School named for Sandra Cisneros to open in Echo Park
This fall, elementary and middle school students will walk through the doors of the brand new Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy in Echo Park. Although it's not the first school in the Los Angeles Unified School District to be named for an author, the honor is rare.
When it comes to school names in LAUSD, there is a preponderance of places -- Canoga Park, City Terrace, Corona Avenue are elementaries. And there are plenty of presidents -- John Adams, James Madison and William Jefferson Clinton are all middle schools; high schools are named for John F. Kennedy and Ulysses S. Grant. Some schools have names that are eminently plainspoken: Magnolia Science Academy 5, say, not to be confused with Magnolia Science Academy 4 or Magnolia Science Academy 6.
Other notables also have been given naming honors: There are schools named for boxer Oscar de la Hoya, Beethoven, Florence Nightingale, Jackie Robinson, John A. Sutter of the Gold Rrush era Sutter's Mill, lawyer Johnnie Cochran, flier Orville Wright and activists César Chávez and Rosa Parks.
Although LAUSD officials were unable to provide a list of schools named after authors, out of more than 200 in the district, we found five. There is Washington Irving Middle School -- Irving wrote "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." There are middle schools named for Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost and transcendentalist essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. An elementary school is named for children's book author and illustrator Maurice "Where the Wild Things Are" Sendak. And some students attend Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School, named for the author of "Treasure Island" and, um, "Kidnapped."
Cisneros is the author of "Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories" and "The House on Mango Street." Her family migrated from Mexico to Chicago, where she was born in 1954. Cisneros was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 1995. She lives in Texas and is involved in two foundations that foster creative writing.
Parents and administrators involved in the Camino Nuevo charter school, which is part of the L.A. school district, put forward her name for the new K-8 academy slated to open in September. This month, the LAUSD Board of Education decided to change the name of Central Region Elementary School No. 14 to Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy.
The school will be located near Sunset and Alvarado in Echo Park.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: Sandra Cisneros in 2002. Credit: Tommy Hultgren / For The Times