Tag Archives: Providencia Elementary

Four Burbank Unified Elementary Schools Recognized For Exemplary Arts Education

Four Burbank Unified elementary schools – George Washington, William McKinley, Joaquin Miller and Providencia – were selected by the California Department of Education for the Exemplary Arts Education Award. Only 13 total schools statewide received the honor.

In a media release on Tuesday, January 7, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said, “We know that access to arts and STEAM is an important part of closing the achievement gap, and these Exemplary Arts schools put the ‘A’ in ‘STEAM.”

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

“We are grateful the community of Burbank has invested in the arts,” commented Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill. “This is another example of how our students thrive when we invest in them.”

Image Courtesy Burbank Unified School District

“Congratulations to these 13 schools for supporting arts and STEAM education, which prepares students to be leaders in the creative economy,” Thurmond added.

Schools throughout the state were able to apply for the recognition if they met California Arts Standards for Public Schools as well as performance and progress on indicators on the California School Dashboard.

According to the CA State Department of Education release, the 13 Exemplary Arts Education Awardees include traditional comprehensive elementary schools, magnet schools and district and independent charters, and range in size from a 3700-student urban school to a 250-student rural school.

Some of the schools’ populations are a majority of Title I students from lower socio-economic backgrounds while others are primarily made up of students in the suburbs with strong district and community financial support.

Other criteria for the award required the schools to offer instruction to all students in at least three of five arts disciplines of Dance, Media Arts, Music, Theater and Visual Arts.

Schools also had to show improvement for at least one student subgroup in one of the following three areas based on the Dashboard: School Climate, in the area of Suspension Rate; Student Engagement, in the area of Chronic Absenteeism or Graduation Rate; Academic Achievement, in the area of English Language Arts, Mathematics, or College and Career Readiness.

Washington, Miller, Providencia and McKinley Elementary Schools and the rest of the California Exemplary Arts Education Schools will be honored on February 10 at a ceremony at Disneyland Resort, along with recipients of the California Distinguished Schools, National Blue Ribbon Schools, National Terrel H. Bell and National ESEA Distinguished Schools awards.

Local Schools Install Murals at Burbank Town Center

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

On Saturday, March 3, students from Providencia Elementary, Brett Hart Elementary, Jordan Middle School, and Burbank High School installed interactive murals on the third level of the Burbank Town Center.

Art classes from schools in the district have worked together to add color to the mall as it undergoes refurbishments. The 6 ft. x 8 ft. murals vary in themes, showcasing the artistic styles of the students. One mural depicts a political message about equality, while another depicts a flying saucer hovering over a cornfield.

“They were really self-led and they were in charge of what they wanted to illustrate,“ said Burbank High School art structure and art history teacher, Rebecca Platner, who oversaw the district-wide project. “It’s special for them to have their art in a public place.”

Shoppers are encouraged to take part in the interactive murals and post to social media, tagging #BUSDpaintsBTC.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Students and teachers alike invested a lot of their time in creating the murals, totaling about a month between the design and painting process.

“My students submitted design concepts and then we voted on them and we refined them until we got to the one we wanted to work on for the wall,” said Burbank High School visual and performing arts teacher, Jonelle Pickett.

Pickett’s advanced animation class collaborated on a 3D mural depicting a picnic with soda, fries, and a hamburger. CJ Jobelle, a junior, is one of the students who worked on the assignment.

“The overall painting took about three weeks, roughly around that. People were taking turns to paint it,” said Jobelle.

Visitors can attribute the murals to the individual classes who created them, as the school names and grade levels are provided next to each illustration.


“It’s really exciting that under Rebecca’s leadership we were able to get several schools and artists representing their talents to get visual arts into the community,” said Peggy Flynn, arts and career technical education coordinator for BUSD.

“It helps people see the power that art can have in an open space like this.”

Eventually, the wall will come down once space is rented out. Until then, visitors of the Burbank Town Center can admire the creative work of the next generation.

Providencia Students Begin Burbank Animal Shelter Reading Program

About 30 Providencia Elementary students read to dogs, cats and rabbits at the Burbank Animal Shelter after school on Tuesday, April 25.

The third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were brought by their parents to read to the animals in a program organized by third-grade teacher Kelly Ohrt and Animal Control Officer Stacie Levin-Wood.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“I love children, animals and teaching!” explained Ohrt. “I’m always trying to think of incentives to get my students reading more often. So this seemed like something they would love, plus the animals could benefit too.”

