Mayor takes up student’s offer


first_imgVALLEY VILLAGE – Third-grader Miranda Heaner wasn’t at all star-struck when she saw Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at a softball game in early September, so the precocious youngster walked right up to him and asked if he’d visit her school. Villaraigosa, who was surrounded by reporters at the Labor Day fundraiser for the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, accepted Miranda’s invitation to visit Colfax Elementary, where he’d shot a few campaign commercials months earlier. “He knew me, because it was the second time I had met him, but I told him my name again because the last time he saw me was in February when we were not sure he was going to be mayor,” Miranda said Monday. “I was very, very excited and jumpy and couldn’t believe what I was doing, but I asked: Would you like to come to our school? And he said yes.” Villaraigosa attended the dedication ceremony of the school’s science lab, which was funded by the nonprofit parent fundraising group. So far, it’s raised $20,000 for the lab and plans to raise another $20,000 this year to expand its facilities. Last year, Parents Association Colfax Elementary raised $130,000 for capital projects. “Our wealth here is in the energy parents are willing to put into things,” Principal Joanie Freckmann said. Parents and administrators said Villaraigosa’s visit will do wonders to maintain the already strong morale at the school. “A little girl invited him to her school and he treated her with such dignity,” said John Heaner, 46, the father of Miranda and her twin sister, Olivia, and co-president of the PTA. “This lifts our school up because it’s such a diverse bunch of kids and it’s like a miracle for these kids to be in touch with someone like Antonio who’s a great leader and a great success story. It’s a priceless gift.” From the moment Villaraigosa exited his black sport utility vehicle, he was treated like a rock star, crowded by both students and parents armed with cameras, camcorders and camera phones seeking autographs and pictures. Parent Feliciano Flores walked backward in front of the mayor, snapping away picture after picture because he’d never seen Villaraigosa in person. He hung around until after the mayor’s short tour of the campus to have a picture taken with the man he thought was a great leader for the city of Los Angeles. “We’re happy. I like it a lot because it’s good for all the students so they can work harder to study,” said the grinning Flores, who has two children at the school. But while Villaraigosa’s charisma and smile mesmerized those around him, pint-size Miranda showed him he had some competition in that department. While Villaraigosa spent the morning signing autographs, Miranda had her own gift for the mayor – a picture of the two of them she signed: “Future president and #1 fan.” Naush Boghossian, (818) 713-3722 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Villaraigosa made good on his promise, appearing at a Monday morning assembly where students sang, “It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish,” and capped it off with a chorus line. “That’s my life story,” Villaraigosa said. “That’s what this school’s all about, right?” Villaraigosa said Colfax Elementary – where half the student population is on free-and-reduced lunch, 43 percent are white, 43 percent Latino, 10 percent black and 5 percent Asian – is an example of a success story and should serve as a model for all schools. He credited the school’s strong leadership, caring teachers and unusually heavy parental involvement for its success, including a 45-point increase in its state standardized test scores this year. “This school is what public schools should be like around the city,” he said. “These parents really care about not only their child but all children.” last_img

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