Tag Archives: Muir Middle School

Nickelodeon Provides Python Tutorial After School At Muir

Nickelodeon Animation Studios recently wrapped up a weekly after-school Python tutorial for interested sixth, seventh and eighth-graders at John Muir Middle School. Held in Rebecca Southward’s Digital Media classroom on campus, approximately 25 students attended the free-of-charge 90-minute-long series of classes.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Karl Goldshmidt (right) explains steps in the programming process. Mardine Pouryousef (leaning on table) assists. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Organized by Carson Smith, Human Resources Manager at the studios, and put together by Nickelodeon’s VP of Television Production Technologies, Boris Beaubien, the programming class introduces middle school-aged kids to the widely-used language of professional game design, Python.

“There’s a big push now to get kids to learn how to program and the reason we picked Python is that it’s the common language of game design,” commented Beaubien. “The idea behind this is to get the kids to create something quick they can see by the end of the class. Python is the perfect language for this.”

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

A student concentrates. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Taught by a former aeronautics-industry consultant and current Media and Technology Services Liaison/Research and Development Technical Director for MTS at Nickelodeon, Karl Goldshmidt, the kids were able to create a short game by the end of the six-week session. Goldshmidt was assisted in the classroom by Mardine Pouryousef, Technical Specialist at the studios.

“The great thing about the programming language is that it teaches options,” said Beaubien. “You have to plan everything out, draw the diagram and then the language creates the actions of the game.”

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Karl Goldshmidt teaches Python programming language to Muir middle schoolers. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

The kinds of questions and planning Goldshmidt teaches include movement and choices in a game. If a ball moves left, Beaubien posed as a question, what do you want to happen next in the action?

The animation part comes later, Beaubien added. In game programming, Python controls what happens behind the scenes of people’s favorite games, he explained.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Karl Goldshmidt explains a programming point. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

At this stage, there are no specific plans to offer another Python class in the fall but discussions are ongoing, said Beaubien. Other media-friendly technical classes are also being considered.

 (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Students work in an after-school class on Python programming language taught by instructors from Nickelodeon’s Media Technology Services. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)





Muir Fundraiser Makes ‘Em Laugh And Garners Close To $20,000

Burbank turned out in full force Saturday evening, February 22, in support of John Muir Middle School’s auditorium fundraiser The Really Big Show. Nearly $20,000 was raised from ticket sales, auction items, concessions and donations, according to the John Muir Booster Association.

Business and community partners joined parents, students, teachers and administration of the Burbank Unified School District for a pre-concert reception, silent auction and a night of entertainment.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The evening was emceed by four past and present Principals of Muir: Bruce Osgood, Dan Hacking, John Paramo and Dr. Greg Miller, the current head of the school. The four gentleman had the packed house rolling in the aisles with their rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” complete with dance moves and feather boas.

It was a great night for everyone involved and a great start to our campaign to modernize our 60-year old auditorium,” commented Miller. “The Muir and Burbank High student performers were amazing, and our faculty band, the Muir Mortals, were incredible, particularly ‘Ode to the Aud’ which they wrote especially for the evening.”

“It was great fun to work with former principals Bruce Osgood, Dan Hacking, and John Paramo, who helped out because they love Muir.” 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Several of Burbank High School’s arts and music programs were well represented, including the VMA Sirens, Third Street Jazz Combo, “Unleashed” Dance, IMA String Quartet, Play Production and Gentleman’s Octet.

In the second act, Muir’s own Drama, Choir and Band programs worked together to present an original musical production about the beloved auditorium and its need for repair.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Arts For All Foundation has provided over $5000 to the Muir auditorium project during the past year. The Muir auditorium has been basically untouched for over sixty years, with only a few minor adjustments made. While some Measure S Bond money is available to upgrade air conditioning and related bond-measure items, the bulk of the renovation falls on the school to provide.

“It was great to see our community come out and support Muir and we are so grateful for everyone’s contribution to a very successful night,” added Miller.

