Inside Out Community Arts at Loma Alta

on April 4, 2021

Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA), an Extended Learning program of P.S. ARTS, is now working with Loma Alta Park in Altadena, serving youth ages 12 – 18. The program is currently featured on the Loma Alta InstagramLive @ourspotlomaalta. IOCA focuses on empowering underserved middle school youth with the tools, confidence, and inspiration to make a positive difference in their lives and their communities through the arts. Below is an update from Francisco Uribe, Inside Out Community Arts Program Assistant, on what’s been going with Loma Alta.


Recently at Loma Alta, the Teaching Artists Goreti, Tyee, and Aubrey showed how to bring a character’s physicality to life, using only your voice and props that are around the house. In an articulation exercise, Tyee showed how to beatbox. He started off by saying the phrase, “Baby Ketchup and Buttercup,” and then he made everyone else repeat the phrase but without pronouncing any of the vowels. To demonstrate the structure of a story, the Teaching Artists brought to life the story of Goldilocks, where Monique from Loma Alta played the part of Goldilocks, and surprising us all, Tyee played the part of the porridge.


Thank you for the update, Francisco! Stay tuned for more news about IOCA and Loma Alta as programming continues.

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P.S. ARTSInside Out Community Arts at Loma Alta

I Have a Voice

on March 17, 2021

P.S. ARTS is pleased to present The Lennox Inside Out Online Culmination Video! This video includes information on P.S. ARTS’ Inside Out Community Arts program, family interviews, an inspirational introduction titled The Women Are Coming, and post-show feedback from audience members. The presentation centers on the original play I Have A Voice which was written and performed by middle school students: Alyssa A., Elizabeth A., Cassandra B., Nevaeh G., Valerie L., Jasmine L., Keiry M., Sarah P., Yocelyn R., and Meriyen T.

I Have a Voice is a mix of pre-recorded videos and live theater around the topic of women’s rights, created and performed by students at Lennox Middle School. During the first half of their IOCA program there, students learned the basics of theatre including improvisation, acting, and creating characters. They also learned about conflict resolution and character motivation, and how these elements help build a story. The performance was a culmination of all of the theatre skills they learned over the four month program. Students also participated in Family Workshops on the weekends to create art with family members, who also contributed to the presentation.

In the second half of the session, the students embarked on their own creative process of writing an original play. The adult IOCA Artist Leaders do not assign play topics or write the content. Each play was created directly from observations or experiences in the young performers’ lives. These plays are the culmination of an incredible amount of dedication, hard work, and commitment by each and every Inside Out community member.

Special thanks to all the students who participated in the program with respect, courage, accountability, and commitment.  Also, a special thanks to the parents and families for their support to have Inside Out continue in their home during the school closure.  And another special thanks to the Lennox LEAP staff, Mr. Eddie Garcia, Ms. Fabiola Martin, Ms. Rosa Vasquez, Mr. Bryan Sanchez, and the Lennox School District! Enjoy the full presentation through this link.

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P.S. ARTSI Have a Voice

Jose Medrano Velazquez Found Courage Through IOCA

on November 22, 2019

Jose Medrano Velazquez is an Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) alum who is now on their way to becoming an artist leader. IOCA is our after school theatre program that teaches students how to write their own plays, design sets, and perform their original works. We asked Jose to share more about how they found confidence and courage through IOCA and how they continue to use those lessons in their personal work.

Courage is powerful not only for you, but for inspiring others to be just as strong.

Who are you? Tell us about yourself! What do you do at Inside Out?

Hey there! My name is Jose Medrano Velazquez, and I’ve been with Inside Out Community Arts for nine amazing years. I was a student in the program at John Adams Middle School, a volunteer mentor throughout high school, a camp (and sometimes on-site) volunteer throughout college, and will be starting my artist leader training very soon. In middle school I was bullied on a daily basis and Inside Out was my escape—it provided a safe space for me to feel comfortable expressing myself and my creativity. It’s through my many years in Inside Out that I’ve gained confidence in myself and passion for the arts. I currently make/perform synthpop music and artwork under the stage name Lost Angeles and will be graduating with a B.A. in theatre arts from Cal State Northridge this fall. I’m also a member of the queer-Latinx community and believe that I have an obligation to create visibility and empowerment throughout both my art and daily life. In my opinion, the arts and creative self-expression are the keys to both personal liberation and meaningful human connection.