Ohrt came across this idea of students reading to shelter animals in the summer of 2016, reading reports of similar stories online. She contacted the Burbank Animal Shelter at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year and worked with the Burbank City Attorney, the Shelter and the Burbank Unified School District to get the program sorted out.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“The students and parents were very excited to have this opportunity,” said Ohrt.

“I put chairs in all of the rooms where we house animals,” said Levin-Wood. “I figured there might be some children who would be more comfortable reading to a bunny that would not bark and if they preferred cats, they could read to them instead.”

“The dogs were at peace and seemed very comfortable with the children,” added Levin-Wood. “Normally there is a lot of barking going on when kids are in the kennels, but yesterday they were zen and composed and seemed to enjoy the attention and mirrored the children’s calmness.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“I am excited to start this program on a regular basis and I have no doubt that it will benefit both the children and our animals and that’s what it should be about really.”

“As I walked around taking pics and watching the students read, I saw the empathy and caring in their faces,” Ohrt also said. “It really warmed my heart to see it.”

“The animals seemed to really enjoy it too and many were so relaxed by it that they cuddled up next to the children and fell asleep.”

“So great to witness, especially when it helped out so many of the animals at a time when they need it the most.”

Ohrt and Levin-Wood plan to continue the reading program at the Burbank Animal Shelter on a monthly basis when school resumes for the 2017-18 school year.

More information on the Burbank Animal Shelter can be found on their website.

Summer Music Soiree 2 Entertains Capacity Crowd, Raises Funds For Music Education

Young musicians from the City performed a free concert for the Burbank community at Summer Music Soiree 2 on Monday evening, September 12. Children from Providencia Elementary’s string program and local Burbank teens performed to a standing room only audience of more than 100 people at Olive Plaza.

Organized by sisters Eyén Paredes and Maya Paredes, the second annual event raised more than $1000 in donations for Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM-LA)’s programs in disadvantaged schools.

“We are so grateful to these young artists who volunteer their time to help keep music in our schools,” said ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier. “It’s inspiring to see teenagers like Maya and Eyén take the initiative to give back to their community and to be a role models for other children.”

Providencia Elementary string players. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Providencia Elementary string players. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Fifth grade students from Providencia Elementary, who participate in the string orchestra program provided by ETM-LA, opened the program with a selection of folk songs conducted by instructor Jonathan Long.

Bethany Daez, Haya Farooq, Jimena Menedez. Justin Brauer, Kayla Archuleta, Lexi Brauer, Maya  Whitton, Mia Tejeda, Samantha Cole and Yanuel Rosario from Providencia all demonstrated their growth on the violin, after picking up the instrument just one year ago.

Violinist Jessica Park, pianist Maya Paredes and cellist Claire Park - Trio Épicé from The Colburn School - perform Ravel's "Trio in a minor." (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Violinist Jessica Park, pianist Maya Paredes and cellist Claire Park – Trio Épicé from The Colburn School – perform Ravel’s “Trio in a minor.” (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson talked about the positive impact music education has on growing children and discussed the programs ETM-LA provides at the school. Lanier explained the mission of the nonprofit, which has grown to serve more than 12,000 children at 25 schools in Los Angeles County.

ETM-LA provides music teachers and programs to supplement Burbank Unified music programs at Providencia Elementary, McKinley Elementary and Washington Elementary.

Evan Lanier and Ella Jennings from Burbank also performed on violin, along with Cayla Mendoza from West Los Angeles.

Eyén Paredes and Maya Paredes play "Libertango" by Astor Piazzolla for violin and piano. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Eyén Paredes and Maya Paredes play “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla for violin and piano. (Photo by © Ross A Benson)

City of Burbank Councilmember Bob Frutos attended the concert and volunteers from Apple helped out with the event.

The inaugural Summer Music Soiree in 2015 boasted a special guest performance by Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour.

Summer Music Soiree 2 featured Trio Épicé from The Colburn School.

Comprised of pianist Maya Paredes, violinist Jessica Park and cellist Claire Park, the chamber music ensemble closed out the concert with an impassioned performance of the first movement of Maurice Ravel’s Trio in a minor.

Providencia School Receives Buddy Bench

Providencia Elementary became the second school to unveil a Buddy Bench on Friday and it was truly a team effort.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The Student Council set the plan into motion, the Burbank Public Works Department donated a surplus bus bench, city employs brought it to the campus and a local artist donated paint and worked alongside Student Council members to help apply the hues in a rainbow pattern.

