Class of 2020 at Legacy Visual and Performing Arts High School in LA.
Students were able to look back on their performances in photos during the virtual graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 at Legacy Visual and Performing Arts High School in LAUSD.
How one performing arts school stayed connected during distance learning
August 24, 2020
It wasn’t too much of a stretch for Edward Trimis, principal of Legacy Visual and Performing Arts High School in ACSA Region 16, to embrace online learning during the spring 2020 closure of schools due to the coronavirus. Having founded an online school (City of Angels Virtual Academy) and taught graduate classes online for the University of Southern California for the last 10 years, he had experience with online learning.  What was different was how schools were thrown into distance learning.  “For some, it was totally fine. Some of the students were already taking classes through Edgenuity, most teachers used some online tools like Kahn Academy, and we all were using Schoology as a platform,” Trimis said. “What was different is all of a sudden, overnight really, we were 100 percent teaching and learning online.” To enhance communication, the school designed a website (
) with information for students, parents and families, including food bank and mental health info. A presentation was created (
) to explain distance learning and how staff and teachers would continue supporting students. There was also a parent request form using Google Forms (they were careful not to call it a “complaint” form), video updates (which were recorded and published at least once a week), and COVID-19 information and guidance.   In addition to teaching classes online and holding weekly staff meetings via Zoom, the school’s other meetings and activities, such as Coffee with the Principal, ASB Budget Meetings, Title I meetings, sports orientation, and open house were all conducted online. “All the while, many of us were acutely aware of what a tough year it was for the seniors,” Trimis said. “So we had yard signs made for them and delivered them to their homes in person (with their prom refunds), provided a senior awards program where we gave awards to all of the seniors, held a virtual graduation, and, when it became allowed, a drive-through graduation as well, complete with goodie bags.” Being a visual and performing arts school, Trimis also found ways to bring performing groups together virtually. The school continued its Guest Artist Series by welcoming TV/film composer and songwriter/producer Danny Osuna via web conference. Students were able to ask questions of a professional who turned four years of high school jazz band and a bachelor’s degree into a music career. Trimis also composed music for a
video montage called “We’ll Make It Through”
to inspire students to get through these tough times. Trimis built on the strong relationships he built with his school community as he planned online events, modeled lessons and special online programs, and provided support for both students and staff.  “At one time, when we were in really far into the semester, but seemingly long before the last day of school, I felt the staff needed some TLC, so I followed the practice of our local district and asked our Psychiatric Social Worker to lead the staff in a mindfulness, grounding exercise to start out staff meeting,” Trimis said. The extensive use of video posted to social media feeds helped cultivate togetherness during distance learning and helped keep Legacy VAPA traditions alive, even the quirky ones.  “When St. Patrick’s Day comes around each year, I would always play my bagpipes at school, so I recorded a video this year and posted it,” he said. “A few of the teachers said it meant a lot to them.”   Watch the school’s video content at
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