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2017 Challenge Los Angeles

On Saturday, March 11, 2017 students from nine LAUSD high schools gathered at Reseda High School to showcase their responses for the 2017 Challenge Los Angeles Program. Students presented their solutions in front of guests and a panel of judges who had the difficult task of selecting the winner of this year’s Challenge Los Angeles.

Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana Dr. Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana, Chief Executive Officer, LAUSD Office of Educational Services, welcomed students, teachers and Administrators. She thanked them for their hard work, creativity and genuine answers to solve real community challenges. “Civic engagement is a responsibility all members of society should share. Whether it is through voting, volunteering or teaching others, it is vital that all community members are involved,” she told students. Among other special guests present at the event were Alvaro Cortés, Senior Executive Director of Beyond the Bell, Vivian Ekchian, Local District Northwest Superintendent, Cheryl Hildreth, Local District West Superintendent, and Robert Newman, Special Advisor to the Superintendent.

On January 21, 2017 field experts presented to the students a list of five challenges for them to choose from: Lori Vollandt “Healthy Life Styles,” Stephanie Fabro, “Financial Literacy,” Fran Lapides, “Voter Registration/Participation,” Genevieve Riutor, “Hidden Hunger,” and La Shona Jenkins, “Foster Youth in Our Schools.” 

After seven weeks of hard work, students were able to impress their teachers, the judges and the guests with their level of professionalism, problem-solving skills and civic engagement. On the stage, students’ presentations included PowerPoints, pictures, music and videos that showed the planning and progress of their projects throughout the seven weeks.  At the end of the presentations, judges had five minutes to ask questions and provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate how well they thought through their challenges and solutions.  

This year’s winners, the Santee Educational Complex’s team, The Golden Apple worked very hard to create Hidden Hunger awareness at their school and the community.  They turned the “Hidden Hunger” challenge into a real campaign to help the hungry people of Los Angeles. Kathy Gonnella, Administrator, Enrichment Programs for Beyond the Bell and Coordinator of the Challenge Los Angeles Program said, “This was a creative learning opportunity for all of us involved in this project. It is really amazing to see our    students making a difference and becoming tomorrow’s leaders.” Congratulations to all the participating teams! 

Please visit for more information or contact Kathy Gonnella, 213-241-7900

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