East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy

Esteban E. Torres High School


Esteban E. Torres High School is located in East Los Angeles. It was built a little over five years ago, and is one of the newest high schools in the area. Stepping onto the campus in the morning, you can immediately see crowds of teenagers walking to their classes. If you walk amongst the crowd on a cold day, it’s like being in a colony of emperor penguins, without all the squawking. Although it is pretty loud, all the teens are trying to get the talking out of their system before they get to class. But we all know that never really happens. The school is sectioned into five different academies, each colored differently and isolated from contact with the rest of the world. Blue is for Engineering and Technology, Red is Social Justice, Purple is Urban Planning and Design, Orange is Humanities, and Yellow is for Performing Arts.

Even though the school has only been around for a few years, the site it is on has a lot of history. On one side, the site used to be residential. Marianna Avenue cut through the main campus’ courtyard. On the other side of Marianna Avenue was Hammel Elementary School, which was about 100 years old. My best friend lived just across the street from me, and I would cross the street and get to school. I saw my friend’s house and the entire block bulldozed a few weeks after. Everyone was removed and the area was cleared for demolition. I was devastated. I lost my friends, my old school, and saw the entire neighborhood slowly transition into a high school campus.

There are many things that determine a landmark. One is that it provides and gives back to the community, which Torres does in multiple ways. Torres, more than any other landmark really, fits the criteria for what makes a landmark: “If it disappears, the quality of life in East L.A. would diminish.” The school prepares teens to go into the workforce or into college after high school. Teens find or try to find their passion, and set their minds on something that interests them. Or, they pursue a career that they would want to do for the rest of their lives. Then, there are people who change where they go in life. Some go to work so they can pump money back into our economy. Others go to school to become the future lawyers, scientists, engineers, teachers and any other occupation. Although I may have lost some friends, the community and I now have Torres, a place of teaching and learning that will provide for the community for a long time to come.