Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dear Readers: This is the last of the Halloween tales students have written for me. Jimmy Pierry has some natural writing talent!  He's working on a series of pieces to discover what genre suits him best. Happy Halloween to all of you!

By Jimmy Pierry
Screams ring out, ripping through the morning mists of the concealed village.  Terror grasps hold of the morning dew as it drifts from person to person.  Small and remote, all in this land feel the same angst and panic as the next as the rising sun reveals an image damaging to any psyche, a twisted young body, mauled by the beast.  Again it struck in a raging swiftness, a speed unknown to man and their hearts began dying just as quickly. 
“Third child in a month’s time, this beast must be dealt with soon or they will all perish,” these thoughts crunch in the lead hunter’s mind as numbers do a mathematician.  Surveying the body of the poor young soul, the hunter takes in what little is left, imagining in his mind the type of creature, type of sadistic animal that would harm such a harmless being.  This kill is clean, too clean for that of a large mammal yet much too devastating for that of a small carnivore.  More and more questions fill his mind, unfazed by the destruction lying, so red, before him.  Torn flesh lie quietly, a silent gesture emphasizing two stone cold eyes staring back up at the experienced man’s own.  A feeling of resentment puffed in his chest, leaving in a heavy sigh as his wits are simply not enough to uncover the mystery behind the murderous culprit. 
Frigid waters pour from the sky, drenching the already frosted ground with tears from the heavens as it is much too cold for rain.  This phenomenon can only be explained with the occurrence of another.  Digging his hands into the soggy, fresh smelling earth as he always does, the hunter prepares himself for what he already knows will be the hunt of his life.  Lifting the clumps of dirt and mossy grass to his nose, pools of water flood into the holes of displaced dirt, filling the caverns created by the monstrous hands.  Standing up, his large toned frame now looms over the dismantled body and the purposefully left face, mocking the abilities of the hunter, daring him to find the one responsible.  “Honor,” thunder cracks at the sound of his voice, rarely a word ever creeps out of the large, silent man.  All heads around the makeshift crime scene turn and all eyes glare in amazement at the power of their inspirational figure, standing, promising vengeance.  Electricity begins to dance now, tantalizing each villager’s mind with what seems to be the hunter’s aura, stronger than any has felt before.  Dusk now broke, giving way to a night that would forever be remembered as the darkest night ever to have scoured the earth. 
That night, the night so dark that light itself fled, poured its devious black light onto the man, surrounding his body with the menacing colors of the depths.  Reaching out his loose and strangely calm hand, it disappears within inches from his eyes, eaten swiftly by the sharp teeth of the night.  Plodding on, his feet move gingerly along the estranged path, deeper and deeper into the snow covered woods.  Soon, as time passed with each birch, the man’s eyes gain vision, growing accustomed to the vivid darkness.  Far behind him, the village crouches, hiding its life behind a white capped hill, whispering to him in the wind, “You belong, not here, but with your heart, out there.” 
          Blowing flush in his face, the winter winds kiss his cheeks red, making its mark on his heart.  Abruptly, his mind focuses, and his body ceases to obey, frozen as the tree limbs resting sweetly in their icy graves.  Before him, massive and swift in its movements, a shadow, darker than even this night, swings around, glaring two pure blue orbs in the man’s direction, seemingly illuminating against the darkened surroundings.  A snap and a snarl accompany the devious eyes, compounding an image into the man’s now acute brain.  “Lupus…” the word float away in the breeze, carried away with the feelings of fear and angst, and replaced with infatuation.  The creature paces back and forth, marking its territory with a gaze so fierce time seemingly stands still. 
          Slowly, the man’s grip loosens from his spear, blood flow returning his white knuckles to red.  His gaze never once leaves those eyes, those tantalizing, glowing planets of blue, the Earth herself, and never will they until they disappear.  Beauty, obscurity, mystery; the three things he desires most.  Falling to his knees, numbness takes hold, euphoria dancing through his soul.  Driving his hands through the snow packed ground, spiteful twinges, which are a norm for this cold, are nonexistent, hidden by the warmth rolling down his rose-red cheeks.  All around him is nature, telling him what is already clear, telling him his path ends here, in the hands of the unknown.  Calmly, the beast approaches the man, its warm breath pushing aside his short, dark brown hair resting on his forehead.  Still eye to eye, his frigid, soaked hands erect from the grave, patting the now patient beast as it, too, knows what is to be done.  Trapped in a timeless vortex, the woods stand still and sound is absent in anticipation for what now shall unfold.
    Rivers begin to flow heavy, steaming around the man’s body in awkward, heated paths.  As vivid as the blue eyes which now stare directly into the man’s heart, a blanket of red sprawls from underneath the massive paws of the massive beast, darkness and mystery encapsulated into life.  Finishing what is left, the shadow drifts back into the deep woods, carrying with it the light of humanity, and two, shimmering blue eyes. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dear Readers:
The spark of good writing can come from just letting children create and create and create. That’s what we do in the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing workshop at the Corner Store. Are the students grammar and spelling skills perfect? Not yet. But they sure learning much to do about writing!
Here is another bewitching story by an 11-year-old.
Ten Zombies and a Witch
By McKenna
The witch said to me: “I will kill you!”
But before we get to that, I will tell you about what happened before…Hold on. Let me flip through my book. Aah, here we are:
It was Halloween night and all through the house, not a thing stirred except for the HAUNTED HALLOWEEN HOUSE NEXT DOOR! It was a dark and rainy night and I was going to the Haunted House with my best friend Emma.
Well, I was dressed up as an evil witch with a jiggling  wart on my nose. Same with Emma. When we went to the gate of the spooky mansion, it creaked open. With one step, we fell what seemed like 20,000 feet. Well, may it was only several feet, but it was really scary.
We got up and brushed ourselves off.
“It was a trapdoor,” I whispered to Emma.
“Here’s a staircase,” said Emma.
We started to climb so we could get out and then suddenly there was a shriek and a cackle. There stood a witch and when she spotted me, she said: “I will kill you!”
With one snap of her fingers, a bowling bowl appeared.
We tried to run but ten zombies came toward us and then we died.
Don’t even ask how I am here to talk to you now.
That’s is a different story.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Dear Readers: Another great piece of spookiness from the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshop for young students done at the Corner Store. Merry Haunts! Diana

