Cultural Arts Program Funding Benefits TECS Students

Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.By Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.

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Cultural Arts Program Funding  Benefits TECS Students
Cultural Arts Program Funding Benefits TECS Students The Cultural Arts Passport (CAP) program promoted by LAUSD during the last school year, was by all measures, a success. Schools were able to fund field trips and purchase much needed supplies. At Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS), we were able to stock our art room, provide teachers with a budget to purchase classroom supplies for art projects and performances and purchase new sound equipment for our auditorium. We had a school-wide assembly performance of Alice in Wonderland from the Guild Opera that was appreciated by all. For this school year, the funding for the CAP program has changed, and is derived from State funds called Extended Learning Opportunity Program (ELOP). These funds come with substantial strings attached, mainly that all funded activities must take place on weekends or be an extension of the school day. As the CAP Champion (the teacher who develops and facilitates the CAP program), I was tasked with developing a plan under these new guidelines and am striving to provide a variety of experiences that will both entertain and enrich the children through the arts and sciences. After collaborating with teachers, and parents, including Topanga Enrichment Program (TEP)board members, Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) members and our Science Committee members, we developed a plan that will enrich the children’s’ learning experiences throughout this school year.
In October, CAP events included field trips for first and second grades to Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten students also spent a day enjoying the story of “Ferdinand the Bull.”
Our first CAP event on Sunday, October 15th was a performance by the world-famous Bob Baker Marionettes in the school auditorium. This event was free for TECS families and almost 200 people attended the Halloween Spooktacular show! The children delighted in the life-size marionettes who interacted with the audience and the parents enjoyed the retro soundtrack that accompanied the show. The children were invited to wear costumes and a question-and-answer period followed the show. The CAP funds paid for the Bob Baker Marionettes fees.

Also in October, CAP events included field trips to our local and world-renowned Theatricum Botanicum when the first and second grades went to the Theatricum for the Creative PlayGround field trip focusing on “Aesop’s Fables.” The children spent the day on the Theatricum grounds watching a performance and participating in theater workshops teaching Elizabethan dance, stage combat and character acting. They had the opportunity to perform for each other as a culminating activity.

On October 27th, the transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students spent a day at the Theatricum enjoying the story of “Ferdinand the Bull” and participated in a visual art activity followed by the theater workshops mentioned above. In order to include all students, the Theatricum directors will follow the field trips with theater workshops on the TECS campus. These workshops will replicate those taught during the field trip and will take place in the auditorium on the same day as the field trips. The CAP funds will be used to pay for the Theatricum costs, the on-site workshops, and the buses to transport the children to the Theatricum.

This month, third- and fifth-grade students will participate in a Theatricum program on the TECS campus. Students Act the Classics is a program where students rehearse and perform an edited version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A director will meet with the interested students, who will be given roles and scripts. There will be seven meetings after school in the TECS auditorium followed by three rehearsals at the Theatricum. The culmination will be a Friday evening performance. CAP funds will pay for the entire program.

The next CAP event will be S.T.E.A.M. Saturday, open to all TECS students and families, at the end of January. The TECS Science Committee will coordinate the activities for this event featuring more than ten stations of hands-on activities exploring science concepts and theories. The highlight of the event will be a seven-foot touch tank from Traveling Tidepools. All materials for the S.T.E.A.M. stations and the cost of the Traveling Tidepools tank are purchased with CAP funds. This event promises to be an exciting and motivating day for the children, who will have their curiosity sparked just in time to begin thinking about their own project for the annual Science Fair.

The Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) group will host an Evening of Art mid-winter or early Spring. As is the tradition at TECS, all children will create a work of art and this year we have a new TEP-funded art teacher, Maddie Edgar. All student art will be on display in the school auditorium on newly purchased art gallery display boards. Students will also demonstrate musical performances they have learned with our Topanga Enrichment Programs-funded music teacher Ms. Lauren of the Orchestra Place.

The fifth-grade students will attend a field trip to the Ocean Institute at Dana Point. This rite of passage is an extended day field trip (they return close to 10 p.m.!) where students will participate in a science program featuring a Sea Explorer Cruise, kayaking, and conduct experiments in the Living Systems Laboratory. While this trip is tied to the fifth-grade science curriculum, it also offers opportunities for the students to learn together and bond as a group. It is one of the culminating activities fifth graders will have together before they leave TECS. The cost of the Institute and the Charter bus are all covered by CAP funds.

The second-grade students will perform Really Rosie, a musical about friendship written by Maurice Sendak and Carole King. CAP funds will pay for the scripts, perusal score rental, license fee, costumes, and props. Our second-grade teachers, Dr. Amenta-Shin, and Ms. Chatham will work with the students to prepare for the performances which will take place for students during the day, and for parents in the evening. The students will collaborate with peers to conceptualize scenery, contribute ideas, interpret story elements, and articulate nuances of a character in this guided drama experience.

The Cultural Arts Program is providing funds we have not gotten in the past. These funds are enriching our educational program, providing experiences for all students, and allowing our students to learn to perform, explore and expand their education.
Amy Weisberg, M.Ed.

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