Principal Jen Culbertson and the entire student body welcomed city and school officials as well as parents to the ceremony on the playground. Making a special appearance was school mascot Paws — a friendly Panther.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

A Buddy Bench is a place on the playground students can go to if they are feeling lonely, need someone to play with or just need a friend, said Rachel Little, president of the Student Council.

“When we see someone sitting on the Buddy Bench, it is our job as peace builders to go and invite them to play with us,” Rachel said.

In her speech, Rachel thanked Public Works Director Bonnie Teaford and the city manager’s office for donating the bench; city employees Bill Parish and Brad Taylor for bringing their crew to deliver and set up the bench; and local artist Paul Barach, whose son graduated from Providencia, for donating the supplies and working with the kids to paint the bench.

“One of the Student Council members mentioned that this is our legacy to the school. I hope that it is and that the bench helps people feel happy and helps them make friends for a very long time,” Rachel said.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The idea came to Rachel after she saw a story about the Buddy Benches on a morning TV news show, said Lori Little, Rachel’s mother.

When running for Student Council president in September, Rachel told fellow students in her election speech that she thought it was important to bring a Buddy Bench to the campus.

Principal Culbertson said she was proud of Rachel’s suggestion and was impressed that the project was student driven.

“The completion of this project by the Student Council really speaks well of how much our students care and just their level of compassion and empathy for other students, so it was quite impressive,” she said.

Alicia Wollerton, Student Council teacher representative, and the Student Council devoted a recent Saturday to paint the bench, Culbertson added.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Mayor Bob Frutos presented Rachel with a proclamation from the city of Burbank.

“As president of the student body, you and I have a lot in common,” Frutos told Rachel. “You represent the student body. You listen to the student body and move forward with a great idea. That’s kind of like what I do as mayor. I listen to the community and I make decisions based on the best ideas. So to honor you on behalf of the entire Burbank City Council I have a proclamation for you to show our support.”

Public Works Director Teaford had a schedule conflict and couldn’t attend the unveiling ceremony but said in a phone interview that Rachel wrote her a very nice letter explaining the program and why she thought it would be good for her school. Teaford called Culbertson to make sure she was on board with it.

“What a great program it is,” Teaford said. “I’m very impressed.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

The concrete bench was in storage at the Public Works yard. It was removed from a bus stop about 10 years ago and replaced by the new metal-style bench, she added.

“We have an administrative policy in the city that allows us to donate surplus materials to nonprofits or public schools with the okay by the city manager, which we have,” she said.

Working with Providencia Elementary School on this project was so much fun, she added.

“It took just a tiny bit of our staff’s time just to transport it because the school didn’t have any way to do that,” she said. “We would have had to transport it to a landfill or concrete recycling facility so it’s much better to see it being reused.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Attending the ceremony were schools Superintendent Matt Hill, School Board member Roberta Reynolds, Councilman Jess Talamantes and Burbank Police Officer Joshua Kendrick.

Kendrick said the Buddy Bench is a great idea on campus, but when they away from school, and they are hurting, they need only turn to their parents, teachers, police officers or mayor to receive help.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Providencia Elementary Art Gallery And Artist Reception Celebrates Young Artists

More than 80 works of visual art, musical composition, literature, dance choreography and short film were celebrated at the Providencia Elementary Art Gallery and Artist Reception held recently at the school as part of the annual PTA Reflections Art Contest.

“It is truly an honor to run the Reflections program and put on the Art Gallery and Artist Reception at Providencia!” commented PTA Reflections Chair Trichel Yee. “The creativity and artistic talent of our Providencia Students is amazing!”

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

“The vision of the Reflections program is to reflect on the theme, create and be recognized,” continued Yee. “I find great satisfaction in knowing that I am helping each participant to believe in their inner artist!”

“I imagine myself flying this airplane and becoming an astronaut when I grow up,” said second grader Jaxen Ramos in his artistic statement about his creation. “I didn’t use color because I don’t see color but am always imagining!”

Young artists and their families dressed up for a special evening of art, music, film, literature and dance and celebrated the youngsters’ accomplishments.

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

The works of art were entered in the 2015-16 National PTA Reflections Art Contest, with the theme of “Let Your Imagination Fly!” For over 40 years, the annual art contest recognizes student achievement on local, regional and national levels.

