Happy 75th anniversary to La Playa Cooperative!
In 1948, a handful of parents gathered to begin a cooperative preschool, working together – with a teacher – to take care of their children and teach them through a play-based curriculum. The families began using backyards and eventually, an empty lot on Keystone Avenue in Culver City.
Eventually, the school ran into licensing issues and needed a more permanent space. That’s when La Playa’s then-board president, Phoebe Kalionzes reached out to Syd Kronenthal, Culver City’s then-new director of the Parks and Recreation Department. The year was 1953 – Mr. Kronenthal’s very first year serving as Culver City’s Director of Parks and Recreation – a position he would hold for over 50 years. He found a home for La Playa – and his deal would turn out to be a decision that would not only last through his career but would extend beyond his own life. That location was the Stone House in Lindberg Park, where La Playa still holds its morning cooperative preschool classes today!
The late 1940s and 1950s were a time when preschools were just beginning to take stronger ground in the United States’ educational system. Only a few dozen cooperative preschools launched in the country, with many in California. The schools leaned into their desire for community service and soon established themselves as non-profits that created greater opportunities for community service and parent education.
They even teamed up.
The California Council for Parent Participation Nursery Schools was established, with a few chapters in northern and southern California. La Playa was one of the first members in the Los Angeles Chapter of CCPPNS and remains a committed member of the group.
Over the last 75 years, La Playa Cooperative has been the training ground for parents and grownups who love their children and community service. Those who have volunteered their time at La Playa have also served their community in other ways: at schools, businesses, and city government.
La Playa remains one of the nation’s few original cooperative preschools that were established in the 1940s. It is Culver City’s oldest preschool and remains its only cooperative school community.
We hope the next 75 years will contribute just as much to children and the community as we have done so already!
Our 75th anniversary celebration was held on Saturday, April 29th. We had a huge turnout of visitors to our free community event, including currently-attending La Playa families, friends and relatives, neighbors, community leaders, and even alumni. Our most veteran alum was Darryl Cherness, who attended La Playa in 1953! His mother, Trudy, was one of the early leaders of La Playa, and she eventually went on to contribute further to the politics and community of Culver City.
We were honored to have the presence of Culver City Mayor, Albert Vera. Mayor Vera presented La Playa with an official declaration from the city. Its words are below: