Tag Archives: BUSD

BUSD Students Surpass State And Global Numbers On AP Exams

Burbank Unified high school students continue to post gains every year since 2010 in numbers of students passing Advanced Placement exams. BUSD passing percentages are also higher than state and global averages for the annual exams, according to information from the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Program.

BUSD Logo“Through these five years, definitely we have been outperforming the state and the global average in terms of the percentage of students getting a three or higher,” said Director II of Secondary Education Emilio Urioste in his report to the Burbank Unified Board of Education.

Burbank High School offers 18 AP courses and John Burroughs High School offers 16 classes. Students aren’t required to take the AP exam held every May for their course, but most do. Some students from local private high schools also take the exams at BUSD high schools.

AP exams are graded with a score from one to five, with five being the top score. A three or higher is required to pass the exam and for the course to be eligible to receive college credit. Some colleges and universities require a score of five for the AP course to receive college credit.

District-wide, 312 BUSD students received the top score of five on the 2014 AP exam, added Urioste.

“Because the AP curriculum is so rigorous, participation in one or more AP courses is considered to be excellent preparation for a student to be successful in college,” said Urioste.

“As a part of the AP commitment to align its curriculum with current instructional practices in colleges and universities, the AP has begun to revise its courses and exams,” he continued. “The emphasis is now on critical thinking, inquiry, reasoning and communication skills. The curriculum is rigorous, research-based and patterned after introductory college courses.”

For the fall of 2014, Physics 1, Physics 2 and U.S. History have been revised. For the 2015-16 academic year, AP Art History and AP European History are planned for course revisions.

Image Courtesy of Burbank Unified School District.

At JBHS, AP classes in Calculus, Government/Politics, Spanish Language and Statistics showed the most improved passing percentages for the past two years. At BHS, AP European History, AP English Language, AP English Literature and AP Statistics all posted the strongest gains.

AP courses with the greatest participation at the high schools are Biology, Calculus, English Language, European History, Government/Politics and U.S. History. In the 2013-14 school year, BHS had 524 students enrolled in AP classes and JBHS had 561 students enrolled in AP classes, added Urioste.

Currently, if BUSD does not offer a specific AP course, as there are 34 classes in the College Board AP Program, a student may be able to arrange an independent study with one of the high school teachers in order to prepare for the AP exam. There are no online opportunities at this time for BUSD students to take AP courses through the district.

The entire report along with additional charts and graphs breaking down percentages by class can be viewed and read on the district’s website.


Police Issue Back To School Safety Tips

As school has already begun for other districts and starts on Monday, August 18, for the Burbank Unified School District, the Burbank Police Department has tweeted and posted a safety reminder for parents and people driving in the area.

“Traffic safety at our schools is a priority for the Burbank Police Department,” said Officer Joshua Kendrick of the Burbank Police Department. “Traffic officers are assigned to patrol schools as a visible deterrent to prevent incidents from occurring and to enforce traffic laws.”

“By following a few simple rules, parents can assist us in creating a safe environment around our schools for students, faculty and parents.”

(Photo by Ross A.Benson)

John Burroughs High School students head to school in August 2013. (Photo by Ross A.Benson)

Back to school safety tips include some Do’s:

1. Slow down around the schools; plan ahead and arrive early

2. Use the safe delivery/valet drop – off area

3. Position your children on the right side of the vehicle, so they exit onto the sidewalk, away from any moving vehicles

4. Stay alert; do not operate cell phones or allow other things to distract you

5. Park your car in the appropriate areas; obey posted parking restrictions

6. Obey all traffic laws

And some Don’ts:

1. Stop and park your vehicle in the delivery/valet drop – off area

2. Park and exit your vehicle in the passenger loading/unloading areas

3. Stop your vehicle in the middle of the street to let your child in or out of the vehicle

4. Walk between vehicles in the drop – off and pick – up area

5. Park across the street and direct your child to cross the street outside of the designated crossing area

6. Pass vehicles on the wrong side of the street

7. Leave your vehicle unattended

BPD recommends parents park their vehicles away from the school and walk their children to the school gates and cross at corners and use the crossing guards to assist. Officers encourage parents to plan ahead and arrive early.

