EAST WHITTIER – Fifth-grade students at East Whittier City School District will now have the added opportunity of learning to play the piano as part of the District’s expanding music program.

The District has had a long history of implementing successful instrumental music programs. In response to the positive reception from students and parents over the years, the District expanded the programs at Hillview and Granada middle schools. The instrumental music program at East Whittier Middle School has been recognized as a nationally awarded program.

As students return to school, they can take advantage of the District’s rich Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program. VAPA instruction is available to students in kindergarten through fifth grade on a bi-weekly basis. The program consists of music, dance, art and physical education instruction. Students experience the arts through interactive dancing, singing, artwork and fitness-focused physical education lessons.

Students from Ceres, Laurel and Mulberry elementary schools spent two weeks over the summer learning from the District’s Summer STEM Academy, which began in June. The summer academy was created to expose students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math and provided them with the opportunity to become scientists – working with hands-on experiments, investigating and documenting their findings.

“The STEM academy was such a great way to get our students excited about learning in the summer,” EWCSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Support Services Gabriela Tavitian said. “The small class sizes allowed our students to engage thoroughly with the technology at hand while receiving in-depth assistance from instructors.”

Students conducted research, learned the fundamentals of coding and were able to display their engineering skills by building structures using teacher provided materials. In the area of math, students participated in highly-engaging mathematical games that were selected based on standards and concepts that are often difficult for students to grasp.

“It is our hope that by providing enriching learning opportunities, our students will be inspired to continue their educational journey well into high school, college and beyond,” EWCSD Superintendent Mary Branca said. “Our goal is to provide a culture of learning that is fun, challenging and academically fulfilling.”


EWCSDMusicSTEM1: Students explore their musical talents during a strings band class at Hillview Middle School, one of the sites of EWCSD’s expanded instrumental music programs.

EWCSDMusicSTEM2: Students in the District’s Summer STEM Academy were exposed to many fields, including engineering where they displayed their skills by building structures.