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Lincoln High School (Western Placer USD) arts students continued creating during COVID-19, including Josh Almora, whose photograph is shown here.
These exemplary arts programs engaged students during distance learning period
June 14, 2021
For many students, arts programs are the reason to come to school. That didn’t change when the COVID-19 pandemic sent students into distance learning. Many schools found creative ways to continue teaching the arts this year, including the 33 California schools that were recently selected to receive the California Exemplary Arts Education Award.
These schools engage students in a quality arts education that meets California Arts Standards for Public Schools and demonstrate progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard. The awards are designed to celebrate successful efforts to engage students in arts through exposure to a variety of disciplines.
“The arts have been critical for student engagement on many levels,” said Lisa Cooper, principal at Culver City High School, where half of all students are currently enrolled in an art class. “These classes give the students a moment to reflect, a creative outlet during a difficult time and build community through shared passions.”
Culver City has four Arts Media Entertainment CTE Pathways, which immerse students in two years or more of hands-on, work-based learning, where they gain leadership experience, community college credits and valuable soft skills that will feed any career path.
“Our CTE completers are awarded at graduation with a certificate and stole, but the greater reward is a sense of accomplishment in their area of passion,” Cooper said.
At Lincoln High School, teachers in the visual (drawing, ceramics, photography), physical (drama, choir, band, dance), and digital (media production, journalism) arts have found innovative ways to successfully accommodate classes during the pandemic, said Principal Jan Hladun.
“We are all seeking moments of normalcy and an opportunity to connect with our feelings, our peers and our community. The arts can be a conduit to express ourselves, and they have been instrumental in supporting some level of normalcy and positive mental health in the past year,” she said.
Michael Maul, who was principal of Lincoln High School through mid-January, said the arts played a special role in celebrating last year’s graduating Class of 2020.
“The senior class had obviously been devastated by the loss of so many of their senior moments, and graduation was perhaps the most painful loss of all. Like many schools, we did a virtual graduation ceremony that was a series of video clips and speeches,” he said.
For the national anthem, senior choir members each recorded themselves at home singing their part with direction from the choir teacher. Then, the video productions department spliced the various performances together into a single, unified performance that was the opening to the graduation ceremony.
“While it didn’t make up for the loss of an in-person ceremony, it did make this video presentation distinctly theirs — it was an LHS performance, not a canned recording, and set the tone for the event to be as positive as it could possibly be,” Maul said.
Schools recognized as Exemplary Arts Education Awardees serve diverse demographic populations of varying sizes, from a 2,700-student urban school to a 250-student rural school. Some schools serve primarily Title I students from lower socio-economic circumstances, and others serve suburban populations with strong district and community financial support.
To apply to be recognized as an Exemplary Arts Awardee, schools must offer sequenced instruction to all students in a minimum of three of the five arts disciplines.
They must also show one level of improvement for at least one student subgroup in one of the following three areas based on the Dashboard: School Climate, in the area of Suspension Rate; Student Engagement, in the area of Chronic Absenteeism or Graduation Rate; and Academic Achievement, in the area of ELA, Mathematics, or College and Career Readiness.
2021 California Exemplary Arts Education Awardees Arcata High School, Northern Humboldt Union School District ArTES Magnet-Arts Theatre and Entertainment School, Los Angeles Unified School District Balboa High School, San Francisco Unified School District Burbank High School, Burbank Unified School District California School of the Arts San Gabriel Valley, Duarte Unified School District Cesar Chavez High School, Stockton Unified School District Claremont High School, Claremont Unified School District Champs Charter High School of the Arts, Los Angeles Unified School District Contra Costa School of Performing Arts, Contra Costa County Office of Education Culver City High School, Culver City Unified School District David Starr Jordan Middle School (Dolores Huerta Middle School), Burbank Unified School District Fullerton Union High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District Granite Hills High School, Apple Valley Unified School District ICEF View Park Preparatory Charter High School, Los Angeles Unified School District John Burroughs High School, Burbank Unified School District Katherine L Albiani Middle School, Elk Grove Unified School District LAUSD 32nd Street School/USC Media Arts & Engineering Magnet School, Los Angeles Unified School District Lincoln High School, Western Placer Unified School District Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank Unified School District Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, Marysville Joint Unified School District Marshall Fundamental Secondary School, Pasadena Unified School District Oakland School for the Arts, Oakland Unified School District Orange County School of the Arts, Orange County Department of Education Ramón C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts, Los Angeles Unified School District Reginald M. Benton Middle School, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Renaissance Arts Academy, Los Angeles Unified School District San Diego County Office of Education, Juvenile Court and Community Schools San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, San Diego USD Santa Susana High School, Simi Valley Unified School District Sierra Preparatory Academy, Santa Ana Unified School District The School of Arts and Enterprise, SBE-The School of Arts and Enterprise Valley View High School, Moreno Valley Unified School District Windsor High School, Windsor Unified School District
Lincoln High School (Western Placer USD) arts students.
Half of all students at Culver City High School (Culver City USD) take an arts class.
Half of all students at Culver City High School (Culver City USD) take an arts class.
Half of all students at Culver City High School (Culver City USD) take an arts class.
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