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Lockin' In Lockwood

I braved the heavy rains to finally meet with Lockwood Elementary School principal Andrea Donahoo on Wednesday, along with Paula Dominguez, one of the school’s staff member – a meeting that had been delayed not once but twice last week, mainly due to District business the principal had to adhere to. We talked about planning for the EHNC Youth and Education Committee’s East Hollywood Junior Neighborhood Council (EHJNC) program – a  body of 18 elementary school student representatives from East Hollywood’s public and private schools (three from each school). The EHJNC was approved by the EHNC back in October and is designed to encourage elementary school kids to express their needs as youth in our community (youth aged 17 and under make up 26% of our neighborhood’s population!) through interactive group activities, planned to take place at the Cahuenga Branch Library every other month. The EHJNC would this make periodic presentations to the EHNC as the voice our community’s youth. The end result: Kids developing leadership skills, including public speaking, personal confidence and community engagement.

The selection process for kids in the EHJNC was originally thought by our Y&E committee as an outreach and awareness effort, but Ms. Donahoo explained that not only is the school short-staffed, but most of her 4th and 5th grade teachers are out on maternity leave, and substitutes are currently in their place! She recommended we outreach to the five memebers of Lockwood’s existing Student Council, write letters to their parents explaining the program and setting up an informational meeting with the parents before launching the EHJNC.

At this point, it’s more important to get a pilot group off the ground and develop from that, so it sounds like a plan. She did say that for many families, having them commit to weekend meetings could be challenging due to other Saturday commitments (athletics, religious study classes, etc) but we’ll deal with that when we get there. I did like how she summed up the purpose of the EHJNC as something simple as “Developing leadership skills.”

I also talked to the principal about the Y&E Committee’s planned Big Sunday volunteer project (a planned beautification project for the Cahuenga Library and the nearby Lockwood and Lexington schools, but she informed me that the entire school is going on a field trip to The Getty on May 1, and that there’s no serious beautification need on the school grounds or surrounding the campus.

On Thursday I’ll get to meet with her counterpart at my elementary alma mater, Ramona – Mr. James Hum. It’s another meeting that’s long-awaited, which was arranged (after months of phone calls and emails) by simply walking into the main office and requesting a meeting. I’ve learned that in working with schools, just walking in is the best way to communicate with people – phone calls rarely get returned!

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