By Arcadia Unified Digital Communication Interns Sofia Nagy and Bethany Chow
Nearly 4.000 Arcadia High students and Arcadia Unified staff gathered at Salter Stadium for Arcadia High’s annual all-school assembly, which takes place annually on September 11. As in years past, members of the Arcadia Educational Foundation and Board of Education, the Mayor of Arcadia, and representatives from the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Arcadia Fire Department, and Arcadia Police Department also joined in this annual tribute assembly, which is also the only time each school year that an all-school assembly is held . A moment of silence was observed, and the silence was deafening. Not one of the thousands in attendance made a sound, each standing in quiet solemnity and remembrance of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and in honor of the innocent lives claimed that day and the bravery of the nation’s first-responders.
Followed with further shows of patriotism, in addition to a performance of “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes by an Arcadia High student musician, the silence was relieved by the soothing voices of the AHS Chanteurs, who sang the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Arcadia High Associated Student Body (ASB) president Braden Wong provided an eloquent speech with a message centered on a Dr. Seuss quote: “To the world, you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.” He tied this in with the day’s significance by including the story of a 9/11 first-responder. “Keith Roma made the decision to go to the North tower not once, not twice, but four times to save lives,” said Wong. “On that day, one man and thousands of other first responders became the world for tens of thousands of people.”
Arcadia High Principal Angela Dillman provided closing remarks for the all-school assembly and tribute. “We are all shaped by events and circumstances, some in our control and some beyond,” expressed Principal Dillman “What we do have control over is how we respond. If the students can still learn a lesson from 9/11, it’s to just think carefully how to respond and how to treat others because the way you come back from adversity is going to shape the person that you become.”
In a post-assembly interview with Arcadia Unified Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall, Dr. Vannasdall shared, “I was a high school principal when the attacks first started in 2001, in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was a difficult day because we had 6.000 students [in the high school], and you’re trying to wrap your head around this while kids are looking to you for answers.” A tear slid down his cheek as he reflected on this memory.
“I remember it as a day of mourning, of grieving the loss, and also trying to figure out what this meant for our future; however, I have to say that, quickly, that void of grieving and death was filled with community,” Vannasdall continued. “Good people come together and support each other. That’s why having this event every year is very special to me.”
Executive Assistant to Dr. Vannasdall, Rachel Abeyta, was also present at the assembly and shared her recollection of the day. Abeyta was both a staff sergeant in the army reserves and an instructor for civil affairs on September 11, 2001. “I just want [everyone] to remember that freedom isn’t free,” she said with candor. “It’s important to me that we continue the tradition of holding an assembly because we should never forget our history. From our history, we can make improvements in the future.”
The assembly’s end saw Arcadia High students and staff standing arm in arm as they sang Arcadia High’s alma mater. The Apache Pep Band provided the instrumentals as students and Pep Squad members let their voices reign loud in unity.
“To the world, we are just one school, but to each other, we will always be Apaches, Wong said to all of his peers. “I’m not asking, you, one person, to change the world for everyone, but I'm asking you, everyone, to change the world for one person.”
By Arcadia Unified Digital Communications Intern Kate Fletcher
ARCADIA-- Bright red flags swirling high in the air can be spotted down Arcadia’s Louise Avenue as the Dana Middle School Drill Team prepared for its competitive season with a fresh face on the lead: new Drill Team director, Joseph Kidd.
Kidd trains the Dana Mariners with the same approach and passion as he does Arcadia High School’s nationally recognized Color Guard team, which recently took home 2nd place medals at the Southern California Color Guard Championships this past April.
After graduating high school in Georgia, Kidd joined Lulabel Independent, where he got his first job as a color guard instructor at Newton High School. “Ever since I was introduced to color guard, I just knew there was something special about the activity,” Kidd said. From then on, Kidd has taught schools in Georgia and California, until he finally landed in the city of Arcadia.
