Many students in continuation and alternative high schools in high-poverty neighborhoods in Los Angeles Unified are struggling with hunger, housing insecurity, vulnerability, and the daily strain of racism and economic hardship. Removed from their main high schools after falling behind academically, they attend Continuation Schools and receive support to graduate on time. This project gives them instruction, a guitar & supplies for learning to play, sing, and build creativity and leadership!
Students in continuation high schools are reassigned because they've begun failing classes in their regular HS and are in distress and at risk of dropping out. Some 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.
The pandemic has been immensely hard on these students. Illness and loss of family members due to COVID have increased their suffering from anxiety, depression and hopelessness. Learning something so positive - playing an instrument and expressing themselves through singing can increase their wellness by learning to rap, sing, play percussion and guitar. Learning historical songs of resilience and social justice can give their experiences new context through artistic expression, instilling hope.
For students participating in this program, making music together will improve their motivation to attend school and will boost their engagement, positivity, self esteem, social relationships and communication skills. Students who complete the class will be able to keep their guitar as a reward they have earned. The long term impact will include new abilities, self-confidence, and creative friendships, improved mental health, and can help them make it to graduation, then into higher education!