“My art relates to the theme because I have always thought of having cotton candy hair…” said third-grader Sophia Martinez-Soto in her artistic statement.

“It is exciting to see how each participant reflects on the theme and then creates!” added Yee. “It is in the creation that you can truly see into their thoughts and emotions.”

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

“My first idea was a large wave with flying butterflies,” fifth grader Lana Arana said in her artistic statement. “As I started to glue my colors my imagination grew and changed. Finally I created an underwater world with fishes swimming and a rainbow with a sunset.”

Yee started the Art Gallery in 2014 “to really recognize our artists in a real life way. I believe that school should also teach you how to behave and act once you are out of school – there is no difference with the Arts!”

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

“When an artist creates art, they show it off in an art gallery… and thus, Providencia’s Art Gallery was born!” she explained.

“White lights are hung all over in lieu of the regular hallway lighting, students and guests are encouraged to dress in semi-formal attire, Student Council members serve plated hors d’oeuvres and the crowd favorite is the sparkling cider!”

“All the artwork is on display and guests were encouraged to create a portion of the collaborative art project of Art in the Making. Squares were designed by each person and then will be put together to make one big piece of art!”

Yee’s enthusiasm and support of Providencia Elementary’s young artists bubbles over when she talks. She is already making plans for next year’s Reflections Art Gallery event.

2015-16 Providencia Elementary PTA Reflections Winners:

Primary Visual Arts

Evan Menchaca – “Brain Creation” – 1st Place

Jaxen Ramos – “Fly with Me” – 2nd Place

Valerie Linda – “My Life Under The Sea” – 3rd Place

Intermediate Visual Arts

Amy Ta – “Books Take You On Adventures With Imagination” – 1st Place

Sophia Martinez-Soto – “Cotton Candy Hair” – 2nd Place

Kayla Archuleta – “Imagination Can Take You To Unlimited Heights” – 3rd Place

Special Artist

Jeremy Rhee – “My Elevator” – 1st Place

Cristian Munoz – “The Rocket Man Will Let Your Imagination Fly With You” – 2nd Place

Cristian Munoz – “Let Your Imagination Fly Wild With Your Legos” – 3rd Place

Primary Photography

West Talvitie – “The Creeps” – 1st Place

Zander Talvitie – “Burlington Northern Cargo Train” – 2nd Place

Malachi Maurer – “Wizards Chess” – 3rd Place

Intermediate Photography

Jade Ramos – “Watch Them Fly” – 1st Place

Kayla Archuleta – “What Do You See” – 2nd Place

Keira Stamp – “Shoot For The Moon” – 3rd Place

Film Production

Mackenzie Bedford – “The Cake” – 1st Place – Primary

Owen Gersh – “The Imagination Rings” -1st Place – Intermediate

Dance Choreography

Brielle Dunn – “Folklorico Dancing” – 1st Place – Primary

Mia Tejeda – “Just Imagine” – 1st Place – Intermediate

Jimena Menendez – “Imagine You Can Fly With Your Butterfly Wings” – 2nd Place – Intermediate

Primary Literature

Jeremy Rhee – “Fountain Everywhere” – 1st Place

Lilliana Baird-Gonzalez – “Fly” -2nd Place

Music Composition

Dane Byrne – “It’s Halloween” – 1st Place

Intermediate Literature

Rachel Little – “It Was Worth It” – 1st Place

Kailynn Garcia – “Magical Back Pack” – 2nd Place

Andrea Martinez-Soto – “The Sky From Another Eye” – 3rd Place

Providencia Elementary Thanks Nickterns For New Mural

Providencia Elementary School unveiled a colorful new mural at a school-wide assembly on Thursday, April 23. School officials and students thanked Nickelodeon and its spring semester group of interns, or Nickterns, for creating the vibrant mural.

“When I found out that Providencia was selected to receive the mural I was thrilled!” commented Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson. “I relish any chance for us to work with community partners to help beautify our school.”

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

Culbertson polled staff and teachers at the school for ideas and many of the responses led to the theme of peace and good citizenship.

“We use the Peace Builders program on our campus to help students understand the importance of building peace in our school and community,” explained Culbertson. “The Peace Builders tenants teach our children how to seek wise people, give up put downs, right their wrongs, build peace.”

“We also have a program called Peaceful Playgrounds that focuses on students being involved in games, following the rules, playing safely and solving conflicts appropriately during recess and lunch.”