Every minute counts for the Dana Drill Team, as each practice consists of only 35 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday. With over 35 students, ranging from eleven to fourteen years of age, Kidd admits that “it takes a lot of focus on my part and determination on theirs to make the necessary progress as we enter into the competitive parade season.” However, no obstacle is too difficult for these performers. “Middle schoolers are fearless,” Kidd said. “They are so young and quite inexperienced in the activity that they don’t know what can go wrong. Therefore, their performance anxiety is low, and their willingness to try new skills is very high.”
Color guard teams have two competitive seasons throughout the school year. During the first season, bands and color guards join their efforts to create a show that captivates the spectators through sight and sound as they go down the parade route. The second season stretches from February to April, and color guards compete individually against other color guards, where competitions take place indoors in a similar yet different sport called “winter guard.” This winter season, the Mariners will be the first Arcadia middle school to have a competitive winter guard. Kidd is most excited about the new students that will join the winter guard world. He hopes that more students will love the unique sport that color guard is and that they feel pride representing Dana Middle School at all of their competitions.
After competing in Baldwin Park on Saturday, Nov. 2, Dana captains proudly accepted the second place trophy. The Mariner Drill Team will make its next appearance at the Arcadia Festival of Bands on Nov. 23 alongside the Foothills, First Avenue, and Arcadia High bands, as well as compete in their last parade of the season in Pomona on Dec. 14.
For more information, contact Ryan Foran, AUSD Chief Communications Officer:
firstname.lastname@example.org, work (626) 821-6664, cell (626) 802-7602
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Sofía Nagy
“I had parents who had no idea that I could obtain the opportunity to go to college,” said Instructor Perlita Guzmán. “And when I became a parent, I knew that I definitely wanted my kids to go to college, like nearly every other parent wishes for their own kids. I love doing the Latino Literacy program because I can help parents get the resources that they need to help their kids be successful.”
Nearly seven years ago, the Latino Literacy program in the Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD) at the elementary school level was started by Alejandra Worozaken (AUSD Instructional Coach), Catherine Merel (AUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction) and Andrea Mendoza (AUSD TK-12 Integration Coordinator).
However, about four years ago, the program expanded to the middle school level. At this level, Guzmán has been working hard since then to get Latino families, from not only First Avenue Middle School, but Dana Middle School and Foothills Middle School as well, to meet weekly for six weeks. All families have the opportunity to interactively learn from various speakers and specialists about topics such as the college admissions process, high school, trending topics about today's youth, and life experiences in general.
“We want to make all Latino parents aware that their children can attain the opportunity to attend college and to help their kids genuinely want to attend college,” said Guzmán. “But also, this has been acting a lot like a support group for the Latino parents who have not gone through the American school system and have questions and concerns regarding their kids’ future.”
The last meeting of the 2019-2020 school year was on Tuesday, February 11, where Guzmán’s younger brother, Jaime Fernando Guzmán, shared his heart-warming and inspirational life story. He talked about how he overcame obstacles such as bullying, being a single dad, racism, and financial instability among others and, through hard work and perseverance, became the Director of Distributions of Swat Fame Inc. and now leads a much happier life.
The meeting on Tuesday, February 4, Deja Anderson, Arcadia High School's Education Career Plan Counselor, talked about high school graduation requirements, such as classes, resources, strategies, tips, and the transition from middle school to high school.
In previous meetings, guest speakers such as Arcadia Police Department’s Detective Julian Botello and Officer Evelyn Calderon, Pasadena City College’s (PCC) Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Specialist Melva Álvarez were invited to talk about their area of expertise and share their knowledge.
“I feel identified and safe when I come here because we all have our inquietudes but we share different ideas to help one another,” said María Portillo.
“I have a son who is in seventh grade in First Avenue,” said María Ramírez. “I come to this program because I do learn a lot from what is talked about regarding universities and colleges and guiding our kids to do what they want to do while they learn to unfold themselves as good human beings and citizens.”
