Photo by S. Miria Jo
Maggie practicing theater skills in the after-school program, Rising Stars.
The Topanga Elementary Charter School (TECS) community engages with students not only during school but also after the afternoon school bell rings! TECS offers a range of after-school enrichment programs for students throughout the year.
â€śWeâ€™ve been expanding the options for these programs, recognizing the variety of interests of our students and the needs of parents. Itâ€™s exciting to see the range of programs we now have,â€ť noted Topanga Elementary principal, Kevin Kassebaum.
Beyond the Bell, a free program for second-to-fifth graders provided by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), engages TECS kids in recreational activities and sports, as well as the opportunity to finish homework before getting home.
â€śI like Beyond the Bell because we donâ€™t have to be in a room and we can run free,â€ť said third-grader Vianna Crabtree.
Other students use their after-school time to learn Spanish. KallpachayÂ offers a daily after-school Spanish immersion program with dynamic teachers and engaging lessons that focus on creative learning, including singing songs, cultural appreciation and heritage, and recreational activities indoors and out.
â€śBeing able to speak Spanish is fun and MaestroÂ Rafael is a great teacher,â€ť commented third-grader Roma Rodan.
For the youngest children, FOCUSfish, a local non-profit, offers Rising Stars, a program for TK-K to first-graders to practice theater skills on Topanga Elementaryâ€™s beautiful outdoor stage.
â€śI have a lot of gratitude and appreciation for Rising Stars,â€ť said Zoia Comarova. â€śMy kids, Vicky and Sasha, didnâ€™t want to leave the program at their trial day. They were begging me this morning not to pick them up until 6 p.m.! This means so much to me, as a mom of two shy girls, and I cannot thank you enough for the wonderful program!â€ť
In addition to these â€śfull-timeâ€ť daily after-school options, a diverse set of other enrichment classes are available. The Childrenâ€™s Music Workshop offers weekly music enrichment classes, including piano/keyboard, violin, guitar, ukulele, flute, clarinet, trumpet, or a drum circle with mindfulness. STEAM Dojo/KidzToPros offers STEM, sports, and art classes. Offerings change throughout the year depending on familiesâ€™ interests. Currently kids are participating in their programs on Play-it-All sports, Hip Hop, Lego Robotics, and Chess.
Older performers (second to fifth grades) can sign up to be â€śTheatre Kids,â€ť and the show must go on! After the pandemic pause to the spring musical (we were just one day away from the spring musical in March 2020 when the school closed), our 2022 show, Frozen Jr., features students from all grades and is produced by FOCUSfish.
â€śMy kids have been participating in FOCUSfish plays for years, both as performers and fans, so after this hiatus, we are all thrilled to have Kristy, Gabbi, and their team back at Topanga Elementary,â€ť Fuji Whittenberg remarked.
Return of the Gala
The annual Spring Gala fundraiser returned with parents and friends of TECS celebrating at the â€śTopanga Fiesta.â€ť Held at the Topanga Community Center at the end of April, guests enjoyed the Taco Bar by Cecilia, topped off with desserts by Portoâ€™s Bakery. Founded by two Topanga moms, Muddle & Wilde served up botanical-infused tequila cocktails. Their pineapple-jalapeno margaritas wereamazing!Owned by friends of Topanga and brewer Pat Dunn, the Lincoln Beer Company based in Burbank supplied refreshing beers. The dance floor lit up and filled up thanks to fabulous international DJ Marta. Cheers to her for staying late for those noisy parents who just would not stop dancing. A heartfelt thanks goes out from the TECS community to super TECS parent Fuji Whittenberg for bringing the gala back!
The funds raised from the Fiesta, as well as the upcoming online auction, all go to support the TECS Booster Clubâ€™s Topanga Enrichment Programs (TEP). TEP provides funding for many enrichment programs at Topanga Elementaryâ€”Science, PE, Instructional Aides and more. Recently, with TEP funds, students took their science classes to the trails during lessons from the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains (RCDSMM ).
Whether you are a parent at TECS or a community member who believes in the importance of quality public education, there are many ways to support our only public school. Next up is the Online Auction due later this month. Be on the lookout for amazing donations from parents and businesses near and far. TEP donations are tax deductible; any questions, please contact the TEP team at email@example.com.
Photo by Kathleen Beegle
Topanga Elementary students hiking during an RCDSMM Environmental Science lesson.
Photo by Kayt Jones
Parents and friends enjoyed the Topanga Fiesta and International DJ Marta at the Topanga Community Center.