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

“We thought it would be neat to write the word ‘peace’ in multiple languages since Providencia’s community is quite diverse,” continued Culbertson. “Since we are one of the only elementary schools in Burbank to have a comprehensive K-5 weekly music program, we also wanted to showcase that… in some way…. as it is one of our signature practices that we are quite proud of.”

Culbertson met with Nickterns Kayla Rimes and Amit Kumar, who developed several designs with the entire group of interns. Providencia staff then voted for the winning design.

“I am so impressed with how the mural turned out. At the top it says ‘We are Peace Builders’ and the word peace is written in multiple languages,” said Culbertson. “There is a large globe painted in the center. There are kids playing on the right side. On the left side are large music notes. The background is a colorful rainbow.”

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

“The end result is amazing!  It is simple and colorful, yet the message is quite clear. Providencia students are Peace Builders,” she also said. “They learn together, they play together and they build peace together both in our school and in our community. I can’t thank the Nickterns enough for creating something that will be a part of our school for years to come.”

The 2015 spring semester group of Nickterns includes: Natasha Barredo, Lilliana Barzaga, Art Castleton, Darlene Chaves, Stephanie Degiovanni, Diem Doan, Ashley Donovan, Hayley Garden, Amelia Giller, Ben Haist, Danielle Henning, Laila Idriss, Christine Kim, Lauren Krieger, Amit Kumar, Olivia Lee, Marissa Lowry, Gizelle Orbino, Kayla Rimes, Alexis Siegel, Josh Suarez, Sonika Suri, Kelsey van der Bergh and Jarrett Wegelin.

“Throughout the week that the Nickterns were on campus working on the mural, our students would engage with them and ask tons of questions,” Culbertson added. “I found all the interns to be kind, friendly and professional.”

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

(Photo By Ross A. Benson)

The Nickterns used seven basic colors in the mural design and applied the paint with rollers and brushes. Teams of three or four people painted at a time during the week of April 13 – 17.

“It was great working with the Nickterns to create this mural,” commented Kumar, one of the Nickelodeon interns who worked on the collaborative project. “It was a true effort by all of us, including Kayla Rimes who redesigned the children on the right side of the mural and Lauren Krieger who redesigned the globe in the middle.”

“The most exciting and satisfying part of the painting process was seeing and hearing how excited the children were to see us painting,” added Kumar. “At the end of the day, we were doing it for the children and to make sure they had something they could look at every day and enjoy.”

‘Frozen’ Composer Christophe Beck Visits Providencia Elementary

Film composer Christophe Beck visited Providencia Elementary last week, talking with the school’s 400 students and performing the popular theme from his instrumental score for the Disney hit movie Frozen.

Beck showed clips from Frozen to explain to the children how a musical score brings life to a character, a scene or mood. He shared with the students that Elsa is his favorite character.

Christophe Beck performs a theme from "Frozen" for Providencia Elementary children. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA)

Christophe Beck performs a theme from “Frozen” for Providencia Elementary children. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA)

An Advisory Board member of Education Through Music – Los Angeles (ETM-LA), Beck has scored movies including Disney’s Frozen and The Muppets Movie, along with The Hangover.

“Music is a powerful force that brings our communities together,” said Beck, who has been a long-time advocate for music as a part of a child’s education.

Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA

Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA

“The entire Providencia community is so grateful to Christophe Beck for taking the time to share his expertise and to Education Through Music-LA for bringing this wonderful comprehensive music program to our school,” commented Providencia Principal Jennifer Culbertson.

Providencia Elementary gathered the most votes in an online voting contest held by ETM-LA, winning a visit by the well-known composer.

Executive Director of ETM-LA, Victoria Lanier shared, “We are grateful to Chris for championing our mission.”

Providencia Elementary Principal Jennifer Culbertson, Christophe Beck, ETM_LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier at the special assembly. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music - LA)

Providencia Elementary Principal Jennifer Culbertson, Christophe Beck, ETM_LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier at the special assembly. (Photo Courtesy of Education Through Music – LA)

All 400 students at Providencia receive weekly music classes, including instruction in violin and cello for all fourth- and fifth-graders, a result of the school’s partnership with Education Through Music-Los Angeles, Burbank Unified School District (BUSD) and VH1 Save the Music Foundation.

ETM-LA is a nonprofit organization that builds and sustains music programs for over 6000 children at elementary and middle schools throughout Los Angeles, including two elementary schools in Burbank.