To learn more and ask about the Latino Literacy Program, you can email PGuzman@ausd.net in English and Spanish. Additionally, you may contact and/or follow @msgfit on Twitter and @ms.guzmanfa on Instagram. You may also check out and follow #FALatinoliteracy on Instagram to view posts regarding the program.
(Scroll down for the Spanish translation)
¿Qué es el Programa de Educacion Latina del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Arcadia?
Escrito por la Pasante de Comunicaciones Digitales del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Arcadia, Sofía Nagy
"Tenía padres que no sabían que yo podía obtener la oportunidad de ir a la universidad", dijo la maestra Perlita Guzmán, "Y cuando me convertí en una madre, supe que yo quería que mis hijos fueran a la universidad, así como la mayoría de los padres desean para sus propios hijos. Me encanta líderear el programa de Educación Latina porque me da la oportunidad de darles los recursos necesarios a los padres de familia para que sus hijos sean exitosos”.
Hace casi siete años, el programa de Educación Latina en el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Arcadia (AUSD) a nivel primaria fue comenzado por Alejandra Worozaken (Entrenadora instructiva de AUSD), Catherine Merel (Directora de plan de estudios, instrucción y evaluación de AUSD) y Andrea Mendoza (Coordinadora de integración de TK-12 de AUSD).
Sin embargo el programa se expandió a nivel secundaria hace aproximadamente cuatro años. A este nivel escolar, Guzmán trabaja duro desde entonces para que las familias latinas provenientes de, no solamente la escuela secundaria de First Avenue, pero también de la escuela secundaria de Dana y la escuela secundaria de Foothills, se reúnan semanalmente durante seis semanas. Todas las familias tienen la oportunidad de aprender de diversos ponentes y especialistas invitados, de manera interactiva sobre temas tales como el proceso de admisiones de las universidades, la preparatoria, tendencias en temas juveniles y experiencias de vida en general.
“Queremos que todos los padres de familia latinos esten conscientes de que sus hijos pueden adquirir la oportunidad de ir a la universidad y ayudar a sus hijos a que realmente quieran ir a la universidad”, dijo Guzmán, "pero este programa también ha estado actuando como un grupo de apoyo para los padres latinos que no han estudiado en el sistema escolar estadounidense y que tienen preguntas y preocupaciones sobre el futuro de sus hijos”.
La última reunión del año escolar 2019-2020 fue el martes 11 de febrero, donde el hermano menor de Guzmán, Jaime Fernando Guzmán, compartió su historia de vida, la cuál es conmovedora e inspiracional. Habló de cómo superó obstaculos durante su vida tales como el bullying, ser un padre soltero, el racismo, e inestabilidad financiera entre otros y, a través del trabajo duro y la perseverancia, se convirtió en el Director de Distribuciones de Swat Fame Inc. y tiene una vida más feliz.
La penúltima reunión fue el martes 4 de febrero, donde Deja Anderson, la consejera para plan de carrera educativo de la escuela preparatoria de Arcadia, habló acerca de los requerimientos de graduación de la preparatoria, tales como clases, recursos, estrategias, consejos y la transición de secundaria a preparatoria.
En reuniones anteriores, ponentes como el Detective Julián Botello y la Oficial Evelyn Calderón del Departamento de Policía de Arcadia y la especialista en Logros en Matemáticas, Ingeniería y Ciencias (MESA) de la Universidad de la Ciudad de Pasadena (PCC), Melva Álvarez, fueron invitados a hablar sobre su área de especialización y compartir sus conocimientos.
“Me siento identificada y segura cuando vengo aquí porque todos tenemos nuestras inquietudes pero también recibimos diferentes ideas y nos ayudamos el uno al otro”, dijo María Portillo.
“Tengo un hijo que está cursando el séptimo año en First Avenue”, dijo María Ramírez. “Yo vengo a este programa porque aprendo mucho de lo que se habla acerca de las universidades y de los colegios y de cómo guiar a nuestros niños a hacer lo que quieren hacer mientras se desenvuelven como buenos seres humanos y ciudadanos”.