Share a little bit about your experience as an Inside Out student.

As a student of Inside Out in middle school, I was given an opportunity that people from my socioeconomic background typically don’t get to have. It was a massive privilege. I’ve always been an extremely creative and artistic person but never really had a proper avenue or resources to nurture that side of me. Inside Out’s curriculum is so great because it’s rooted in theatre and gives you the chance to explore many forms of art — from creative writing and poetry to painting flats and making props. For many of us who’ve been through the program, Inside Out was our first chance at being on a real stage and part of a production. I’ve since learned that, regardless of what the art form is, I truly thrive and belong on a stage and in the spotlight…as narcissistic as that may sound. Inside Out helped me realize I have something to say and my opinions and stories matter.

What is it like to be a part of the program now as an adult? How do you feel about working with students from your middle school?

Going from being a mentor to an adult volunteer has been an interesting and rewarding shift. When you’re in high school, the middle school students might not always take you as seriously because you’re closer to their age and you might have even been in the program together at one point. Luckily, I feel like I’ve always been pretty great at connecting with the students and having them see me as someone they can have fun with and laugh with but also be respectful to and listen to. The older I get the more I start being called “teacher” or “mister,” which definitely feels weird, especially since most of us in art like going by our first names. Although the cool thing about that is because I’m genderqueer I’ve taught some of the kids who feel uncomfortable calling me by my first name to call me “Mx. Jose” (pronounced mix Jose, Mx. being a gender-neutral prefix). Students from John Adams Middle School are the ones I get along with best, of course, because there’s always that school pride and comfort in working with someone who comes from where you come from and went through what you went through.

Tell us about your personal work and how it affects your work with Inside Out.

So it’s no surprise that I’m openly queer and proud of it. I strongly believe in the value of being your authentic self and that if you have the privilege to safely be out and open — it will inspire others. Although of course I can’t and don’t try to force my beliefs on others, Inside Out students consistently empower me and remind me how important it is for me to be as visible as I am. I’ve had so many students tell me every single year that they feel very comfortable being themselves around me and that I’ve inspired them to be more bold and courageous as individuals. To inspire bravery is something I take very seriously and am very honored to be able to do. My music isn’t too political but all my work is meant to create visibility and center the queer-Latinx community specifically. My whole lifestyle is centered around the idea of empowerment through visibility and kindness, so of course it reflects in everything I do. Unfortunately, it’s not always safe for every individual to express themselves as they’d like to, but if they see one person in the room who’s just like them — one person who they can look up to, someone who makes them think “one day I can be as free as they are,” — THAT. That’s powerful. That changes lives.

It makes me really proud to see the students grow and know that I played a role in helping them feel more confident and courageous.

What are some consistent sources of inspiration for you/your artwork?

My music and artwork draw inspiration from so many places. I grew up listening to oldies in my mom’s car and singing along to “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” with her. My dad and my Aunt Lety are also huge 80s heads, and I grew up surrounded by new wave pop and the sounds of The Cure, Soft Cell, Michael Jackson, and also freestyle music like Debbie Deb. I’m also really obsessed with dark industrial heavily synth-based music like Gesaffelstein. Also throw into the mix my huge pop obsession — I’m a major fan of Lady Gaga and spent my childhood loudly blaring the words to every single Hilary Duff song. I’ve often explained my music as “Bacchanalian synth death.” It has that crazy, dark primal energy with a danceable, colorful neo-80s synth flair and catchy but often complex pop songwriting. I also operate from the point of view of a “demon angel” sort of world that’s a reflection of my life experiences. I love Halloween and am into spooky occult and gothic vibes, but I am also influenced by my Catholic upbringing and both renaissance and baroque artwork and architecture. I also love science fiction and retros 80s aesthetics — I think two of my biggest inspirations in terms of film are Fifth Element and Constantine. I often use religious and sci-fi motifs in my work.

If Inside Out students can have one takeaway from the Inside Out Program, what would you like it to be?