Authors Visit Local Schools For Read Across America And Music Month

Children’s book authors Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka read and sang with children at Providencia and Washington Elementary schools recently as part of Read Across America Day and Music In Our Schools Month.

Alecia Spendlove reads to Providencia Elementary kindergarteners. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Alecia Spendlove reads to Providencia Elementary kindergarteners. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

On Monday morning, March 3, Spendlove and Sedaka, joined by their own children, talked with approximately 50 Kindergarteners at Providencia about the inspiration for their books. The special assembly was held during the Kindergarten students’ weekly music class, which is provided for all classes in grades K through 5 by Education Through Music – L.A. (ETM-LA.)

Later that morning, Spendlove and Sedaka also read and sang with youngsters at Washington Elementary. Grades K through 3 at Washington receive regular music classes funded by ETM-LA, in partnership with BUSD’s fourth and fifth grade music teacher to sustain as school-wide program, according to Victoria Lanier, Executive Director of ETM-LA.

Spendlove, a former model, was motivated to write her first book Alexandra Rain, for her daughter Alexandra as a way to teach “the most important thing is to be kind to others and express that from the inside.”

After first creating an app of her book and recording songs, Spendlove then published Alexandra Rain. The voice of Alexandra Rain, fourth-grader Alison Boomer, also appeared with Spendlove to read the character’s words and sing a song with the children.

Marc Sedaka and his daughter Charlotte sing along with music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and Providencia students. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Marc Sedaka and his daughter Charlotte sing along with music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and Providencia students. (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Screenwriter and author Sedaka, son of musician Neil Sedaka, worked with his father to create a children’s version of the elder Sedaka’s well-known song “Calendar Girl.” Dinosaur Pet was the result, and the book can be read and sung along to the “Calendar Girl” melody.

Sedaka was joined by his daughter Charlotte to read and sing the colorful book to the children. He also talked about working with an illustrator to create the images in the book.

“The boy in the pictures looks like my father did as a boy,” said Sedaka. He pointed out little items in the images that had a personal connection, such as the titles of the books in the illustrated bedroom are his own children’s names.

Marc Sedaka and Alecia Spendlove (front row) are joined by BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson, music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier (second row, left to right.) (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

Marc Sedaka and Alecia Spendlove (front row) are joined by BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Providencia Principal Jen Culbertson, music teacher Carrie Ann Bark and ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier (second row, left to right.) (Photo By Lisa Paredes)

“Our family time revolves around playing music and reading with our kids. Not only does this enhance their creativity, it gives them a foundation necessary to succeed,” commented Spendlove. “We see the benefits firsthand and believe that every child has the right to experience the joy of a creative, well-rounded education.”

Spendlove also donated an Alexandra Rain book to each Kindergarten and first grade classroom and the libraries at the two schools. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from sales of the book worldwide during March will go to support Providencia and Washington’s music programs, added Lanier.

ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young, Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka (back row, left to right) join their children and voice of Alexandra Rain, Alison Boomer (center) after the program. (Photo Courtesy Education Through Music - Los Angeles)

ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier, Washington Elementary Principal Brandi Young, Alecia Spendlove and Marc Sedaka (back row, left to right) join their children and voice of Alexandra Rain, Alison Boomer (center) after the program. (Photo Courtesy Education Through Music – Los Angeles)

Funny man Ed Helms Stops By Providencia Elementary for Laughs and a Lesson in Music

The multi-talented, Ed Helms (The Office, The Hangover 1 & 2, and The Lorax) visited Providencia Elementary School this week to promote music programs within the local districts.

Lonesome Trio introduces our local kids to bluegrass music. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

As an advisory board member of Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA ), Helms and
his band, “Lonesome Trio” were invited to perform for local Burbank children. The Providencia Elementary students were the recent winners of an online contest that involved 9 other schools
from surrounding areas, including other Burbank schools, Los Angeles and Compton Unified.
Lonesome Trio gave two performances and showed off their original bluegrass tunes. One performance was geared for the younger kids (K-2nd) and one for the older kids (3rd-5th).  Before the singing began, Helms introduced his band mates and explained which musical instruments they would be playing and what they were called.