The Green Zombie
By Shersten Rosenfeld, 10
Once on Oct. 31st, I was trick-or-treating with my friends Kealan, Lina and my brother, Sean. When we reached 37th Street, I saw something suspicious.
I saw a zombie’s shadow dancing in the moonlight.  I Iooked back and saw a zombie  with green, wrinkled skin and yellowing beaming eyes.
“Ah,” I screamed.
My friends looked back and saw it too. We ran until we reached Ghoul Road!
“That was creepy,” I said, gulping air.
“I see him!” shouted my brother.
“Stop joking Sean,” I laughed. “We ran like three miles. He couldn’t catch up.”
“Oh no, he’s right,” said Kealan.
“Ahh,” screamed Lina.
I looked back and saw the zombie was trying to snatch  Lina.
“Lina,” I screamed, running as fast as I could to help her.
“Hey Zombie, want some brains,” I said. The zombie turned back.
“Brains,” it murmured.
“Come on, we’ve got three of them here,” I said.
“Brains,” it murmured again.
It lunged toward me with Lina. It tried to get me, but I grabbed Lina and we ran.
We ran and ran until we reached my house. The zombie caught up to us.
“Ahhh,” we all screamed.
“Ha! Ha!” The zombie took off his mask. “It’s only me.
“Dad,” I said.
We all started laughing. It was fun Halloween night after all.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Readers: OK, so I can’t resist. When kids tell a good tale, they deserve to share and publish it. So here it goes. Another bewitching story for you. Happy ghouling this Halloween!  Diana
My Grandpa’s Floating Head
By Veronica Gray, 11
  My Grandpa Jones (that’s what I call him) was the best warrior. I don’t know where, but he told me a story about his young life when he had a whole body.
“Jan, can you please scratch my chin?”
“Sure, Grandpa,” I said. “But can you tell a story of your young life when you had a body?”
“O.K. Fine. I was in the jungle washing my clothes when a strange beast crept up behind the bush and growled. I got so scared I dove into the lake that I was washing my clothes in and once I got to the other side, I ran as fast I could go. I leaped over rocks, but the other side was filled with strange beasts that were scarlet red.
 I saw them and ran the other direction until I hit the water again. I ran on the sand until I saw camp and I was shocked that nobody was there. I swam across the lake and ran to camp. The end.”
“Well, what happened to your body?!” I asked.
“That’s a different story. You just asked about when I had a body. Now rub my feet.
“Grandpa, you don’t have feet!” I exclaimed.
 “Oh, yeah and massage my beard,” Grandpa added.
“You don’t have a beard!”
“O.K. So stroke my moustache.”
“Nooooo, Grandpa. You are going to have to have my brother do that.”
“Pete,” I yelled. “Grandpa wants you!”