The Auditorium Task Force has been working to raise $100,000 to cover costs of needed upgrades for lighting, sound, seating and more for the 674-seat space the school calls “Our Living Room.” The Really Big Show came about as a way to kick off the campaign, bring the community together and have some fun while doing so.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“The night also kicked off our matching challenge grant from Warner Brothers,” Miller said.

“Thanks to their generosity, they will match dollar for dollar every donation that comes in during the next 60 days,” he explained. “The challenge is that we only get the $10,000 if the whole amount is raised, so we are still looking for donations large and small to help with this project.”

The John Muir Booster Association is collecting all donations towards the auditorium modernization. Donations to the project can be made directly on the school’s auditorium project page or by contacting Principal Miller at 818-558-5320.

The school is also conducting a tile design campaign to raise funds and more information can be found on the same web page.

JohnMuirBoosterAssociation@hotmail.com.calling the school at

Muir Middle School Puts On “The Really Big Show”

Students of Muir and Burbank High are part of a major fundraising campaign to modernize the middle school’s Allan H. Burnside Auditorium. The spotlight will be cast on students from both schools’ performing arts classes during the campaign’s kickoff event — “The Really Big Show” on Saturday, February 22, at Muir.

The campaign goal is to raise $100,000, said Principal Greg Miller, who added that very little changes have been made to the auditorium since it was built in 1952.

really big showAt the top of the wish list is the purchase and installation of three fly systems for lighting above the stage as well as laying carpet down the aisles and tiling the orchestra pit. Other plans are to install a center speaker, purchase and mount a high-quality projector and purchase and install new tree lights along the walls facing the stage.

The stage lights are mounted to the ceiling now and only adults can change them by climbing a ladder. The new fly system will allow students to bring the lights to their level so they can change the lights or add color gels themselves — making it a learning experience, Miller said.

Funds derived from Measure S, a local bond measure that passed in March of 2013, will cover the expense of air-conditioning that will be added to the auditorium this summer, he added. But the campaign funds will go to the remaining items on the wish list.

Earlier this week, initial donations to the campaign came from two community partners. Nickelodeon, Burbank’s giant in children’s TV entertainment, donated $1,000, and Logix Federal Credit Union, one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in the San Fernando Valley, also donated $1,000.

The kickoff will be a historic show because it’s the first time both schools’ performing arts groups are producing a joint program.

“The first act of the show will be groups from Burbank High School,” Miller said. “Their Unleashed dance group, the Sirens — which is the girls choir — and other choirs will be performing and their drama group will do some improvisation.”

For the second act, Muir’s choir, band and drama groups are performing an original musical together for the first time, he said.

Past Muir Middle School Principals really big show

Past Muir Middle School Principals Daniel Hacking (2003 – 2010), Bruce Osgood (1999 – 2003), John Paramo (2010 – 2012 and current Burroughs High School Principal) and current Principal Dr. Greg Miller (2012 – present.) (Photo Courtesy Muir Middle School)

Getting the Muir students involved in the fundraising campaign is a positive experience for them, Miller said.

“Because it’s the space where the students perform, I think it gives them more ownership of the auditorium and the efforts to make the auditorium better,” he said.

And getting Burbank High School students involved gives those students a chance to help their alma mater, because about 90% of those students went to Muir, he added.

Miller hopes to see former students come back to see the show as well as parents whose children went through Muir.

Improvements to the auditorium will benefit the students attending Muir who want to follow a career in the technical side of stage production, he said.

“The auditorium will be more of a classroom where students can get hands-on experience in stage craft,” he said.

Adding to the fun, the show’s masters of ceremonies are Miller, who began at Muir in 2012, and three past Muir principals — Bruce Osgood (1999 – 2003), Daniel Hacking (2003 – 2010) and John Paramo (2010 – 2012).

And a group of faculty will perform a piece titled “Ode to the Aud” as in auditorium. The evening starts with a VIP reception, catered by Porto’s Bakery, with a silent and live auction.

Another component of the campaign is a tile design fundraiser where people can purchase tiles they create for a Tile Wall.

The $50 per entry VIP pre-show and reception will start at 5:30 p.m. and includes music from the BHS’ Third Street Jazz Combo. General admission tickets are $25 and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.burbankusd.org/JMMS or call (818) 558-5320, Ext. 22863.

