By Luis De La Torre
After months of deliberation, the 2018-19 academic calendar has been finalized and published by school administration. One of the major changes will be the observance of Cesar Chavez Day. The school will also have a day off the day before Thanksgiving.
In order to accommodate these changes, the fall semester will start earlier than in past years, meaning that students and staff will have fewer days between summer school and the fall semester.
The 2018-19 calendar required more discussion than previous calendars. Meetings for discussion on the future calendar took place beginning last spring and concluded last October.
The Operations Committee, which operates on campus to deal with matters such as schedule changes and school functionality, worked with the Governing Board, which gives final approval of all the committee’s decisions, in order to create a new calendar.
The decision-making process was prolonged because members of the Committee had to compromise in order to accommodate the two new days off and avoid excess student absences. The Governing Board was also concerned that the counselors would have less time to set students schedules if the first day of school was too close to the end of summer school.
The Operations Committee debated a draft for the calendar, which was then proposed to the Governing Board. Then the Governing Board made suggestions and send it back to the Operations Committee. This process continued until all parties involved were able to agree on the new calendar.
While the school had already moved the day before Thanksgiving to a minimum day previously, the process for the calendar to include Cesar Chavez Day involved a joint effort between students, parents, teachers, and staff. “The topic came up during a meeting and it was an organic process of discussions,” Operations Committee Chair Ronald Korb said.
Members of the Operations Committee pointed out the amount of student absences on Cesar Chavez Day as a negotiation point. Approximately 150 students missed school on the holiday in 2016, while 300 students missed school in 2017. Similarly, there were noted absences on the day before Thanksgiving.
Last year, GHC alumnus Brian Zamora was active in getting Cesar Chavez Day added to the calendar. He spoke before the Operations Committee and Governing Board, encouraging them to place the day off on the calendar to honor Chavez and out of respect for the Latino community.
Cesar Chavez Day is meant to pay respect to Chavez who was a Civil Rights leader and formed the National Farm Workers Association with Dolores Huerta, a fellow American labor leader. Cesar Chavez Day is very important to many Californians, especially Latinos and Latinas.
40% of GHC students are Latino. While Los Angeles Unified School District has observed Cesar Chavez Day since 2009, 2019 will be the first year GHC observes the holiday.
“ Cesar Chavez is important because he boycotted in nonviolent ways and spoke for people whose voices were taken away,” junior Elizabeth Ramos said.
Cesar Chavez Day is a state holiday and many observe it by attending cultural events and assisting others in need. Now that students will have the day off, they will have the opportunity to get involved in helping the local community and attending Latino celebrations nearby which will honor Chavez. These activities are often open to all students of different backgrounds.
Cesar Chavez day falls on March 31 as a tribute to his birthday. Since it will be on a Sunday in 2019, GHC will observe it on Monday, April 1.