Be true to your school – no matter who is it named after

Be true to your school – no matter who is it named after

by Brad Smith

After six long years, $100 million in taxpayer’s money, and fair amount of controversy over who will actually run the new public high school in Granada Hills, guess what? It is time to name the facility, currently known as Valley Regional High School #4, 10445 Balboa Blvd., Granada Hills.

Providing for a public process should allow for some transparency and community input, which in turn may yield a deeper commitment to the school – along with, presumably, honoring an individual whose life can serve as an example for students and the community, and, equally presumably, engender future volunteer and financial support for the school from interested donors. Given the LAUSD’s budget issues, probably not a bad idea.

A panel selected by Los Angeles Unified School District’s Local District 1 met May 5 and came up with three possibilities:

1) Leonardo da Vinci Academy of the Arts and Sciences - named for the Italian Renaissance artist and inventor (1452-1519) and reflective of the school’s curriculum;

2) Valley Academy of the Arts and Sciences – adding “San Fernando” to “Valley” makes it too long, supposedly;

3) James Cagney Academy of the Arts and Sciences - Oscar-winning actor and one-time Granada Hills resident (1899-1986)

Greg Vallone, the incoming principal of VRHS#4, said the district is planning a second meeting, scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26, at Local District 1, 6621 Balboa Blvd, Lake Balboa, CA 91406.

“We’d like to open it up and have a second meeting where we'd invite the community to participate,” Vallone said. “We’d like to put together six names and submit them to the students and parents.”

LAUSD requirements (Board Rule 1003) for naming high schools are as follows:

Senior high schools shall be named in honor of deceased Presidents of the United States and other nationally/internationally famous men and women.

Whenever possible, the name of a secondary school should have some pertinence to California. Where there is a well-established community, a secondary school may also bear the name of the community, provided that it does not conflict with any other school named for the same community.

The above rules out Ridgemont High, apparently, but here are some additional possibilities:

Vasco Núñez de Balboa (1475-1519); Spanish American explorer, first European to see the Pacific, advocate for local government during the Spanish Empire; executed for rebellion.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 32nd President of the United States; led the country out of the Great Depression and to victory over Germany and Japan in WW II

Joseph Eichler (1900-1974); developer known for the modernist “Eichler homes’ projects in postwar California, including Granada Hills. Insisted on non-discrimination clauses in 1950s.

Carey McWilliams (1905-1960); Angeleno; author and distinguished historian of southern California and Los Angeles; attorney, and advocate for the poor during the Depression and WW II.

Samuel Hoffman (1902-1995); Angeleno; aeronautics professor and aerospace industry pioneer who led the teams that developed the F-1 and J-2 rocket engines - built in the San Fernando Valley - that powered the Apollo missions to the moon.

John Finn (1909-2010); native Angeleno awarded the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart for his actions during Pearl Harbor attack, while serving as an enlisted man in the USN; last living Pearl Harbor MOH recipient and honored by President Obama in 2010.

Ellas Bates (1928-2008), stage name “Bo Diddley,” Grammy-award winning R&B and rock singer-songwriter and one-time Granada Hills resident.

Brad Smith is a Granada Hills resident, native of the northwest Valley, and has served on the Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council since its founding; he and his wife Maria have four children in local public schools.

May 26

5 p.m.

Meeting with LAUSD District 1 regarding name of VRHS#4
Local District 1 Office,

6621 Balboa Blvd.

Van Nuys, CA 91406

The meeting will be held in the rear north conference room from 5:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M.; the following three suggestions have already been submitted to Superintendent Linda Del Cueto: 1. James Cagney Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2. DaVinci Academy of the Arts and Sciences, and 3. Valley Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

Please RSVP to Lucy Escalante at or (818) 654-3670.

June 12

7 p.m.

Presentation on Los Angeles City Council Redistricting, Legislative Redistricting, and the 2010 Census
Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council

Granada Pavilion

11128 Balboa Blvd
Granada Hills, CA 91344-4203

Congressional, state senate and assembly districts, and local elected officials’ districts, including those of the Los Angeles City Council, will be re-drawn following the 2010 census. Andrew Westall, a staff member for Councilman Herb Wesson's office and a veteran of the 2000 redistricting, will speak and answer questions. Mr. Westall has spoken before the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, which is seeking to have existing neighborhood council boundaries be considered as the city re-draws the council district boundaries.

July 14

5:30 p.m.

Give Your Input on CSUN's Community Relations

Workshop with Granada Hills South Neighborhood Council

Rawley Hall, Granada Hills High School

10535 Zelzah Ave., Granada Hills, CA 91344

Where Orange Grove Bistro at CSUN


As part of its efforts to strengthen its relationships with its neighbors and the community, CSUN is conducting a survey and holding focus groups with community members, including one with each of the four neighborhood councils with boundaries that adjoin the university.

GHSNC is sponsoring the event July 14; the Council’s regular meeting will follow at 7 p.m.


  1. Other notable celebs who lived here were Cheech Marin and Bo Diddley. Let's get wild and name the school after one of them! :)

  2. Cheech is still alive, however; basic requirement is "deceased"...deceased president is the first option, according to LAUSD.

  3. I say it should be named after John Ritter.

  4. Reagan High School

  5. FDR is a far better choice than Reagan.

    Roosevelt kept the US from fascism or communism during the Depression, helped keep the UK alive in 1940-41, and led the Allies to victory over Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy from 1941-45, and died, essentially, in service to his country...

    Reagan, even giving his administration all due credit for leadership during the Cold War, does not compare.

    FDR High in Granada Hills!

  6. There is already a high school named after Roosevelt.

  7. Anything BUT Reagan!

  8. Actually, Kim, there are many, but what is your point?

  9. The LAUSD's Roosevelt High is named after Theodore Roosevelt; see:

    And, obviously, given the existence of both John F. Kennedy High School and Robert F. Kennedy High School in LAUSD, there is precedent for naming high schools after individuals with the same surname.

    So, as the man said, "There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny."

    The 1936 acceptance speech is well worth reading, especially today - the description of the economic realities of American life should resonate with anyone who thinks beyond slogans.

    So - Go FDR High!


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