LA Opera Brings Voices Of Tolerance To North Park Elementary School
Students in two fourth grade classes at North Park Elementary School in Valencia recently performed for parents and classmates in the “Voices of Tolerance” program facilitated by instructors from the LA Opera.
Nearly 70 students participated in the 10 week program which included music and education about the cultures of Mexico, India, Korea and Iran.
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Students created informational posters and art reflecting the countries studied that was displayed in the multipurpose room at North Park Elementary during the Voices of Tolerance performance.
The LA Opera workshop and residency was offered this spring by the College of the Canyons PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program at North Park Elementary School and Pico Canyon Elementary School.
“The Voices of Tolerance program was brought to fourth grade students at these two schools,” said Linda Candib, Arts Education Specialist PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program. “For nine sessions, the students have been integrating curricular work with the art of singing to create a program of music and art around a particular theme. The themes at the two schools are different, but both link the ideas of diversity and tolerance. The 10th session is today’s performance.”
Candib said at North Park the students learned about diversity by studying the different cultural backgrounds found throughout their classrooms.
“To that end, they learned about such cultures as Iran, Korea, Mexico and India and learned corresponding music to complement the differing cultures,” she said. “The residency has been taught by LA Opera teaching artists and the quality of expertise has been exceptional.”
Candib, a former teacher, said she had wanted to bring this program to her students years ago, but was unable to make it happen.
“I am so excited to be able to bring this program to Santa Clarita this year,” she said. “This is a wonderful program and I’ve enjoyed watching these students blossom.”
The students performed Indian, Korean and Iranian folk songs and a song inspired by Latin music and culture.
Megan Heavens, a fourth-fifth grade teacher at North Park said the program helped her students see how people, everywhere, are the same.
“I think this program has helped our students see that people that are different from them are still the same. I have students from all the cultures featured in this program and it is nice for them to have their cultures celebrated, which is not something that happens very often,” she said. “They have been able to talk about their cultural dress, language and history. I know that some of my students even eat different food than the other students and so it has been nice for them to be able to share that with the rest of the class.”
Debbie Schultz, a fourth grade teacher at North Park, said she was pleased her class was able to benefit from the program.
“I wanted my class to participate in this program so the students could learn that we may have differences but we really are all the same. We can celebrate different cultures and appreciate those differences,” she said.
Dan Redfeld, a teaching artist from the LA Opera, said music is a way for students to connect to different cultures.
“Music is a universal language and by learning this music the students have found by learning each song, that there are things that are similar. Learning this can pull us all together,” said.
Redfeld said the students accomplished a tremendous amount in a short period of time.
“It is amazing that they only have 10 hours with us,” he said.
A few of the students played rhythm instruments to accompany Redfeld, who played the piano, during the musical performance.
Lisa Eden, a soprano with the LA Opera and teaching artist from the LA Opera, said the focus of the North Park Voices of Tolerance workshop was racist bullying.
“The teachers specifically wanted us to focus on racist bullying. As the school becomes more diverse it becomes more of an issue,” Eden said. “We talked with the students about what is racist bullying and what is tolerance. Learning these songs from different countries was the starting place for a conversation about different cultures.”
Eden said she enjoyed working with the students and the teachers at North Park.
“It is an intensive partnership with the teachers at the school. The teachers assigned research projects that took the program to an entirely new level,” Eden said.
Pete Bland, principal at North Park Elementary, said the program resonated with him.
“As soon as we heard about this program we wanted it at our school,”
Bland said. “It is important to celebrate other cultures and to learn about tolerance. I hope this program helps open the minds of our students. My philosophy here at North Park is that we’re a family. We need to treat each other with love and respect, as a family.”
For more information about programs offered by the COC PAC K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program email Linda.Candib@canyons.edu.
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