If Inside Out students can have one take away from the program…as corny as it sounds — THE LOW DOWN IS FACTS. Courage, respect, and accountability are major keys to helping you in all aspects of life, regardless of whether you continue to pursue the arts or not. I think courage is the biggest one. Inside Out is going to challenge you a lot and you’re not going to fully reap the benefits without courage, and when you finally let go and give it your absolute best — it’s SO rewarding. Courage is powerful not only for you, but for inspiring others to be just as strong. It’s contagious. The ultimate takeaway is to not underestimate yourself; if you’re courageous, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Tell us about a memorable moment with an Inside Out student or at an Inside Out event.

My favorite moments with Inside Out students are always at camp. Every year the students catch onto my slang or queer vernacular and take it on as their own. I will never forget the camp where everyone couldn’t stop saying “yasss queen!” Also as I’ve stated so much earlier, it’s really important to be yourself and when the kids tell me personally that I make it easier for them to express themselves, that makes me really proud of myself. It makes me really proud to see the students grow and know that I played a role in helping them feel more confident and courageous.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?

Maybe super cliché of me but I think I’d wanna take out Lady Gaga for coffee. She fully terrifies me because she’s so well versed and well-traveled and educated and such a genius artist, but also I feel like she’d be really inspiring and I’d love to have her as a mentor one day. I know that she’d get my quirks and understand my art.

Inside Out helped me realize I have something to say and my opinions and stories matter.


Thank you, Jose, for sharing this inspiring journey with us; we are excited to hear what the next chapter will bring! Read more about our IOCA program here.

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Gaby PalmadessaJose Medrano Velazquez Found Courage Through IOCA

Crissie Sanchez wants her students to know that IOCA is about heart and soul

on August 1, 2019

Crissie Sanchez was first introduced to the Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) program as a middle school student. She went on to be an IOCA alumni mentor, artist leader intern, production artist, and now an Artist Leader Trainee, helping to teach students at her former middle school. We asked Crissie to share more about her experience moving from student to teacher and about what she now hopes her students can learn from her.

I want my students to know that Inside Out is more than just a program about theater. This program is about heart and soul.

Tell us about your experience as an Inside Out student.

IOCA was my miracle waiting to happen. I truly believe that without a program like IOCA, I wouldn’t be as confident and strong as I am now.  As a middle schooler, I had a lot of anxiety and insecurities on a number of things like my ADHD and my inability to create connections with my peers, which resulted in my being bullied. As I learned throughout the program, there was so much more to me than my anxiety and my insecurities. I learned that I had a voice and a knack for being…me.

In a few months after joining the program, I started to express myself more through my fashion choices and my personality traits. I never thought that I was a good enough person before the program, but strong, supportive women like Lora Cawelti and Andrea Shreeman (who were my first artist leaders) taught me the beauty in creating super sweet, silly art.

IOCA was my miracle waiting to happen. I truly believe that without a program like IOCA, I wouldn’t be as confident and strong as I grew to be now.

What is it like to teach for a program you participated in as a student?

It is SUCH AN HONOR to be working with IOCA as an Artist Leader Trainee. My experiences as a student, alumni mentor, artist leader intern, and production artist have molded every part of my being outside of the program as well as inside. When I see a child grow from the timid, worried person to this beautiful, excited, fearless actor⁠, I can’t help but well up with tears of joy. It is a blessing to be given the opportunity to help someone see themselves in a new positive light. I am helping a child access a part of them that they never thought was there… just as my artist leaders and mentors did for me.

My experiences as a student, alumni mentor, artist leader intern, and production artist have molded every part of my being outside of the program as well as inside. When I see a child grow from the timid, worried person to this beautiful, excited, fearless actor⁠, I can’t help but well up with tears of joy.

How do you feel being back at your middle school?

I always think about my days in that school. The good and the not so good. Every classroom I walk into reminds me of a different memory. I know that middle school is such a hard transition for 9-14 year-olds. The fact that I went to that exact school makes me even more conscious of that⁠—it centers me and helps me stay connected even with my gradual transition from student/trainee to teacher/adult. I leave the campus every session feeling grateful to be able to come back.