Tri-School Basketball Tournament A Success On & Off the Court

Muir, Jordan and Luther Middle Schools came together to play basketball and create new friendships (Photo courtesy of Doug Nicol)

Muir, Jordan and Luther Middle Schools came together to play basketball and create new friendships (Photo courtesy of Doug Nicol)

By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor

Three schools. Two champions. One winner.

On a beautiful, crisp, sunny day in Burbank last week, Muir Middle School hosted the Tri-School basketball tournament featuring the John Muir Mustangs, the David Starr Jordan Cougars and the Luther Burbank Yellow Jackets.

A Luther player looks for space against a Jordan defender (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A Luther player looks for space against a Jordan defender (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Utilizing the indoor gymnasium and outside blacktop courts, more than 100 students descended upon Muir to play basketball and forge the beginning of long-time friendships.

After many intense and grueling games of basketball, only two schools remained standing and claimed the title as “champions.”

Muir 1 won the boys division by virtue of an 18-7 victory over Luther 1. In the girls division final, Jordan 1 defeated Luther 1, 18-12.

A list of the championship winners, game recaps and a photo gallery can be found at the end of this article.

But on this day of hoops and friendly competition, the real winner was the city of Burbank. This event featured students who were given the opportunity to participate based upon good grades and good character.

Muir battles Jordan in this matchup (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Muir battles Jordan in this matchup (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In addition, many of the districts best physical education teachers were in attendance to supervise, organize and enjoy the future of Burbank High and Burroughs High best student-athletes.

“This is one of my favorite events. Today you get to see the stars of tomorrow,” Muir coach and event coordinator Doug Nicol said. “It gives me a chance to see all the kids from all the schools.

“For me, it’s about bringing the kids together. It’s about the community. Letting them have lunch together and play together and competing against each other. It’s a great opportunity for all our kids and schools.”

Nicol and his co-coordinator Branko Sevic did an outstanding job of bringing the schools together and play in a well-organized and disciplined manner.

Jordan player gets pressured by Muir (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Jordan player gets pressured by Muir (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Jordan physical education teacher and Burbank High boys basketball coach Jerry DeLaurie and Robyn Anders, Assistant Principal at Luther Burbank, were there and enjoyed every minute of it.

“What I like about this event is it gives the kids the chance to play against each other without an audience, without parents, and coaches to some degree,” Anders explained. “It’s structured in a way where they call their own fouls and learn sportsmanship with each other. As eighth graders, they are meeting some of their future teammates. They make connections right away.”

“I think it’s great fellowship. They get the chance to go out there and play. Getting to know each other and developing camaraderie,” DeLaurie said. “It’s a really fun day and these kids have really earned it. They are good students and it’s a great joy for them to come out here having a lot of fun.”

DeLaurie added it’s a chance for the coaches to witness personal growth in the students because of how the event is structured. The teams play without coaches and officials which allows them to work and interact amongst each other. The players subbed freely and called their own fouls.

“Every day in my class we emphasize sportsmanship, displaying good character and working with each other cooperatively,” DeLaurie said. “As an educator, we teach them to be good sports. This is a testament to all the teachers how we are teaching our classes and our sports.”

Luther pushes the ball up the court against Muir (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Luther pushes the ball up the court against Muir (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Each school was represented by two teams in both the boys and girls divisions. Each team played eight games before lunch with the semifinals and finals held after the much-needed break for the 100-plus hungry 8th graders.

When the day had ended, the interaction of all the students is what caught the attention and mattered most for everyone. Here are thoughts shared by some of the event’s participants:

D.J. Hubbell, 13, Jordan

“I wasn’t expecting it to be this hard playing all these games. I thought our team would do better but we made it to the playoffs so it’s good. It’s a nice experience seeing all the other schools and how good they are in basketball.”

Alãn Edgar, 14, Muir

“We got to meet all the kids and mingle together. It’s pretty fun. Our team works together well.”

