The 20th century was still young when Malabar Elementary School in Boyle Heights first opened its doors.
The year was 1913 and women were fighting for the right to vote. Woodrow Wilson was president for part of the year; William Howard Taft took over in March. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving the Federal government the right to impose and collect taxes, and in December of that year, the Ford Motor Company introduced the first moving assembly line.
The Mexican Revolution was raging on and four years later the U.S. would enter World War I.
At Malabar Elementary, the first of many generations of students would start their education.
On Sept. 20, current and former students, faculty and families, and several local officials will mark Malabar’s centennial milestone with a community celebration that will include live entertainment and a walk down memory lane.
A committee of volunteers has spent the last year researching the school’s history and digging through archives looking for old photos and other memorabilia. They also spent a lot of time searching for alumni from years ago, according to Rosa Overstreet, a veteran Malabar teacher who is part of the Centennial Planning Committee.
Some of the school’s former teachers and alumni will be the guests of honor at the celebration, she said. Pre-recorded interviews of others with ties to the school, along with displays of old photos and memorabilia will also be part of the festivities, Overstreet said. Some of the people interviewed are now in their 90s, she told EGP.
Much has changed at the school, in the world, and in the Boyle Heights neighborhood since Malabar opened 100 years ago.
Today, Boyle Heights is predominately Latino, but for a good part of the 1900s it was more diverse, Jewish, Japanese, Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans residents lived, worked and went to school side by side. Overstreet told EGP the racially restrictive housing at the time in downtown Los Angeles and other communities, caused the diversity in Boyle Heights.
She said many of the alumni they have spoken with remember everybody really “getting along.”
Malabar students from each grade level having been practicing different dances to perform on the special day, to pay homage to the school’s multi-cultural history.
Vintage photos located by centennial celebration organizers are already up on the school’s website , including photos of the original four-classroom schoolhouse being built. The original building is still on the school site, along with several building additions over the years.
The public is being invited to add any old photos they may have of Malabar to the school’s photo archive display; photos will be scanned and returned to the owner.
The Malibar Elementary Centennial event will take place Sept. 20 from 9am to 12:30pm at 3200 E Malabar St, Los Angeles, CA 90063.
Money raised through grants and donations are being used to fund the event.
For more information, contact Malabar Elementary at (323) 261-1103.