CORONA — City officials inaugurated the Gabriela Mistral Campus on Thursday, a new school building home to a middle school, special education program and seven pre-K classrooms.
The building at 98-11 44th Ave. will bear the name of Mistral, the pen name of Chile's Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, the first Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize in literature and a social leader in her country.
Chancellor Carmen Fariña told those at Thursday's dedication that the school "really symbolizes the best of public education" and is more than just a campus; it represents and honors the diverse cultures around Corona.
"The more we know about other people's aspirations, the more we understand the beauty of the world as a whole, the more you will become better citizens of tomorrow," she told students at Corona Arts and Sciences Academy, a middle school.
The school is one of three programs located inside the building, which also houses seven pre-K classrooms from the Mosaic Pre-K Center and the Riverview School, a District 75 school.
"This brand new-state-of-the-art school building provides our students with a beautiful and modern learning environment to grow and thrive in,” said Lorraine Grillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the School Construction Authority.
The building, like so many throughout Corona, was built to address the overcrowding throughout District 24. Farina said pre-K classes from other schools were put into the Gabriela Mistral campus because the 785-seat campus currently has only around 755 students.
At other schools in Corona, trailers have been added for universal pre-K classrooms — including at PS 28, where a playground was ripped up for the trailers.
The Gabriela Mistral Foundation fought for eight years to get a city school named for the icon for eight years, calling the dedication "a dream come true."
"Our chancellor was welcoming this petition, and she entrusted the DOE and the Division of English Language Learners to pursue this endeavor so that we can find that school, the district, where we could name a school after Gabriela," the group's vice president, Maria Grasso, said.
The campus was selected due to the area's population of Chilean immigrants, officials said.
The community embraced naming the school for Mistral, and at the dedication, the building's auditorium was filled with essays and drawings of the icon.
The foundation wanted to honor her, but also "bring pride to a Hispanic community," Fariña said.
"The kids studied about her, they researched her work, and all of them are able to speak eloquently [about her]," she said. "She was not only a writer, she was a fighter for social justice."
Students at CASA will continue to study Mistral's life, and connect with students in Chile through programing from the foundation, she said.