A Muir player takes a shot against Luther (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A Muir player takes a shot against Luther (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Presley Miraglia, 14, Luther

“It’s going good. We miss a day of school. But I think it’s pretty fun interacting with other schools and getting to meet new people. And you get to see other competition for high school next year.”

Kevin Rickman, 14, Jordan

“You get to meet the competition and see who you might play in high school.”

Suzy Torosyan, 13, Muir

“My favorite part was playing against the other schools and seeing how they play. It’s been a pretty fun day. But it’s only a game and not anything too big.”


STANDINGS before playoffs:


Muir 1 (6-0-2)

Muir 2 (5-2-1)

Luther 1 (5-2-1)

Jordan 1 (2-5-1)

Jordan player dribbles up court (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Jordan player dribbles up court (Photo by Ross A. Benson)


Jordan 1 (8-0)

Luther 1 (5-2-1)

Luther 2 (3-4-1)

Jordan 2 (3-5)



Boys Semifinals-

Luther 1 (12) Muir 2 (9)

The #2 seed Muir team was beaten by the #3 seed Luther team, 12-9. It was a close game that was not decided until the last minute.

Muir surrounds a helpless Jordan player (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Muir surrounds a helpless Jordan player (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Muir 1 (16) Jordan 1 (8)

A game that was close for the first five minutes. Muir (the #1 seed) went on a 6-0 run at the 5-minute mark to gain a lead it would never lose. Jordan (#4 seed) played hard.


Muir 1 (18) Luther 1 (7)

The game was close in the first 10 minutes, but then the #1 seed Mustangs went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a Max Meltzer scoop shot, and Alan Edgar driving layup that gave Muir the lead for good. Both teams worked hard, but the championship went to Muir, their first boys championship for them in three years.

Muir Mustangs: CHAMPIONS

Muir Mustangs: CHAMPIONS


Max Meltzer

Davit Koushian

Alan Edgar

Andre Badimyan

Greg Farhadian

Hakob Anassian

Harout Nazaryan


Girls Semifinals-

A Jordan girl reaches high for the rebound vs. Luther (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A Jordan girl reaches high for the rebound vs. Luther (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Jordan 1 (14) Luther 2 (4)

Jordan (#1 seed) dominated the game. They scored the first eight points and never looked back and won in convincing fashion against a very talented Luther (#4 seed) team.

Luther 1 (12) Jordan 2 (4)

The game was close for the first 10 minutes and then Luther (#2 seed) pulled away for the victory. Great team play and good rebounding on the part of Luther gained them the win setting up a championship meeting between the top two seeds.


Jordan 1 (18) Luther 1 (12)

Jordan was undefeated and looked vulnerable as the Luther team held an early 7-6 lead. However, the Cougars, with great team play, were able to pull away in the final five minutes as they went on an 8-0 run to close the game and wore out the Yellow Jackets to gain the victory.

They finished as the only undefeated team (10-0) in the entire tournament and gained Jordan its first girls championship since 2011.

Jordan Cougars: CHAMPIONS

Jordan Cougars: CHAMPIONS


Kiana Simokovic

Marin Grote

Catarina Villalapanda

Sela Moretti-Hitchcock

Zoe Helleig

Natalie Barayan

Megan Maqanaham


Thanksgiving At Muir Celebrates Positive Family Atmosphere

Administrators, teachers, counselors, aides and all staff members at John Muir Middle School held the First Annual Thanksgiving at Muir on Tuesday, November 26, after regular school hours. Almost all of the school site employees enjoyed the meal and time together. Donna Collier, Culinary Arts instructor, prepared six turkeys for the feast.

Photo Courtesy of John Muir Middle School

Photo Courtesy of John Muir Middle School

“This is my second year as a principal and I am amazed at what a great school this is, and it’s all because of the people,” commented Dr. Greg Miller, Muir Middle School principal. “A lot of schools may talk about being a family, but I really feel that we are, here at Muir. No other school I have worked at has had this atmosphere.”

Science teacher Heidi Sasaki checks out the huge turkey. (Photo Courtesy of John Muir Middle School)

Science teacher Heidi Sasaki checks out the huge turkey. (Photo Courtesy of John Muir Middle School)

“I like Thanksgiving and I am thankful to be at Muir, so I thought we should have Thanksgiving because we are a family here,” explained Dr. Miller. “Everyone thought it was a great idea. The whole idea is for us to spend and enjoy time together.”