Monday, October 25, 2010


Dear Readers: Over the past few weeks, students in the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshop at the Corner Store have written some spooky tales. This blends quite well with Halloween, so I plan to run several for the remainder of the week. Happy Spoooooooks to you! Diana


By Sean Rosenfeld, 8

Once upon a time, I watched a movie called the Crawling Eye. On the front of the movie, it said: “True Story.”

I did not fall for that. Do you know how fake that is?

So one Halloween night, we were trick-or-treating on a rocky mountain and there was a gondola that took you to the top of the mountain. We dared my friend to go up, so he did. There was a fog at the top of the mountain. In the movie, wherever the fog was, the crawling eye was. That was when we got scared. 

So anyway, you know how I dared my friend to go up to the mountain? Well, he did not come down. In the movie, the crawling eye rips their heads off. When my one friend didn’t come down, the other friend decided to go up.

But he didn’t come down either. Then, I went up. I was going up, up, up. I tiptoed off. On my second step, I saw the time and it was 12 o’clock. It was dark and cold and I could see clouds.

I jumped when I heard this crawling-like sound. I started crying. I saw this shadow and I saw frozen people. They were my friends. I did not know where their heads were. Then, I saw them on the ground with their eyes wide open and their mouths filled with blood.
Then it grabbed me. My eyes went dark.

Everything went black.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last Day Off performs for Thomas Jefferson High School students. Students enjoyed  the pop-Disney band, a style that goes against the mainstream of today's rap and hip-hop music. (Photos provided by the non-profit P.A.C.E).

By Diana L. Chapman
Coming home off a successful six-week summer tour, the local band Last Day Off  received another string toward success, landing tours for the remainder of the year at dozens of Los Angeles high and middle schools.
 In addition, several clubs have asked them to return and they received their first paying gig to perform before the popular band, Adema, in Medford, Oregon.
 The reaction at the schools has been “overwhelming,” said Thomas Heck, a program director at the nonprofit P.A.CE., Promoting Academics through Creative Expression, who booked the Last Day Off after he listened to their music and interviewed them.
He picked the group, he said, because their lyrics were clean, the music was unique, reminiscent of old school rock and they had a message: school was valuable no matter who you are.
“They are perfect fit,” said Heck, who witnesses most of their performances at various middles and senior high schools throughout  Los Angeles. “The kids love them to death. The girls are like: “I love you. I love you.” And the guys are like this is so cool.
“It’s worked really well so far.”
Students have the chance to discuss school and the band's career choices after the play.

Besides school performances, the group will unveil their first video debut “Mrs. Right”  and release their acoustical C.D. at a high school-themed dance party at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at the Grand Visions Building, 434 Sixth Street. Tickets cost $10.
Having visited 22 Boys and Girls Club at the state of California this summer, Wolf Bradley, 17, the band’s lead singer, said while they had fans before, the interest sky-rocketed after visiting at the clubs – where he himself first learned and became interested in music.
They receive e-mails such as:
 “You guys are koool and hot…”
“Andrew is a cutie…”
“Humm, you weren’t wearing makeup but you’re so gorgeous. Love you Wolf Bradley.”
The boys send more serious messages asking how they could get their own bands started. Some club members were so taken by the Pop-Punk Disney-style band, they demanded the group be invited back.
And they’re going. It seems doors are opening for Wolf and three other band members, drummer Andrew Mocatrao, 18, guitarist Jonathan Barron, 20, and bassist, Ryan Barker, 19.
All the band members were ecstatic with their success, said Wolf, who is finding the situation “humbling.”
 Weeks later, he was still shaking his head trying to understand why  a 12-year-old girl at one of the clubs started crying when he gave her one of their C.Ds. “Every time I saw her, she’d cry more. I’d just never had that happen to me. Before we booked the tour, we had fans, but now we have hardcore fans.”
Wolf and his mother, Cindy, decided that the band should visit as many Boys and Girls Clubs as possible because that’s where the seed for the band began.
As a middle class boy, Wolf stayed at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro after school and began to learn about music at its recording studio. His mentors there, he said, helped launch his music career.  It helps, he added, that he comes from a family of performers. His mother and father, Patrick, own the San Pedro Ballet School, and have aided the band on its tours.
“They just get bombarded after shows,” said Cindy, who manages the group. “The sky is the limit for them because of their commitment and their talent. They’re all totally committed to their music. They rehearse everyday that they are not performing.”
For the Bradleys, it was a difficult decision to allow Wolf to leave his senior year in high school to pursue his musical career, but one they believed was the right choice to move the band forward.  He will take the GED (General Educational Development)  this summer to earn his high school diploma.
Heck, the PACE program director, said he had no issues with the decision, because the program targets students who decided that dropping out would be a better option than struggling with the daily stress of trying to maintain their grades and getting their work done on time.

