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Autumn Art Soirée Raises Funds To Support Creativity In Burbank Public Schools

More than 350 people attended Burbank Arts For All Foundation’s Autumn Art Soirée on Saturday, November 3. Visitors to the fundraiser purchased a variety of pieces from the hundreds of prints, sculptures and original works of art on display. Proceeds from the event support the Foundation’s mission to help fund arts-related programs in Burbank public schools.

In previous years, the Foundation held the Secret Art Show, which showcased miniature works of art by everyone in the community from students to celebrities to professional animators and artists. Once a specific piece of art was purchased, the artist was revealed to the buyer.

For 2018, the Foundation changed things up a bit, partnering with two local art organizations, ACME Archives, Ltd, and Burbank Art Association, to provide art for purchase at the event. Pieces were available for $40 and upwards and the artist of each work was identified.

Photo by © Ross A Benson

“We are grateful to have partners like ACME Archives, Burbank Art Association, and our host, the Burbank Town Center, to support our fall fundraising event,” commented Foundation Executive Director Trena Pitchford. “Our mission is strengthened by the community’s support and we look forward to putting these critical funds to work in the coming year.”

“As a Burbank based, multi-national, small business we at ACME were very proud to be a part of the Autumn Art Soirée,” commented Lisa McLain, President and CEO of ACME Archives, Ltd. “We met a lot of great people from the community and had a wonderful time being part of such worthwhile event.”

“We do events all over the world and I can say without a doubt, Trena and her staff were one of the most organized and dedicated groups we’ve worked with. A big thanks to her and her team.”

Photo by © Ross A Benson

The Burbank Town Center hosted the event in the former Sport Chalet space, with the Foundation’s team putting in the work to transform the vacant space into a “fun, funky lounge party,” according to Pitchford.

“Burbank Town Center is proud to support the Burbank Arts for All Foundation and is always looking for creative ways to partner with the organization,” said Michael I. de Leon, General Manager of the Burbank Town Center.

“We are grateful they chose our venue to host the Autumn Art Soirée, and truly transformed the event space to make it their own.  We look forward to supporting and continuing to create unique events with them in the years to come.”

Photo by © Ross A Benson

Wine donated by Whole Foods and craft beer donated by Lincoln Beer Company added to the event, along with hors d’oeuvres served by Sandra’s Traveling Kitchen. Live music was performed by Burbank High’s Jazz Ensemble.

Live art demos were provided by American Master Carbon-Pencil Artist and 2012 ArtPrize winner, Adonna Khare, veteran illustrator, painter and storyteller Cliff Cramp, ceramicist and instructor Michael Hirsh and fine art painter, director and designer Guy Vasilovich.

While Burbank Unified School District has the Arts For All plan, the Burbank Arts For All Foundation is a separate nonprofit entity with its own staff. The similarity in name has caused some confusion, among parents, the community and the media, over the years, as the BUSD Arts For All plan has grown the arts within the district since its adoption in 2004.

Photo by © Ross A Benson

Since 2006, the Foundation has raised funds to run the nonprofit from events held throughout the year. To date, the Foundation has awarded approximately $544,000 in grants.

Teachers and administrators from within Burbank Unified are able to write grants requesting one-time funds for specific programs, such as building mini golf courses in middle school geometry class or supporting elementary school plays. In October 2017, the Foundation donated $10,000 to the BUSD Music Is Instrumental campaign to repair and replace instruments district-wide.

The funds from the Foundation are typically just one of the sources of funding that teachers draw from to enrich their classes and students with arts and creativity. Generally, school site funds and BUSD Arts For All plan funds support most of the arts related programs throughout Burbank Unified.

The Foundation provides a vital role in funding arts enrichment for everything from math, science and CTE (Career Technical Education) classes to language arts, social studies and the arts.

Adding creativity components and the arts to academic and STEM classes increases engagement and interest for students, according to numerous reports that have been published over the years, while promoting innovation, communication, collaboration and design-thinking.

Photo by © Ross A Benson

More information on the impact and work of the Foundation, along with their upcoming events, can be found on their website.

As of publication time, the net amount raised by the Autumn Art Soirée for the Foundation was not yet available.

United States Congressman Adam Schiff, State Assemblymember Laura Friedman, BUSD Board of Education Clerk Steve Frintner and Burbank’s Vice Mayor Sharon Springer attended the Autumn Art Soirée, along with members of the community including students, actors, artists, parents and business leaders. Board of Education member Charlene Tabet volunteered at the event along with several other students, parents and community members.