Students and families begin their first day at Roosevelt Elementary (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

Students and families begin their first day at Roosevelt Elementary in August 2013. (Photo by Lisa Paredes)

Board of Education Approves Classes For College And High School Credit

Burbank Unified’s Board of Education approved agreements with Glendale Community College (GCC) and L.A. Valley College (LAVC) for specific courses at Burbank and Burroughs High Schools to qualify for college course credit. The classes would also count towards high school graduation requirements.

BUSD Logo“This is actually pretty exciting,” commented Sharon Cuseo, Director of Instruction and Accountability for the district, as she explained ways the agreements fulfill Common Core emphasis on college and career readiness for graduating high school students.

Courses at Burbank High School that will garner college credit at GCC include Regional Occupational Program (ROP) Professional Film and Stagecraft Technology. Burroughs High School ROP classes for Video Production, Stagecraft Technology and Video Production & Film are accepted in the articulation agreement.

Two classes – JBHS’ ROP Aircraft & Small Engines and BHS’ ROP Popenomics – were approved for the agreement with LAVC. The Popenomics course at BHS will examine the social and cultural impact of film and it is expected to begin at BHS in the future, according to Cuseo.

Students in ROP Professional Film “learn enough in that course that it takes the place of an entry-level course at the community college,” Cuseo added.

After students take the end of course exam, they will receive credit for the class.

When the students go on to enroll in either GCC or LAVC after high school, the college level course they took in high school is transferred and students may then take high levels courses earlier in their college career.

Cuseo noted and thanked Diana Dysthe, the district’s ROP Counselor, for her efforts in connecting high school teachers with GCC and LAVC professors to discuss the course content and develop the program.

This agreement is a first step towards a possible dual enrollment program between BUSD and local colleges, she went on to say.

“We’ve always wanted this for our students,” Cuseo said. She attributed financial incentives from the state as an impetus for colleges now seeking to develop these sorts of programs with local high schools.

The articulation agreement was approved unanimously by the Board of Education Thursday evening, August 7, and will be reviewed annually.

BUSD Offers Free Summer School Options For Burbank Students To Get Ahead

Burbank high school students have a lot of options to get ahead on required school courses this summer. Burbank Unified is testing out a pilot summer program for initial credit classes run by Options For Youth (OFY) charter school at the Burbank High School campus from July 1 through August 7.

The OFY Summer Program is free to Burbank Unified students. The charter school uses Average Daily Attendance funds to pay the teachers, staff and fees and provide textbooks and supplies.

BUSD teachers, curriculum and textbooks are all employed for the OFY Summer Program.

TOSA Kenneth Knoop check a student's homework during class at Options For Youth's Summer Program at Burbank High.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

TOSA Kenneth Knoop checks a student’s work during class at Options For Youth’s Summer Program at Burbank High. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Our most popular class is Health/Careers,” commented Kenneth Knoop, Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) overseeing the summer program at BHS. “We have four classes of Health students and most are eighth graders going into ninth grade.”

The Options For Youth at BHS program also offers a Physical Education class. The free summer school has approximately 150 students enrolled in five classes.

“Most of the kids attending summer classes here are really motivated and are trying to get ahead and get those required classes out of the way,” Knoop added. “They’re really great kids… the super motivated kids who are willing to spend part of their summer in school.”

Burbank High School teacher Marcus Turner with students in Options For Youth's Summer Program at BHS.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank High School Health teacher Marcus Turner with students in Options For Youth’s Summer Program at BHS. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“The majority of the students in this summer program are in performing arts, like band or choir, and need to take a double block of classes during the school year to participate in some of those programs,” explained Emilio Urioste, Director II of Secondary Education.

