play / 2016

LA Plays at King

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Friends of King

Our proposal is to upgrade Thomas Starr King Middle School’s field, auditorium, production studio and outdoor amphitheater into a fully-functional community play space.

Please describe your project proposal.

Our proposal is to upgrade T.S. King Middle School’s play spaces, embracing the ideals of all three of our magnet programs – Arts and Tech, Environmental STEAM, and Film & Media. This includes upgrading the sound in our film studio and auditorium, refurbishing our outdoor amphitheater, as well as resurfacing our playing field. These changes will benefit the over 2,100 students attending King, while providing greater entertainment and recreational opportunities for our surrounding neighbors.

Which of the play metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Number (and quality) of informal spaces for play
  • Number of children enrolled in afterschool programs
  • Per capita crime rates
  • Perceived safety

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • South LA
  • AYSO soccer plays on our field

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to play?

Thomas Starr King Middle School has long been a cultural and artistic hub for our local communities and beyond, and a place for community members to play and recreate. While we service students from the immediate area, we also pride ourselves in being a true magnet, where we bus students in from all over the city. Currently, our southern most stop is 95th near Vermont, as far east as Soto/6th, as far north as Peoria near Roscoe/Sun Valley. Children from all over Northeast Los Angeles gather to play AYSO soccer on our field. We host events for Ivanhoe and Franklin Elementary Schools in our auditorium and on our field. We screen films for the community and broadcast sporting events, bringing the community together. We host community field days, featuring skateboard demonstrations paired with art shows, as well as offer community garden days with our partner EnrichLA. Our community events invite the public onto campus as we champion creative and athletic play. In a park poor neighborhood, at the nexus of East Hollywood, Los Feliz and Silver Lake, the facilities at Thomas Starr King Middle School are a key play resource for our community.

Unfortunately, due to severe budget cuts in LAUSD over the past several years, our facilities are in a sad state of disrepair. Our field is worn out, and too hot from the exposed crumb rubber, creating a dramatic heat island effect that makes the surface significantly less playable. As the crumb rubber migrates off the field, it is also becoming harder and poses greater risk of concussion. The field is also desperately in need of drainage upgrades, so that runoff may naturally feed the arroyo that runs through our school. Our recording and audio equipment are severely outdated, making it difficult for participants to hear theatrical performances and film screenings of student work and others. Our beautiful outdoor amphitheater is in a state of disrepair and in desperate need of ground cover and shade trees. This area serves as a place for students to play hacky sack and just run around a little during the day. It is also a scene of bi-weekly dance parties put on by student DJs, and has the potential to be a regularly working outdoor theater and alternative physical education space. All of these facilities are used regularly by King students, as well as the community-at-large. We would like to restore and upgrade them, applying the core tenets from all three of our magnet programs, including embracing the importance of the arts for Arts & Technology, respecting sustainability concerns for Environmental STEAM and honoring the importance of Film and Media here in Los Angeles.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Thomas Starr King Middle School has been educating students since 1926. Our students speak over thirty languages and come from more than forty different countries, representing a vibrant and diverse cross-section of cultures in Los Angeles. Although we are not a Title I school, nearly 60% of our students qualify for assisted lunch.

Until very recently, King was struggling with low test scores and poor student engagement. Over the past several years, our parents, teachers, staff and students have worked very hard together to address many of these concerns. In 2013, King converted into a full magnet school and has seen one of the highest test score boosts in LAUSD’s history. We have also become one of the most desirable Middle Schools in our area. King has performed phenomenally over the last several years, but our play facilities have not progressed at the same pace. Please help us give King students and our neighboring schools the equipment and facilities necessary for sports, art, filming, performance and play.

Once upgrades are completed, we hope to see an increase in community events planned at our school of 20%.

We hope to see an increase in King events of 25%.

We plan to open our facilities to even more neighboring elementary schools for performances and other events.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Education/training
  • Technical infrastructure (computers etc.)
  • Network/relationship support
  • Quality improvement research
  • Advisors are always welcome!