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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.
Caption A closer look at John Mack Elementary School.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Jefferson Library: A Home with a History
The Jefferson Branch Library is the only structure along Jefferson Boulevard featured on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, with its rich history, was frequented by distinguished members of the African-American community while they were growing up. Today, the library remains a second home to the children in the Jefferson Park area.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Redeemer Baptist Church
Redeemer Baptist Church offers the Baptist community an intimate place to worship in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. Sunday services begin at 9:15 with Bible study groups, followed by worship and sermon for the whole church at 11 am. The worship is based largely on music and the lively congregation is not shy with outbursts of praise.
TEXT_GOES_HERE Murals Bring Life and Color to Jefferson
The murals along Jefferson Blvd. not only beautify the community, but they also bring community members together through the messages and feelings they set out to portray. In placing their unique images on the wall, the artists behind the murals, many of whom grew up or have spent a lot of time in the community, turned old buildings into bright, meaningful spectacles.

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.