DJ IZ Avila returns to Monterey Peninsula schools

 

By Molly Gibbs, Monterey Herald
May 20, 2022

SEASIDE — Students’ lessons at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts Thursday featured scratching and blending — DJ techniques taught by their “Turnaround Artist” mentor, IZ Avila.
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District — which was recently named one of the best communities for music education in the United States for the third year in a row — includes two Turnaround Arts schools: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts in Seaside and Marina Vista Elementary Arts Academy. Both schools are supported by Turnaround Arts: California, a nonprofit organization aimed at using the arts to engage, empower and transform historically marginalized schools and communities.
Avila works with several Turnaround Arts schools across the country. His return to Seaside and Marina this week was met with cheers and applause from the students and marked his first visit to one of his “adopted” schools since before the pandemic.

“At one point, I didn’t think I’d get an opportunity to be back because we didn’t know where things were at,” Avila said. “Honestly it feels somewhat surreal.”’

Avila joined the Turnaround Arts program in 2016 when he adopted Standing Rock Middle School in North Dakota. He said witnessing firsthand the students’ loss of hope, excitement and imagination because of the things they had gone through changed his life.

“I really bonded with those kids and they opened up to me and trusted me,” he said. “That was an incredible process for me because once I saw how interested they were with music, I started cultivating them and helping them understand what DJing was.”

Avila witnessed that excitement for music again Thursday at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts.
In DJ workshops, he taught the students what DJing means, how to use the soundboard and how to blend two pieces of music together cohesively, which he said is the most important part of DJing.
“Just because you can put everything on your computer doesn’t mean you should play it,” he advised the students. “As a DJ, the last thing you want to do is clear the dance floor.”

Read the full article on the Monterey Herald’s website

Call for Artists

Turnaround Arts: California seeks artists and/or community arts organizations to create collaborative, public art projects (e.g. murals and other installations) with elementary and middle schools across the state in the 2021-22 school year.

Participating schools are located in the following communities:

  • Hoopa Valley (Humboldt County)
  • Seaside (Monterey County)
  • May include: Watts, Compton, Cudahy, Lynwood, Paramount (Los Angeles County)
  • Santa Ana (Orange County)

Artists and/or Community Arts Partners will be selected on the basis of their qualifications, as demonstrated by:

  • Quality of their past projects and proposal documents
  • Experience working effectively in collaboration with young people, education-based organizations or schools.
  • Connection, and commitment to, centering and uplifting Black and Brown communities through artistic engagement

Turnaround Arts: California is committed to investing in the communities our schools are located. Organizations and artists that identify as BIPOC and/or come from the same communities as the schools are particularly encouraged to apply.

Please see this document for the submission process, timeline and compensation and other details. Submissions due Friday, November 15.

The Dream and the Highest Peak

Photo by Sandra Selva

As part of a recent residency led by Get Lit – Words Ignite instructors Raul Herrera and Brian Sonia-Wallace at Sierra Preparatory Academy, students selected a classic poem, wrote their own response poem, and performed both for an audience of peers and family members. The following is a response poem to Langston Hughes’s Dream Variations.

The Dream and the Highest Peak
By: Erik Lopez, 6th grade

Racism feels like looking at a box of colored pencils without every color, full of emptiness

And it tastes like all the bitterness of the world put in one lemon

Racism is an on-going nightmare that has not yet ended

Racism is the train that’s been going since 1807 that only carries depression

It’s just like numbers, it doesn’t seem to end.

Langston Hughes’ unfulfilled dream will hopefully one day become a reality.

So that anyone can fling their arms wide

Enjoying the vibrant sun’s smile

And being allowed to dance

Till the wonderful day is done

As they watch the beautiful stars come on lightly like a warm blanket

Then sleeping without worries and only comforting dreams.

THAT IS THE DREAM!

And the highest peak

The peak that all civil rights activist want to reach

But if they want to make the dream a reality,

Then they have to pick up the pace to pass the point of the peak in stopping the painfulness of the racist to re-paint the picture of the passionate world with more colors than just white.

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Taking “Flight”: Compton Unified’s King Elementary Students Perform at the White House

On May 25, 2016, nine students from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School (King) in Compton, CA, confidently took the stage and performed at the Turnaround Arts Talent Show, hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House! Their powerful spoken word piece, “Flight,” was aptly titled, as many of the student performers had never been on an airplane before — it also spoke symbolically to the ways in which King’s entire school community has soared since becoming a Turnaround Arts: California partner school in 2014.

Teaching artist magic: Galvanizing your team with a high-quality residency

When we learned that Wolf Trap would be doing a one-week residency at our school, I was excited because I had participated in several of their workshops in Virginia at the national Turnaround Arts retreat last summer. Finally my colleagues were going to experience what I had been telling them about.

Wolf Trap is a nationally recognized leader in the field of arts education. Its Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts trains teachers through residencies and workshops “to use performing arts techniques to enhance instructional practice and achieve curriculum goals set for young children. The focus is on essential areas such as math, language arts, performing arts fundamentals, critical thinking, and collaboration.”