Paramount, CA – Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith spontaneously joined the Zamboni Middle School band for a jam session on Jan. 17, banging away at the drums to the delight of an assembly of students in the school’s gymnasium.

Smith shared the joy of music with the Zamboni students and encouraged them to pursue their passions during the special visit. Smith, who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is serving as a Turnaround Artist mentor to Zamboni as part of the Turnaround Arts: California program, which provides support for arts in select schools.

“I started playing the drums when I was 7, but I really got serious about them in middle school,” Smith said. “Finding something I was passionate about pushed me to do well in school. Being an artist can inspire you in all areas of your life.”

Smith was welcomed to the campus by performances from Zamboni’s band and cheer squads. He then made visits to social studies, English language arts, intermediate art and dance classrooms. The classes provided demonstrations to show Smith how they are using the arts to fuel school change. The dance class put on a tap dance show.

Smith urged students to keep performances light and fun because a crowd will always feed off of their energy.

“He was a very fun and cool person,” seventh-grader Isabella Miranda said. “He told us that self-expression is very important and to stay creative. It was cool that even though he’s a celebrity he still cares about us.”

The event concluded with an assembly that featured a brief show from the school band. Smith offered a few remarks before taking questions from students who were interested to know why he was drawn to the drums and how they helped him learn discipline.

Smith said he plans to return to the school in May when Zamboni premiers a performance of the musical “Annie.”

“We are so thankful to Chad Smith for taking the time to experience the arts with our students,” PUSD Superintendent Ruth Pérez said. “Today was a day our children will always remember and may very well spark some of them to pursue their own passions.”

Zamboni was accepted into the Turnaround Arts: California program in spring 2018, allowing it to hire a full-time dance instructor and expand performing arts.

“Our participation in the Turnaround Arts program has introduced our students to so many new experiences that will help them define their own paths to success,” PUSD Board President Carmen Gomez. “I’m excited to see where the program leads our students next.”


012219_PARAMOUNT_CHADSMITH: Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith poses with dance students at Zamboni Middle School. Smith visited the school on Jan. 17 to inspire students in music, visual arts and dance classes.