By Katherine Kim
NEW AMERICA MEDIA
“Good night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,” intones a pint-sized, pink-cheeked Kelly Park, reciting a soliloquy from the leading role in Romeo and Juliet. Park, 11, who was born in Incheon, Korea, diligently delivers her lines on the stage of the Coconut Grove Auditorium, the same spot where Vivian Leigh once stood to accept a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Gone with the Wind. Seven decades later, the stage is filled with mostly Korean, Latino and Filipino students performing an earnest rendition of Shakespeare’s classic.
The auditorium is now part of Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools, a 544,000-square-foot complex in the heart of Koreatown in Los Angeles. Formerly the Ambassador Hotel (where RFK was assassinated in 1968), the building re-opened to house six separate pilot schools in September 2010.
A relatively recent phenomenon, pilot schools like RFK were established as part of a national education reform movement, one that places a high value on cutting edge approaches to learning, community involvement – RFK has numerous partnerships with local non-profits — and small school environments.
And at RFK, the Korean American community—educators, students, parents and neighborhood organizations—are at the forefront of the movement …
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