An exciting new academic venture opened on Friday in the neighborhood: the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), an LAUSD college prep school for girls…which focuses on the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
The newly-painted white and purple school, located in a separate structure on the northeast corner of the Los Angeles High School campus on Olympic Boulevard, was bubbling with sixth and ninth graders ready to cut the ribbon and march onto the field to start the new year at a new school.
Principal Liz Hicks opened the ceremony with the story of her four year effort to get an all-girls school up and running after her own daughter visited, and eventually attended on scholarship, the all-girls Marlborough School on Rossmore Ave.
“Never underestimate the the power of a question,” Hicks told the assembled student body, all clad in purple. “Why can’t we have an all-girls school in LAUSD? Why not?” she said. After many rejections and tenacious re-workings of the plan, Hicks finally found the support and GALA was born. “The opportunity that has been reserved for a select few can now be available to many and our doors open to everyone who wants a single-gender education.”
An all-boys LAUSD school will open next year at Washington Prep High School.
First Lady of Los Angeles Amy Wakeland also spoke at the opening day celebration, sharing the story of her own challenges in staying in school, given her family’s needs, financial support and not having gone to an exemplary high school. “I almost dropped out in my sophomore year of college at a small liberal arts school,” she told the young women. “But they believed in me, and with support from the school, it gave me the confidence to soar.”
Michelle King, LAUSD Superintendent, told the crowd, “You will have these bonds of sisterhood carrying you through life. You will be the leaders in STEM fields of the future.”
In addition, there were remarks from Holly Mitchell, Senator from the 30th District, Steve Zimmer, President of the LAUSD Board, and Dr. George McKenna, LAUSD Board Member.
GALA is opening this year with grades six and nine, and expects to add an additional class each year to eventually reach capacity in 2019-20 with 700 students in grades 6-12. The inaugural class draws students from 69 public and private schools, and from 49 zip codes across the Los Angeles area.