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Michael Jackson's name gleams again at Hollywood school

For seven years, the letters proclaiming Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner Street Elementary were covered, placed at the behest of parents shortly after the pop singer's arrest in 2003. Now, a year after his death, the sign is back.

October 16, 2010|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

For seven years, the gleaming silver letters that once proclaimed Michael Jackson Auditorium at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood were hidden behind white plywood boards.

The boards had been placed there at the behest of parents shortly after the pop singer was arrested on suspicion of child molestation in 2003. Since his death last year, fans had rallied for the restoration of the sign, which they saw as a symbol of Jackson's legacy.

Now, Jackson's name gleams again.

Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines ordered the boards stripped away Friday "in recognition of Michael Jackson's musical legacy and contribution to modern culture."

A school district spokesman said the decision was made in large part because Jackson had been acquitted of criminal charges in the molestation case.

On Friday night, a Facebook page calling for the restoration of the sign was overflowing with joyous comments.

"I could cry!!" one person wrote. "I wish he were here to see this!!"

On the page, devotees from places as far away as Japan and Sri Lanka posted photos of themselves holding handmade posters calling for the boards to be stripped away.

Fans had planned to show up at a school board meeting Tuesday to demand that the sign be revealed.

Jackson was briefly enrolled at Gardner Street Elementary. In 1969, he and his family moved to Los Angeles from Gary, Ind., so that Jackson and his brothers could make a record with Motown.

Jackson was an 11-year-old sixth-grader at the school when the Jackson 5 released their debut album, a smash hit that foreshadowed Jackson's record-breaking solo career.

The Gardner auditorium was dedicated to Jackson in 1989. He attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, where the school's choir sang "We Are the World," a tune Jackson co-wrote.

An illustration of Jackson's face was posted in the auditorium in 1989, and a picture depicting the singer surrounded by children was hung in the main office. The auditorium drawing was removed several years ago because it kept falling down, schools officials said. The picture in the office was removed to make room for an intercom system, officials said.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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