With Wolf getting his GED and the other band members having already received their diplomas, the group often tells the students they can’t obtain anything – without a high school degree.

“They are just a great bunch of kids,” Heck said of the band. “Wolf realized the importance to get his degree so he’s going back. This has worked really well so far and the kids are receiving the message.”
PACE’s interest has helped sparked further interest in several bands on their track to stardom such as FDM (Geffen), The New Boyz (Warner Brothers) and Lil Niko (Def Jam).

Last Day Off is now available on Rockband: 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Readers: On my new blog, I posted a piece about whether Jimmy Hoffa might be buried in my backyard. Find out why at:
 DEA Agent Enrique "Kiki" Carmarena was killed while following the trail of drug traffickers in Mexico.

In yet another attempt to help children understand the dangers of drugs, the San Pedro Alano Club – which aides people to recover from drug and alcohol addictions --  has launched a contest with cash prizes for students grade one through 12.
Students interested in participating are asked to share  “Why I Choose to be drug free” in 500 words or less, said Bob Ahl, the general manager and director of the San Pedro Alano Club.
“Our hope is that this essay contest will serve as a vehicle for our students to take a stand for their hopes and dreams by making a personal commitment to live drug free lives with the ultimate goal being the creation of a drug free San Pedro,” Ahl said.
Prizes are $300 for first place, $150 for second and $75 for third. Entries will be judged on creativity, adhering to the theme and originality, Ahl explained.
Entries should be mailed or delivered to the Alano Club at 2001 S. Pacific Avenue, 90731, no later than 10 p.m. Sunday Oct. 31.
Red Ribbon week – slated for Oct. 23rd to Oct. 31st – celebrates the life of a Drug Enforcement Agent who was brutally murdered in 1985 when closing in on Mexican marijuana and cocaine drug traffickers. Before he was able to disclose his findings publicly, Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped and later killed.
He was hailed as a national hero and was the reason Red Ribbon was launched. It remains one of the nation’s and largest and oldest drug programs today.
For more information, call 310-833-3525 or visit

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tiffany Barber, 17, warms up and later hits a double in the game.
Joey Pierry pitches to Marvin Villata during Wiffle ball practice at Harbor Highlands Park in San Pedro. (Photos by Jim Hart).
By Diana L. Chapman
It’s a baseball. It’s a softball --- No it’s a Wiffle ball!
That’s  the craze that has hit hard across the east coast, landed in Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties catching on like “wildfire” and its blazing its  way here.
Chris Furgel, who will aide the SoCal Wiffle Ball Association in bringing the sport here,  started  practice games at San Pedro’s Harbor Highlands Park Saturday. Wiffle ball, he said, is “goofy,” “crazy,” but most of all “fun.”
 “This is going to be for family times,” said Furgel, a baseball coach who started playing Wiffle ball with his son Richard about a month ago. “You don’t have to be an athlete to be good at this game. We’re just in the baby steps right now and we want to get it off the ground and running.”
League games will begin in January.
The truth was already out last Saturday as about ten players showed up for the practice: One team was called the Vipers, the other the Scallywags on the teams that typically have only three to five members.
Until the players climb to high ranking levels, Wiffle ball encourages silliness across the board with everyone teasing one another – especially because they are all at the rookie level. The din of the park was cackles, laughs, hoots and howls during the practice game, which was charged with pleasure.
“You’re terrible Ryan,” shouted out Derrick Traeger teasing his friend who was up to bat. “You’re just terrible!”
When people struck out, no one got upset or marched off the field. They just giggled. Because the truth was, no one was too good at the game – yet.
While the structure looks a lot like baseball, it’s only so close. For instance, no one runs to bases. There are only four innings and every player pitches. Pitching, in fact, is the key to the entire game, something not all that easy since a Wiffle ball seems to have a mind of its own.
It can go up, down and all around. But that’s part of the crazy fun. And it didn’t stop people from coming.
Tiffany Barber, 17, a San Pedro High school student, said she found the game easy – and exciting.
“I just wanted to learn it,” said Tiffany, who hit a double. “It’s easy and a lot of kids at school who can’t make the teams will like to play this sport.”
“I like the atmosphere,” said Jimmy Pierry, 19. “It’s light hearted and  a fun time when you’re playing with friends. I’ve never done it before.”
“The rules are just a lot of fun,” added Marvin Villalta, 19. 