Tell us about your personal work and how it affects your teaching.

Besides teaching, I am going to school and working on my general education classes as I plan to transfer into a four-year program. My goal is to graduate with a degree in theater arts and social justice. On the weekends, I also lead a choir at a church. IOCA also gave me the confidence to sing! As soon as I realized that I can sing, I volunteered at my church. Throughout my years there, I have earned the role in leading their English choir. Because of all these extracurriculars, I can help students with writing songs and rehearsals in singing.

What are some consistent sources of inspiration for you/your artwork?

Some consistent sources of inspiration for me would have to be children’s education TV shows. Shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood were staples in my childhood. I always loved the strong and seamless morals they had to offer. Songs like “It’s You I Like” by Fred Rogers and “Just One Person” by Jim Henson still give me the inspiration to move forward. As I dive deeper into my own art projects, I hope to create music or poetry in the likes of those songs.

Other inspirations would be The Carol Burnett Show, oddly enough. I know that I am not exactly the age bracket that the humor was written for, but I find Carol Burnett to be so powerful in her comedy. I had one VHS I would watch over and over again where Carol Burnett parodied Gone With The Wind. The strength and talent she had along with her castmates always made me so hopeful that one day I would be like her.

If your students have one main takeaway from your class, what would you like it to be?

I want my students to know that IOCA is more than just a program about theater. This program is about heart and soul. At the end of a session, I hope that each and every single student found out something about themselves that they never knew before. Whether it be a newfound talent or cool new favorite genre. My biggest wish is for them to learn how to mold and nurture their hearts, minds, and souls. You can’t spell heart without ART.

Tell us about a memorable class/student/lesson.

There are so many now! As I progress with the program I meet new students that just blow me away! I will always remember one student who was so bright and funny, with so much charisma. They were fantastic at acting and amazing in comedy. This student was so fiercely true to themselves that it was always so incredible to see them process the storyline then actualize it with such ease. I will always be blown away.

What famous person, either dead or alive, would you choose to take out for coffee?

This is definitely a difficult question. I think that the person I would like to choose is Jim Henson. He was such a creative genius and was always creating such a beautiful form of entertainment every chance he got. He created a universe that is still recognized to this day even after his passing. I want to know where he drew inspiration from. What kept him going even when he was tired? How did he organize his ideas? How can I start creating?

Overall, I have and always will be 100% dedicated to a program that not only brightened my life but also changed my life forever. The concepts and skills that I have learned throughout the years with this program have made me extremely excited to see what I can create next. Art equals life, forever.


Thank you, Crissie Sanchez! We love hearing your stories about your time as a student and now as an Artist Leader Trainee! Read more stories from the IOCA program here.

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Stephanie McGrathCrissie Sanchez wants her students to know that IOCA is about heart and soul

Families Celebrate Their Talents at Our 2019 IOCA Workshops

on April 25, 2019

By KT Leuterio, Program Coordination, Extended Learning

In March, Inside Out Community Arts hosted family workshops at all three of our partner schools. Parents, siblings, and family members of Inside Out students are invited to join us for a 2-hour family workshop on a Saturday morning. This workshop is an opportunity for students to show what they’ve been working on at Inside Out while also giving parents a chance to get to know the teaching artist leaders and the Inside Out curriculum. It’s a great time for families to see and appreciate each other in different ways—to show courage in trying something new as part of our Inside Out lowdown—and a chance for everyone to perform and be expressive!

At P.S. ARTS Inside Out, we always emphasize that EVERYONE is welcome to join us at the family workshop—the more the merrier! Community-building is an important part of the Inside Out Community Arts Program, and we don’t just mean the community of students in the program. Our community consists of everyone connected to the program—principals, teachers, parents, families, artist leaders, and staff. The family workshop is one of the ways that we aim to build this community up.

Family workshops always start off with a little bit of mingling and a light breakfast. Artist leaders take this time to introduce themselves to parents and family members that are in attendance, and then, they jump right into an introductory warm-up with the whole group.

