Students leave Roosevelt High School on an ordinary day earlier this year. Photo by Andrew Roman

The Los Angeles Unified school board gave final approval Tuesday to a proposed $173 million reconstruction project at Theodore Roosevelt High School that will raze 11 of the campus’ oldest and most historic buildings –including the iconic original “R” building.

KPCC reported that many current students supported the plan to put up six new, state-of-the-art buildings on the 96-year-old campus, while some alumni and preservationists decried that the project will remove significantly historic buildings tied to the 1968 mass student walkouts or Blowout.

Roosevelt was one of five Eastside schools that participated in the walkouts. The principal Blowout activities –both a student sit-in and a school district assembly– were held in the “R” building, which holds classrooms and the school’s original auditorium.

In an editorial this month in the Los Angeles Times, architect and scholar Luis Hoyos argued that the “R” building belongs in the National Registry of HIstoric Places and that few structures on that list are related to the Chicano movement. He wrote that LAUSD could still upgrade the campus and preserve its historic assets.

“We could try building adaptation, an accepted practice worldwide in which partial preservation is combined with new construction,” Hoyos wrote. “The Roosevelt campus encompasses more than 22 acres; this abundance of land affords flexibility.”

But some supporters of the school district’s Comprehensive Modernization Project said that not going forward with the plan would deny students some of the very demands expressed in the ‘68 Blowout.

“The proposed project will bring the long awaited 21st century state of the art classrooms and facilities the Roosevelt community has long deserved!,” read a statement released Tuesday by Inner City Struggle, a local organization that rallied parents and students to support the plan.

“We know the history and legacy of Roosevelt high school lives far beyond its physical buildings and as parents have stated during community hearings, ‘it is the teachers, not the building who will teach their children.’”

Photo above by  Andrew Roman

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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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