St. John Paul II Academy Will Replace Bell-Jeff High in 2019

After 74 years, Bellarmine-Jefferson High School has officially closed its doors. However, the building will soon take on a new life as “St. John Paul II STEM Academy at Bellarmine-Jefferson” starting August 2019.

Kevin Baxter, superintendent of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, revealed the plans last Tuesday when he announced the hiring of founding director, Jeff Hilger.

The Academy will incorporate STEM, a curriculum that includes science, technology, engineering, and math.

Most classes will be co-educational but there will also be some gender-specific courses. According to research, Baxter claims single-gender learning can be a more effective way of teaching in some subjects.

Although there will not be any major remodels to the campus over the next year, maintenance upgrades will be made along with some aesthetic redesigns.

Hilger also hopes to add an engineering room, a media arts center, and a music room.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese expects an inaugural freshman class of 60 students. They currently plan to add a new grade level annually, until the student body reaches 400-500 students in 2022-23.

The school’s name comes from St. John Paul II, a pope who visited Los Angeles in 1987, and returned to the United States multiple times throughout his career. Until now, there hasn’t been a school named after him.

Baxter hopes the Academy will provide the community with an affordable private Catholic school experience.

Bellarmine-Jefferson High School is located on 465 E. Olive Ave.

Muir Middle School STEM Event Features JPL Scientists

More than 600 students participated in a John Muir Middle School STEM Outreach activity with six scientists and engineers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Friday, October 13.

The students, from science classes in grades six through eight, attended the event and rotated through several stations focused on various aspects of space study and exploration.

muir middle school stem

Muir Middle School students experience a 15′ high inflatable planetarium. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Muir Middle School STEM activities included discussions and interactive experiences on: Exoplanets, Venus Lander Concept, Curiosity Rover, Juno Spacecraft and the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover and Europa Clipper missions, according to Muir parent and JPL employee Nga Vu-Lintag.

The JPL scientists and engineers also “brought the Mars Curiosity 8 wheel rover prototype to ‘run’ kids over and a 15-foot Planetarium where students got to experience what it feels like to visit other planets, stars and galaxies,” explained Vu-Lintag.

“This activity provided an opportunity for students to engage with real scientists and engineers who do one-of-a kind missions and are passionate about what they do, and love sharing it with our youth,” she added. “Hopefully it sparked an interest in one of the fields of STEM.”

muir middle school stem

The Mars Curiosity 8 wheel rover prototype rolls over Muir Middle School students at the school’s STEM Outreach event.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Teresa Lamb Simpson, a representative from Congressman Adam Schiff’s office, also attended the Muir Middle School STEM Outreach event.

“It was so wonderful to have researchers and scientists here at Muir from JPL,” commented Muir Principal Greg Miller.

“While many of the students were buzzing about the planetarium and the rover, the best conversation I heard was between two students during lunch discussing different ways that moisture can be found in the universe and how important that is to space travel and colonization,” he also said. “That is a conversation of future scientists that will set out to find answers, just like the scientists that they saw today.”


Congressman Adam Schiff Observes Bret Harte STEM Lessons

Congressman Adam Schiff stopped by Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, October 5, to observe a fourth-grade classroom science lesson and see the growing Science Lab at the school.

Teacher Alicia Boylan, who teaches both fourth- and fifth-grades, taught a mechanical engineering lesson about the invasion of the cane toad into an indigenous ecosystem, to 29 fourth-graders.

The students then created a device to capture a toad using materials such as dominos, paper towel tubes and cotton balls. The catch and release concept was applied to relocate non-native animals, explained Principal Martha Walter.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“I enjoyed spending the morning with the bright and inquisitive fourth grade students of Bret Harte Elementary. It was exciting to see teachers put STEM education into practice in the classroom, as the students worked on engineering projects – traps for an invasive species of toad,” commented Schiff. “Students were learning to practically apply their knowledge in innovative ways and having fun in the process!”

Boylan credits a three-day NTSA Conference in Long Beach with opening her eyes to new possibilities for her students with STEM/STEAM lessons and NEXTGEN Science Standards.

“I began digging into Engineering and Computer Science to see how I could integrate these into my day. STEAM [Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics] blends so well with the Common Core Standards and I’ve seen the difference in my students,” Boylan added. “They are problem solvers and critical thinkers now, not just bubble filling robots on multiple choice tests.”

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“I thought the Congressman was very engaged with the students and seemed to genuinely care about what they were learning,” commented Boylan. “He was also knowledgeable about how important computer science, technology, science, engineering, and math are in today’s school.”

