On October 28, 2021, Dr. Shannon Malone, Principal of Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy, was authorized by PUSD Superintendent Brian McDonald to establish and chair an ad-hoc committee to engage stakeholders regarding changing the school’s name.
By Albert Martin
The community of Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy welcomed the idea of having the name of the school represent the community in a more meaningful way. Dr. Shannon Malone stated that the process started with “renaming the library and then they decided to go for the whole school. But with the pandemic the world just started to fall apart and now here we are again.”
Board member Pat Cahalan said that for renaming a school, “It is up to the school sites. There are committees for this. Schools are communities of those present.”
Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy has taken on many names to represent its evolution into a destination middle school in Northwest Pasadena for diverse programming and STEAM-integrated instruction. Washington STEAM Multilingual Academy works to connect literacy to the sciences and other curricular areas to promote an interdisciplinary learning environment.
Dr. Shannon Malone said, “Octavia Butler is a daughter of our city.” Board Member Jennifer Hall Lee noted that “Octavia grew up in a yellow house on Marengo.”
Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler, a renowned science fiction author, began her writing career at a young age. She was an alum of Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), Washington Middle School, class of 1961, and John Muir High School, class of 1965. Dr. Shannon Malone stated that “this all started with Octavia watching Devil Girl from Mars. Then she said I can do better than that!”
Octavia E. Butler was a recipient of highest honors in the field of science fiction writing, including Hugo and Nebula Awards as well as the Macarthur Fellowship prize. She had a goal of inspiring young students to go to college and pursue their dreams. Her writings have had a resurgence, resulting in posthumously realizing her goal of becoming a New York Times bestselling author. She has earned the honors of being inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Octavia E. Butler maintains strong ties to the Pasadena community through her donation of her records to the Huntington Library and to the greater Los Angeles area through the do-it-yourself makerspace and audiovisual studio located in the Los Angeles Central Public Library named in her honor. Octavia E. Butler is a role model for our students as she exemplifies the qualities of a graduate of the Pasadena Unified School District as presented by the PUSD Graduate Profile. Coming from a meager background, she persisted through struggling with a learning disability to a model of excellence, using skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, self-discipline, research, goal setting, and resilience.
Dr Shannon Malone stated that “Octavia’s love of science research combined with her love of writing is exactly what STEAM integration is about at our school. We don’t teach things in isolation we show that all things can come together such as a love of Science Fiction and a love of writing.” The school will be hosting the 2nd Octavia Butler Writing and Art Contest with novels and poetry. The Pasadena Library will feature a virtual tour about Octavia Butler and proudly showcase the school’s mural.
In appreciation of Octavia E. Butler for her outstanding achievements in literary science-fiction and for representing the qualities of a PUSD graduate that will inspire our youth and greater community, Washington Middle School shall be known henceforth as the Octavia E. Butler Magnet. Board President Elizabeth Pomeroy declared “let’s all pledge to read a book by Octavia Butler!” The motion was passed, approved, and adopted on February 24, 2022, at a special meeting of the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education.
> Watch the full PUSD Special Board Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, starting at 3:25:07:
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