With an increasing number of schools beginning to focus more heavily on arts programs and education, the Parent Teacher Association at one local elementary school decided to enlist the assistance of the California Institute of the Arts.
“Years of research have established the importance of arts education in a child’s life,” a CalArts news release stated, adding arts programs in primary schools have been proven to increase spatial reasoning, improve reading comprehension and promote collaborative thinking. “However, in California, only 38 percent of students receive arts instruction.”
CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership, or CAP, has offered free after-school and school-based arts programs for youth at public schools, community centers and social service agencies throughout Los Angeles County, a news release stated. And after seeing the success of CAP’s long-running classroom-based arts program at neighboring West Creek Elementary School, parents at Bridgeport decided to enlist CAP to help the children of the Saugus Union School District.
CAP brings the expertise of CalArts faculty, alumni and students who have undergone extensive training to deliver comprehensive, culturally diverse visual and performing arts curriculum, according to the release, which is one of the reasons why PTA members decided to reach out.
“Bridgeport was looking for a program that offers students an experience different from what they might typically get during their school curriculum,” said Lisa Sawyer, president of the Bridgeport PTA. “Having teacher workshops, parent workshops, as well as family nights and the CAP workshops was a great way to extend the learning beyond the six- to eight-week sessions we had on campus. We were also looking for programs that would easily loop into the extra-curricular classes at the junior high and high school levels.”
Thanks to the partnership between CAP and Bridgeport, students can now enjoy the benefits of a comprehensive arts education, school officials said.
The program will introduce movement and rhythm classes to pre-kindergarteners, and subsequent grades will explore hip hop dance, audio production, stage acting, African drumming and musical theater beginning as early as this month, Bridgeport Principal Carin Fractor said.
Parents are also expected to have the opportunity to see their children’s work showcased in a series of family nights, as well as a larger presentation at the end of the semester that culminates the body of work created by the students.
“These nights are designed to be interactive,” the release states, meaning parents will participate alongside their children in their art demonstrations.