Knoop, in addition to being a Phys Ed teacher at Jordan, also subs for administrators on leave in the district and is Assistant Football Coach at John Burroughs High School. As TOSA, he is acting as supervisor of the summer program, and right now, he is also the substitute teacher and the nurse.

“This is the first year run for this program and we are still working the kinks out, but it’s going very well,” he added.

Knoop acknowledged BHS Principal Michael Bertram and the school’s administrative staff are on site, along with custodial and cafeteria support.

“They’ve all been really great and very helpful,” he said.

Burroughs High School Health teacher Amy Lucas works with students at the Options For Youth Summer Program at Burbank High School. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs High School Health teacher Amy Lucas works with students at the Options For Youth Summer Program at Burbank High School. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

During the summer hours, students in the Phys Ed class exercise outside in the early hours of school, which begins at 7:40 a.m. For the rest of the day, until 1:00 p.m., the students complete in class writing assignments. Teachers take a few breaks, including one for lunch.

The students in the Health/Careers classes cover all the material studied during the school year in six weeks. One day of summer school is equivalent to one week of classes during the school year. Summer school runs four days per week. Absences are frowned upon and missing more than two days out of the summer session may result in being dropped from the program.

Grades for completed summer classes are transferred directly to the student’s transcript.

“Our offering of these programs through Options For Youth is in line with our superintendent’s emphasis on the need to be flexible and provide options for today’s students and their families,” Urioste added. “This vision of greater options and flexibility is what Dr. Jan Britz holds up for the administrators and reminds us to pursue.”

Teacher Marcus Turner's students think about Health/Careers.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Teacher Marcus Turner’s students think about Health/Careers. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

An online summer program via OFY is also available to BUSD high school students for both initial credit and credit recovery, with a referral by their counselor. The online program includes classes in social studies and English, among others, and students are required to attend the Options For Youth campus on Burbank Boulevard two hours per week, completing the rest of the class work online at home.

Burbank students may also take classes via Woodbury University’s Initial Credit Summer Program. Because of an agreement set up between Woodbury and BUSD Board of Education, courses taken at the Woodbury program can transfer directly to a student’s record.

The Options For Youth Summer Program seems poised for growth and may add additional classes and subjects next year.

BUSD School Board Denies Giligia Charter Academy Petition

After a public and Board Member comment session lasting over two hours, Burbank Unified School District’s Board of Education revoked the conditional approval of Giligia Charter Academy’s petition to open a charter school in Burbank. Held at City Hall, extra police officers were on hand to help maintain order at the crowded School Board meeting, Thursday evening, July 17.

The School Board also denied the Academy’s amended charter petition, citing conditional requirements not being met, including a lease and declared location for the school and a transparent and viable budget for the next three years.

BUSD Logo“We had a contractual agreement that was clearly understood and it was not met,” said Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz.

“Why was Burbank chosen for the site of the Giligia Charter Academy?” wondered Board Member Dave Kemp, noting that most of the signatures on the petition were from the San Fernando Valley area outside of Burbank and Glendale, primarily Studio City, North Hollywood and Sherman Oaks.

“Perhaps in those areas there is a need for this charter,” Kemp added. “It doesn’t appear there is a need for this in Burbank.”

“I’m opposed to the idea of separating kids because they want to be separate from the other students in the district,” he continued.

Kemp discussed the typical use of charter schools in California in which parents address an under-performing school and turn it into a charter school to meet the needs of all the children at the school, noting this scenario has happened with some high schools in LAUSD.

“Your kids in this community are getting a great education and great opportunities. To say that they are not… there’s something wrong for people to say they’re not getting the quality education they need in Burbank,” Kemp also said.

“If you want to start a private school, fine. If you want to go to a Catholic school, fine. If you want to go to a Presbyterian school, fine,” commented Board Member Ted Bunch.

“But, this is a unified school district and we take everybody who wants to come here,” Bunch added. “If you don’t want to be here, fine – start a private school.”

