La Ballona’s Newest Lion Gets a Name

On a sunny sidewalk on Washington Boulevard, a Thursday afternoon crowd of students, parents, artists, PTA leaders, CCUSD District Administrators and La Ballona Elementary School folks were all gathered for a unique naming ceremony. The September 5, 2019 dedication of a new sculpture of the school’s mascot was also the occasion to dub it with a crowd-sourced name.

The sculpture, sitting in front of the school and facing out to the street, was created by artists Gonzalo Duran and Cheri Pann, (pictured above) who are also known for their live-in artwork, the Mosaic Tile House in Venice Beach. La Ballona’s Lion is based on rebar steel and concrete, and Duran revised the sculpture several times to be sure it could bear the weight of multiple children climbing on it at once.

PTA President Marti Paez gave a short presentation, thanking both Duran and Pann, as well as the Ruth D. Ewing Fund that financially supported the project. Tabitha Fronk was given a round of applause as well, for her work over the past years with mosaics in many places in the school, and her new mosaic ‘banner’ on the front wall. CCUSD Superintendent Leslie Lockhart was lauded as well as La Ballona Principal Luis Ramirez, and Paez gave the microphone to Duran to read out the winners of the naming contest who had all chosen the name “Leo,” for certificates and more applause.

A complete weight test of Leo the Lion was initiated by some dozen La Ballona students, enjoying the smooth surface, beautiful design, and friendly smile of the school mascot.  Parents who will be walking their children to school down Washington Boulevard may need to calculate an extra ten minutes in the morning, as climbing the Lion is sure to become a required stop.

With the mosaic banner reflecting the light back out to the crowd, the event was a celebration of creativity, and a proclamation of La Ballona Pride.

Judith Martin-Straw


The Actors' Gang


  1. Hi Judith Martin-Straw
    Thanks for capturing the essence of our day …
    May there be many more celebrations…

    Marti Paez

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