New Roosevelt Gym. Photo courtesy of LAUSD.

The words “Home of the Rough Riders” are emblazoned on the front of the new, ultramodern gym at Roosevelt High School. The gym and a new classroom building are part of a multi-million dollar modernization project at the almos 100-year-old campus.

The new classroom building. Photo by LAUSD

The buildings’ completion was celebrated this week at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by students, alumni and elected officials. Both have been in use for several weeks by students at the four campus high schools  – the gym since May and the classroom building since classes began in August.

Local elected officials at Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony included Los Angeles Unified School District board member Mónica García, councilmembers Kevin De León and Gil Cedillo, State Assemblymembers Miguel Santiago and Wendy Carrillo and State Senator María Elena Durazo.

Carrillo, whose district includes East Los Angeles and parts of Boyle Heights and is a Roosevelt alum, spoke to ABC7:

“To know that now we are reopening Roosevelt High School amid COVID in a brand new structure to really symbolize for students in this community that their education matters, that they matter and that we are investing in their future, and that just means the world to me.” 

Budgeted at $178 million when announced in 2018, the $190 million project will also include a new Administration/Wellness Clinic/Classroom Building and a Performing Arts Center – all to be completed by Spring of 2023. Funding for the project came from a bond approved by voters 12 years ago.

Roosevelt High School in 2013. Photo by Andrew Roman.

On Tuesday –the day after the ribbon-cutting– the LAUSD board approved another $26 million in funds from a separtate bond, which will allow it to expand and upgrade the football, baseball, softball and track and field areas – putting the total cost of the Roosevelt modernization project at $216 million.

No construction dates for the newly approved improvements were announced.

Some local opposition to overhaul

The Roosevelt modernization project faced some opposition from local residents, alumni and preservationists opposed to the razing of an auditorium and classroom building –known as the “R” building– because of its historic value and ties to the 1968 East LA Walkouts.

But the district and several of the attendees at the ribbon-cutting distanced themselves from that controversy by saying that the modernization project celebrates the achievements gained by student protests more than 50 years ago.

García actually borrowed a term from Mexican history – “niños héroes,” or child heroes– to refer to the students who participated in the walkouts:

“We celebrate investment in our youth and communities! We celebrate the actions that fulfill the promise this district made to los niños heroes y la niñas heroes, who demanded equal access to quality facilities and education in Los Angeles Unified. We are grateful to each and every student, staff, voter, and community partner that made this possible. The future is bright.”

Cedillo, who also graduated from Roosevelt, said:

“I am, of course, of the Chicano era and of the Chicano movement. And, those were our demands, those were our interests. We wanted dignity, we wanted respect. But most of all we wanted equity. We wanted to have the same types of resources, the same types of commitments and same type of promise that all of the young people throughout this region had.”

In a speech at the ceremony América Muñoz –a senior at Roosevelt’s Math Science Technology Academy and president of the Associated Student Body– said:

“I am an example of generations of Rough Riders in my family and the community, and this campus is more than a high school. It is a monument for the Boyle Heights community and seeing this modernization represents a sense of empowerment for our Chicano history as we progress towards a better future. These facilities will provide a comfortable and safe environment for our current and future scholars. We deserve these facilities and we will make the most use of them and to the future rough rides, be kind to what has been given to you and we may all continue to look forward to this beautiful journey.”

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Boyle Heights Beat

Boyle Heights Beat is a bilingual community newspaper produced by its youth "por y para la comunidad". The newspaper and its sister website serve an immigrant neighborhood in East Los Angeles of just under...

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