Parents ‘Shop’ for Schools at Pasadena Unified Festival

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4:56 am | January 15, 2014

[Correction: This article incorrectly identified Jefferson Elementary School principal as Amin Olia. In fact, her name is Amin Oria. We regret the error and the article has been corrected.]

Scores of local families braved the crowded, narrow halls of the Pasadena Unified School District building Tuesday evening at the PUSD Education Center for presentations from PUSD schools seeking their enrollment during the District’s first-ever First Choice Festival.

During the “First Choice Festival,” teachers and principals from more than PUSD 20 schools chatted with moms, dads and kids as to why their schools would be the right choice for their family.

Like many educators at the event, Amin Oria, principal of Jefferson Elementary School, a K-5 school that has an emphasis on the arts and music, stood by a large poster and student projects highlighting her school’s academic offerings. She said it was a good sign that things were getting a bit cramped.

“It’s a great turnout, the halls are full and there’s hardly any walking room,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity not only for parents who currently have students enrolled to see what other schools have to offer, but also for parents and potential parents who might not have had enough information about Pasadena Unified.”

Local parent Erin Musick, who was browsing the event for a good kindergarten program for her son, agreed.

“I really like that we have a choice, that we’re not told what school we get to go to, so this is kind of like a first stop,” she said, adding: “I’m proud to be in a city that takes education so seriously.”

The First Choice Festival was a one stop shop for parents and the community who were able to meet and speak to representatives from every PUSD school. Whether families were considering a PUSD signature program school or simply want to learn more about the campus down the block, the festival helped them find the best educational fit for their children.

“The First Choice Festival showcased the multitude of educational options in PUSD, including programs that prepare students with global and enduring skills for the 21st century,” said PUSD Superintendent Jon R. Gundry.

The parents were provided with information and presentations about PUSD signature programs such as Mandarin and Spanish Dual Language Immersion, International Baccalaureate, College and Career Pathways and the district’s new magnet schools.

There were also activities for kids, information about preschool and after school programs and free immunizations required for students to attend school (for uninsured or Medi-Cal eligible children).

Several attendees joined a raffle and won a family membership to Kidspace Museum, while other were given a full scholarship to the Pasadena Educational Foundation Summer Enrichment Program.

Staff were available at the festival to help parents complete the online open enrollment application. Spanish translation were also provided for all the presentations.

The timing of the festival coincides with the district’s open enrollment process which runs from January 9 to February 6. Open enrollment is an opportunity for district students to apply to a school other than the one they attended in 2013-2014 or for those enrolling in PUSD for the first time and interested in applying to a school other than their neighborhood school.

Open Enrollment applications can be submitted online at For more information about PUSD schools, visit or call (626) 396-3606.