“The first annual Thanksgiving at Muir was a huge success,” commented Dr. Miller. “Almost 90 members of the faculty and staff participated and had a great time. There was way to much food as everyone contributed a dish.”

Teachers Barry Sarna, Glen Jaffe and Steven Moos performed and provided music during the meal and Logix Federal Credit Union donated 25 $5 gift cards to Menchies that were given away in a raffle.





Muir Middle School Drive Gets a Taste of Success with Drive for BTAC

John Muir Middle School’s Drive for Burbank Temporary Aid Center was a success with more than 5,000 items collected from April 3-16. Logix Federal Credit Union sponsored the drive, giving students a reusable bag to fill with items from BTAC’s wish list, including canned goods, dried goods, household and personal care items.

The classroom that brought in the most items will win an iPad for their classroom and Menchie’s gift cards ($5 each – one per student), also provided by the credit union. Jennifer Moses from the 8th grade science classroom brought in 521 items for the local nonprofit organization. Moses has been with Muir Middle School for 15 years. The enthusiasm from the principal, teachers, students and parents helped the school achieve its goal.

“It’s because of the Burbank community and its schools and businesses that we are able to help as many people as we do,” BTAC President and CEO Barbara Howell said. “This time of year, we are most in need because typically we don’t receive as much from January to April. We’re fortunate to have the support of Muir Middle School and Logix.”

The credit union has been a longtime contributor to BTAC, and the City of Burbank also a supporter stepped in to help.

“We’re pleased to be partnering with Logix and BTAC on this food drive,” Principal Greg Miller said. “We want our students to be socially responsible and contribute to the community. And, to have the City of Burbank’s Public Works Department help us move the items – 71 boxes – from our school to BTAC is invaluable.”

Miller is working with Logix employee Alethia Calagias through Principal Partners.

“Greg (Miller) and I want to continue to connect Muir Middle School to local businesses and nonprofits and engage the students along the way,” Calagias said. “If we can collaborate with community leaders, the school and its student will have more resources and can grow their programs. The credit union is involved in the community to be a good corporate citizen as well as take schools and nonprofits to the next level.”

Muir Middle School teachers initiated their own challenge, bringing in items for BTAC on April 5 and 12.

Logix offers a variety of services, such as checking and savings accounts, auto and mortgage loans, as well as credit cards. The credit union has a location in Burbank at 2340 Hollywood Way. Branch hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. To contact branch staff, please call (818) 565-2313.

The credit union received the Burbank Top Award for Citizenship at BTAC’s annual gala on March 1, donating more than $80,000 since 2008, and countless volunteer hours.

Muir Middle School Takes National Spotlight in Commercials

Have you seen those AT&T commercials featuring first the kids and then the NBA legends sitting around a table being asked questions?

You think something looks familiar about the set, but are not sure?

Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell were all recently at Muir Middle School shooting their commercials (Photo courtesy or Muir Middle School Staff)

Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell were all recently at Muir Middle School shooting their commercials (Photo courtesy or Muir Middle School Staff)

You are right if you thought all of those commercials are shot right here in Burbank (of course, the Media Capital of the World) and you would even be more correct if you recognized any part of the Muir Middle School Library or Art Room.

The commercials have become a source of pride at the school.

In February, the four NBA Hall of Fame basketball players got together to shoot their commercials, which have become very popular, and there is talk that they may reunite for more in the future or that other stars might make it to the table.

Chelsea Clinton was at Muir Middle School last week for NBC news. Here she is with teachers (left) Robert Lee, and Ted DeVirgilis  (Photo Courtesy of Emily Thomas)

Chelsea Clinton was at Muir Middle School last week for NBC News. Here she is with teachers (left) Robert Lee, and Ted DeVirgilis (Photo Courtesy of Emily Thomas)

Recently, Chelsea Clinton of NBC News was on the campus this past week as they shot a new series of commercials interviewing the main character who asks all of the questions.  According to Muir staff members, the former First Daughter arrived without any Secret Service escorts or bodyguards.  She spent some time talking talking to everyone who asked her a question and posed for everyone’s pictures. No word on when her report for NBC news will air.