Bunch pointed out that after the success of the Spanish-language Dual Immersion program, beginning in Kindergarten in BUSD, the next language the district is preparing for the program is Armenian, as it is the second-most popular language in the district.

“A group of people who are primarily not Burbank residents came into our community with this petition,” added Board Member Larry Applebaum. He discussed at length the weaknesses of the petition and the responsibilities of the Board of Education and petitioners.

A contentious Town Hall meeting was held a few weeks ago after Burbank citizens expressed concerns over the conditional approval of the charter school petition in June. Thursday evening, several public comment speakers and Board Members expressed displeasure with the ethnically-charged and racially-disparaging comments made by a few people at that Town Hall meeting.

Board members emphasized their desire for dialogue with all members of the Burbank community and encouraged those who feel their needs are not being met by the district to reach out to BUSD officials. Video of the entire meeting can be found on the district’s website.

Woodbury Summer Classes Draw Motivated High School Students

Nearly 200 high school students from Burbank and nearby areas are finishing up classes next week through Woodbury University’s Initial Credit summer program.

Students from Burroughs and Burbank High, Bellarmine-Jefferson, Immaculate Heart, Village Christian and other area schools are waking up early in the morning to get to class on time, completing a year’s worth of work in six, four-day weeks of study at Woodbury.

Burroughs teacher Carolina Almanzar and her class learn Spanish 3. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs teacher Carolina Almanzar and her class learn Spanish 3. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The program was developed in 2009 and has grown in number of students each year. Woodbury University’s then Vice President  Dr. David Rosen worked with Woodbury’s Mauro Diaz and BUSD’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator Peggy Flynn to develop multiple programs with Burbank Unified, including the Woodbury Initial Credit Summer Program.

“The state budget crisis impacted districts throughout California, including the elimination of many summer programs,” explained Flynn. “Burbank Unified was still able to offer summer school to students who failed a course and had to recover credit but students who had a D or wanted to earn initial credit had extremely few and very expensive options locally.”

“BUSD administration approached Woodbury in 2009 to see if they might be interested in creating a program that offered options to students who wanted to bring up a low grade to improve their GPA and/or take a course for the first time,” added Flynn.

Burbank High School teacher Robert Hammell helps a student in Algebra 2. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burbank High School teacher Robert Hammell helps a student in Algebra 2. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Completing an initial credit course in the summer allows students to make room in their regular school year for electives, athletics, and the arts,” she also said. “It also allows students to complete course prerequisites with greater ease – for example, by taking Pre-Calculus in the summer, the student can enroll in Calculus or AP Calculus during the next school year.”

“A wonderful bonus is that our high school students are able to experience taking courses on a real college campus – an experience we hope will inspire them to dream big and work hard,” Flynn concluded.

“We wanted to engage with not only BUSD but with the community as well,” said Diaz, Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management at Woodbury. “We provide not only a camp environment but a learning experience through programs like Initial Credit, Burbank Youth Summer Theatre institute, and architecture and fashion camps. Our programs are affordable and engage elementary, middle and high school students in the community.”

Burroughs High School Health teacher Oakley Gillett discusses student projects in Health class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs High School Health teacher Oakley Gillett discusses student projects in Health class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Eight summer classes for initial credit are being taught by BUSD teachers on the Woodbury campus this summer: Spanish 2 and 3, Health, U.S. and World History, Algebra 2, Geometry and PreCalculus. Woodbury also offers a Fashion Camp (for grades 4-8), Art of Architecture (for grades 5-9) and other programs aimed at high school students during the summer.

“I wanted to take Pre-Calc in the summer so I can take AP Calculus in my junior year and BC Calculus in my senior year,” said Michael Huynh,  a junior at Burbank High School.

Since Woodbury uses BUSD curriculum and teachers and rents the same textbooks used in BUSD-approved courses, students easily transfer credit for the class to their transcripts. Students from other schools work with their district or administration and registrar to verify acceptance of course credit before enrolling in the courses.

