we missed Jack. They will never walk the halls of this building, they will never attend a community meeting in this room or pull a book from the shelves of the library upstairs – but close your eyes and they are here, next to us, urging us on. Urging the children and the teachers on – reminding us that where we live is an anthill ….and it is our job to make a mountain of it.
Today is the culmination of well over a decade of collaboration and battles with LAUSD and ourselves, involving the Mount Washington community, civic leaders, community activists, schoolchildren grown to young adulthood, politicians, teachers, a cast of characters from Jack’s columns and most notably Mount Washington’s First Family: the late Jack and Denny Smith.
That Jack and Denny have a children’s library as their memorial is as apropos as Mulholland’s fountain. That’s what they were about.
Our adventure has its parallels in the adventures of Jack and Denny in building their Baja dream home recounted in “God and Mr. Gomez” – and indeed it was only through the grace of God and Mr. & Mrs. Smith that our dream comes true this morning. Jack lived the beginning of the adventure and he would’ve loved and relished the convoluted entirety of it. Had he written of it as it was going on it would’ve been infinitely more fun. Jack was a journalist and always told the truth, but he also heeded the storyteller’s credo and left every story better than he found it! He did that over 6000 times in over 6000 columns over thirty-seven years.
When I first came to this school I had the hand of a kindergartener in my hand – last Friday she completed her work and turned in her eleventh grade books – she is today a high school senior.
On that day I noticed that this school – this truly extraordinary school – had no cafeteria, auditorium or even a real library. I soon met other parents and community members who had noticed the same thing. This is
We had a vision. We had a challenge. And we had a struggle before us. And not to whine about it ….but it’s taken far too long to get to here today.
You know those motivational posters with the iconic solo mountain climber in a blizzard struggling up a steep rockface? PERSEVERANCE. Ours isn’t not much of a mountain …but here we are!
We are here thanks to a lot of folks I’m not going to thank personally, we know who they are – you know who you are.
I am going to thank the generations of schoolkids and their teachers who since the sixties have attended this school without the core facilities it has needed …and this community was promised. And I’m going to thank the voters and taxpayers who voted and paid all the school bond moneys from BB, through K, R and Y –
- So that all kids will have Schools in their neighborhoods
- So no children will be forced to ride the bus
- So that we have Full Day kindergarten in very elementary school …and that David (Tokofsky) is your legacy to this district.
- So that schools are made whole
- And so we can end the year-round/multi-track calendar once and for all.
Five or six years ago I moderated a campaign debate among eleven candidates for City Council upstairs in the rotunda – the makeshift-for-forty-years auditorium of this school and elicited a campaign promise from each and every one of them to get this building built. The one who won that election kept that promise – I’m not thanking any individuals today – but we remember who you are Eric (Garcetti)
Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – there are other schools in this district lacking in core facilities. That will not do. When we are done building all the schools and fixing up the old ones 200,000 kids will still be attending class in temporary portable bungalows. That will not do.
Today is a truly wonderful day for the kids of
But we have a way to go. Onward!