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Pick Up a Paintbrush, Bang a Bass Drum: The Arts Still Thrive in San Leandro Schools

An overview of arts programs in San Leandro Unified School District—and what you can do to help keep them operating.

This year has seen the San Leandro community truly support arts education in our schools. With the opening of the new theater, thousands have been able to witness the wonderful creativity of our high school and middle school students. However, the arts permeate the district much further than the beautiful Arts Education Center. Just this weekend, the high school and middle school bands and orchestras were in the "happiest place on Earth," Disneyland, to perform!

Here is a brief overview of the visual and performing arts courses and programs run in San Leandro Unified School District:

At San Leandro High School, numerous arts classes give students the opportunity to explore different methods of expression. The school offers band, orchestra, choir, graphic arts, drawing and painting, sculpture, creative arts, creative writing, drama and video production.

One of the school's academies, San Leandro Academy of Multimedia (SLAM), teaches multimedia skills such as digital photography, animation, web design, video production, 3D graphics and special effects. Last month, the high school put on a successful production of “Once upon a Mattress.”

Lincoln Continuation High School used to have a handful of arts classes last year, but has suffered from budget cuts. One popular program brought in a professional artist to work with the students on a mural. You can see the gorgeous mural outside on the portable wall today!

Bancroft Middle School boasts visual art elective classes, band, orchestra and an after school spring theater program. They just concluded their spring musical Annie, which was performed in the new high school theater.

John Muir Middle School offers band, orchestra, drama and visual art classes. They also have a very popular Glee Club that performs often.

At the elementary schools, there are three main arts programs: a visual art class and a vocal music class once a week, and fifth grade instrumental music. For the past three years, the district received a grant from the Alameda County Office of Education to run a Teacher Action Research Institute (TARI) program. TARI trains teachers on engagement and integration strategies of how to incorporate art in content areas.

Students and parents alike enjoy the variety of arts programs offered by the district. But these programs—the district has made preliminary cuts to the fifth grade instrumental music program, for example—are threatened by impending state education budget cuts. If you want these programs, and more, to be offered in the district make sure you voice your support.

What you can do:

—Tell your School Board trustee which programs you want them to support.

—Tell your state representatives, Senator Ellen Corbett and Assemblymember Mary Hayashi, to fight for our schools’ budgets.

—Donate to an education foundation that supports the school arts programs: Keep Music Rockin’,  or San Leandro Education Foundation

Tessa Atkinson-Adams is a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer with the San Leandro Education Foundation.

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