Adults and children sit at a table laughing and working at the 2019 IOCA family workshops

This year, artist leaders led the “Heroes” workshop. In this activity, participants imagine themselves as superheroes, turning one of their personal skills, talents, values, or gifts into a superpower. Some of our superheroes were gifted with powers like the power of super speed, the power of endless compassion, the power of super math skills, and the power of great basketball talent. Participants then develop their superhero and write a story of an incident where they had to use their superpower. Lastly, they draw a picture of their superhero saving the world and then share their creation with the group. This workshop encourages participants to reflect, remember, and take stock of their own talents and skills!

All in all, the workshop is a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Students get to hang out with their friends from Inside Out, create art with their family, and everyone always leaves in a great mood and with a better understanding of their peers and families.

A group of adults and children gather in front of bookcases at the 2019 IOCA family workshops

This program is generously supported by the Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Visit our Extended Learning page for more information about Inside Out Community Arts.

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Stephanie McGrathFamilies Celebrate Their Talents at Our 2019 IOCA Workshops

Inside Out Students attend Idyllwild Arts 2018

on October 23, 2018

By KT Leuterio, Program Coordinator, Extended Learning

For over 10 years, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program has partnered with Inside Out Community Arts to provide select Inside Out students with a scholarship to attend a two-week summer arts intensive in Idyllwild, California.

Every Spring, Inside Out students are invited to audition in order to receive the scholarship. Interested students prepare pieces in the arts discipline of their choice, ranging anywhere from vocal performances, instrumental performances, poetry, monologues, illustrations, comic books, and stories. The students then present their work to a panel of Inside Out Artist Leaders who then select one student from each participating school to receive the scholarship.

Attending an Idyllwild Arts summer course is a great opportunity for students to explore an arts discipline of their choice, make new friends, and spend time in nature. Here are a few words from two scholarship recipients for Inside Out at Idyllwild Arts 2018 :

Seventh-grader Sofia enrolled in a Visual Arts course focused on art forms from around the world. Her two-week course was unfortunately cut short due to a precautionary evacuation for the Cranston Fire, but she was able to make the most of her short time there:

“I was honored to be one of the recipients of the Idyllwild Summer Camp Scholarship. Thanks to your generous support, I was able to participate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Even though my experience was short because of the unfortunate fires that put the community of Idyllwild in danger, I’m glad to say that this experience has been an unforgettable one for so many reasons. I was able to participate and surround myself with people that share the same passions and love for the arts from the different forms of expression in this amazing program!”

Eighth-grader and alto saxophonist Raquel took a course in Symphonic Band and had the chance to hone her technique:

“Winning the scholarship and going to Idyllwild was a very important thing to me. It was a great experience because I was surrounded with people who also went to camp to learn about music and more about their instrument. In my room, I was surrounded by people who were dedicated to what they did and were happy about having the chance to go there too. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity that I was given to go to Idyllwild Arts. Thank you!”

I was fortunate enough to visit the Idyllwild Arts campus to see Raquel’s final performance. I was in awe of the talent, passion, and professionalism displayed by the students. Raquel’s sisters were in attendance and were excited to see their sister perform and even more excited to finally give her a hug after two weeks away from home!

Inside Out student Raquel at Idyllwild Arts 2018

Raquel (center, in black) with her sisters after her performance.

We at P.S. ARTS are all so grateful to Idyllwild Arts. Their generosity, support, and passion for arts education have given Inside Out students the experience of a lifetime. It has been so great to hear stories from our Inside Out at Idyllwild Arts 2018.

Congratulations to all of our scholarship recipients! We are so very proud of your accomplishments!


Read more about the Inside Out Community Arts program here.

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Stephanie McGrathInside Out Students attend Idyllwild Arts 2018

IOCA Performances 2016-17

on June 14, 2017

Whaley Middle School

Whaley Middle SchoolA round of applause for the students who participated in the Inside Out Community Arts program this year! Each session culminated with a performance at the Aratani Theatre featuring original plays written and performed by students from Prairie Vista Middle School (HSD), John Adams Middle School (LAUSD), Whaley Middle School (CUSD), and Will Rogers Middle School (LESD). Videos of the performances can be found below:

SPRING 2017

John Adams Middle School

 

Whaley Middle School

 

FALL 2016

Will Rogers Middle School

 

