Guest column | Pablo Miralles

For too many local residents, John Muir High School Early College Magnet and much of the Pasadena Unified School District were made redundant. Many focus on the high number of LatinX, Blacks, immigrants, host families, and educational difficulties in the student body and, with the unexamined excuse of “low test scores,” avoid sending their children in their local public school. But for those northwest of Pasadena and Altadena, that inclusion and diversity has been part of Muir’s DNA for almost 100 years. This is the foundation of its strength as an educational institution and the very reason Muir has an unprecedented history of producing alumni who come out into the world ready to make positive change.

In the Tournament of Roses Parade, will proudly march at the head of the PUSD All-Star Marching Band as one of the Drum Majors, will be Ella Uriu, a senior Muir who embodies the best of the “Muir Family”. Over the course of her four years, Ella was part of a kind of high school renaissance with more privileged families, seeking to do more than talk about “positive social change,” returning to public schools. Ella remembers when the Mighty Mustang Marching Band was not that powerful, “my first year we only had fourteen members and now we have over sixty!”

A student with honors at the Academy of Engineering and Environmental Sciences in Muir, Ella was also part of the resurgence of the aquatic program as part of its growing water polo and swimming teams, formerly the one of the most powerful high school programs in the region. “Being part of the water polo team has been a particularly enriching experience. A majority of the team is also involved in the group and my favorite times during the school day are the library lunches with our trainer Ms. Issa. As Ella begins to recall her time at Muir, she is especially proud of her time as a founding member of the LGBTQ + Alliance and playing music with the Muir Orchestra and the John Tirabasso Jazz Band.

The honor of being chosen as the Drum Major in the Rose Parade came as a shock to Ella, “even after the announcement I was blown away by the support not only from my own community in Muir, but from Pasadena. in general. I really have so much love for this All Star Band and I couldn’t have made this trip without the other student leaders, Nalani Viray from PHS in particular.

But the choice of where a child will go to school is not up to them alone. For the parents of Ella, Scott and Angela Uriu, choosing a high school for their child was not taken lightly. “We toured it a few times before its first year and each time we learned something new that blew us away. There was never any doubt for us but ultimately it was Ella’s decision. Ultimately Muir was the school for all of us – our neighborhood school. “

When asked to describe the Muir community, Angela does not hesitate to answer: “The Muir community supports and invests in the success of your child. Not only are there staff who are alumni who have their children at Muir, and staff who have been working there for decades, but there is also a strong alumni association that works very hard to support our students. The Muir community is our family.

Standing on the cold Colorado Boulevard sidewalk, Angela and Scott will not only watch Ella lead the PUSD All-Star Band, but Ella’s little brother, Isaak, a sousaphone player, and Muir Sophomore as well. “Scott and I are happy to have more time at Muir as we see Isaak until his senior year,” said Angela.

Ella will soon be heading east to study education at Bucknell University, a task made easier by Muir’s partnership with the CCP. Ella’s first year was the inaugural year of Early College Magnet and she will graduate from high school with 32 transferable college credits.

“Coming to Muir has been one of the best decisions of my life so far,” says Ella. “Muir was the first place where I really learned to build community. I learned to be part of a team and I learned to be a leader.

Author Pablo Miralles has over 20 years of experience in film and video production. His most recent film, the award-winning documentary “Can We All Get Along? John Muir High School Segregation ”is his second film under the Arroyo Seco Films banner. Previous experience included the production coordinator on the Oscar-winning short film “Visas and Life” and the co-producer of the Emmy nominated short “Day of Independence”. He is president of Arroyo Seco Films, which was founded in 2008 to create both entertaining and informative fictional and non-fictional projects.

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