Wednesday, May, 21, 2003
Youths at campuses in
disadvantaged areas meet
with success as they
Schools See ‘an Awakening’ of Student Activism
By Erika Hayasaki
Times Staff Writer
Roosevelt High School's newly appointed
principal, Cecilia Quemada, had barely been
on the job for a month when a group of
student activists approached her with a list of
requests last October.
The teenagers, who are members of an
organization called United Students, spoke
passionately about improving education for
the 5,100 students who attend the severely
overcrowded campus on Los Angeles'
Eastside. The school is notorious for low test
scores, and in 2001 it was one of 13 schools
in California, and 10 in Los Angeles Unified,
targeted for reform by the state.
The students wanted more information on
college preparatory courses and graduation
requirements, improved academic counseling
and culturally relevant social studies classes
emphasizing the history of Latinos, who
make up the majority of the student body.
"The administration was making all of these rules we
had to follow, but we didn't really know what was
going on," said Rene Martinez, 16, a Roosevelt
student. "It wasn't fair, so we decided we had
to do something about it."
Quemada had been charged with the task of
revitalizing the campus, after the
Site coordinators Lizette Patron, right, and Lester Garcia, center, and Garfield High School student Rene
Martinez attend a meeting of United Students at Inner City Struggle headquarters in East Los Angeles