Prairie Vista Middle School

 

These performances were made possible in part by:

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P.S. ARTSIOCA Performances 2016-17

Inside Out Theater Field Trip Spring 2017

on March 30, 2017

by IOCA Program Coordinator, KT Leuterio

This month, I had the great opportunity to join the Inside Out Community Arts students as they took part in the first of three major events that are a part of the 18-week program. Students from John Adams Middle School and Whaley Middle School attended our Theatre Field Trip, which included lunch in the Vista Hermosa Natural Park followed by a visit to The Mark Taper Forum to see Zoot Suit. We all enjoyed a day of bonding, games, and theatre!

We started off our day at Vista Hermosa Natural Park, where students from each school had a chance to mingle and play theatre games. Courage is one of the three major values that Inside Out students learn about and practice throughout the session, and this event was the perfect chance to be courageous and make new friends with students from another school. The students certainly started off a little shy and quiet at 10 o’clock in the morning, but soon warmed up once the sun came out from behind the clouds and after a few games.

Next, the students played a game we call the Tableau Challenge. In our past workshops, Inside Out students learn about a “tableau,” which is a frozen moment in time, often capturing an important moment onstage. In groups, students raced to unscramble several vocabulary words, received costume and prop pieces, and created a tableau using their collective imaginations based on characters and themes of Zoot Suit. Each group presented their creations, which ranged from tableaus entitled “The Diamond Dress,” and “The Quinceanera.” It was a really fun activity that showcased their creativity and collaboration!

After these activities, excitement began to build for the upcoming performance. After a quick lunch, students quickly boarded their buses and headed off to the Mark Taper Forum to see Zoot Suit!

The performance was incredible. It was everything I was expecting and more! It was filled with drama and humor, and was such a dynamic and relevant piece of work to see revived in 2017. The Inside Out students were engaged and thoughtful throughout the performance– it was quite a delight to hear the students laugh, gasp, and react while watching Zoot Suit. As we walked out of the theatre, I overheard some of the students debating over which character was their favorite.

For many of the Inside Out students, seeing Zoot Suit at the Mark Taper Forum was their first experience at a professional theatre. It was so rewarding to be able to share this experience with them!

After the performance, Inside Out was lucky enough to meet actors Matias Ponce and Brian Abraham. Matias portrayed Henry Reyna, and Brian played the role of lawyer George Shearer. They generously spent some time with the Inside Out students for a Q&A. Matias talked about his journey as an actor, his experiences onstage, and gave the students some advice for their upcoming performance in May.

As I watched the students board their buses to go back to school, I could sense the excitement and inspiration in the air. I’m so excited to see this inspiration at work as they create their original plays. I can’t wait to see what they come up with at their performance in May!

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P.S. ARTSInside Out Theater Field Trip Spring 2017

Inside Out Community Arts Goes Camping!

on November 19, 2016

by Program Coordinator, KT Leuterio

I started working at P.S. ARTS this past summer, and since then I’ve been spending my time getting to know the Inside Out Community Arts program, Artist Leaders, and all of the wonderful students who are a part of the program. This month is a busy one for Inside Out! At the start of the month, Inside Out headed over to Camp Bloomfield in the Malibu canyons to take part in a weekend full of theatre, bonding, and creativity.
1-camp-bloomfield

On Friday afternoon, students arrived at Camp Bloomfield. When everyone got off the bus, there was a buzz of excitement in the air! One of my favorite parts of camp was greeting the students as they arrived. There was a mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, happiness, and a little bit of uncertainty about the weekend ahead. It was great to watch all the nervousness melt away once everyone started mingling, chatting, and playing games together.

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After some warm-up games, students went straight to rehearsals to continue working on their original pieces. Students were joined by our A-Team at rehearsals for some extra guidance and feedback on their plays. Our A-Team consists of Inside Out Alumni, who took some time out of their college schedules to spend their weekend with us at Camp Bloomfield (yay A-Team!). Having the A-Team there really showed me how much of an impact the Inside Out Program makes on these students’ lives—so many of them stick around to be a part of the Inside Out Program years after they have graduated!

