Saturday, October 13, 2007


by Saharra White - LA CityBeat

October 11 - Garfield High School, best known to the outside world as the setting for the 1988 film Stand and Deliver – starring Edward James Olmos as real-life math teacher and tough-love mentor Jaime Escalante – has always been an integral part of the East L.A. community. “It is the only high school in the unincorporated territory of East Los Angeles,” says Garfield Principal Omar Del Cueto. “So in this neighborhood, when you say old school, the only old school that comes to mind is Garfield High School.”

That community rallied around the school when its auditorium burned down last May, allegedly at the hands of an angry student. Concerned residents called the Los Angeles Unified School District to help in the rebuilding of the historic local landmark, built in 1927. Now, the LAUSD, the Garfield Alumni Foundation, and others have teamed up to organize a benefit concert to raise reconstruction funds. The concert will take place Sunday at the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal CityWalk. Performers include Garfield graduates Los Lobos and Chicano artists such as Little Willie G, El Chicano, and Tierra.

The old auditorium hosted everything from the principal’s mass meetings with students to plays and award ceremonies. Politicians also used it as a venue to address neighborhood concerns. “It really is the heart of the community. So many things have happened here,” Del Cueto says. For the time being, the school has moved such functions to its gymnasium and cafeteria.

The cost to rebuild the auditorium is estimated between $20 and 40 million, most but not all covered by insurance. So far the school has received $80,000 in donations from the public. Donations can be made at Bank of America to the “Fund to Rebuild Garfield Auditorium,” created by the LAUSD.

“Who knows how many times someone has held hands with their sweetheart for the first time or stole a kiss when the lights went down, just the memories that were formed in that auditorium are difficult to describe,” Del Cueto says.


GARFIELD BENEFIT CONCERT FEATURING LOS LOBOS. Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, (818) 626-4440. Sun. at 5:45 p.m. Tickets from $39.75. Info: or

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