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Students Research History and Honor Local Historian on Anniversary of Robert F. Kennedy Assassination

The students who go to school at the location of the Ambassador Hotel study the history of Robert F. Kennedy and the neighborhood. A march is planned for Wednesday evening on the anniversary of the assassination.

High school students were awarded Tuesday for their work for delving into the history of the Ambassador Hotel—the site of the Robert F. Kennedy Schools in Los Angeles. (See the completely student-produced website here  www.nowandthengeoclass.weebly.com )

Local costumer, photographer and historian was also honored as well as the late , who was a longtime publicist for the hotel who wrote a book about its history. 

“The students have been discovering the history about the hotel and the people who have come to this historic place,” said history teacher Felicia Perez. “They have used the extensive photographs taken and collected by Tess Inman and the information provided by Margaret Burk.”

About three-dozen students were given certificates for their involvement in the N.O.W. (New Open World) & Then project, using research skills in their geography and history classes to compile film and reports about their school that will be available to all on the Internet. The students have developed innovative technology that turns the entire campus into an interactive learning experience.

“There are QR markers around the school and people can scan them with their phone and it will take them to a page on our site that gives more detail about the room,” said student Noah Vasquez, who was making a presentation to the elementary students of the school on Tuesday. 

The students also put together a series of clips that showed the movies and music videos shot at the Ambassador Hotel, including “S.W.A.T.,” “Charlie’s Angels 2,” “The Mask,” “The Sheik,” “Pretty Woman,” “Forrest Gump” and many more.

It is also the site of six Academy Awards and where the first African American received an Oscar—Hattie McDaniels from “Gone With the Wind" in 1939. 

“It’s hard to believe that there was a time when she had to stay in the back of auditorium and she was not allowed to stay in the hotel,” said school principal Chuck Flores. 

“This kind of history project is of importance to the students, and we could not have done it without Tess and her research,” said the principal. “Tess has been great in preserving the memory of Margaret Burk and the building through out Social Justice Program.” 

"I feel like I'm an 8-year-old at Christmas," said Inman, who worked with the students in several of their classes and brought Burk to the site a few times before her death last year. "I have not seen what the students have come up with and I'm excited to see what they have done."

The crowd of students gasped as they saw their familiar school surroundings and then how the posh hotel grounds looked like in the past. 

Of course, the most famous thing that happened on the site is the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy while he was running for president and shot in the kitchen there on June 6, 1968.

Also at the event was Paul Schrade who was wounded at the hotel with Kennedy. 

A student said, "He was named after the library" and the principal had to point out that the library was named after him. 

"I was with Kennedy that day while on the campaign, and I was wounded here," said Schrade, who also spent years trying to turn the abandoned hotel into a public school.

Burk's son, Tray and his wife Marie as well as Burk's granddaughter Alicia Garcia attended the presentation. 

"On behalf of the family, we are delighted with the way Margaret was able to contribute to the history of this place," said Burk's son, who presented an actual early key that was used in the hotel.

Some of the work accomplished by Inman was due to a grant by the California Institute of Contemporary Arts. "This is overwhelming how my passion for the hotel has come to an ongoing project like this," Inman said. "It also is a fitting tribute to the memory of Margaret."

Schrade attended a demonstration and march at 3400 Wilshire Blvd. on Wednesday evening ( CLICK HERE for more information) to remember Kennedy on a "Night Out to Build Safer Neighborhoods." "It's an event to remember a man who celebrated diversity, unity, peace and education," Schrade said.

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