Above, parents from South L.A. visit Jefferson High during its first-ever Demo Day.

'The History of the Recorded Word,' a mural by artist Ross Dickinson, adorns the Jefferson High library.
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The History of the Recorded Word,’ a mural by artist Ross Dickinson, adorns the Jefferson High library.

Visitors to Thomas Jefferson High School’s website will see a standing note on the front page: A Family of Learning.

To underscore that message, Principal Agustin Gonzalez inaugurated Demo Day – the opportunity to demonstrate what it means to be a Democrat, the school’s mascot. Held earlier this month, Demo Day showcased the school’s instructional programs – everything from psychology to AP calculus – and assets like a wellness center, college/career center, online tutoring and a full-time teacher librarian. Thanks to supports like these, Gonzalez said, 80 percent of Jefferson’s students graduate on time, and half go on to attend a four-year university. An additional 30 percent attend Santa Monica, Mount St. Mary’s or East Los Angeles colleges.

Parents invited to Demo Day included those living in the community’s Zone of Choice, a strategy to increase the number of personalized educational options available to L.A. Unified students. The Jefferson Zone of Choice is made up of Santee Learning Complex, Nava College Prep Academy and Maya Angelou Community High School. Open enrollment is under way and Gonzalez hopes to recruit students from those schools as future Democrats for 2016-17.

A tour of Jefferson High took parents to the Art Deco auditorium.
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A tour of Jefferson High took parents to the Art Deco auditorium.

In addition to its academic offerings, Gonzalez told parents about the school’s participation in All-City Band, its athletics and JROTC programs and its unique partnership with Pepperdine University.  Eight sophomores and juniors are selected for mentoring by Pepperdine students which includes school visits, homework help and assistance in applying for college.

As Jefferson nears its centennial anniversary, the District is finalizing plans to modernize the campus, beginning in 2019-20.

“I’m proud to be serving the community of Jefferson,” said Jefferson’s assistant principal, Johnny Rivera. “This school is a gem and it’s absolutely beautiful.”