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 North County Students Getting a Taste of the Arts

Students from the three North County schools are getting to sample various art forms thanks to a partnership with the California Center for the Arts Escondido. 

Approximately 100 students from Innovations Academy, North County Technology and Science Academy, and Reflections North received five weeks of instruction in music, visual art, and photography this past fall through the center’s “Taste of the Arts” program. During the one to two hours of instruction, students played the African drums and created portraits using spray paint. 

“I enjoyed learning about drawing and sketching,” said one Reflections student. “I would like to continue to learn more about these techniques. It helps me to express my feelings and I can create things that are meaningful to me."

Based on students’ feedback, the art and music programs will continue for several weeks this year and will build on the techniques learned in earlier lessons. 

“Art is fun, and it gives me something positive to do,” said another Reflections student. 

The program culminates in an exhibition at each school site, where students showcase the artistic process and student outcomes. It also demonstrates students have worked individually and collectively in order to produce an artistic body of work.

JCCS’s VAPA technician Amanda Wallace secured the opportunity and coordinates with principals and teachers to implement the program, which is funded through a mix of grants and other SDCOE funds. 

Valentina Mills’ students at Reflections are participating in the program. 

Last year, Mills’ students were voluntarily coming on Saturdays to work on art projects so she knew her students would be perfect for the opportunity. 

“It’s a great vehicle for students to express themselves, to work together and appreciate one another,” Mills said. “It’s such a personal thing – there is no right or wrong answer.”

Making available specialized arts programs and opportunities like this to students is part of JCCS’s Local Control and Accountability Plan, and Wallace has been instrumental in making them available to JCCS students across the county. She is an active member of the arts community and her relationships with industry professionals have helped bring more arts opportunities to JCCS students. 

“I know the power of community and art, and how it can be life-changing,” Wallace said. Adding that that her own involvement in theater at an early age saved her from going down the wrong path. 

“I believe art is so important to ALL students, but specifically JCCS students because many of the young people I speak to feel valued through the arts.  The arts allow students to achieve success by celebrating who they are as individuals, regardless of the factors that brought them here.”