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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #21-57
August 17, 2021
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Visits Girls Academic Leadership Academy in Los Angeles to Celebrate First Day of School

LOS ANGELES—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today joined Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Interim Superintendent Megan K. Reilly and LAUSD Board members Nick Melvoin and Dr. George J. McKenna III to welcome students and celebrate the first day of in-person instruction for the 2021–22 school year at Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA): Dr. Michelle King School for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in Los Angeles.

“GALA is an incredible all-girls, STEM-focused public school that is helping close the gender achievement gap and is preparing California’s brightest students to achieve in STEM fields in college, university, and beyond,” said Thurmond. I’m proud that in 2017, I voted for AB 23, which paved the way for GALA to open its doors, encouraging young women to pursue studies and careers in math, science, and engineering. Today it is wonderful to see students back here with access to safe and full in-person instruction and reaping the true benefits of the face-to-face time with mentors and educators. They are doing it well here, and we are optimistic that with masking, increasing the number of people vaccinated, and rapid COVID testing secured for our schools, we can keep California schools safe and open.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) helped secure 105,000 rapid COVID-19 tests for LAUSD prior to the district’s first day of school as an added precaution to open schools safely. This is part of CDE’s continued efforts to bring 5 million rapid COVID-19 tests that provide results in just 15 minutes to California schools. During his visit, State Superintendent Thurmond spoke with students at an Advanced Placement seminar classroom, celebrated the first day of instruction, and spoke to media about the importance of vaccines and other layered safety measures needed to keep communities and schools safe.

GALA opened in 2016 with 160 students in grades six and nine. Growing by two grade levels per year, the school reached grades six through twelve in 2020 and had the first graduating class. The class of 2020 defied the odds, with all girls graduating and all accepted to college (80 percent of this class are first-generation). The class of 2021 had similar statistics. The school now serves more than 700 girls, 78 percent of whom are girls of color, representing 81 zip codes from around Los Angeles.

This event was part of a series of on-campus visits that the State Superintendent is making to showcase students engaged in safe in-person learning supported by an approach that includes implementing safety measures and addressing learning gaps while attending to student mental health and well-being and the needs of families.

School districts can find more information on funding sources for COVID tests on the CDE CARES Act Funding web page. For questions on rapid COVID testing, email Anyone twelve and over can schedule a COVID vaccine at the California Department of Public Health My Turn website External link opens in new window or tab..

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 17, 2021
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