LOS ANGELES — Anxiety is something many feel walking into a new job the first few times, but not Esmeralda Flores.
“This is my home, this is my backyard,” said Flores, the new Equity Coordinator for the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
What You Need To Know
- LACHSA is tuition-free and open to any LA county student that meets its academic requirements and passes the application and audition process
- The public high school has been ranked as the No. 1 arts high school in the country
- The LACHSA application deadline is February 5
- Only 20% of LACHSA students are considered socio-economically disadvantaged, compared to 70% of L.A. County’s student population
The public high school is located on the Cal-State Los Angeles campus. Students will soon come by to pick up their materials for the upcoming semester.
“If it needs to be a green screen, a sowing machine, or their books and other materials, we want to make sure they have what they need to do their art,” Flores said.
LACHSA has been ranked as the No. 1 arts high school in the country, but they worry that not everyone is getting a fair shot at applying to this tuition-free public school. That’s because, according to a task force report commissioned by the school, only 20% of LACHSA students are considered socio-economically disadvantaged, compared to 70% of L.A. County’s student population.
Flores was brought in to rectify that.
“We are not as diverse as the county that we are in, but we do believe that we can stay number one in the arts and be as diverse as Los Angeles County,” said Flores.
Maya Pacheco is a senior at LACHSA with a concentration is contemporary dance. Before the pandemic, she would take a train and bus just to get to school.
"It was about an hour," she said. "I would get on the train at 6:45 and then I would get to school anywhere between 7:30 and 8 a.m."
Transportation is one challenge keeping socio-economically disadvantaged kids from applying to LACHSA, according to the task force report. Another challenge is language barriers. Pacheco’s town is 70% Latino, and many of her friends didn’t even know LACHSA existed.
"I found out about LACHSA because one of my best friends' older brother went there, and so I was in middle school and was like, 'Oh that place is so cool," said Pachecho. "Only one other person from my entire middle school even knew what it was, and he did extensive research."
The school is making some changes, such as building a website in Spanish and making both the application and audition process less intimidating. They’ll be allowing students to sing songs in other languages or submit videos instead of written essays. Plus, they have hired Esmeralda Flores to keep them honest.
"LACHSA is not quite there yet in the diversity of reflecting L.A. County," said Flores. "It makes me a little bit sad but also super hopeful."
The last day to apply to LACHSA is February 5.