Jim Sudik and Paco Vela were two stay-at-home dads with kids at Newhall Elementary School in the 1990s wanting to make a difference at the school.
They had a goal of making the arts and theater more accessible.
“When there was really no organized class for theater, they created one,” said Carol Rock, vice president of the Raising the Curtain Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enhance the Newhall Family Theatre for the Performing Arts, located on the school’s campus.
The two taught kids about every aspect it takes to put on a show; how to act, direct, do stage makeup, build a set and create costumes.
“They proved to the kids you didn’t need a lot of money to put on or be in a show,” said Rock. “The thing they did mostly was give the kids a chance to express themselves. That was the most important thing.”
The children put on productions both big and small, thanks to what they learned from Sudik and Vela.
Each lesson proved their mission to embrace stories in every capacity.
“That’s what they wanted to cultivate in the kids, learn to tell your story, learn to live your story,” said Rock.
Newhall Elementary School hosted its arts festival on June 1 and the Newhall Family Theatre joined, opening its doors to the community members who wanted to celebrate the dressing rooms’ dedication to Sudik and Vela.
The dedication’s idea originated from Patti Rasmussen, who wanted to honor Sudik and Vela’s contribution to the arts and community.
Plaques dedicated to Sudik and Vela now inhabit a place in the dressing rooms. The money was raised by Rasmussen through a grand ovation campaign.
Attendees were able to hear from Kim Pearlman, president of the Raising the Curtain Foundation, Rasmussen and Sudik.
“Everybody was just so happy, you could feel the joy in the room,” said Rock.
Sudik and Vela’s mission continued on that night and past Vela’s lifetime, as he died in 2013, after inspiring new generations to get involved in theater.
“They were curious, but then you can tell they were inspired,” said Rock. “That’s exactly what Jim and Paco were all about, inspiring the next generation of kids.”