Columbia Celebrates 100 Years!
August 18, 2022
The 2022-23 school year officially started for El Monte City School District (EMCSD), and although every year is special, this year means a little more for one of the district’s 14 schools. Columbia School celebrates their 100th year of educational service to the El Monte community and they began in style. Students and families were greeted with a 10-piece mariachi band as they walked through balloon archways and cheers from school staff to officially become Columbia’s 100th class.
“Columbia has such a rich history in this community, and not just because it is EMCSD’s oldest educational institution and the place I spent most of my educational career,” explained Dr. Maribel Garcia, EMCSD Superintendent. “Many of our current staff members were former Columbia students, including myself.” Dr. Garcia was a student at Columbia, she began her teaching career there, and even served as the school’s Principal from 2008-2013. The school has always had a special place in Dr. Garcia’s heart, as well as other district employees. “It has a certain charm and identity that has driven many of us to come back and follow in the footsteps of our educators.”
Columbia is the oldest and most historical school in EMCSD. It was built and opened in September 1922 and at one point housed over 2,300 students. All of the original buildings are gone except for the current seventh grade building, which was built in 1935. The administration building and the music building were built in 1941. The school underwent a major renovation in 2008 where a new building was constructed for Columbia’s middle school students. Despite the updates and upgrades, the history of Columbia can be found on its new walls.
In preparation for the centennial celebration Principal Doris Tran and Assistant Principal Juan Flores, both new administrators at the school this year, wanted to ensure their students and public knew the history of their campus. They had murals painted on the walls outside of the main office that depict a timeline from the school's inception, including historical moments.
In fact, in 2007 former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the school to recognize their award-winning nutrition and physical education programs. Columbia was one of 26 schools nationwide to receive the bronze medal award from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
Celebrating 100 years is no easy task, but Principal Doris Tran is up for the challenge and ready to make the 2022-23 school year special. “It’s such a wonderful experience to partake in and I am extremely fortunate and excited to join in this celebration with Columbia families,” she explained. Ms. Tran spent the summer with her team planning events for the year which included a meet-n-greet swim night at the El Monte Aquatic Center to give families a taste of what's to come. In November, she plans to partner with the city of El Monte to orchestrate a student led centennial ceremony.
Columbia may be the first school to reach 100 years for EMCSD, but others are close behind. Cortada and Rio Vista were both originally established in 1928, giving the community more celebrations to look forward to including Dr. Garcia, “I’m so excited for our students to share this momentous year and the years to come with their community and be part of history.”