Burbank Neighborhoods Celebrate ‘National Night Out’

Burbank joined 15,500 other communities to observe National Night Out (NNO), an annual observance to promote crime and drug prevention, and strengthen police/community partnership.

The main event locally was held next to the Chandler Bikeway, on Chandler Blvd. between Keystone St. and Lincoln St. adjacent to Edison Elementary School’s field.  Other events were held at various locations throughout the city, with a total of 18 events.

Everything from the Burbank Police Department’s armored vehicle to the mounted patrol was on display.  Swat team members were on hand to explain some of the specialized equipment they use, as well as let young and old climb into the armored vehicle.  Two of the department’s motorcycles were on display.  The “motors,” with their specialized equipment, are hardly your standard stock BMW motorcycles.

Police horse "Texas" was a big hit with the kids, as he walked along the Chandler Bikeway with his rider, Sgt. Kerry Schilf. (Photo By Stan Lynch)

Sgt. Kerry Schilf riding his horse “Texas” was a big hit with the kids, who lined up to pet the big horse.  Also attending was one of Burbank’s canine  units.  Members of the department-sponsored Police Explorer unit were manning a booth, handing out glow bracelets to kids, and selling DARE anti-drug t-shirts.

Burbank’s Park, Recreation and Community Services department was out in force, offering a variety of booths.  In their crafts booth, young children were busy making buttons and other artful items to take home.  There were a variety of flavors available in the Sno Cone booth.   A big hit was the Burbank Transportation booth that was giving out cloth bags — ideal for toting around all the literature and goodies being given out.

Burbank Water and Power was also on hand, urging residents to sign up for free home energy inspections.  The prize wheel at the Burbank Public Library was a big hit with the kids.  Also exhibiting were the Burbank Fire Department, Relay for Life, Downtown Burbank, Bike Burbank, Friends of the Chandler Bikeway, and Burbank Civic Pride Committee.

The crew from the Target in Burbank were a big hit with the crowd, as they gave away merchandise and gift cards in their prize drawing. In the background on the Chandler Bikeway, Burbank PD's Mounted Patrol is represented by Sgt. Kerry Schilf on "Texas." (Photo By Stan Lynch)

A big hit again this year was the Target booth.  Everyone gathered around at 7 p.m. when the crew from the Burbank Target store began drawing winning tickets.  Several happy folks walked away with prizes that included merchandise and Target gift cards.

No one at the event went away hungry.  As they have in the past, Wienerschnitzel had their mobile hot dog truck there, offering free hot dogs or chili dogs, and French fries.  Cold bottles of water were also given away, which were a big hit due to the extremely hot weather this week.

Although the turnout was good, it did seem like fewer people turned out this year than in the past few years. Perhaps the hot weather kept some people at home.   But for those who turned out to chat with Police Chief Scott LaChasse and members of his command staff, as well as the many police officers in attendance, it was great evening.

Although we were not able to get to every National Night Out event, BNB staff did attend several.  Check out the photos from some of these events held at various locations throughout the city.

Boys & Girls Club Holds 5th Annual Performing Arts Showcase

Boys & Girls Club members instill all disciplines of the arts to express themselves during the Fifth annual Arts Showcase at Muir auditorium. Artwork included glass mosaics and charcoal sketches while singing and dancing varied from hip hop to contemporary dance.


By Joyce Rudolph


Fine art proved to be a great mix with song and dance when the Boys & Girls Club presented the Fifth annual Arts Showcase on May 18 at John Muir Auditorium.

The students practiced all year round –singing, dancing, acting or playing a musical instrument. Then they had to audition to be included in the program, said Jeudy Mom, resource development coordinator.

Adults working with the youngsters to perfect their acts were Michelle Bouse, a club board member, who did the choreography; Megan Baade and J. J. Pasco, both from Garri Dance Studio, who helped with dancing skills; and Arpineh Khodagholian, site director with the club, who also helped with dancing.

