When Isobel Anthony sings, the audience takes notice: the 17-year-old performs with poise, her voice crystalline in timbre and precise in pitch. The Malibu High School junior is preparing for a summer packed with practice and performances after her recent recognition by the Music Center of Los Angeles as a 2015 Grand Prize Finalist at the Spotlight Awards – success she attributes to hard work and the supportive, quality instruction she’s received from teachers in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Anthony was one of 14 finalists recognized from 1,600 student applicants representing 450 schools across Southern California for Spotlight, a prestigious competition, scholarship and training program.
Santa Monica-Malibu Superintendent Sandra Lyon has been selected to join the Suburban School Superintendents (SSS), a prestigious national organization dedicated to improving the quality of schools. The SSS, founded 49 years ago, is limited to a 150 active superintendents from the pre-eminent suburban school districts throughout the country and strives to improve the quality of educational opportunities, programs and services for children, staff and parents in member districts. By pooling ideas and information from its membership, the organization works collaboratively to solve issues facing schools nationwide.
Students from Santa Monica High School have achieved the perfect trifecta, receiving the top three prizes in the seventh annual Sustainable Santa Monica Student Poster Contest for their artistic expression, creativity and interpretation of this year’s theme “Do More to Use Less.” Advanced Placement Environmental Science students Valerie Young, Yanjun Li and Anastasia Khromova were awarded grand prize, second place and honorable mention for creating posters that addressed the question “How can you raise awareness about the drought and cut back water use by 20 percent?” The Samohi students were recognized at the Sustainability Student Poster Contest Awards Ceremony and Celebration on May 27, hosted at the Annenberg Community Beach House.
Some 350 seventh-graders at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified’s Lincoln Middle School were interviewed by professionals and community members this week on the theme, “What is a Worthwhile Life?” as a way to prompt the students to reflect on important decisions in their academic and personal futures. In its 24th year at Lincoln, the year-end Worthwhile Life interviews connect students to cross-curricular topics and themes encountered throughout seventh grade. The students were interviewed for 15 minutes on May 21 and 22 by 50 local college professors, Rand researchers, former teachers and students, local business people, and Santa Monica-Malibu Unified administrators and board members, among others.
SMMEF to Host Pier Party, Strives to Meet $4 Million Fundraising Goal
The Santa Monica–Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) is getting closer to its fundraising goal of $4 million for the 2015-16 school year. To reach that mark ahead of its June 30 deadline, SMMEF is hosting its second annual Pier Party at Pacific Park on the world-famous Santa Monica Pier. The Sunday, April 26 event, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., is open to Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) families and friends only. It will feature food, rides, games and other entertainment. SMMEF funds innovative education and enrichment programs for SMMUSD students. The Foundation has raised $2 million thus far. For more information, visit www.smmef.org.
SaMoHi Trio’s Cigarette Butt Project Advances to State Science Fair
Three Team Marine members from Santa Monica High School who were awarded first place at the Los Angeles County Science Fair will compete at the state level on Monday, May 18 and Tuesday, May 19 at the California Science Center. Martin Liu, Kimberly Fuentes and Zoe Parcells placed first in the county fair out of 16 teams in the Environmental Management category for a project examining short- and long-term cigarette accumulation rates for seven major streets over one year. The students – who also ran two beach collections that suggested significant storm drain transportation of cigarette butts from the streets – picked up more than 40,000 cigarettes. They hope to lobby Santa Monica City Hall to enact laws to reduce public smoking and prevent butts from entering the ocean. Photos are available.
More than 300 children and their families attended the ninth annual Noche de Cesar Chavez at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified’s Edison Language Academy on March 20, sharing stories about the school’s annual trip to bring supplies to Mexican orphanages and listening to a second-grade concert celebrating the Mexican-American labor activist’s legacy. The school took a busload of students and their families to spend a day with the children – reading, playing, doing arts and crafts, and sharing a meal. Second-graders worked for six weeks with the school’s choral music teacher to write a song about Chavez, which was featured in the evening’s concert.
Every day, students at John Adams Middle School they take a moment to stop, breathe and practice presence. The sixth- through eighth-graders at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified school are participating in a Mindfulness Program, which is a part of SMMUSD’s initiative to enhance school climates at all sites. The program, a District pilot, not only seeks to teach students how to be focused, calm and present, but also provides a community building component that affects the whole campus, including teachers and staff. Mindfulness is a practice rooted in techniques like meditation and controlled breathing. The idea is to calm the mind and its tendency to make quick judgments or reactions so that respectful and effective responses emerge. The results are heightened awareness, reduced stress or anxiety and a boost in overall academic performance.
SMMUSD Elementary Students Score Top Honors at Math Olympiad
Grant Elementary School students celebrated Pi Day in style, taking third place at the eighth annual Los Angeles County-wide Fourth and Fifth Grade Math Olympiad Tournament, held March 14 in Culver City. It was Grant’s fourth appearance and its first top-three finish, providing a triumphant outcome after weeks of rigorous training. Grant fifth-grader Susan Slavonia also won a third-place individual trophy. Grant was one of four SMMUSD elementary schools – along with Webster, Edison and Muir – to compete against 25 Los Angeles County schools in the Olympiad, an exacting competition where students work independently and as a team in a race to solve complex mathematical problems.
Malibu High School Orchestra players spend years perfecting their craft – working tirelessly to bring the stirring harmonies of Holst and Vivaldi to life. Now, those efforts have earned the group an opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall through the prestigious Manhattan Concert Productions’ Symphonic Series Residency and Performance Program. The residency – to be scheduled late in the 2015-16 school year – will bring MHS orchestra members to New York to attend a series of workshops, confer with professional musicians and perform on Carnegie Hall’s world-famous Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ron O. Perelman Stage. The group learned of its acceptance in a quick two weeks, and now will embark on a fund-raising campaign to pay for the journey.
SMMUSD Theatre Arts Presents ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Musical
Frank Baum’s beloved classic “The Wizard of Oz” musical is being brought to life by two talented casts of Santa Monica High School’s theater, choir, orchestra, band and dance students in seven performances at Barnum Hall this month. Santa Monica-Malibu elementary students have been cast as munchkins. The final three shows will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, and at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21. General admission is $16; students are $10. Tickets can be purchased at www.samohitheatre.org or at the door prior to show times, while tickets are still available. Barnum Hall is at 6001 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica.
Follow-up Story: Santa Monica High School’s Jazz Band 2 took first place in its division at the 42nd annual Western States Jazz Festival, held Feb. 28 at Upland High School, while the school’s Jazz Combo earned "superior" ratings and placed second overall and Jazz Band 1 earned a score of 84 in the competition’s highest division. One of the longest-running jazz festivals in the region, the Western States Jazz Festival unofficially kicks off jazz fest season and provides an excellent forum for students of music from all across the region to perform among other stellar musicians. The SaMoHi Jazz Program is a dual enrollment program with Santa Monica College, meeting twice weekly after school.
Whether they're conducting interviews of school employees to address a school system issue, analyzing turtles and owls to figure out how to keep bicyclists safe, creating self-operating machines that depict a historical story, or developing a video game to encourage peers to live a healthy lifestyle, students at John Muir Elementary in Santa Monica have embarked on a unique, hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program. Developed together with the Exploratory, a local District partner, the eight-week series aims to teach children to use their natural curiosity to take risks, learn from mistakes and dive into exploration in order to be able to produce imaginative solutions to tomorrow's challenges.