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Girls on the first day of Girls on the Run, a 5k training program that empowers girls.

Girls on the first day of Girls on the Run, a 5k training program that empowers girls.

With the winter quarter well under way, we’re pleased about the many fun and educational collaborations that have taken off at HOLA.  To celebrate all the love and support of our teachers, directors, staff, volunteers, students and families, we wanted to share with you what’s new in our cozy corner of the universe.


High school interns from the California Science Center lead interactive chemistry classes to our SmartStart elementary students.

Over in Athletics, some of our middle school girls have begun training to run a 5k with the help of nonprofit Girls on the Run. The program is designed to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Our SmartStart Elementary students have embarked on a fun-packed and learning-rich semester, too. Thanks to a collaboration with the California Science Center, for the fifth year running our youngest students will be spending five Saturdays at HOLA learning all about chemistry via hands-on, interactive lessons conducted by high school interns from the California Science Center.


In “Word Tech / Word Power,” students write creative stories that they illustrate using computer coding.

Another collaboration we are loving is a class called “Word Tech/ Word Power” that allows students to write stories one week, and then use coding and graphic design to illustrate and animate their stories the next.  By giving their students an opportunity to work on both their creative writing and their coding skills, instructors Abraham Orozco (Director of Scientific Arts) and Nicole Pasten (SmartStart Elementary teacher) have teamed up to teach their students to see creativity as interdisciplinary.

We're excited to welcome back two of our alumni as PAT Coordinators.

We’re excited to welcome back two of our alumni as PAT Coordinators.

While our youngest students are exploring technology and discovering the secrets of the universe and the natural world, our oldest students are thrilled to welcome back two new PAT High School coordinators, Cristina Vasquez and Chris Calbrera. Both HOLA alumni, Chris and Cristina bring a wealth of knowledge and passion for improving the high school experience of our students, and helping them along the path to higher education.

Bridges Middle School students are enjoying their Dream Team class, which has been sneakily teaching them math in the best way possible. Asked to follow their favorite basketball teams and track their scores, students learn about probability and statistics in an enjoyable and relevant way. Meanwhile, our moms will be beginning their first exercise class with Coach Bruce Hooks this Friday! We think this will be the perfect supplement to our healthy living cooking classes and book club.


Students in an intensive weeklong photography workshop led by Fred Roberts.

After ending the year with a delicious alumni reunion brunch in December, our College Success program have begun college visits for high school juniors and seniors to places like USC and CSULA, and are busy planning a homecoming panel for alumni returning home for spring break.  The team has a number of exciting new projects in the works, including the formation of an alumni association and a financial literacy program.

Meanwhile, our leadership program Play for Peace welcomes a great new group of youth facilitators who will be leading a number of play sessions this spring, starting this week. Play for Peace is a program that “trains and supports young leaders who inspire #compassioninaction and friendship across divides” (visit their website for more info).

And over in our Music Department, students are hard at work practicing their scales and preparing for their spring concert. We want to send a shout-out to staff member of the month, Mark Tyson. You can listen to a playlist inspired by the music he loves here. Last but not least, our Visual Arts students began their semester with a week-long intensive photography workshop led by Fred Roberts. More than just a photography class, the program was a practice in empowerment and light, and culminated with an exhibition of the students’ work at LACMA. Our arts department is also thrilled to welcome a new visiting artist, Jonas Becker and his public art collaboration, Beneath Surface, to HOLA. This project will use photography and filmmaking to explore water and drought in Los Angeles.

It’s a wonderful time to be at HOLA. We look forward to many more joyful updates to come!

Mark Tyson, staff member of the month, has been inspiring HOLA students since 2004.

Mark Tyson, staff member of the month, has been inspiring HOLA students since 2004.


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