Students in continuation high schools in high-poverty neighborhoods in Los Angeles Unified struggle with hunger, housing insecurity, vulnerability to COVID-19, and the daily strain of racism and economic hardship. Removed from their main high schools due to academic decline, now in Continuation Schools, they can receive supports to graduate on time. This project gives them a guitar and supplies for learning the songs and history of music for social justice in a grant-funded GITC pilot program!
Students in Continuation High School are reassigned because they've begun failing classes in their regular HS and are in distress and at risk of dropping out. Many are involved in gangs. LAUSD Continuation High Schools provide restorative supports and smaller classes to help them recover. Thanks to CHS about 60% will be able to graduate on time! But these schools are tiny and receive little to no arts education. Students trying to overcome can benefit profoundly from getting musical access.
Students suffering from anxiety, depression, hopelessness and academic failure can begin to decrease their stress and increase their wellness by learning to rap, sing, play percussion and guitar. Learning historical songs of resilience and social justice can give their life experiences - from poverty, hunger and housing insecurity to trauma and racism- new context, validation and constructive self expression. Becoming creative together can shift mindset & mood, improve health, and instill joy.
For students participating in this project, making music together will increase attendance, engagement, positivity, self expression, self esteem, and improve social relationships with deeper interpersonal communication. The group singing, playing and songwriting will build a sense of belonging and musical community. Students who complete the class will be able to keep their guitar as a reward they have earned. The long term impact may include better health, graduation, college +/or employment!
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