Burroughs math teacher Jessica Barcellano goes over concepts in PreCalculus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Burroughs math teacher Jessica Barcellano goes over concepts in PreCalculus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“We are especially grateful to Cartoon Network for providing 20 student scholarships this year!” commented Flynn. “Because of CN, we have students completing courses in Algebra 2, Spanish, Health, Pre-Calculus, US History and World History.”

“Peggy told me about the summer scholarship program, and it fit perfectly into the gifting program that Cartoon Network has established in Burbank,” said  Zita Lefebvre, Director of Operations and Community Relations for the studio. “We have supported it for several years.”

“We are pleased to be able to send 20 students to summer programs to enhance their education in the arts. Perhaps one day we will have one of these kids working at Cartoon Network,” Lefebvre added. “As a business in Burbank we are happy to be included in these programs that support the youth of the community.”

Students at work in Jordan teacher Wayne Tipton's World History class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students at work in Jordan teacher Wayne Tipton’s World History class. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“BUSD admin continues to work closely with Mauro Diaz, Kelly Nittoli, Don St. Clair from Woodbury to ensure the courses are aligned, the teachers are top notch and that the cost was the lowest in the region,” added Flynn.

“I think that many of the more motivated students realize that it is a really good thing to be able to get a class out of the way,” commented World History teacher Wayne Tipton, who also teaches Social Studies at Jordan Middle School during the regular school year.

“Many of the kids are in the vocal or instrumental departments in high school. Some are athletes or dancers, so we have a fairly eclectic group. When they take a class in the summer, they are able to take an extra elective class during the year,” he added.

“I think that my former students who take my class in the summer remember that I tried to make it fun for them. They may have a more nostalgic take on it, but I try to keep it similar to what they remember,” Tipton also said.

Woodbury's grounds are a well-maintained oasis in the busy city. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Woodbury’s grounds are a well-maintained oasis in the busy city. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“History is not exactly the favorite subject for many, so I try to make it as interesting and painless as possible. Since I get to teach them at kind of an awkward age in middle school, it is nice to see them at an older age.”

“I try to make the class as interesting as possible. We all realize that we are in the same boat, five and one-half hours a day, so we try to make the best of it,” Tipton continued.

“The students are bright and interested and know quite a bit about a lot of topics. I learn things every day from them. The summer classes here at Woodbury are so much less stressful. I have always liked teaching in the summer and the classes I have taught at Woodbury are really a great gig.”

Students pay attention in PreCalculus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students pay attention in PreCalculus. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“I wanted to get ahead so that I can take the more of the classes I love during the regular school year.” said Maddie Seiffert, a junior at Burroughs High School who is taking World History. “Now I will be able to fit Musical Theatre and Play Production into my schedule in addition to my English, science and math classes next school year. Plus I get to spend the summer at Woodbury – I love this place!”

“I wanted to take Health this summer because I want to play golf and be in the Burbank High School marching band next year. This is a great option for me to be able to fit both into my schedule as a freshman,”said Adam Barnfather. “I’m glad I did it. The homework isn’t that bad – I can finish it in class most days or bring it home. It’s only four days a week and we get out at 1:00 p.m. so it still feels like summer.”


School Board Adds Multiple Positions And Programs With LCAP Approval

The Burbank Unified School District Board of Education approved the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) on Thursday, June 26. The LCAP provides a three-year spending plan for the district to address mandates in educational code and put additional funds from the State to use.

The LCAP provides for a full-time curriculum specialist at each of the district’s 11 elementary schools and the addition of two elementary music teachers this coming year plus one more in the third year of the plan.

BUSD LogoOne school nurse will be added to the district rotation every year for the next three years plus one behavior specialist. Year-round programs including summer intervention for English Language Learner students.

After the development of a guidance plan over the coming year, an additional counselor will be added to Burroughs and Burbank High Schools and Muir, Luther and Jordan Middle Schools next year.