That’s the whole idea, said Furgel, who stumbled on the game on the internet and started playing with professionals in Riverside for the heck of it. He later urged the organization to expand to the South Bay area, which he will help pull together.
There can be Wiffle madness – touring pros and backyard bombers – but at the rookie level – it’s all about enjoyment.
The game hosts a scaled down diamond – and all the pitches are determined fair if they hit the back stop  – the strike zone area – behind the batter. How far out the ball is batted out defines whether it’s a single, double, triple or home run, Furgel said.
“It’s just phenomenal what you can do with it,” Furgel added who wants leagues to start from San Pedro, across the South Bay and up into Malibu. “We want to get everyone out from Lomita, Redondo, Carson, Gardena, Los Angeles…
To play, each member pays $20 for eight games. If their team makes the play offs, they will enter tournaments where winners will receive cash prizes of $250 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third place.
One of the beauties of the game, Furgel explained, is it doesn’t take much overhead and the equipment isn’t expensive. The diamond is placed down on grass using rope and spikes, which are removed after the game. Bats usually run about $2 to $3 and a single Wiffle ball about 99 cents on the internet.
Wiffle ball was created in Connecticut in 1953. David Mullany designed it for his 12-year-old son, according to Wikipedia.
Nearly anyone can play the game, Furgel explained, saying that his dream is seeing teams with moms, dads, grandmas, aunts and uncles and kids coming out, barbecues in tow and making it a pleasurable day.
“This game is the great equalizer,” Furgel added. “It doesn’t matter how good you are as athlete. You don’t even have to be an athlete.”
The players Saturday all left – saying they planned to return and were likely to join the league. The Scallywags won 8-3 against the Vipers. But no one left sad since it was all in the name of fun.
For more information, email: or facebook socal_fastplastic.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

