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History of East LA Performing Arts Magnet


We propose to establish a small high school on the Esteban E. Torres High School campus.  This innovative new high school will focus on the performing arts, with emphasis on using dance, theatre and music as pathways to academic success for all students…”Public School Choice Resolution Proposal for the 2009-10 School Year EAST LOS ANGELES PERFORMING ARTS ACADEMY at Esteban E. Torres High School

It all started with these first few words written by Principal Carolyn McKnight when she was a theatre teacher at Garfield High School. Within a few months of completing the plan for the school, Ms. McKnight and founding faculty members Juan Santiago Perez, Ramon Ramirez, Greg Yoshida,Tom Castelazo, Jorge Ulloa,  Angela Weber, Paul Perez, Haci Alkanli, Stan Ethenoz,, opened the doors of the East LA Performing Arts Academy. ELAPAA started with students in grades 9, 10 and 11 that first year.  The founding student body performed ten  music concerts, poetry slams, plays, and dance performances, ncluding more than 70% of our student body as active participants. Our first major main stage show in December of 2010 was “The Nutcracker:  All Mixed UP!”and it will forever hold a special place in our school's history.  The show included ballet, hip hop, Latin, contemporary and modern dance routines, great costumes and committed performances by dancers who had never been on stage before.

East LA Performing Arts Magnet received its 6-year WASC accreditation in 2014, and is moving forward with its goals of high academic achievement, and an education infused  with the Performing Arts. 

Our first Commencement in June of 2012 was beyond special, because many of the students who were graduating had helped to create the school by being in the school site council and establishing a positive school culture.  They had served on the hiring committees to select many of the teachers and even our principal. The teachers and staff take great pride in the outstanding 4-year graduation rates that our students have achieved from 2012 to the present, with more than 85% of students graduating on time, ready for college or career. With more than 40% of our seniors accepted into a University of California or Cal State University in 2015, we are not resting on our success, but striving for more.  Class of 2016. let's get at least 60% of you into a UC or CSU and ALL of you to cross that stage to get your diploma on June 7, 2016!

-East LA Performing Arts Magnet has been fortunate to have partnered with L.A. Opera since 2011 in bringing opera to the East Los Angeles.  Many choir, drama and orchestra students have performed in an opera with LA Opera professional singers, either at school, at the Huntington Library in San Marino, or at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.  In addition, parents and students are invited to special performances of LA Opera productions at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the LA County Music Center every year.  

-The Academy Award-nominated director and producer Tim Weiss, known for films like "Twilight " and "American Pie," screened his  film “A better life."

-The Huntington Library and Gardens have partnered with our theatre and dance departments, allowing our Theatre Company students to perform Shakespeare plays there, and has even granted free access to all of our students and families. Your Torres East LA Performing Arts Magnet student ID is accepted as a family pass at the Huntington Library, Gardens and Galleries in San Marino.  Enjoy a day of beauty and culture with your family for free!

-So many events and stories to tell and yet to be told.

The best part of all is that it’s only the beginning…

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