Seven Years Later: Garfield High Auditorium Rises from the Ashes

By City News Service

A ribbon-cutting was held Saturday for a state of the art new auditorium at Garfield High School, to replace a beloved East Los Angeles landmark that burned down nearly seven years ago.

Eastside politicians and LAUSD officials, including Superintendent John Deasy, opened the new theater, which was carefully designed and built to mimic the old one.

Generations of Garfield alums and parents were heartbroken when the old theater burned in a fire set by a freshman student on May 20, 2007, which caused an estimated $30 million in damage. Chandeliers, but not much else, was salvaged from the 82-year-old hall.

LAUSD Board Member Mónica García, Elected Officials, LAUSD Officials and community members cut the ribbon on the new state-of-the-art auditorium and the Jaime Escalante Memorial Plaza. (Courtesy of Lizette Patrón)

LAUSD Board Member Mónica García, Elected Officials, LAUSD Officials and community members cut the ribbon on the new state-of-the-art auditorium and the Jaime Escalante Memorial Plaza. (Courtesy of Lizette Patrón)

A weakened administration building and auditorium remnants were bulldozed in 2010, and a new auditorium, administration building and central plaza was constructed from the ashes. Jaime Escalante Memorial Plaza is named for the late Garfield math teacher, who inspired generations of students and the movie “Stand And Deliver.”

The new auditorium includes a state-of-the-art audio-visual system, broadcast production studio and finishes that mirror the original structure. There is an extensive use of glass and metal panels as well as a glass wall at the front of the auditorium with images of each type of performing arts genre.

The Jaime Escalante Memorial Plaza is a 4,000-square-foot structure that includes memorial pavers, benches, special lighting and a mosaic tile mural.

“East Los Angeles has its own unique identity and generations of residents have attended Garfield High School,” said County Supervisor Gloria Molina. “The auditorium was full of many fond memories — and now with the new auditorium many more will be made.”

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April 10, 2014  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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