Over the summer, some Bret Harte teachers started work to turn a bungalow on campus into a Science Lab, but more funding is necessary to realize the teachers’ ideas.The dedicated science space provides teachers and students with hands-on activities to explore science lessons and concepts, according to Walter.

“Hopefully, in the future we will be able to have a real working Science Lab filled with the necessary equipment to conduct the experiments in the NEXTGEN standards!” Boylan said.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Boylan also teaches block-based coding with code.org and has started a Coding Club after school so that she can reach all interested students.

“Too many students are graduating high school without the computer science and engineering skills to compete in today’s job market,” Boylan said. “I think they need to be exposed to it in school, especially elementary!”

“The Bret Harte staff is beginning to implement the Next Generation Science Standards through concept development and experimentation,” said Walter. “As a school, staff work to instill in children an excitement about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).”

“Early exposure to and experience with STEM content ensures that students will be able to create and become the kinds of innovative thinkers needed today and in the future,” she added. “As a school, we are grateful for Representative Schiff’s interest in and support of STEM/STEAM initiatives and pleased to have this opportunity for him to see our young inventors in action.”

Burbank Schools Develop Digital Media And Manufacturing Programs

Burbank city and school officials, along with executives from Burbank studios, attended the Verdugo Creative Technology Consortium (VCTC) reception Wednesday, October 29, at Glendale Community College.

The event celebrated the recent announcement of a six million dollar grant from the State of California to fund development of digital media and manufacturing programs for area students.

“We are collaborating with local industry leaders to develop pathway programs that prepare students for workforce needs in digital media and digital manufacturing fields,” said Dr. David Viar, president of Glendale Community College.

Eric Simkin (mOcean), Carrie Brown (BAFA), John Paramo (BUSD), Zita Lefebvre (Cartoon Network), Peggy Flynn (BUSD), Lisa Rawlins (Warner Bros.), Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz (BUSD), Charlene Tabet (Board of Education), Sharon Cuseo (BUSD), Burbank City Manager Mark Scott, Kimberley Clark (BUSD), Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon and Dave Kemp (Board of Education) celebrate the kick off of the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Eric Simkin (mOcean), Carrie Brown (Burbank Arts For All Foundation), John Paramo (BUSD), Zita Lefebvre (Cartoon Network), Peggy Flynn (BUSD), Lisa Rawlins (Warner Bros.), Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz (BUSD), Charlene Tabet (Board of Education), Sharon Cuseo (BUSD), Burbank City Manager Mark Scott, Kimberley Clark (BUSD), Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon and Dave Kemp (Board of Education) celebrate the kick off of the Verdugo Creative Technologies Consortium.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We need local entertainment and manufacturing companies to provide mentors, internships and a variety of other opportunities that allow our students to develop new skills, expand their list of achievements and build relationships with professionals,” he added.

Burbank Mayor Dr. David Gordon, City Manager Mark Scott and City Treasurer Debbie Kukta joined BUSD Superintendent Dr. Jan Britz, Board of Education members Charlene Tabet, Dave Kemp and president Dr. Roberta Reynolds and BUSD administrators at the event.

They were joined by Lisa Rawlins from Warner Bros. Studios, Zita Lefebvre from Cartoon Network and Eric Simkin of mOcean. Those movie and digital media studios, along with Nickelodeon Animation Studios have agreed to partner with Burbank Unified School District in developing classes that teach skills necessary for the twenty-first century workplace.

Burbank Unified’s Director of Instruction and Accountability Sharon Cuseo detailed more of Burbank schools and businesses partnership with the VCTC in an previously published interview with myBurbank.

Eric Simkin of mOcean, Lisa Rawlin of Warner Bros. Studios and Zita Lefebvre of Cartoon Network partner with Burbank Unified School District to develop tech and arts savvy classes. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Eric Simkin of mOcean, Lisa Rawlin of Warner Bros. Studios and Zita Lefebvre of Cartoon Network partner with Burbank Unified School District to develop tech and arts savvy classes. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Cuseo organized the Burbank part of the VCTC partnership, while Robert Mejia from the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board (VWIB) put the entire grant application together. BUSD and VWIB joined Glendale Unified School District, California State University at Northridge and Glendale Community College to create the VCTC.

“Last night was a great kick off for the work we want to do as a consortium,” commented Cuseo. “It gives us the opportunity to establish greater partnerships between all the partners and the community.”