Custodial staff will add one position right away, along with two more in the second year of the LCAP plan.

Additional items included in the LCAP are provisions for online learning for high school, including funding for the Independent Learning Academy.

The current ratio of library assistants at all elementary schools will be maintained for the coming years and pull-out programs for GATE students in elementary and middle school will also be funded.

The plan aligns with Common Core standards and provides all students with access to technology at BUSD schools. Part-time media and technology specialists have been funded for the elementary and middle schools.

The LCAP also insures one teacher per middle school for World Language program, starting with Spanish 1, in August.

The sixty-person committee, made up of district administrators, principals, teachers, parents and community members worked on developing the comprehensive plan over the past several months. A survey was conducted to gather additional community stakeholder input as well.

Coordinated by Hani Youssef, BUSD Director of Safety and Student Services, the LCAP committee met weekly to hammer out the three-year plan.

“We believe that the Board approved a plan that really meets the need of students at all levels,” commented Dr. Tom Kissinger, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services for BUSD. “The work done on this plan represents a truly collaborative effort of parents, community members, school site staff and administrators.”

A first draft of the LCAP can be viewed on the BUSD website here. Some minor changes to the language were made after the first hearing of the draft, which was then approved by the school board on June 26. The plan is required to be filed with the Los Angeles County Office of Education by July 1.


Special Board Meeting On Charter School Application Announced

Since the Burbank Unified Board of Education approved the application for Giligia Charter Academy on June 5, several concerned citizens in the the Burbank community have spoken out against the decision. Many people turned out in support of the petition at the June 5 meeting.

BUSD will hold a special board meeting to address community concerns on Monday, June 30, at 6:00 p.m. at the Burbank Adult School Auditorium located at 3811 W. Allan Avenue.

BUSD logoIn an announcement posted on the district website, BUSD acknowledges “concerns in the community and we plan to work with stakeholders to address those concerns… in order to provide accurate information on charter schools and to address concerns regarding the charter school petition recently approved.”

At the school board meeting on June 5, the head of Giligia Charter Academy, Julia Yeranossian-Aghisian addressed the board on the need for a charter school aimed towards recent Armenian immigrants. (See video of the meeting here.)

Because so many new Armenian immigrants come to the area, she said, there is a need for this charter school to support the Armenian community. Parents are struggling to pay private school tuition and have their children in a protected environment, Yeranossian-Aghisian added.

A charter school functions like a public school in that tuition is not charged, but the school is funded by Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funds from the state. If students leave BUSD to attend the charter school, BUSD loses the ADA funds from the state.

One BUSD teacher, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed frustration with the decision, saying, “We get kids at all levels who are new to the country from many countries and support them to become part of their new home. Diversity, not segregation, makes for a stronger community and country.”

Many families with students from surrounding communities and not just Burbank, including Glendale, La Cresecenta, Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, North Hollywood have expressed interest in attending the Academy.

The Board of Education will consider the application for final approval on July 17. If approved, Giligia Charter Academy will open in September on the 3900 block of W. Burbank Boulevard, near Hollywood Way.


School Board Approves Independent Learning Academy

The Burbank Unified Board of Education approved the creation of the Burbank Unified Independent Learning Academy (ILA) Thursday evening, with plans to begin the pilot program on September 8, 2014.

BUSD LogoThe program will be staffed by a credentialed teacher and open on a Monday through Friday schedule from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The ILA will be located at 3715 Allan Avenue in Burbank and also provide instructional support as needed for math, science, social science and English, according to Emilio Urioste, BUSD Director II of Secondary Education.

Right now, the program will be open to those who are considering a full-day independent study program in grades nine through 12.

“There is a need for the district to adopt an independent study program for secondary education,” said Urioste. “This program would provide flexible scheduling and an opportunity for students to become self-directed learners.”

Students in the program will typically work on one or two courses at a time, either online or with textbook-based instruction. With successful completion of class work, a student can complete a five-credit class in four weeks.