Para obtener más información o preguntar acerca del Programa de Educación Latina, puede mandarle un correo electrónico en inglés o en español a PGuzman@ausd.net. Adicionalmente, puede contactar y/o seguir a @msgfit en Twitter y a @ms.guzmanfa en Instagram. También puede seguir a #FAlatinoliteracy para ver publicaciones acerca del programa.
By: Leila Nunez
The Arcadia High School football stadium was flooded with spirit for the annual “Staff Appreciation Night” hosted by the Arcadia Unified School District (AUSD) on October 11. Joined by family and friends, the educators, administrators, and staff from all Arcadia schools walked down onto the field as they were celebrated for their hard work and devotion to their students. Arcadia High School junior Joel Lee described his relationship with a teacher as “impactful because he has so much knowledge about everything that happens in the world.” Lee goes on to say, “He gives me a lot of advice with how to do better, not only with my studies but also in life.”
At the start of the evening, the staff members enjoyed an all-school tailgate at Arcadia High School where they were given special sideline passes granting them the best view of the night’s upcoming football game. Volunteers set up multiple booths that included photos, food, face painting, and raffle tickets for the guests to visit! Entertaining games of bean bag toss and giant Jenga were played by families and friends as they waited to head onto the field.
As the start of the game neared, school signs created by the AUSD Digital Communications Internship program were passed out to educators, administrators, and staff members of each school as they were directed onto the field. The bleachers roared with excitement as the crowd showed their spirit as hundreds of staff members walked through the famed black tunnel, holding their school posters with pride.
Staff Appreciation Night is an important event because it allows students to thank their teachers for guiding them through their school careers. Junior Homecoming Prince Joshua Mar honored his freshman history teacher on this special night for the impact she had on his life, even three years later. “She always just taught me how to think of a positive outlook on life,” Mar said.
Arcadia High School Clubs Commissioner Ashley Lin goes back even further in time to thank her middle school PE teacher. “He has impacted me in a very positive way because he is very easy to talk to,” Lin said. Now a junior at Arcadia High School, she states that this middle school teacher “lets you know to work hard and try to do what you do best,” revealing the many ways Arcadia educators encourage their students to strive for success.
As the game started and the night went on, friends laughed with each other, children ran around the track with joy, and parents smiled with glee as they watch their kids celebrating the great opportunities AUSD provides. As staff mingled, new friendships and memories were made among the AUSD family. The night was a great chance for people to meet and develop new connections among other AUSD members.
Although the Apaches lost the game, nothing could compare to the memories made that night! AUSD Teacher of the Year and First Avenue Middle School music teacher Michael Danielson states, “Every year has its really big moments… I’m always looking at the next big moment and always looking forward.” The First Avenue Middle School music teacher adds, “Knowing that there is always a beautiful future in music and a great supportive community in Arcadia, it has been a wonderful place to teach.”
By Sarah Wang (Junior)
As an Asian-American, I assumed that I was forever bound to the hyphen. I learned from a young age what it really meant. It was defined by the time I replaced traditional Chinese toys with American Girl Dolls or the time asked my father for PB&J sandwiches instead of dumplings and kimchi. The moment I lost pride in being Asian-American is when I realized the hyphen does not make me whole or connect my identities; it asks me to choose between them.
I am fortunate in the fact that I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, where the population of Asian-American residents has reached over half a million. Although my younger adolescence was composed of struggling to assimilate Western culture with that of my Chinese background, I found a safe haven at Arcadia High School.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been practicing Fu Jow Pai Kung Fu and traditional lion dancing,” said Arcadia High School junior Sydney Chang. “Keeping the tradition alive every Chinese New Year enables me to realize how much I value being Asian-American and the opportunities I am granted to help others do the same.”
