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October 20, 2014

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Community celebrates opening of Ruby Duncan Elementary School

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Paul Takahashi

Las Vegas civil rights activist Ruby Duncan addresses the crowd at the opening of her namesake elementary school on Aug. 27, 2010.

Ruby Duncan Elementary School Opens

Ruby Duncan opens its doors to the public for the first time on Aug. 27. The new school is named after Ruby Duncan, a Las Vegas civil rights activist. Launch slideshow »

Map of Ruby Duncan Elementary School

Ruby Duncan Elementary School

250 West Rome Blvd., North Las Vegas

Ruby Duncan Elementary School opened its doors for the first time Friday with much fanfare.

The North Las Vegas school is named after Las Vegas civil rights activist Ruby Duncan, a mother of seven with a ninth-grade education.

Duncan – who grew up on a Louisiana plantation – led the Welfare Rights Movement in Las Vegas during the late 1960s. She championed for the rights of the poor, women and children, marching on the Las Vegas Strip in 1971 to protest welfare cuts.

“I am one to never get the education my children got,” Duncan, who helped bring about welfare reforms nationwide, told the crowd of more than 100. “We want our children to understand that life is great and they are our greatest resource ... We want the highest expectations for our children.”

“It’s just a pleasure to have a school named after a woman like Ruby Duncan,” said Lauren Kohut-Hood, the deputy superintendent of instruction at the Clark County School District. “(She) understood we needed to take care of the children first before they came to school.”

“I stand here today because of a woman like Ruby Duncan,” said Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly, who said Duncan gave courage to his mother, a victim of domestic violence. “This school celebrates this wonderful woman.”

Ruby Duncan Elementary School is the last of five new schools constructed under a 1998 voter-approved initiative to revamp the education system. The school boasts a science lab, wide corridors, improved access to natural light and “smart boards” -- or digital chalkboards -- in each classroom. The school, one the most energy-efficient in the county, will have a projected 595 students, said Principal Rick DiTondo.

“It’s a beautiful facility,” DiTondo said. “I’m humbled that we are named after Ruby, a person who fought for those less fortunate.”

Cheerleaders and band members from nearby Legacy High School performed before the more than 100 parents and students gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. As the temperature outside climbed to 100 degrees, North Las Vegas resident Randolph Anderson and his son, Randolph Anderson IV, watched as Duncan encouraged parents to get involved in their children’s education.

“It’s great (my son) gets to go to a new school that's supposed to be good in science,” Anderson said. “He wants to be a doctor.”

“No, I don’t. That’s what you want me to be,” Anderson IV said, grinning. “I want to be a soccer player.”

Ruby Duncan said she is happy her legacy will live on in the school.

“It takes a village,” she said. “We all have to be a part of that village.”

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