As the president of the school board, I would like to welcome all of our new and returning students, faculty, staff and administrators to the 2019-2020 school year! The beginning of the school year offers us the opportunity to reflect on our past accomplishments as we move forward with our district’s mission, vision and core values in mind.
I love living in South Pasadena because it is a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community. These values are reflected in our district’s mission statement: “A commitment to recognizing and valuing the diversity, backgrounds and abilities of all students and providing them the encouragement to reach their full potential.”
During the past school year, our district met significant goals, including the completion of the new STEM building at the high school. Our students were given access to challenging academic courses and diverse extracurricular programs in the arts, engineering, biomedical science, computer science, business and digital citizenship.
We provided our students with internship opportunities within our city to enable them to explore different career pathways. Additionally, we were able to expand our two Dual Language Immersion programs (Spanish and Mandarin) at the elementary level, offer our first Multicultural Literature course at the high school and engage our students throughout the district with culturally/linguistically responsive, LGBTQ positive and inclusive curricula.
Our students were given the opportunity to study about diverse historical, linguistic and cultural experiences and see themselves reflected in the curriculum — all things that educational research has shown to increase student achievement and narrow the opportunity gap.
This year, our district will undertake a number of bond-funded, new construction projects, including the renovation and conversion of the old middle school gymnasium into a black box theater and a flex art/STEM lab and the upgrading of the athletic facilities at the high school. We will continue to offer our students strong academic programs and curricula that not only prepare them for college and careers but also affirm their identities and give them the tools to be engaged, socially conscious and active citizens within the larger global community.
Suzie Abajian is president of the South Pasadena Unified School District school board.