By Diana L. Chapman
 Los Angeles Unified School officials, tackling a 1.3 billion dollar deficit over the next three years, revealed the opening of eight new centers dedicated to go after truant students and hook them back into schools starting  in November.
Having lost millions in state funding due to truancy, school officials will begin the task of reining in thousands of students who fail to go to school Nov 1.
The facilities will be located at four high schools and several middle schools peppered throughout the district. Each will include one certified teacher, one aide and one safety officer,  said Judy Elliott, the district’s chief academic officer.
 “They will be separate places (on the campuses) so that students do not mingle with the general population of the campus," said  Elliott, who planned out the center’s with her staff. “They will work on a different bell schedule, lunch schedule and the like to ensure students are separate from regular campus activities. We have a lot of disenfranchised kids. Some kids are just late because they couldn’t get out of bed. The whole goal is to get them off the streets and into a safe environment.”
Police embrace the program because it helps officers have a location to drop off students rather than giving the child a $250 truancy ticket, which often doesn’t change the situation, Elliott said.
Calling them “Attendance Improvement Centers” rather than truancy facilities, school officials will initially target middle and high school students. Students are to be assessed and returned to their usual campus by the following day or “two days at most,” Elliott explained. They will be given a work packet to start catching up with their school work.  She added it will not be a place of leisure for students – but for education.
It will also provide a strict environment in which students won’t be  too comfortable, so they’ll want to return to their home school. For example, students will not be allowed to put their heads on their desks to rest, she said.
Students, who be coming from a wide variety of areas to the centers, will be kept separate from the regular student population to avoid any potential gang conflicts, age differences or distractions to other students, said Debra Durado, director of pupil services.
For years, Los Angeles Unified has been hit hard financially due to the number of children missing in school. The state pays schools an average daily attendance rate which equals about $33 a day per student. District calculations reflect that about 172,516 children missed at least three days of school in 2009-2010. That means nearly $17 million of funding was lost in a single year.
“We are losing all this ADA money,” Elliott explained who oversaw a similar program in the much smaller school district of Long Beach that met with success. Having worked with Los Angeles for two years now, Elliott said she was intense about pushing this plan forward, but wants it to start off small so it can be successful from the early stages and then flourish.
 “I have always known this is the right thing to do for the district,” she added.
Unlike Long Beach, the Los Angeles program will not yet include children who have been suspended or elementary students. It was easier to accommodate those students in Long Beach which only has 89,000 students compared to the Los Angeles district’s 463,000. 
Principals, she said, were vying to have the centers on their campuses due to the resources that it provides their students.  The district selected schools that could geographically take truant students from all the nearby surrounding schools and had strong principals.
Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Pat Gannon, who operates the department’s southern bureau, said his officers would find the centers useful as they often are  collecting children off the streets during school hours.
“ I was at a meeting last week with LAUSD district superintendents,” Gannon said. “In that meeting I learned of the truancy centers that are being established and I was told San Pedro High School would have one of these centers. This is great news.
“The focus of our truancy efforts have always been to keep kids in the school. If they are in school, they are less likely to get into trouble and will be in a better position to learn. We have pledged to fully support this effort.”
Campuses that will have the centers include: Sepulveda, Gage and El Sereno and Burbank middle schools; High schools that will house them are San Pedro, Belmont, Washington Preparatory High School. Another center will be established at the Santee Education Complex.

“This is going to be a great opportunity for San Pedro High School students in particular,” said an enthusiastic San Pedro High Principal Jeanette Stevens who welcomed the truancy center on her campus. “The resources available in the center will actually assist students in understanding the value of their education and support their learning objectives.

“The goal is to reduce the number of truancies and to provide an opportunity for the students’ needs to be addressed within an educational environment.”

The San Pedro center will be located in a room near 15th Street and Alma, making  it easier for parents and police officers to access, she said.

David Kooper, chief of staff for Los Angeles School Board Member Richard Vladovic, said the board member and his staff are also enthusiastic and relieved about the centers – especially after police believed students were causing a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood surrounding San  Pedro High last spring.

While it turned out the students were not involved, Kooper said it brings relief to know students loitering on the streets will be swept up and brought to a location where their needs will be addressed and their parents called.

“It’s going to be a great program,” he said. “Anything we can do to keep kids in school and out of trouble is good. Kids cannot learn if they are not in school.”

The Los Angeles Unified centers were Elliott’s brainchild after she oversaw the truancy center that began in Long Beach where she was the assistant superintendent for support services for eight years.

During that time, the Long Beach program was deemed highly successful. Because of the Long Beach district’s smaller size, only one was established and it accommodated all ages from elementary to high school. It also tackled those students who were suspended.

 Once the new centers are successful, Elliott explained, she plans to add both truant elementary and suspended students to the plan.

In Long Beach, the center paid for itself in returns of ADA, which Elliott said will happen with the program in Los Angeles. It will be a self-sustaining.
At the current time, the district is still working out some remaining logistics, such as what happens to a child picked up in Los Angeles, who actually goes to school in area outside of the district such as Compton or Bellflower. The district would be responsible for that child and has to determine how to get them back home.

Because truancy issues have financially injured Los Angeles Unified , school officials have launched other means to help students. Besides opening the centers, Elliott said, the district also started a virtual high school where students can finish courses on-line. This way they can recoup or accelerate the courses they need. A mobile van to reconnect students and families to LAUSD schools will soon be rolling into neighborhoods to give parents and students information on how to return children to school or reenroll to graduate.

A variety of reasons, she explained, often small crises, keep children out of school.

“There are immigrant families who need kids to stay home and take care of younger siblings,” she said. “You have kids who don’t have the clothes to wear. You have kids who have violence at night and some of the kids have to walk through challenging neighborhoods.

“That’s the reality in urban America.”