Urioste anticipates beginning the program with 20-21 students, generating a yearly revenue of nearly $148,000. He expects annual costs to be close to $135,000 with some additional start up costs of approximately $40,000, including five on site computers.

“The goal is to attract students in other independent study programs,” added Urioste. “Students are seeking options and flexibility.”

“This sounds like a great program,” said Board Member Dave Kemp.

Board President Dr. Roberta Reynolds thanked Urioste and Board Member Larry Applebaum for their efforts developing and promoting the program.

“The goal is to bring in students that we are losing to other programs,” said Urioste.

“We have data of students we have lost, and it is a growing number of students, to an independent study program nearby,” added Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz. “We do want to recruit those students back.”

They are also looking at other students who may not feel traditional high school is the best option, continued Britz. While not a credit recovery program, students could possibly use the ILA to complete credits required for graduation.

Urioste and Britz emphasized the Independent Learning Academy pilot program is expected to evolve and change as it is put into action in the coming years.

Shakespeare Exploration Day Engages And Entertains

Burbank Unified School District recently held a Shakespeare Exploration Day for 200 students in the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program from every elementary school in the district. The Burbank Adult School opened its doors to the students as they attended various classes and demonstrations throughout the full school day program.

Caroline Solberg, a Jefferson parent and volunteer, organized the grant funding effort which made the Exploration Day possible. The students also celebrated the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth with slices of cake.

Penelope White and Nova McNally, Roosevelt fourth-graders, spar with foils.  (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Penelope White and Nova McNally, Roosevelt fourth-graders, spar with foils. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“This GATE event was an excellent example of what can happen when parents, teachers and administrators all work together to put together a high quality learning experience for students,” commented Dr. Tom Kissinger, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. “I was just thrilled to see almost two hundred fourth- and fifth-graders, from all eleven elementary schools, participating.”

Student learned about Shakespeare’s biographical details and life in England during the later part of the 16th century and early 17th century, including manners, language and other aspects of the culture at that time.

They listened to performances of and acted out scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Students also practiced sword fighting and stage combat skills with instructors from Swordplay and participated in team building exercises.

Jefferson parent and Shakespeare Exploration Day organizer Caroline Solberg hands fourth-grader Kaylee Hirsch from Roosevelt a slice of cake to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday. (Photo Courtesy of Colleen Matlock)

Jefferson parent and Shakespeare Exploration Day organizer Caroline Solberg hands fourth-grader Kaylee Hirsch from Roosevelt a slice of cake to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday. (Photo Courtesy of Colleen Matlock)

“I really enjoyed learning about Shakespeare as well as practicing my sword fighting skills in preparation for my scene from Romeo and Juliet,” said Rhett Hemingway, a fourth-grader from Brett Harte Elementary. “I have to admit I was a little surprised by how interesting Shakespeare was.”

Kelly Matlock, a fourth-grader from Roosevelt Elementary, thought the Shakespeare Exploration Day “was super fabulous amazing. I wish I could do it again.”

“My favorite part was everything, but if I had to pick something, I’d say the acting part,” she added.

Students learn to properly bow and curtsy, in a class taught by Lisa Dyson. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students learn to properly bow and curtsy, in a class taught by Lisa Dyson. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Shakespeare Exploration Day was the first day program of its kind for GATE students in BUSD, with three to four more planned for the 2014-15 school year. The district also plans to expand with similar programs at the middle school level in the near future, according to Kissinger.

Youngsters age 9 to 15 with an interest in acting and learning more about Shakespeare may be interested in joining the Burbank Youth Summer Theatre Institute’s annual summer camp. Families can register via the Burbank Parks and Rec website. The camp runs for three weeks in June and will be taught by actor/artists Lisa Dyson, David Prather, Beth Morrison and Crystal Robbins.

Students practice stage combat and fencing basics at Shakespeare Exploration Day. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students practice stage combat and fencing basics at Shakespeare Exploration Day. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)