On a typical day, about 4,200 students would pour into the six schools of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus.
On Monday, as Los Angeles teachers went out on strike, a steady stream of students showed up. But many were on the picket lines or staying away.
Principal Susan Canjura of the Los Angeles High School of the Arts had to plan on the fly.
She decided to show the movie “Black Panther” to however many students showed up, along with as many as 450 students from another high school in the complex. They’d all gather in the fanciful Moorish auditorium designed as an artistic tribute to the old Cocoanut Grove nightclub, which used to occupy the spot.
The movie would buy her time to figure out what to do next.
Canjura hoped to move her students back to their fourth-floor school, into a few closely spaced classrooms. There, students would do coursework on computers — an option not available during the last L.A. teachers strike, in 1989.
But she wasn’t counting on the help of her 15 non-teaching staff members. She thought most of them would be taking part in a sympathy strike being held at RFK by Local 99 of the Service Employees International Union. She was only sure of help from her two clerical workers, who belong to a different union.
Janet Tovar, a retired administrator who helps out at the school, said the administrative staff would try to make the most of the movie watching by leading a discussion after the movie was over.
She said they would aim to hit on themes beyond pure entertainment.The goal, she said, was to make sure learning occurred in any form that was possible.