Becky Chen, a freshman at Arcadia High School, is Chinese, Korean, and American. She finds solace in attending Asian-American community events as well as visiting locally-owned boba shops with friends.
“I often felt confusion with my ethnic and cultural identity,” said Chen. “When I transferred to Arcadia, I felt privileged to live in a city that fully recognizes Asian-American culture and welcomes it.”
Coupled with city activities, a wide range of clubs at Arcadia High School empower students to further explore their cultural roots. More recently, a group of identity clubs came together to create “Identity Monologues Night.” Throughout the evening, students performed original pieces that discussed self-identity, including Asian-American identity. Other clubs, such as Unity Through Poetry, provide students with tools that aid them on their journey to understanding self-identity through creative writing.
When reflecting on my time at Arcadia High School, I only see a community that fostered and developed my pride in Asian identity. The hyphen no longer meant conformity—it meant embracing my differences and heritage.
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Sofia Nagy
Hurra a los Hispanos (“Hurray Hispanics!”)! At Arcadia High School (AHS), the Hispanic Parents Booster Club (HPBC) has made a sensational resurgence after years of being under the radar. This 2018-2019 school year, the Arcadia High HPBC has the greatest number of members involved than its prior years and is on its way to its strongest year yet.
“The HPBC's goal is to assist parents as they support their children in school and their education and to develop a community among families,” said AHS Assistant Principal John Finn, who is a distinguished collaborator of the club and a guest speaker during meetings.
The HPBC currently consists of leaders Monica Carrasco (President), Paty Garcini (Vice-President), Sandra Sevilla (Public Relations), Monica Bayona (Treasurer), and Damaris Rangel (Secretary), all of whom are collectively backed by the active participation of all of the booster club’s constituents and supporters.
Damaris Rangel, Paty Garcini, Monica Carrasco, Sandra Sevilla, Monica Bayona (left to right)
All members of the Arcadia Unified School District and Arcadia community, Spanish speakers and non-Spanish speakers alike, are welcomed and encouraged to attend the HPBC’s monthly meetings where important subjects, such as information on how to thrive in high school and the challenges high school life may pose, college advice, academic success, and opportunities for both students and parents, to name a few, are discussed in depth.
“It doesn’t matter what countries people are from or what heritage they have. What matters is that we want to give everyone the information necessary so that they can push forth in life and shine,” explained AHS Assistant Principal Finn during the first HPBC meeting of the 2018-2019 school year on Nov. 13.
The HPBC is hoping to expand its horizons and have its message reach out to as many people in the community as possible. Members of the HPBC have organized various events, such as a winter holiday reunion hosted at Arcadia High’s Apache Cafe, where families had the chance to socialize while eating delicious Hispanic dishes and desserts, and are planning on announcing more events throughout the upcoming months.
“This booster club gives parents the chance to share their ideas and talk to other parents, and it gives students the opportunity to find ways to share the Hispanic culture while helping them achieve their full potential,” says Adriana Valencia, a member of the HPBC.
During a recent meeting, HPBC President Carrasco shared, “Hispanics—and all people really—are strong on their own. However, if we’re all together as a group, we are unstoppable.”
The next meeting will be held on March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in Arcadia High’s Multi-Purpose Room. The doors will be open for anyone who wants to attend. The HPBC is on its way to blooming into a grand tree, rich with many fruits to offer the community and whose foundation is deeply rooted in the community itself.
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Jasmine Oang
(Apaches Rachelle Yang, Jeffrey Castillo, and Lauren Ko are headed to top university sports programs)
ARCADIA-- Five Arcadia High student-athletes have signed to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Seniors Ayala Plummer, Haley Kennedy, Jeffrey Castillo, Lauren Ko, and Rachelle Yang ended 2018 with commitments to continuing their academics and sports careers at top schools in NCAA Divisions 1 and 2.
