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NEWS RELEASE: UC San Diego Partners with San Diego Unified to Increase Arts Education Opportunities for Students

NEWS RELEASE: UC San Diego Partners with San Diego Unified to Increase Arts Education Opportunities for Students
Posted on 05/07/2018

San Diego Unified School District


UC San Diego Partners with San Diego Unified to Increase Arts Education Opportunities for Students
University to help increase arts education opportunities for students and establish a bridge between San Diego Unified School District and UC San Diego

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 7, 2018) - “The arts are a foundational and dynamic part of the university's transformative multi-disciplinary environment, where we teach our students to think critically and express themselves creatively,” said University of California San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

With that philosophy in mind, UC San Diego will creatively collaborate with the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD)—the university's $100,000 partnership with the district's Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Foundation will help increase arts education opportunities for students.

“An important aspect of any education is giving students the opportunity to explore all avenues of interest, with the outcome of having well-rounded, culturally competent individuals,” said UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities Dean Cristina Della Coletta. “It's not that students choose arts or science. They can choose both, knowing that the arts exponentially enhance every subject, sparking innovation and new ideas.”

In 2016, San Diego Unified adopted a Strategic Arts Plan. The goal of this plan is to transform lives through learning in visual and performing arts, or VAPA. Unanimously approved by the San Diego Unified school board, this plan reconfirms the arts as a core subject and mandates a commitment to providing students “the highest quality arts education in dance, music, theater and visual arts, and providing services to teachers in curriculum and instruction, professional development and community collaborations.”

“San Diego Unified and UC San Diego have a shared vision,” said Cindy Marten, San Diego Unified superintendent. “We believe that students should not have to leave San Diego to receive a world-class education. Our collaborative commitment to arts education will give rise to our quality neighborhood schools and foster a new wave of creative thinkers, well-rounded leaders, college and career ready graduates that will have a positive impact on the San Diego of tomorrow.”

The VAPA Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Its mission statement commits SDUSD to promoting “artistic literacy, innovation, creativity and excellence in the arts by providing a high quality, sequential, TK-12 arts experience for all students.” The Foundation will help achieve these goals via partnerships, grants to teachers for arts learning, connecting teachers to vital professional development, and community resources and recognizing exceptional arts education work by students, teachers, community members and organizations.

According to Americans for the Arts organization, students involved in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for overall achievement and three times more likely to be honored for school attendance. What's more, students that participate in art programs—both during and after school—are four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, and have lower overall dropout rates.

A few examples of how the $100,000 partnership to San Diego Unified's VAPA Foundation will impact San Diego Unified students include co-created neighborhood arts showcases. These showcases of student creativity and achievement in dance, music, theater arts, and visual arts, will bring together young artists from all disciplines to share their work with families, the community, local policy makers, and the media. The new partnership will also offer many opportunities for San Diego Unified students to attend a variety of UC San Diego visual arts, dance and theater productions. As well as offer scholarship and grant opportunities for teachers and students.

“The arts are alive and well at San Diego Unified, and this new partnership with UC San Diego means our students will have an opportunity to continue their arts education at a prestigious university without ever leaving our community.” said Kevin Beiser, San Diego Unified School Board President.

San Diego Unified recently announced the winners of the district's first ever VAPA Spotlight Awards and VAPA Foundation grant recipients. The Spotlight Awards are intended to shine a light on some of the many successes of both students and teachers happening across the district. In recognition of the artistic work of the student awardees, for the first time the VAPA Foundation presented each student recipient with a $250 scholarship. The VAPA Foundation grant recipients received funds ranging from $500 to $2,500 for enhancing visual and performing arts education in their classrooms. A full list of the grant recipients and the projects the funds will be used for can be found on the VAPA Foundation website.

This year's VAPA Spotlight Award winners are:

Artistic Achievement Award

  • Jolie Dufresne, Student, Zamorano Elementary
Artistic Growth Award
  • Elijah Mack, Student, Creative Performing & Media Arts (CPMA) Middle School
  • Grace Dessert, Student, La Jolla High School
  • Magdalena Politis, Student, International Studies at San Diego High School
Artistic Innovation Award
  • Steve Luchs, Teacher, Crown Point Junior Music Academy
Creative Community Engagement Award
  • Jessica Curiel, Teacher, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA)
Creative Leadership Award
  • Timothy Farson, Principal, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA)
  • Michael Fielder, Teacher, La Jolla High School
  • Tamara Lewis, Principal, Dingeman Elementary
  • Michelle Irwin, Principal, Thurgood Marshall Elementary School
  • Mariclaret Patton, Principal, Benchly-Weinberger Elementary School
  • Kayla Warren, Teacher, Creative Performing Media Art Middle School
  • Wylan Winchell, Student, Scripps Ranch High School
Additional community support is needed to sustain visual and performing arts in the San Diego Unified School District. To donate to the VAPA Foundation, please visit our giving webpage.

Press Kit:
Downloadable video and stills of the official announcement are available for use in your coverage.

MEDIA CONTACT: Isabella McNeil, San Diego Unified School District, 619-341-2343 [email protected]

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About San Diego Unified School District
San Diego Unified School District, California's second-largest district, serves nearly 110,000 students in preschool through grade 12. The diverse student population includes more than 15 ethnic groups and more than 60 languages and dialects. Founded in 1854, San Diego Unified has more than 12,000 employees located across 226 educational facilities, which include 117 traditional elementary schools, 9 K-8 schools, 24 traditional middle schools, 22 high schools, 13 atypical/alternative schools and 5 additional program sites. The district also oversees 48 charter schools. As one of the top urban school districts in the country, San Diego Unified consistently scores high on state and national tests, earns regional and national accolades, and exhibits leadership in areas such as technology, curriculum, neighborhood and specialty schools, career-technical education and food services. Learn more about San Diego Unified at www.sandiegounified.org.

About the University of California San Diego
At the University of California San Diego, we constantly push boundaries and challenge expectations. Established in 1960, UC San Diego has been shaped by exceptional scholars who aren't afraid to take risks and redefine conventional wisdom. Today, as one of the top 15 research universities in the world, we are driving innovation and change to advance society, propel economic growth and make our world a better place. Learn more at www.ucsd.edu.

About The VAPA Foundation
The purpose of the VAPA Foundation is to enhance the quality of visual and performing arts education in the San Diego Unified School District via: Funding teacher collaborations with community arts organizations and artists to create additional opportunities for TK - 12 students to have meaningful learning through exposure to the arts, Improving access to VAPA professional development for teachers, Investing in instruments, art materials and other arts equipment to further classroom learning goals, and Recognizing the work of students, teachers, community members and organizations that offer exceptional arts education to SDUSD students. Learn more at www.vapafoundation.org