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Students spent the rest of the evening getting to know nature and one another. Students were led by Artist Leaders on a star hike after dinner and came back for a talent show and an evening of dancing with DJ Ben Goldsmith.

All of Saturday was spent working on plays. Students rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed! They also met with our Production Artists to have costume fittings and painted set pieces for their final performances. Students took breaks to enjoy some swimming and ended their evening with a drumming circle.

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On Sunday, all of the students had the opportunity to share their pieces with everyone during their dress rehearsals. Before heading home, we took one more pit stop at the beach to enjoy the fresh Malibu breeze.

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All in all, the weekend was a success! Students worked hard on their plays, and they all left with a few more friends than they arrived with. It was so rewarding to see these students collaborate and work together to create something that really speaks to them.

The students’ Final Performance is at the Aratani Theatre tonight at 7 PM. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the students have created, and I hope you can join us! For more information about their performance, click here.

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P.S. ARTSInside Out Community Arts Goes Camping!

My First IOCA Camp!

on November 20, 2015

By Sylvia Chavez, Program Manager

As a new member of the P.S. ARTS community, I recently had the privilege of attending my first Inside Out Community Arts (IOCA) camping and rehearsal retreat at Camp Bloomfield, an experience I shared with dozens of sixth, seventh, and eighth grade student artists from the LA South Bay. This was the first time our three TakePART school sites—Dana Middle School in Wiseburn, Prairie Vista Middle School in Hawthorne, and Will Rogers Middle School in Lawndale—were able to participate in the IOCA camping retreat, and they were thrilled to join. We packed approximately 75 middle school students and about 16 student mentors (many of whom graduated from those very same schools) onto three yellow school buses and sent them on their way to live, play, and create theater together during three magical days in the Malibu mountains. Thus, I found myself on a cold Thursday night, boldly driving a van full of musical instruments and several boxes of rotisserie chicken up PCH for my very first night at IOCA Camp!

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The IOCA Mentors rock! They are a group of dedicated and talented student alumni, and they were an integral part of running camp and keeping all of our activities fun and safe. Mentors arrived on Thursday night and had the camp all to themselves to prepare for the big weekend. After a full dinner and quick orientation, we headed to the ropes course where each of us bravely strapped on a harness and learned to trust each other to catch our fall (for the record, I did not fall! Hooray!).

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Friday afternoon the IOCA students arrived with armfuls of luggage and heads full of ideas for the plays they would spend the next 48 hours creating. The rest of the weekend was packed full with a student talent show, sunrise hike, theater games, DJ dance, swimming, star hike, and A LOT of rehearsal with their play groups!

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On Saturday, we held a dress rehearsal of the six plays-in-progress, and the students performed for each other against a natural wooded backdrop.

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On the final day of camp, we packed the busses full with students, staff, luggage, sleeping bags, costumes, and props and departed the lovely Camp Bloomfield. However, we had one afternoon stop planned before returning to our homes and families — the beach! It was a perfect 74 degrees at Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu, and promptly upon arriving, several students took off their socks and dug their feet in the sand. Others sat pensively on their beach blankets or hung out in groups making friendship bracelets with new friends. Some of us even braved the ocean waves (many thanks to Artist Leader Cleo for rocking her awesome wet-suit and lifeguarding for us!).

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My favorite magic moment of camp came during our closing circle. At the end of our beach day, each of the six play groups circled up on the sand to reflect on their experiences at camp. Students talked about their favorite activities, what they had learned about themselves, and what they looked forward to in the coming weeks as the program would draw to a close. As I looked around the beach, I was struck by the beauty of the changing colors in the early evening sky. Suddenly, a great cheer erupted from several of the circles at the same time. It took me a moment to figure out what had happened— the sun had just touched down on the horizon. The students had been watching the setting sun during their discussions, and without any planning or communicating, they all let out a great cheer as it disappeared below the water. Over my right shoulder I heard one student say, “Oh my gosh, I have never seen that before,” another said, “Neither have I,” followed by, “That is so cool!” It occurred to me that many of our students had never had an opportunity to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching a sunset or sunrise. The joy and wonder on their faces in that moment is something that I will carry with me always.

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P.S. ARTSMy First IOCA Camp!