Arcadia High’s Girls Varsity Volleyball team had two players sign: Ayala Plummer, who is heading to the University of Delaware, a Division 1 school, while Haley Kennedy signed to Regis University, a Divison 2 school. Kennedy, who has been on the Varsity team since her freshman year, described the journey as “really long and difficult.” She reflected, “I started my recruiting process during my sophomore year, and actually verbally committed to a different school, James Madison University [JMU], the beginning of my junior year. After my older sister [alumna Hannah Kennedy] committed to Regis, I realized that I may have made a wrong decision going to JMU, so I de-committed. I knew it [Regis] was the right place because of how welcoming the team was when I visited and having the opportunity to play another three years of volleyball with my sister Hannah. I think it’s a perfect fit and [I] am very excited to start my new journey.”
(Arcadia High volleyball players Ayala Plummer and Haley Kennedy signing their letters of intent)
Jeffrey Castillo, representing Arcadia High’s Varsity Baseball team, signed to Azuza Pacific University, a Division 2 school. “It’s close to home,” Castillo described in an interview with Arcadia Unified’s Student Podcast. “I wouldn’t have asked for a better place.”
Arcadia High’s Girls Varsity Tennis team had two players sign to Division 1 schools with full-ride scholarships. Lauren Ko signed to UC Davis while Rachelle Yang signed to Fordham University. Reflecting on her sport, Yang shared, “Tennis has shaped my life by teaching me that need to work hard in order to get what I want and how to overcome tough situations.” For Yang, making the commitment was easy: from the campus to the team, everything seemed right. She elaborated, “When I went on my unofficial visit to Fordham, I immediately fell in love with the campus. It’s in New York, not too far from NYC. The campus is so amazing: it’s not too big or not too small. I also love the coach, she's the sweetest person ever. I then went on my official visit and got to meet the team and they were the coolest people! I sat in on two of their classes and the sizes of the rooms were perfect.”
Adding onto the dream, Yang noted that her goal was to go to a Division 1 school, and since Fordham sweetened the deal with a full scholarship, she “just couldn’t pass that up.”
Yang emphasized, “You also have to love the sport you play or else you won’t have a good time in college. It takes a lot of time and dedication so you have to be prepared for that. In the end, it all paid off!”
By Arcadia Unified School District Digital Communications Intern Brandon Chen
When one thinks of a school district, a robust social media presence does not come to mind; however, that is not the case of Arcadia Unified. Boasting over 6,000 Facebook followers, 4,000 Instagram followers, and 3,000 Twitter followers, Arcadia Unified and the Public Information Office strive to keep the community informed. In the heart of Arcadia High School’s Media Center lies an integral part of Arcadia Unified’s Public Information Office: The Arcadia Unified School District Digital Communications Internship. Consisting of 25 driven high school interns, the Digital Communications Internship (DCI) covers school and district-wide events, helps manage the district’s social media, and produces student-made content in the forms of videos, podcasts, and articles for the community to enjoy.
“DCI was created almost four years ago to help the Public Information Office communicate with the community and our parents, staff, and students, and to really increase the positive stories that we were able to produce and put out to the community,” said Chief Communications Officer Ryan Foran. “When it was just myself a few years ago, there were all these amazing stories that I couldn’t get to because it was just me, so I looked into creating an internship program. Now, the amount of stories that we are able to produce as a school district and the communications that we are able to get out have increased dramatically thanks to the amazing work by the students.”
Arcadia Unified strives to be innovative, with its motto “Imagine. Inquire. Inspire.” and has spent the past decade implementing personalized learning for all students. Superintendent Dr. David Vannasdall said, “Our vision for Arcadia is to give students agency. In other words, they are in control of their learning, that they have a voice in learning on our campuses and in our communities. So a natural iteration is, ‘Let’s have students participate [and] actually create and tell those stories from a student perspective,’ and at the same time while it is benefitting the school district and the community in getting great stories out, it’s a real experience for them as reporters publishing real content in social media and in the paper.”