Sherry Delizia, creative arts director with the club, assisted the youth with art projects and singing. Some of the art mediums displayed were glass mosaics, charcoal sketches and magazine collages. And the inspiration came from such artists as Picasso, Warhol and Dr. Seuss, Mom said.

“I believe it’s a really great outlet to allow the kids to express themselves through arts,” he said. “Some people think of the arts as just drawing on a board but it’s more creative art~dancing, singing ~the whole deal.”

Tamara Chehata, 15, performed in six acts of the showcase. She sang and played the guitar on the song “Safe and Sound” by Taylor Swift, as well as performed two acting scenes and three dance numbers.

“I practiced throughout the whole year at the club and then when I got home,” said Tamara, who will begin her junior year in the fall at Burroughs. One of the dance numbers ‘Bend and Snap/Positive,’ we performed at the National Boys & Girls Conference in San Diego.”

The showcase at Muir taught Tamara to get along with others and express herself more, she said.

“We definitely put a lot of effort and work into practicing for the show and all of that hard work just goes into putting on a great show,” she said.

Margo Akoponz, 13, displayed several of her art pieces on a board at the showcase. She will be an eighth-grader at Muir Middle School in the fall.

“It feels great when someone comes up to you and they really like your artwork because artwork is really who you are and it shows your personality and when people like it, that’s just really nice,” she said.

Margo also performed a scene with her friends and did acting and singing in the “Bend and Snap” number, she said.

She also danced in seven acts, including a ribbon dance, a hip hop dance and a Broadway number.

Her favorite dance segment was “When I Look at You,” she said.

“It was a contemporary number and it was really different from all the other dances, and I liked it because that’s the kind of dance where you can express yourself. It was really emotional and I really liked it.”

It is a slow dance and similar to ballet, Margo said. It is more emotional than most dances like hip hop because in hip hop you can have attitude and you’re good but in contemporary dance, you have to connect with the audience.

The dance was telling the story of a girl who doesn’t have much hope but she is singing about a guy she likes, but he gave her hope.

“People started crying,” she said.

Putting on the showcase was a group effort, Margo added.

“You can’t do it alone. It is really nice because you can express yourself and it teaches you to practice and that practice makes perfect,” she said.


Photo By Deborah Dodge

Photo By Deborah Dodge

John Muir Middle School Hosts Annual “Around the World” Event

Performers Michael John and his wife Nancy demonstrate sword play. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

On Friday, March 16, seventh graders at John Muir Middle School were both educated and entertained at the school’s annual “Around the World” event.

More than 400 students — many of whom wore costumes representing their own culture — spent the day viewing performances by the Imperial Knights Joust Company, the Nigerian Talking Drum Ensemble, the Incan Musical Ensemble, the Taiko Japanese Drummers and a stunt team that took the students through the history of swords.

Student volunteers were often pulled out of the audience throughout the day, giving many of them some hands on experience and the opportunity to impress their classmates.

Giving a demonstration on different weapons used hundreds of years ago is Julie Clark and her competitor Jess Abbott. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Science teacher Heidi Sasaki coordinated much of the event in conjunction with all seventh grade teachers at Muir. Sasha Gorbach, a special education teachers at the school, and Bob Martin. an English teacher, shot hundreds of photos throughout the day and revealed them to students during a slide show the last twenty minutes of the school day.

Math teacher Brad Frank awaited unruly students in “the dungeon,” but he had a lonely day.

“I was all by myself,” he said. “All the students behaved remarkably well. I think it says a lot about how great the demonstrations are and how much our students look forward to the event.”

The school also hosted a “Shrew Day” in January for 8th graders following their reading of the William Shakespeare play, “The Taming of the Shrew.” Next month, 6th graders will enjoy “Greek Day.” The programs are largely funded by the school’s PTA. Principal John Paramo says they bring to life a component of each grade level’s curriculum.

“Our teachers work hard to arrange these days for students, ” he said. “They always bring the curriculum to life with the amazing lessons they develop for their classroom, but the group experience of these events really make it memorable.”