(L-R) Jacob Tilov, Music Director Victoria Lanier, Ian Riggs, Principal Jennifer Culbertson. and Ed Helms (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

The first was Helms’ guitar, which all kids seemed very familiar with. The second was the soft-sounding, melodic mandolin, played by Jacob Tilove and the third and final instrument was the
deep-sounding bass, played by Ian Riggs. When Riggs walked out on stage with the giant, wooden bass the little K-2nd graders gasped and a sea of, “woahs” filled the air. The unexpected reaction from the kid-filled audience made the teachers and the trio chuckle a bit. It is all perspective; the bass was bigger than any child in the entire room. Picking up on their amazement and being the famous comedian he is, Helms quickly joked, “ After you play the bass, you can then take a nap in it”. His impromptu one-liners kept the young belly laughs rolling.

Being a smaller school, it was a huge accomplishment to win the online contest. Ten schools in total, vied for the honor to have Helms visit their school. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

Riggs gave a sample of what a bass sounds like by playing a few funky low-notes, which got the kids all snapping as if they were tiny beatniks transported from the late 1950’s.

After the quick lesson on the names of instruments, Tilov, Riggs and Helms started out with a funny song about ‘being a family, eating Cheetos and fighting about the car’. The upbeat, acoustic song made the children clap, sway back and forth, sing and laugh.  After they finished performing three kid-friendly songs, Helms opened up the floor to some questions.

During the Q & period, Helms asked if any of them had seen, “The Lorax”. When a field of tiny hands shot up in the air, he then had them guessing which character he had played. The hint was to recite

The very well-mannered students wait their turn to ask Ed Helms questions about his career in music and acting. (Photo By Deborah Dodge)

one of his lines from the movie as, the “Once-ler”. The kids all cheered once they were able to put the voice with the face.

One gregarious 5th grader raised his hand and asked the inevitable and unavoidable question, “Was it fun being in, The Hangover”? Helms sheepishly admitted he had starred in the smash adult-comedy hit, and then replied in a very humorous manner by saying, “It’s a movie none of you should know about…” This time, the adults gave a knowing laugh as most shook their heads and smiled.

He continued to discuss how music in schools is so important to children and their development. Helms shared his advice by saying, “I love to play music as you’ve just heard and I think it’s very important. It’s something you all should

(L-R) Stan Carrizosa (Superintendent), Ed Helms, Peggy Flynn (Arts Coordinator) and Tom Kissinger (Director of Elementary Education) (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

foster, work on and try to get better at. Music is something you can take with you throughout your entire life.”

When asked about the music program and how Helms got involved, Victoria Lanier, the Executive Director of ETM-LA expressed, “Our mission is to promote and provide music education in disadvantaged schools as part of the core curriculum to enhance students’ academic achievement, and creative and overall development.  As an advisory Board Member of Education Through  Music-Los Angeles, Ed Helms is a huge advocate of music education for all children and champion of our mission. This visit is a part of the vital work we do to nurture our students’ development and achievement through music –

Jacob Tilov sits down as a 5 yr-old fan thanks him for visiting his school. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

to provide quality yearlong, sequential and comprehensive music instruction to disadvantaged school as well as to inspire the children through special guest artist visits. Education Through Music-L conceived of the contest to decide which school would receive the visit, to get the school communities involved and engaged in their music programs, and to help spread the word about the mission of ensuring in-school music education for every child.”

In a world where budget cuts are unfortunately very common and music being one of the first programs to be eliminated, we as a community are thankful to ETM-LA for inviting Ed Helms and band mates, Jacob Tilove and Ian Riggs, to share their talent, time and words of wisdom with the students at Providencia Elementary School.

Film and TV and star, Ed Helms talks to our local students about the importance of music in schools. His quick-wit and improv expertise kept the kids' attention throughout the assembly.

Research has shown that music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.  Perhaps these little minds from Providencia Elementary will soon pick up an instrument and explore the musician inside each of them. I know some have already started playing and let’s hope they continue to develop their own special musical talents.

There are many reasons for students to explore the world of music: Music study changes the brain and makes kids smarter, teaches them discipline, a sense of achievement, and it’s fun! Adults can benefit from learning to play an instrument too because it helps the mind to be alert and remain active eventually helping to sharpen the memory. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

People can learn more about Education Through Music-Los Angeles’ programs by

www.facebook.com/etmla (Facebook)
@ETMLosAngeles (Twitter)

You can also check out Ed Helms’ band at:

Providencia Elementary School, ETM-LA and the very talented, Lonesome Trio pose for the camera. (Photo By Deborah Dodge)