Tina Johnson, an alumna from St. Albert the Great, went back to her alma mater to give back and make a change in the community where she grew up. Right alongside the junction of West and East Compton Blvd, lies the multiple structured campus grounds of St. Albert the Great parish, elementary and middle school in the city of Rancho Dominguez. Ms. Johnson has been working there since the late 1990s and can attest to the changing landscape of teachers, students and the community as a whole. “This area was a predominantly African-American populated locale, and now it has drastically changed to being 60% Latino and only 40% African-American.” When asked about the number of households that qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch program provided by the state of California, her answer may surprise you. “We have 98% of our students coming from homes that benefit a great deal from the Free and Reduced Lunch program. So, when we talk about students that are striving to become leaders and have better opportunities in life, many Catholic families in the South LA area choose to enroll their children in St. Albert the Great school.”
When asked about the allure and shining spirit that surrounds this community, Ms. Johnson proceeded to explain the commitment they possess in ensuring that their students succeed in life. “We have an afterschool enrichment program that out teachers have included in their contracts, that happens once a week for only one hour (at no additional cost to tuition and no additional stipend for teachers), to support students who are not meeting grade-level standards.” St. Albert the Great recently joined forces with St. Sebastian and the Shea Foundation to renovate their gymnasium that now hosts over 20 schools within the Gateway League to use as their central location for both volleyball and basketball games on the weekends.
A huge enhancement to the experience at St. Albert the Great includes their partnership with LMU graduate Erika Cuellar and Alma Backyard Farms. In the past two years, they have been able to structure a program open to the community at large, titled “Making the Right Decision”, which was developed as a six-week program to engage those participating in learning the benefits of sustainable farming, responsible culinary, and environmental stewardship. “Our kids were able to partake in social justice work with the L.A. Food Bank and give hope and love to those in need, through the food that they harvested, prepared and delivered. It was really something special to see. Having Alma Backyard Farms here onsite has so many benefits for our kids, especially cross-curriculum learning habits.” When the students head over to the farms once a week for about 30-45 minutes at a time, they’re able to create a sense of awareness in being a little more conscious about recycling, food consumption, and waste. As a state-certified preschool taking children as young as 2 years old and potty trained, St. Albert the Great School is truly miles apart from any other school in Los Angeles.
We are so proud to have St. Albert the Great Elementary and Middle school as a part of our city and more importantly as a part of our CEF family. Thank you so much for all the hard work and dedication from all the staff and students at St. Albert the Great. Go Vikings!