Through its partnership with Turnaround Arts California, the Compton Unified School District (CUSD) school welcomed Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.
Chu and Gehry observed King's music class as well as arts integration during a science lesson. King students also guided their special guests through their cafeteria's student art gallery.
Additionally, Chu and Gehry participated in a roundtable discussion on arts education with the school's arts leadership team, Turnaround Arts California's Executive Director Malissa Feruzzi Shriver, Principal Stephanie Richardson, and CUSD Board of Trustees members.
"We are extremely grateful to have some exceptionally honored guests here to support the Turnaround Arts initiative in the Compton Unified School District," said Micah Ali, President of CUSD's Board of Trustees.
"Here at King Elementary School we've been able to make a dent in the area of attendance thanks to students being extremely excited about arts education, music, and learning."
NEA Chairman Chu said she was impressed by the way arts are integrated into King Elementary’s curriculum.
"What we've come to see here in our visit is that there is indeed a transformational power of the arts in other subjects. The thing that's most impressive to me here at King is that everyone cares. It takes a village to make sure we can help all our students, and it's happening here."
Gehry, a founding funder of Turnaround Arts and whose works include Walt Disney Hall, said King students’ excitement for art will lead them to new opportunities. "If they get excited, invested, and identify with it...that's an open door to a lot of things. It doesn't matter where you hook on,” he said. “Curiosity is the most important thing…keep being curious. Keep following your curiosity and it will take you somewhere."
Principal Richardson said her school is grateful for the support of NEA and Turnaround Arts CA. "It's wonderful to be able to show off some of the things we've been doing at the school and to show what a great difference they make for our students," she noted. "It's because of our partners that our students have had these opportunities to engage in the arts."
Fourth-grader Jekhi Smith said he and his classmates were excited to escort their special guests, especially Frank Gehry, around their school. “It's really cool that he's here today. We're showing them the art we've done at our school. We made art like Salvador Dali who is famous for his surrealism and Georges Seurat who is famous for his pointillism.”
Smith added that he loves his school for several reasons. “I love that my school has music, art, good teachers, and a nice principal."