Dolores Huerta visits Dolores Huerta College for name change ceremony

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(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Local school administrators, dignitaries and elected officials gathered on Friday, September 17 for a name change ceremony to celebrate the name change from David Starr Jordan Middle School to Dolores Huerta Middle School.

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Legendary social justice activist and guest of honor Dolores Huerta attended the rally, as did 5e District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Assembly Member Laura Friedman, State Senator Anthony Portantino, Burbank Board Chair Steve Frintner, Vice Chair Charlene Tabet, Board Clerk Steve Ferguson and board members Dr Armond Aghakhanian and Emily Weisberg.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The ceremony began with a welcoming word from College Principal Dolores Huerta, Dr Jennifer Meglemre, followed by a biography of Huerta’s life presented by college students. Huerta then addressed the student body with a speech, which was followed by a tour of the school, during which she spoke with the students and learned about the various academic and extracurricular programs at Dolores College. Huerta.

The college’s name change officially took place in March, but since the school was not in session then due to COVID-19 security guidelines, school staff members decided to wait for the resumption of in-person learning to host the event. Meglemre spoke of her excitement at being able to celebrate the name change among the students, school staff and Huerta herself.

“We have been looking forward to this for a while,” said Meglemre. “Our students are very passionate about justice, about the rights of under-represented people, and so I think they really connect with Dolores Huerta and what she represents and what she has always fought for… I in particular think our daughters and Latinas hook up with her as an activist, and we have a lot of students who strive to be activists themselves. So I think that’s… great for them to hear from her directly today.

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The deliberation process to rename the school involved reviewing over 900 name suggestions from school staff and the Burbank community. The School Facility Naming Committee initially narrowed this list down to a final group of ten, then worked together to select three final name options. These were presented to the Burbank Board of Education, which collectively chose Dolores Huerta as the new name for the college.

Huerta’s career in activism began with the Community Service Organization and extended when she formed the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers, in 1962 with her fellow activist. César Chávez. Huerta used this platform to secure rights for disadvantaged farm workers, including disability insurance, support for dependent families, and the historic California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975. Huerta also led the grape strike. Delano, who guaranteed better working conditions and better wages to farm workers in Delano, Calif., And coined the rallying cry “Si, se puede” while fighting for workers’ rights in Arizona.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Burbank Board of Education Vice President Charlene Tabet explained what the title of Dolores Huerta Middle School means for young students as they learn the importance of character development while attending school.

“The name symbolizes someone who comes from… a very simple background, who works hard all his life, [engages in] education, [is] constantly growing, constantly pushing forward, for the sake of others, ”Tabet said. “I think that’s a huge message, that it’s not always about you, but sometimes what you can do for others helps you become an amazing human being.”

Students and staff eagerly met Huerta and thanked her for her hard work for human rights and social justice during her school tour. After the interactive tour, Huerta praised the advanced educational offerings of Dolores Huerta College while expressing appreciation for being chosen to have the school named after her.

“I am very honored that the school bears my name,” said Huerta. “I have to say it’s an amazing school. When you see all the programs they have, music, art, dance, math, science, special education, English learners, …. I wish every school in the United States could be as wonderful as this here. And that my name is related to the school, it’s pretty amazing, and it also makes me very, very humble.


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