“The potential for Burbank students and local business is exciting,” she added.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has been a popular buzzword in education for years. Recently, many educators and businesses have emphasized the need for an Arts, or creative, component to learning, technology and manufacturing, making the buzzword now STEAM.

“Technical skills applied creatively generate the kinds of innovation that sustain local economic development,” Viar also said. “Our goal is not to ask high school students to declare their life long career at 14. Instead our goal is to provide students with foundational skills that enable them to make choices.”

BAFA Forum Examines Arts, Sciences And Technology Future

Burbank Arts For All Foundation (BAFA) presented another in its series of Creative Circles Forums with “Arts Education + Technology: Experts Explore Innovation In Burbank Schools” on Monday, February 24. The BAFA forum discussed the importance of Art and Design as crucial aspects of education, to be included along with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM.)

The advent of the nationwide Common Core standards will support the recent emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, Mathematics.) Art and design concepts add innovation to the STEM subjects and many experts point to creativity as the way to keep America and its economy growing.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tom Vice, Amy Heibel, Joe Reed and Dr. Ewan Branda converse. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The BAFA forum brought together Fotokem Senior Vice President Tom Vice, Luther Middle School science teacher Joe Reed. LACMA’s VP of Techonology, Web and Digital Media Amy Heibel and Woodbury University’s Associate Professor of Architecture and Coordinator of History-Theory Curriculum Dr. Ewan Branda.

Falcon Theatre owner Garry Marshall kicked off the conversation and welcomed the audience with a humorous opener. Moderated by Steven Mallory, Director of Ideation at Edelman Public Relations, the goal of the forum was to create conversation between educators and organizations and businesses from throughout the city about the connection of the arts and technology in the schools.

Falcon owner Garry Marshall welcomed all to his theatre prior to the panel talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Falcon owner Garry Marshall welcomed all to his theatre prior to the panel talk. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The panel discussed the major changes in art, science, business, education and culture in general brought about by widespread use of technology.

“We’re seeing a huge shift in people as makers of culture, not just consumers of culture,” commented Heibel, who is working on an arts and technology lab installation to be unveiled at LACMA in the coming year. “We are seeing artists who are technologists or who collaborate with technologists.”

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Vice mentioned the major changes in image and movie technology over the past eight years, switching the industry standard from film to digital media, and shifting the services Fotokem offers from film finishing and development to include software creation for the production community.

The changes Fotokem has undergone mirrors the creative and artistic changes happening throughout in K-12 and post-secondary education. The skills and talents young people must possess for entry into the contemporary business and creative worlds go hand-in-hand with the continuing advances in technology.

Reed mentioned the successful Luther Mobile project from 2013, built by students in his Exploring Technology elective class at the local middle school. The lab class uses concepts from applied physics, microbiology and robotics, among other fields, along with technology and creative skills to rebuild an engine-based project every year.

The computer interaction along with the hands-on work inspires kids to innovate, Reed said. He went on to describe one student’s persistence in outfitting an old BMX bike with a motor and making the contraption work.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tom Vice, Amy Heibel, Joe Reed, Dr. Ewan Brands, BAFA Director of Development Trena Pitchford and moderator Steven Mallory. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While technology has provided labor-saving help with calculations and digital drawing, on the creative side of things, the digital tools also help determine the building’s ultimate design based on plugged-in factors including dimensions and needs, said Branda.

All four panelists agreed that whatever the advancements may be in creating and technology, the ability to work with other people and differing personalities has become paramount. Reed pointed to the building of executive functioning skills – determining the end goal and then planning the steps to achieve that goal – as something he’s working on with his middle school students.

Branda mentioned testing early and failing early as hallmarks in any process, be it in building, science, production or art. He also talked about the recent rise in design-your-own games and the distinction between being a passive consumer of media and using technology to create something new.

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

John Muir Middle School Principal Dr. Greg Miller speaks with forum attendees.(Photo by Ross A. Benson)

While STEAM has become the new buzzword to move America forward, in education and business, the innovative and creative aspects of technology also help engage students in science, math and engineering fields. An artistic approach and application can make the technical fields a lot more fun, the panelists agreed.

Monday evening’s event was sponsored by Fotokem and held in front of a full house, with members of the BUSD School Board, BAFA, City government, BUSD teachers and administrators, parents and students present. Members of the local business community and creative media industry were also in attendance. At a post-discussion reception in the Falcon Theatre lobby, panelists and attendees continued to talk about the future of technology and the arts in Burbank schools.

BAFA Board Members and Guest Panelist . ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)

BAFA Board Members and guest panelists. ( Photo by Ross A. Benson)