For the students, DCI opens a whole new door of opportunity for students to gain experience in the professional world. Foran stated, “Whether they go into journalism, marketing, communications, or not, they will have skills that really help excel them in their particular field. We try to give them not only experiences to cover events, but also workshops, bringing guest speakers, and really exposing them to what the real world would be. We’ve covered major events like the Rose Parade, working alongside some of the best [journalists] in the LA market and across the world, attended USC journalism day, and have had all these other amazing experiences.” DCI has even been recognized by the California Schoool Public Relations Association for its outstanding work in producing the Chromebook Care video for the district, as well as by Buzzfeed, ranking Arcadia Unified’s Instagram page among the top educational accounts, including college, high school, and elementary, in its "Top 10 Best School Instagram Accounts" list. Foran stated, “There are so many great schools and universities running very creative Instagram pages with world-class photography; it was incredibly rewarding to be recognized among them.”
As for the community, by following Arcadia Unified’s social media, residents can be better informed about the district and stay up to date on all district news and events. Vannasdall states, “DCI and the Public Information Office end up benefiting all of us when it’s time to go out for a bond or parcel tax, when issues come up around the country like school safety as we have the ability to quickly communicate and get our talking points out, or with the fact that since we’ve been doing it all along, people trust us and have that two way conversation and feel well informed about what’s going on in our district.”
“If you are a student, especially at the high school and even now with our middle school coverage, the fact that you’re seeing your sport or your club or your activity being advertised on social media and the pictures being placed on the Internet is just special. I think that better connects students to the community and the community back to the students. Our community is very proud, and when they see that once again our Government Team won regionals and is going to state, they want to be behind us and support us,” said Vannasdall.
Michael Tseng, a DCI alumnus who has attended USC Journalism Day, USC’s Annenberg Youth Academy for rising journalists, and is a current journalism major on a full ride scholarship at the University of Southern California, recollects, “DCI was a great experience for me to explore my journalistic interests and gain real-world experience from seasoned mentors. DCI opened doors that I never thought possible, and even as a college student, I find the lessons that I've learned from there relevant and integral to my journalism career.”
For now, DCI continues to publish stories, photos, videos, and podcasts daily on platforms easily accessible to the community such as Facebook, Instagram, and the district website, as well as partnering with the Arcadia Weekly and Arcadia Patch to connect with the community. Vannasdall says, “To actually have a student voice in the writing of those articles is very powerful. I know when I read something that is written by a student, that voice is special and means something to me.”
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Sarah Wang
Arcadia Stage performers portraying their respective characters.
(Photo courtesy of Arcadia Stage)
All 1,163 seats in the Arcadia Performing Arts Center (PAC) were completely filled for the second performance of Arcadia High School’s fall production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Surrounded by a sea of theater-goers, children, parents, students, and faculty were spotted with tickets in hand, eagerly waiting in line to see the much-anticipated show. As the doors of the PAC opened, theater seats were filled and nostalgia permeated the air for many.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory marks the first play of the year for Arcadia Stage, Arcadia High School’s theater program. It follows the story of a young boy growing up in poverty who is given the opportunity of a lifetime.
Alison Wright, a junior at Arcadia High School and member of the Advanced Theater program, said, “This play was chosen mainly because it explores the themes of family and positivity. Especially since it is almost the holiday season, we thought it would be a great transition before Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
During the moments leading to showtime, performers prepare both physically and mentally. They dedicate a large amount of time to thoroughly stretching—sometimes incorporating yoga in this routine. In addition, they exercise their voices by practicing different vocal activities. “Right before the show starts, many actors can be spotted wearing headphones to clear distractions and push themselves mentally to step in the shoes of their characters,” Wright said.
Although not all students in Advanced Drama had a lead role, it does not mean they do not gain valuable experience. “Since I am in Ensemble, I am given the opportunity to see the process from a different perspective,” Wright said. “Now, I have a better understanding and idea of how to get a more prominent role for the upcoming shows.”
