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|John Mack Elementary School: Creating Citizens of the World|
Caption Students recite the days of the week in Ms. Catabijan's kindergarten class at John Mack Elementary School.
By Michelle LaRue
Children laugh and whistles blow on a Tuesday afternoon, where the students of John W. Mack Elementary School are running around the courtyard taking advantage of their recess period. Of the numerous elementary school located on Jefferson Boulevard between Vermont Street and La Cienega Boulevard, John Mack easily catches the eye with a brightly painted exterior, modern architectural design, and spacious outdoor courtyard. The kindergarten through fifth grade elementary school was founded in the year 2000, but looks like it was recently built. The condition of the school, along with the spirit of the teachers, staff, and children, makes this school one of the more appealing educational facilities on Jefferson Boulevard.
"In addition to teaching "the basics" - reading, writing, and arithmetic - the curriculum at John Mack strives to instill positive moral values in the students," said bridge coordinator Sabrina Frazier. Frazier said the theme of the school is to "Create Citizens of the World," so class lessons and activities are structured in a way that teaches students how to be good citizens, navigate between what is right and wrong, and create empathy and concern for other individuals. The teachers at John Mack encourage these concepts in a way that hopes to inspire students to be active members of the world in whatever capacity that may be.
Although John Mack Elementary does not excel in its California standardized test scores, the teachers and administrators encourage the students every day through fun and engaging learning activities like ice cream socials during test week. Frazier hopes encouraging activites will help to motivate students and improve test scores.
A day in the life of a John Mack Elementary student begins around seven-thirty in the morning when the school provides a free breakfast for the students. From about eight o'clock in the morning until two-thirty in the afternoon, the students are learning in their classrooms, with the exceptions of a twenty-minute recess in the morning and a forty-minute lunch break around noon.
John Mack Elementary offers two after school programs through the district, where students are able to stay after school until about five o'clock in the evening and get help with their homework and general tutoring in whatever classes in which they may be struggling. John Mack has also teamed up with the University of Southern California for an after school sports program where USC athletes - mainly basketball and soccer players - come to the elementary school and play sports with the students.
In an effort to promote community among all the grade levels in the school, advisors at John Mack organize all-school events such as an array of guest speakers or contests among the classes that are for a good cause. Plans for a "Mack Idol" night is in the works, where students will audition their talent and a select few will be chosen to perform in the Mack Idol Talent Show. A Haloween parade took place on Friday, October 30, where the students and teachers all dressed up in Haloween costumes and marched in a parade around the exterior of the school. Awards for best costumes were also given.
The racial dynamic at John Mack is seventy percent Hispanic/Latino students with the remaining balance made up of African Americans. The majority of the students are Catholic or practice other branches of Christianity. Bridge Coordinator Sabrina Frazier said the majority of the students live in the housing communities across the street from John Mack and if they do not live there, they live within two or three blocks of the school.
In downtown Los Angeles, Jefferson Boulevard can be a congested and fast-paced area, lacking a sense of true community. John Mack Elementary provides a genuine and nurturing communal environment for the young boys and girls on Jefferson Boulevard.