Out of the three shows, the Friday show completely sold out. With a body in each of the 1,163 seats in the PAC, it made for a packed house. For many audience members, seeing the show transported them back to their childhood. Arcadia High School junior, Mina Choi, said, “It has been quite some time since I have actually seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on television. Now that I have had the opportunity to watch it live, I was able to remember the core values of family, love, and humbleness that was instilled within me many years ago by the movie. It was refreshing.”
Throughout the night, audience members were able to fully immerse themselves in the setting of Willy Wonka’s factory. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed snacks, candy, and beverages lined the outside of the entrance. For two lucky play-goers, they could find a golden ticket in their chocolate bars, with each ticket equivalent to two free VIP tickets to see Arcadia Stage’s next show, Les Misérables. The musical-based play will take place from March 14 through 16.
When the play ended, performers were greeted by friends, family, and supporters outside of the PAC. Happy faces lit the cold night with pride and joy.
“I will definitely never forget this experience,” Choi said, “It was a night to remember.”
By AUSD Digital Communications Intern Sofia Nagy
Arrange the props, ovation on cue, and curtains go up! The First Avenue Middle School (First Avenue) Production class of 2019 has been preparing the whole semester for its upcoming play, “Out Of This World,” taking off this December 6 and 7 at 7 pm in the First Avenue auditorium!
First Avenue theater teacher, Susi Reck is not only the play’s director but plays an integral role in inspiring aspiring actors through teaching courses on the art of acting to First in grades 6 through 8 whose passions are to express themselves on the stage.
Mrs. Reck sitting in the FAMS stage among some props for the play
The theater program at First Avenue has four different levels. First, there is the Theater Exploratory Wheel, a quarter-long introductory class for 6th-graders who are interested in exploring acting. The next level is Theater Experience, a semester-long class for 7th graders who want to dive deeper into thespian thought. Following that is Theater Workshop for both 7th and 8th-grade students who have taken Theater Experience and want to continue learning and gain foundational knowledge for what to expect in the capstone Production course; however, this class is not a requirement. The highest level course is Production.
“Production is a semester-long, performance-based class for 8th graders that [have] completed ‘Theater Experience’ in 7th grade. The kids audition for the parts in the play during the course of the semester, and we do everything to produce a show,” explained Reck.
Fizzy Panza, an eighth-grade member of Production 2019 shared, “We are learning so many things from Mrs. Reck. Plus, everyone here is really nice and really supportive, which is something that I really like.”
Students manage it all--designing posters, painting sets, working the lights and effects, selling tickets, and rehearsing tirelessly for months in preparation for their play. Reck shared that the primary source of funding for these productions are ticket sales, and at $5-a-pop, “we truly rely on the support of the public to come out and see our hard work, remarked Reck.”
First Avenue theatrical performances happen twice every school year, and each play calls forth a new cast as related to the new Production class group every semester.
“I love watching my class become an ensemble. When they first enter the classroom, they’re all separate students, but as we go through all of the rehearsals for the performance, they begin to bond together. I love going through that process every year, it’s very exciting,” reflected Reck.
Eighth-grader Kevin Wu shared, “It’s not just about memorizing lines and reciting them. It’s about the people you meet and the experience you get. It feels nice to be a part of this amazing family.”
This year, a lively plot will unfold on the First Avenue stage, complemented with Sci-Fi, interesting intergalactic elements and star-filled performances. “I've never done anything with aliens or spaceships, so it has been fun to think about what kind of lightning to use, what to do for costumes, and what aliens would look like. It’s an exuberant challenge. There is also a good message to this play, which is about accepting people who come from other places and encouraging others to get along,” stated Reck
A unique story with incredible preparation effort from students, Reck is hopeful to have a packed house for the plays two performances. “We hope everybody comes to the production’s ‘Out Of This World’ on December 6 and 7 to witness a truly stellar performance!”